What do people do when their house is on fire? Do they start rebuilding the house while it is still on fire? No. They rush to get everyone out of the house and call 911 immediately. They might grab water hoses and buckets to put the fire out. But nobody rebuilds while the fire is still raging.
But, when the fires of adultery hit our families, often we fail to put the fires out before going on with life or rebuilding.
One fuel for the fire is panic. This is completely natural. The family unit is in utter peril. Given the choice, many faithful spouses and their children would much prefer to have pins shoved under their fingernails or have a limb cut off than to have the family destroyed.
I don’t know this for certain, but I suspect very strongly that adultery does not usually come without some warning signs. Adultery is a very selfish and cowardly sin, so the people involved in adultery are only thinking of what is in it for them, and they’re willing to hurt their spouses and their own children to get what they want. There really is no greater selfishness or cowardice than that.
But, for a selfish and cowardly person to launch into adultery, that person would have to feel safe. Adulterers do not commit adultery if they think it will cost them their family and leave them lonely. They only commit adultery because there is something in it for them.
I believe before unfaithful spouses commit adultery, they must make sure it’s safe knowing that if it doesn’t work out, they can always go back to their faithful spouses who are desperate and afraid to lose them.
Here is my theory. Unfaithful spouses threaten divorce, and during courtship before marriage, they threaten breakup. This is a way to bully and control one’s spouse. This is not the way to have a pure, healthy, loving, faithful, and happy marriage. This is the way to bully and control others.
One dynamic of this is the bullies probably lack self-esteem and feels if they cannot control the relationship with an iron fist, the relationship will fall apart and they will be alone because nobody would want to stay with them unless they were forced to do so.
Another dynamic of this problem is that it tests the water to see if the faithful spouse can be controlled by fear of divorce, and if so, that is one weapon selfish spouses can use against their loved ones to get what they want.
When we allow this desperation and panic and lack of self-worth overtake us, we give our unfaithful spouses all they need to control and torment us, and we also encourage adultery in them.
When selfish spouses launch into adultery, they set up a self-serving competition between the legitimate spouse and the paramour. If one partner will not or cannot comply with the selfish spouse’s wishes, perhaps the other partner will, and may the best one win.
Another thing about adultery is it is deeply cowardly. For certain the children will suffer dearly just to pleasure the unfaithful spouse. And, secondly, the unfaithful spouse does not have to fear being lonely. All he or she has to do is choose between the most self-serving and pleasurable options where the unfaithful spouse’s partners have to fight over who will suffer loss.
So, if you really want to save your marriage you will need to lose the fear and panic. Panic, clinging, and such makes a person look really ugly and it sends a message to others that says you are not worth much, and yet God created you and Jesus loved you enough to die for you.
Think of it this way. If your spouse’s paramour launches into an affair with your spouse knowing you’re married, then your spouse is choosing a loose, foolish bimbo over you and that makes your spouse not only a liar and a coward but an irresponsible and selfish fool and you and your children deserve much better. And, if your spouse’s paramour doesn’t know about your marriage, once that person finds out, your spouse may be deathly afraid of losing you and you may not want your spouse back after you and your children have been put through all that misery.
Another fuel for the fire of adultery is self-blame. Regardless of the mistakes you made, adultery is not about you or the children or anybody else except the people who choose to participate in adultery. When we blame ourselves, we make it easier for our spouses to ease their own consciences by making us out to be monsters. We are not the ones to choose for our spouses whether they will be faithful or not. They are.
So, keep your cool, spend time in prayer, turn it all over to God and know that He did not bring this problem to you but rather gave you the opportunity to come to where the problem was and experience it and learn from it, and know in your heart that God loves you and through and in all things He does all He can wisely do to bring the very best for everyone who loves Him and are called according to His purpose. (see Romans 8:28).
Rather than letting fear control you, control it. Refuse it. Resist it. Tell yourself positive things. And, you don’t have to go into denial to do this. Positive thinking is not about lying to yourself and pretending bad things are not happening. Positive thinking is about looking at the bad things and knowing that God is able to bring good through them all regardless.
So, make a strong effort to discipline your thoughts to focus on the good.
Confident, happy people are attractive. If you can open the cage door for your spouse and let your spouse go, that sends a message back to your spouse that you don’t have to hold onto someone desperately to keep him or her, but that you are so worth having that you don’t have to worry about being alone. It’s good to prefer to have your spouse with you, but it is also important to be able to be happy without your spouse.
That takes away their motive to bully through adultery and threats of divorce and helps bring health back to the marriage little by little.
More resource at Marriage Saving Blueprint