Question from a Site Viewer
I know I don’t deserve forgiveness.
For the past several months, my wife and I have been working to make our relationship better. Partly because I had been feeling very convicted about things I have done in the past, and being deployed, it leaves a lot of time on your hands to reflect on your life, both good and bad. This morning after having a dream that I cheated on her, she asked directly if I had ever done so in our 14 years of being together. I considered not telling her, but something in me told me that I needed to be honest with her, especially if I was serious about making things better and moving forward with her and God. So I admitted that I had cheated on her a little over a year ago while we were going through a very rough time in our relationship. After all, I told her, I’m only human. She has not returned any of my messages and I am scared that I may have lost her. I know what I did was wrong, and I have prayed and asked God for forgiveness. But I truly do love my wife and want to spend the rest of my time with her. Where do I begin to help make this right and show her that I want nothing more than to be with her for the rest of my life? Will my wife ever forgive me?
First, I commend you for telling the truth to your spouse. I also commend you for acknowledging that what you did was sin. I am a little concerned about the statement about being human. The statement comes across to me as detracting from the contrition and implicitly providing an excuse for the sin. We are all human, but by the grace of God we are more than human. God holds His people to the standard of heaven and empowers us and wants us to be holy as He is holy. He calls us His holy ones.
When we enter into a marriage covenant, we pledge ourselves to our spouses. There have been many people who have gone through difficult periods of their marriage and have maintained fidelity to their spouse. They also have been human, but simply made a different choice when deciding whether to pursue honor or pleasure.
Nevertheless, I sense the pain you are in at the present and do not want to add to that pain, either for you or for your spouse. I think it is good that you have communicated your contrition for your sin and your love for your spouse, even if she has not returned any communication. She needs some time to work through the matter in her mind and to decide what she wishes to do with the information.
The problem with sin is that it can be so destructive. We ultimately do not have control over the decisions of another. All we can do is influence those decisions with our attitude and our conduct.
To this end, I suggest first of all that you pray for your spouse. Pray for God’s blessing on her life. Pray that God will hedge her around with good counselors and protect her while she is in this very vulnerable spot. Pray that God will give you favor in her eyes and restore the relationship. God can work where we cannot, in the heart of the person. Plead with God to have mercy to you and to your spouse and bring you back together.
Second, commit yourself to doing what it takes to make your spouse happy if and when you have contact with her. Be prepared to sacrifice your desires to please her. Make life be about your spouse, your family, and others and not about you. Seek to find what pleases her and do it.
Third, I suggest finding a good marriage counselor. It will be very helpful to have someone with experience walk with you through this matter. A good counselor will be able to provide sound advice in the particular facts of your situation. We all are unique people, and thus the personalities, backgrounds, hopes, and desires all influence the way we interact with others. It is important to invest in a good counselor who can help you walk through this situation.
Fourth, be contrite towards your wife with respect to this matter. Do not try to put your sin in context or make any excuse for your sin. Do not in any way say anything that would downplay the seriousness of your sin. Do not directly or indirectly carry any idea that your spouse was partly responsible for leaving you vulnerable to temptation. Your spouse needs to understand, when you have contact again, that you take full responsibility for your sin and do not make any excuse for it. But hopefully she will know from the last year how much she means to you and how you have valued her and treated her with kindness and love.
Be prepared for this to take some time. Adultery in a marriage relationship attacks the very core of the relationship and can be very difficult for the offended party to process. Your wife needs to have time to decide what to do with the information, and if she wants the relationship to continue. Be patient but do not be passive. Again, a good counselor can be a gift from God in this situation.
Finally, if others ever talk about your spouse or her departure in front of you or with you, be sure to take the blame for her departure and always defend her and speak well of her. It is important, if words ever get back to your spouse, that the message she is hearing from others is the same message she is hearing from you.
I cannot promise you that your spouse will come back to you. But I can state that you will place yourself with the best possibility that she will return if you draw near to God and you always display kindness and love to her and speak well of her to others.
My heart goes out to you. I realize that on top of other matters, being deployed and married is a great hardship in marriages. It is hard to maintain strong relationships at a distance. The bonds of marriage are most cemented when spouses are together, when they can see each other and interact with each other, make the other laugh, and share great times and joys and sorrows together. Too many military marriages break apart precisely because of the lack of marital togetherness. Even some Christian marriages suffer in these situations when the spouses become more committed to themselves than to the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
My prayers are with you and your spouse. May the Lord Jesus have mercy and may your spouse have mercy towards you and work towards mending your broken relationship.