Ownership by the offended partner as to their contribution.
As a couple attempts to recover from an affair, somewhere early in the therapy process I say, “I have two major goals with you as a recovering couple, the first being triage and critical care of both of you as you recover from the shock of this horrible trauma. The second is to try to understand what the real state of the marriage was prior to the affair. This includes an honest assessment of how each of you contributed to the decline of your marriage… including the person who was victimized by the affair.”
As you can imagine, this kind of a statement is not expected and can be met with a variety of responses.
“You’re joking right?”
“How dare you suggest that I was somehow responsible for their sin?”
“I came here for you to fix my spouse… don’t even think about implicating me. I’m the faithful one!”
Usually about this time I’m thinking to myself,
“You know… Milan’s Weiner Wagon at Venice Beach isn’t so bad an idea.
“Relish with that? Onions? Diet? Regular?
“Hello… much simpler Milan!
“I could even wear my Venice letterman’s jacket in the winter. Talk about being a local.”
Eventually I snap out of my daydream, lean forward and look them right in the eye and say, “I’m here to repair an unhealthy marriage. I believe that the affair was a symptom of a marriage with a weakened immune system.”
I reassure them that no matter what the shortcomings are, it’s never an excuse to disobey God… ever! I remind them that they do have Biblical grounds for divorce which includes the right to remarriage which they can exercise whenever they choose. It’s up to them how much they can tolerate (Matthew 19:8-9). However… as long as they are in my office, we will work on many things, including how to be a better dance partner.
So how does this help a marriage recover? Several reasons:
It promotes the healing process because the ownership of one’s shortcomings provides a basis from which the “innocent” party can begin to work on their part of the relational rupture that took place prior to the affair.
God loves and honors humility and confession for “each of us has gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way (Isaiah 53:6).”
It often provides some of the answers as to why this happened. This in turn provides a new platform for healing.
Thanks for listening.
Love and Blessings,
Milan & Kay