About the Author
This article is based on scientific evidence and clinical experience, written by experts and fact checked by experts.
Shaun Lotter, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 10,000 hours of clinical experience. Shaun speicalizes in marriage counseling, affair recovery, sex and porn addiction treatment. Click here to schedule an online counseling appointment with Shaun.
Infidelity: Things Betraying Spouses Can Do to Help
As a betraying spouse in an infidelity situation, you are likely looking for ways you can be helpful to your spouse. While you can’t and should not try to take away their pain, you can take steps to show up with compassion and empathy.
Full and Complete Honesty about everything all the time.
This includes living your day to day life with transparency.
Answering questions with gentleness and patience.
Take time to find the answers if you do not know, even if this requires significant reflection and self-examination. A good response if your spouse asks you a question you do not know the answer to is, “That is a good question. I don’t have the answer right now, but I will work over the next 24 hours to remember and then get back with you.”
Understanding that you are working to become the man or woman God has for you to be, not working to keep your spouse from leaving you.
If your focus is simply to keep your spouse from leaving, this will not work. Both you and your spouse can only rest in the changes you are making if they are about living for God. In other words, changing simply to keep them from leaving will create a marriage commitment based on fear, not love. Once the fear is removed, what is left? Also, no couple wants to be together out of fear.
Getting involved in a church that submits to and teaches the authority of Scripture.
Allow the authority of God’s word into your life will create a firm foundation, guarding you from being deceived.
Stop trusting yourself so much.
Own the reality that you are coming out of a season of extraordinary self-deception and denial. You cannot transition instantly from this to clarity. You need other people’s thoughts and perspective. It is understandably confusing when we admit to our spouse that we were fundamentally untrustworthy, and then try to convince them we have a handle on what is going on by ourselves. Working through your own justification, minimization, and rationalization requires the assistance of others, including counselors, pastors, and mentors. “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives.” – Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NLT)
- Love your spouse from a distance. Your betrayed spouse will not be easy to love or open to love many times, but you must love them faithfully, even from a distance. If they need distance, remain available, but respect their space. Manage your fears with support from your counselors, pastors and mentors. Empathize with them, do not simply endure.
Be clear on what you want — a great marriage– but don’t use your spouse as your thermostat for the future.
This means, avoid constantly looking to them on whether or not the marriage can work or continue. Don’t ask them, “Do you think we can make it?” Know who it is God has called you to be, and out of that, what you are to do.
Be willing to get rid of items and reminders of the affair partner/infidelity.
Not only be willing, but actively work to rid your life of reminders of the affair partner/infidelity if these are painful for your spouse. It is a way of aligning with them. If you resist, this will be experienced by them as choosing the affair partner/infidelity over them. These items might include: vehicles the other person rode in, computers used to view porn, spending time away from spouse in compromising situations (local bars).
Take time to create new memories with your spouse and family.
You are not running away from the past. An important part of not running away is to invest in your marriage and family in the present. Take time to play with your children, spend time with your spouse (being sensitive to what your spouse is ready for), and enjoy what you have. These moments are a way we can heal and bond.
Work towards forgiving yourself (you do yourself, your spouse, and your marriage no favors by punishing yourself).
Just like your spouse will have to work through forgiveness, so will you.
If you are the betraying spouse, doing the things on this list can help you care for your spouse well. The fact you are reading articles like these is a good indication you desire to recover well. Healing is possible, and we are here to help. Contact MCO to set up an appointment with an experienced infidelity counselor today.
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