Forgive and Love a Cheating Spouse
Author: Angie Lewis
Article source: http://www.cwahm.com/. Used with author's permission.
Have you tried to forgive your spouse of adultery only to have it all come back to haunt you later? This happens because we have not forgiven in its completeness. Anyone can say they have forgiven, but what is your heart telling you?
Do you think it is the end of your marriage because your spouse had an affair? On the contrary it's time to nurture, cultivate, and cherish the marriage even more. It is time to start plucking out the mischievous weeds to make room for the tender new shoots.
The purpose for forgiving those who have hurt us is to clear out unwanted emotions, and free our minds from negative clutter. This needless stuff builds up if we don't do anything about it. First and foremost we need to be mentally and spiritually healthy so we can express feelings and needs appropriately to our spouse. Then and only then can we actually forgive in completeness?
One of the most difficult aspects of forgiving is the ability to stop picturing the hurt in our mind. We may actually try and envision what it was like for our spouse while they were engaged in the sexual act with another person. We want to know if they enjoyed it or not. We want to know why they did it. We may even believe there is something wrong with us sexually. All of these things enter our mind even after we have forgiven, and they can literally tear us apart.
My motto has always been that we absolutely need to take care of our self first before we can take care of another. If we are all messed up inside, full of bitterness and resentment towards our unfaithful spouse, we certainly cannot forgive them. The same applies with love. Don't we need to love ourselves first before we can love another?
So this brings me to detachment. We become healthy in mind by detaching with love. What's that? As Jesus would say, "Turn the other cheek." We need to let it go! Letting emotional qualms trouble us will not help the forgiveness process. When we let the anger and bitterness go from within our inner being, we can start applying constructive ways to build back up the wounded marriage.
Detaching only means we are not going to allow the weakness of our spouse to CONTROL our mental and spiritual well-being. If we are still angry and bitter over their unfaithfulness, we invariably make their sin a part of who we are by obsessing over it every chance we get. Detaching gives us the freedom to forgive!
If we refuse to forgive our spouse we are missing the wonderful opportunity to experience the joys in forgiving and sharing that happiness with our spouse. The marriage will miss out on the growth process that takes place within its framework, and the couple's own spiritual outlook on life. Marriage can remain stunted by not forgiving or it can grow out from the selfish aspect of each couple by forgiving completely.
No doubt, it is difficult to forgive when our spouse has had sex with someone else. But that's just it; we are flabbergasted that our spouse would err against the marriage in such a way. We feel duped, unloved, and deceived! We want restitution at all costs! For some of us that means divorce. This initial feeling, of course, is completely understandable. We have been hurt deeply by the unfaithfulness of our spouse and justify our own bad behavior by literally making ourselves the victim of our spouses err. But who really is the victim here?
In reality, we make our self the victim of our spouse's weakness by obsessing over it and not forgiving. We do that to our self. No one does that for us. Divorce over unfaithfulness is totally unnecessary. Couples can work through this infidelity issue properly and grow from it to boot.
Did our spouse have an affair to do wrong purposely against the marriage? I don't think so. Most of the time when a spouse is unfaithful it has nothing to do with the other spouse. The reasons behind unfaithfulness stem from the need for constant self-gratification, low self esteem, and lack of spiritual wisdom and knowledge.
Here's how it works. First the idea to be unfaithful is imagined in the mind. Secondly it is mediated on with vivid scenes and great clarity. Thirdly, adultery somehow becomes justified because of wrong thinking, and cultural influences. Finally the act of adultery is actually carried out in the physical sense. Sometimes the guilty party feels remorse about defiling the marriage bed, and won't do it again. No one finds out, case closed.
But sometimes-promiscuous acts continue, and that is because the adulterer has not humbled himself to God for the guidance he so very much needs to help him to turn away from tempting and enticing situations. Unfaithfulness in marriage is only a symptom of a greater problem. But so often when marriages break apart couples blame infidelity as the culprit, but it is not the real problem.
The real issue is most likely boredom, lack of respect and commitment for one another. But those are the main features God had designed especially for marriage! And since the culture of society has made it justifiable to sleep around from bed to bed, house to house, couples have decided to make themselves a part of that promiscuous world instead of God's world. So in essence the real problem stems from lack of spiritual wisdom guiding couples in their faithless marriage!
Unfortunately, so many marriages of today deal with the issues of adultery. Culturally speaking, isn't it a thing of normalcy for a spouse to be unfaithful in their marriage? No one gives a darn! But this kind of thinking is destroying lives. It is not normal to have sexual relations outside of marriage! It is very wrong and goes against all that God has created and planned for marriage! Adultery breaks the bonds of trust and respect for the person we married, and carries with it a heavy sword of sinful rebellion against what God has created.
You see, if we have not yet acknowledged the realm of God's world and are lacking in the knowledge of God's goodness, we, through our own understanding, allow our wayward thinking patterns to take charge. But what do we know? We know our negative feelings! That's what we know.
Our feelings tell us to be bitter because our spouse had sex with someone else. So what do we do? We become bitter! Our feelings tell us to stay resentful, and so we resent our spouse. Our feelings tell us the grass is greener over there on the other side of the fence. So we go to the other side. How can we forgive properly when our negative feelings our controlling us!
These unhealthy emotions make our attitude, and ultimately tell us how to view the world around us and how to live in the world.
In contrast, a healthy spiritually minded person allows self to be directed by God's insight where it looks beyond selfishness and into the loving person they were meant to be. We absolutely need to have the knowledge and wisdom of God within the framework of who we are, so we can understand how to respect and love our spouse properly. Why on earth would anyone want to continue carrying the mistakes of sinful weakness throughout the marriage?
Matthew 7:24-27 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house, and it fell with a great crash.
Bottom line. The ability to forgive does not stand with us alone. We just do not have the complete understanding to actually forgive without ever bringing up the offense again to our spouse, and even to our self! What happens is we only forgive superficially, which keeps us feeling the burden of the hurt. But we don't want this because here is what happens. If we only forgive superficially the offense will continually evade our heart and mind, consequently, bitter feelings take over and control what we do and how we behave.
Do you want to lash out in anger at your spouse? Then forgive superficially. Do you want to say hateful and mean things to the person you married? Forgive superficially.
Do you want to respect and trust your spouse again? Then forgive completely.
Here is how you forgive. First, understand this: The Holy Spirit is our greatest blessing and gift from God that we, as His children receive when we share ourselves with Him. When we give up the selfish ego to God, He will in return gives us the gifts of how to love properly, how to hope, how to have faith with conviction, and how to forgive completely. When we act on His instructions we are allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to take over in our marriage and life and we are submitting to His will for us.
God is in control. Remember, we do not have the ability under our own understanding to forgive properly, to love completely, or to understand and utilize the blessed gifts of the Holy Spirit. We know that all these awesome gifts come from God. But that is all we know. Not until we put all of this into practice will it actually be real to us. We will not understand what it is that God wants for us, until we submit our sinful and selfish lives to Him.
We want it all. But to have it, we must experience it first.
May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer-may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife? Proverbs 5:18-20 Copyright 2005 Angie Lewis
Angie Lewis is author of Journey on the Roads Less Traveled, an eye opening spiritual journey about love, life, beliefs, marriage, temptation, faith and spiritual awareness.
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