Thursday, January 19, 2012

resources when dealing with infidelity

i get a lot of emails that look like,

hey, just found out my husband is having an affair, not sure where to start...

so here is where i started.
maybe it will help you or your friend? or your mom? or your sister? or someone who's world is absolutely turned upside down?

you can look in the marriage category , if you're like...wait, what? the whole story is found in this. go back to the very first ones and read through them.

this is our marriage story on video. maybe it will encourage you.

now this is super practical, not deeply theological. because frankly if a person is in a car wreck, bleeding profusely, you're not going to say...ok, why did you get in this wreck? you know what? i don't think you're seatbelt is on, silly!
first, they need to just get out of there, right?

so the first advice i generally give is: get into community of people who will take care of you during this time.
i would say family is different from a "community" in this regard because family will despise anyone that has hurt you this bad-- their advice might not be the best.  but either way, you'll need people gathered around you and taking care of you.

but i don't want anyone to's really embarrassing!
i think that may feel normal to think, but that's not how human's are supposed to deal with traumatic events. you need help. the last thing you need right now is more secrets.

but my spouse doesn't want anyone to know!
oh, that's interesting. your spouse is "sorry", but still trying to protect him/herself over you. does that pattern of selfishness look familiar? i'm not saying yell from the rooftops what happened, but people who are close to you need to know so YOU can get the help YOU need. in the end, this step of vulnerability will serve your family well. if you're in a church community, your pastor and small group leaders should know. if you aren't into jesus, you need to be able to tell someone who you trust and value.

but i'm not in a church!
i bet you know someone who would take you. ask.
(do you live in KC? i know of a good one.)

my second piece of advice is get into counseling, like, yesterday.
go as many times as they'll let you. go separately. go together. go with your dog and your mom. everyone should be in therapy.

now, a little side note on this...there are some weirdoes out there in the therapy world. even christian counselors can be nutty and give terrible advice. so don't feel bad if you have to change therapists until you find one that's right for you. if you live in KC, email me and i'll give you some excellent therapist contacts.

but we can't afford counseling!
most counselors will work on a sliding scale with your income. stop making excuses.

but my spouse won't go!
go by yourself. you are going through a lot and need professional help. this is a deep emotional wound that should not be looked over. it will come back if you don't deal with it now.

if your spouse has a soft heart, wants to change, is repentant and showing fruit of that,
get out of town. sounds strange, but you need time to rebuild. just you 2. no counselors, no family, no opinions from others.
we went to the weekend to remember marriage conference. they have them all over the U.S. it's christian based, full of incredible speakers and a great place to re-boot those places in marriage that are completely dysfunctional. i think everyone should go to this whether they have drama or not.

pornography and affairs often hold hands. this free software should be installed on your computers. it's called X3watch. sounds naughty, huh? it's not. it's all about protecting people from the harm of pornography and giving resources to those who struggle. if anything is noticed by the software, it will show up in the weekly report that gets sent to you and 2 other accountability partners. this actually should be installed on everyone's computers everywhere. seriously. hedges are needed on the computer. it's an enticing, crazy, and destructive cyber world out there.

many people will recommend books to read during this time. self help kinds that deal with infidelity. i found these to be annoying and unhelpful and threw them across my room on several an occasion.
sometimes deep thoughts aren't what you need in a time of turmoil.
maybe if i hadn't started reading them week 1? i perhaps needed some distance. however, i have not read any since then...and our marriage still made it. all that to say, i'm sure there are good ones out there but that's not what made it "work".

here is a sermon on divorce. incredible.

here is a trustworthy article on what and what aren't the biblical grounds for divorce.

this list of articles here at family life today that i found helpful. some of the stories really gave me a lot of hope.

here is a prayer about trusting God when it's hard to trust others.
and here is a prayer about forgiveness.

the one book nato and i read together was a christian fiction novel called redeeming love by francine rivers. i mean, hilariously cheesy in a couple parts but it is a story of a redeemed marriage and it mirrored the Gospel to us without having to feel too heavy and instructional. we cried throughout the book. yes, my hubbs cried too.

if you need a book about what marriage is supposed to look like. read The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God

but the truth is, a book won't change things. neither will anything i wrote above.

on that note:

the Gospel is your only hope for lasting change.
what does that even mean?
there is a verse that is often church-a-fied. so much so that we don't understand the depth of what it means or we overlook it because it's said often.

ephesians 4:32

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

is it coincidence that this verse was written on a chalkboard in our home a week before i found out about the affair? i think not. it stared me in the face as i cried doing laundry. i thought about it often. i yelled to God, what does that even mean! is that possible here?

understanding that Christ forgives us and loves us even though we betray him everyday, helps us to extend that same grace to those who have offended us greatly. it's not a verse that says...hey, who cares what they did, just say "it's ok" and move on! 

it's not saying there won't be consequences or that forgiveness won't be hard. it's showing us the depths of our own sin so that we can give grace to others. the same grace we need every second.

you need the same grace as your husband who slept with other women and betrayed you.

i am in contact with some of those who are not christians and going through affairs and my answer does not change in how i got through this.
my faith in Jesus.
you want to know how we made it?
God worked a miracle.
how i look at my husband and trust him more than ever?
God is amazing.

if you want all the right answers, don't look at me.
i got nothin'.