Please don’t walk down the destructive path of infidelity
In this life, family is the greatest blessing we can enjoy. We are called to observe the sanctity of our marriages and to treat our families with love and respect.
The movie, Unfaithful, was a 2002 film starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane. When Gere, the husband, discovered that Lane, his wife, had lied to him about an affair she had entered into, he searched out the truth and the details of her infidelity. He ultimately confronted her lover and killed him in an act of rage that he couldn’t have imagined of himself.
That was well-acted fiction but sadly, real life is full of affairs.
All of us likely know someone who has been “cheated on” or who has done the cheating. Even in 2023, infidelity is still a tough topic to discuss – it’s humiliating and can devastate an individual’s self-esteem. Infidelity has ended many marriages or rendered them loveless and challenging.
Let’s first define infidelity. Perhaps the best definition is a physical or emotional affair entered into with someone who is not a spouse. (And why would a spouse consent to such a thing?) Infidelity is also an emotional experience without physical intimacy, or it can be physical, even without an emotional connection. But infidelity, in any of its forms, is a sin and violates the laws of God and His desire that the marriage bed be undefiled.
Research from the past two decades shows that between 20 and 25 percent of married men have affairs and between 10 and 15 percent of married women cheat, according to Professor Nicholas Wolfinger.
According to LA Intelligence Detective Agency the numbers are even higher.
- 30 to 60 percent of married couples will cheat at least once in the marriage
- 74 percent of men and 68 percent of women admit they’d cheat if it was guaranteed they’d never get caught (how disturbing is that?)
- 60 percent of affairs start with close friends or co-workers
- An average affair lasts 2 years
- An astounding 69 percent of marriages break up as a result of an affair being discovered
We have discovered in our lives and in our counseling and coaching practice, Just Us Limited, that very few marital problems cause the heartache and pain that infidelity does. But we have also learned that when BOTH spouses are committed to repairing and healing the relationship, the marriage can survive. In some cases, marriages can even become stronger.
Why do affairs happen?
Infidelity can happen in any marriage, no matter how strong it may seem. There are so many factors that can play into infidelity, including:
- Lack of affection.
- “Growing apart” over the course of the marriage
- Breakdown of communication about emotional & relationship needs
- Stresses of varying kinds
- Selfishness on the part of one or both spouses
- A marriage that is not Christ-centered
- Physical health issues, such as chronic pain or disability
- A spouse who is dishonest or deceptive
- Mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety
- Various addictions – addiction to alcohol or drugs or sex
- Ignorance; lack of self-awareness; laziness; trifling behavior
The list goes on and on and on.
When an affair is ultimately uncovered, it triggers a tsunami of emotions in both spouses. The partner who has had the affair may feel that he or she will never be forgiven, and their spouse will forever throw the affair in their face. The spouse who has been cheated on can be massively hurt and traumatized and wonder how they can ever get over the betrayal.
They can. If you have been party to an affair, we advise you to consider these steps, also endorsed by the Mayo Clinic:
- Do not make rash decisions. If you think you might physically hurt yourself or someone else, please reach out to a qualified medical professional for help. And do it right away.
- Give one another space. The discovery of an affair can be intense. As you try to get a grip on what has happened, you can find yourself behaving in unpredictable, even unstable ways. Give yourself and your spouse some time. Steer clear of discussions that can quickly go off the rails and become emotionally charged.
- Seek support from those you love and trust – from Christ-followers. It can help to share your experience and feelings with trusted friends or loved ones who support and encourage you. Avoid people who are quick to tell you to end it, who are biased toward you, or critical, or judgmental.
Recovering from an affair can be, without a doubt, one of the most challenging times in any marriage. But spouses can rebuild trust, can forgive, and can even strengthen their commitment to one another.
The ultimate key is not found in counselors or books or videos. The key is found in Jesus, who died for all sins and who can bring couples back together if they submit, first to Him and then to one another.
Unfaithful ended with Richard Gere’s character offering to turn himself in to the authorities for killing another man but the wife dissuades him, telling him that they can get through it together and must move on with their lives. The movie concludes with the two of them in love with each other as they were at the beginning.
That’s fiction at its best – or its worst. Real life just doesn’t work that way.
We are fallible human beings, and we can make horrendous mistakes and deeply wound one another, even surprising ourselves at what we never thought we might do. Marriage is the very first institution established by God, and He takes it very seriously.
In this life, family is the greatest blessing we can enjoy. We are called to observe the sanctity of our marriages and to treat our families with love and respect. When trust is shattered, it can take a very long time to build it back up. Sometimes, it is lost and it is never to be found again.
Yield not to temptation – put Christ first and your spouse second in your marriage.