Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

bedWhen the cheating website, AshleyMadison, was recently hacked, names were released. Affairs were revealed. Couples, families and churches are dealing with the revelation of loved ones and leaders who used the site to secretively have an affair. The aftermath has left many wondering, can I repair the damage to my marriage and to the people who trusted me?

When couples are willing to repair the damage, it begins with admission of the affair. This is not an easy step but necessary. People react to the admission with anxiety, anger, grief-like symptoms, and more. The reality of an affair awakens a deep sense of loss for the betrayed spouse.

It is important to allow the betrayed spouse to feel whatever comes, and to work through those feelings over time. The intensity of the feelings will eventually diminish, but the reality of betrayal remains. Prayer helps. God knows your pain and is a source of comfort. He can bring peace to your mind when you trust him to help you work through feelings of loss.

The betrayer needs to be prepared to share remorse often and allow questions. They must give needed reassurance whenever requested and be empathetic to the pain caused through their actions. Patience is needed as the couple works through the root of the issue. The betrayed person needs time to process and question.

After the admission of an affair, the betrayer needs to make sure that every aspect of the affair has been stopped. I call this the “no more contact rule.” If a spouse can’t agree to this, it indicates a lack of remorse or ambivalence regarding reconciliation.

Next, acknowledge the feelings related to the crisis and, as painful as it is, tell the story in whatever level of depth the betrayed person wants. Then identify what made you vulnerable to this wrong action and work on rebuilding after forgiveness.

If you are the one who was betrayed, then part of that rebuilding means letting go of judgment. Too often, a partner forgives but continues to judge the person. Let God do that! Go back to the basics of working on friendship and building positivity in the relationship. Don’t ignore what happened, but once it has been dealt with, don’t use it as a club over the person’s head.

Reconciliation cannot happen without forgiveness. Forgiveness is your choice and critical to moving forward. It frees you from bitterness. It lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and relieves stress. Forgiveness jump-starts the process of reconciliation. Forgiveness is an individual act, but reconciliation requires a mutual restoration of trust.

Can the relationship be put back together? With God’s help, it can; I have witnessed this many times. In Joel 2:25, God promises to restore the years the locust have eaten. God can do miraculous things in the lives of people who repent and desire reconciliation.

Adapted from We Need to Talk  by Dr. Linda Mintle

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