Recovering From InfidelityQUESTION: Recovering from infidelity - Can I ever forgive?ANSWER:
When recovering from infidelity, one of the most difficult questions to deal with is, "Can I ever forgive my spouse?" You may go back and forth between anger and sadness, or outrage and confusion. At least for a time, you may be unsure of whether you should stay with your spouse. Or should you turn away from this same person who has now hurt you so deeply and betrayed your trust in such a terrible way? But at some point, you will have to face the issue of forgiveness.
Forgiving your spouse may be the most difficult part of recovering from infidelity, but it is a critical step in being able to move on with your life. Let me share one man's story with you:
"When I found out my wife was cheating on me, it was very hard to deal with. I didn't know if I should be angry or sad, to stay or leave. I wondered if I would ever be able to trust her again.
"I loved my wife very much, and could not imagine life without her. I decided that I had to forgive her and move on. For a long time I did say, 'I forgive you' and I meant it. But I was always wondering if she was still talking to the other man or seeing him. I would come home unexpectedly or call trying to see if I could catch her. I wondered if she was thinking about him when she was with me. The uncertainty was eating me up. The trust had been broken and was not going to be easily repaired.
"I asked God to help me with this situation, to be able to trust my wife again. I knew that if God could forgive her, then I must also forgive her (Matthew 6:14; Matthew 18:33-35). Then one day God showed me that until I forgave all involved I really had not forgiven completely. So, one day I got on my knees and asked God to help me forgive the other man and my wife. It was like a heavy load was lifted off my shoulders. From that day on, I quit wondering if my wife was talking to him or seeing him when I was not around. And my wife has proven to me over the years that she can be trusted.
"For many years I thought I had forgiven her, but I cannot forgive anyone on my own. Only God can forgive and take that bitterness away.
"One thing that my wife and I learned through this situation is love is not just something you feel in your heart or gut, it is a choice you make. I had done things in our marriage that drove my wife into the arms of another man. I could have said, 'Okay, I'm out of here,' but I chose to stay and make it work.
"Staying and working on the marriage when she would not respond to my affections was hard, but I kept showing her I did care for her and did love her. For me, the greatest reward was the day she turned to me and said those words I longed to hear, "I love you." I had grown to not expect it, so when it happened, we were both surprised and happy.
"I believe restoration can best be summed up in the words from Ephesians 4:31-32, which says, 'Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.'"
This man realized his own love was not perfect, and his own forgiveness was not perfect. However, when he turned to God and asked Him to take control of the situation, God's perfect love and perfect forgiveness paved the way for recovering from infidelity.
God's plan for marriage does not include divorce. That is man's idea. God allowed it only because people's hearts were hard and unforgiving. In Matthew 19:8, Jesus addresses divorce: "Jesus replied, 'Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.'"
If you are trying to recover from infidelity, forgiving your spouse is possible. If you are willing to forgive and love unconditionally, your relationship can truly be restored - for a lifetime.