Infidelity devastates a relationship more than any other act. It can sever the bond and cause damage that many think is irreparable. But is it? Can you forgive and overcome the pain of cheating? Can your marriage survive an affair?
I recently read a Facebook page on marriage that gave four steps in forgiving a spouse who’s been unfaithful. I thought they were very helpful and right on target. What completely shocked me, though, were the comments from others to the idea of forgiving a cheating spouse.
I am stunned at the large number of people who scoffed at these suggestions and said they would walk away. It seems like most people would not choose to stay in a marriage if their spouse had an affair.
I thank God that my husband stuck by me, over 20 years ago, when I almost left him for another man. He was committed to making our marriage work. No, it wasn’t easy, by any means. We stuck it out, though, and turned to God for help. Because of our obedience, He blessed our marriage and has made it much better than it had been before our troubles. Our love for each other is far greater now, and our relationship is very functional.
So why do some people cheat on their spouse? Affairs are not usually intentional (as always, there are exceptions). They typically start out as an innocent relationship between two people who are seeking emotional intimacy that may be lacking in their marriage. A lack of emotional intimacy, especially with women, means no desire for sex. So it makes sense that building emotional intimacy with someone else easily leads to sex.
Emotional intimacy is an important part of a healthy relationship. It begins to wane, though, when problems mount and are unresolved. Couples build an invisible wall between them, and intimacy is the first thing to go.
We have a strong urge for intimacy as humans and will seek it elsewhere if necessary. Some people drown that urge with drugs, alcohol, pornography, food, shopping – anything that will fill that void. Until the marriage is healed or God is included, many will spend their whole lives searching for intimacy with relationship after relationship or drowning the urge with an unhealthy substitute.
So most of the time, an affair is just another avenue to fulfill the need for intimacy that is missing in a marriage.
Yes, as always, there are exceptions. There are some people who may be addicted to sex and have difficulties committing to one person. They are the ones who can’t seem to stop having affairs. It’s similar to an alcohol or drug addiction. It’s purely for the sex - not so much the intimacy. I would dare to say, that if they truly love their spouse, they could work through these issues and find fulfillment in the marriage relationship. It would take a true commitment to their marriage and spouse – on both sides.
Another exception may be the couple that marries for the wrong reasons. If there isn’t a true love and sincere commitment from the heart, it’s too easy to look at all the other “fish in the sea”. We live in a world that no longer values monogamy and promotes divorce. If you aren’t strong in your marriage and solid in your values, you could easily be swayed away.
More to come on “Can your marriage survive an affair?”