What do you do when your spouse has confessed having affairs but won't stop having them?
- D. from Houston
Adultery not okay (Part 1)
Your question is just one line but there must be volumes of emotions and other questions behind it. I will have to guess at some of it. I know you are the wife in this scenario, so it is your husband who continues falling into affairs. I'm so sorry for the grief you must live with and the constant sense of betrayal. Since this is repeated, all trust is no doubt long gone.
Therefore, before I really answer your question, I would like to comfort you with this: "For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the Lord of hosts; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel." (Isaiah 54:5) Ultimately, no matter who betrays you on this earth, God will never betray you. Look to the Lord as your husband.
As you go through this difficult trial, use it to rely totally on God - his provision and his plan. He still has a good plan for your life and he will have a way of weaving good from it so that you are made more into the image of Jesus. That does not mean that your husband's affairs are okay or that you have to endure them. (We'll get into that shortly.) But don't divert your eyes from your only true source: Jesus Christ.
Now let's call a spade a spade. The popular vernacular may be "affairs" but here is what the Bible says about adultery. "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge." (Hebrews 13:4) Your husband made a covenant with you and hopefully with God (I don't know how you were married) and he has broken it. It is a very serious breech and speaks to core integrity and character.
The next thing to consider are your choices.
Next: Do I have to keep living with this?
Godly choices (Part 2)
I'm going to now ask you a hard question. Your husband has confessed to multiple affairs and you wonder what to do. My question is: what are you willing to do? Obviously, after the first affair and your discovery of it, you stuck with the marriage. Maybe you were promised that "this will never happen again." However, this behavior repeated.
Perhaps your husband thinks that as long as he confesses each affair to you and asks for forgiveness, you must forgive him and stay with the marriage. It might be easy for him to use the scripture from Matthew 18:21-22 to convince you that you have no choice. Peter asks the Lord if he must forgive an offense up to seven times and Jesus tells him no, up to seventy times seven (meaning "times without number").
Yes, we do have to keep forgiving BUT we do not have to continue accepting the behavior. We do not have to keep trusting because trust has been destroyed and must be earned back over time. You may remove yourself from the behavior by removing yourself from the marriage.
From the beginning, God intended marriage to be for a lifetime. In Malachi, he tells how he feels about divorce. "'For I hate divorce,' says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'and him who covers his garment with wrong,' says the Lord of hosts." (Malachi 2:16)
Yet, knowing the hardness of the hearts of man, Jesus makes provision for divorce when there is adultery. "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." (Matthew 19:9)
Are you willing to leave the marriage? Have you felt you had no choice but to stay? Do you want out of the marriage or do you want to keep it at all cost? Tomorrow let's explore some healthy and unhealthy reasons to make either choice.
Next: Making the right choice for the right reason.
Considerations in your choices (Part 3)
As you pray and think over your future with or without your husband, you will do well to try to dig down to some roots in yourself and in your marriage.
Marriage relationships are complex and only the two spouses really know all the dynamics. You can be drawn to a person for healthy or unhealthy reasons - sometimes a mixture of both. You can marry a person for healthy or unhealthy reasons and by the same token you can stay married for healthy or unhealthy reasons.
As you choose whether you want to stay in this marriage or not, consider the "why" either way. Again, you do not HAVE to continue to accept this behavior, especially because, based on track record, you have no anticipation that it will ever change.
Here are some unhealthy reasons to stay. You can't make it financially and/or emotionally on your own; you are in "victim" mode and need to be a "martyr"; you don't feel you are good enough to be treated well; you are afraid to be alone for the rest of your life; you are unwilling to give up your lifestyle or the fringe benefits associated with the marriage.
On the other hand, here are some healthy reasons to stay despite your situation. You have sought God and you genuinely feel he is telling you to stay; you feel so strongly about keeping your marriage vows for life that you are willing to endure intermittent infidelity; you are willing to lay down your life for your husband in a sacrificial way in order that he will come to Christ by your example through the coming years.
Be honest! What's really going on in your heart? If you see some evidence of unhealthy attitudes, seek some help to work those issues through so you can make a healthy choice to either stay or go. Don't feel out of control of your life because you are not out of control. The Lord is there beside you every step of the way. With him as your husband, you CAN make the right choice -- for the right reason.