Then David sent for her (Bathsheba), and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. 2 Samuel 11:4 NLT
“I’ve had an affair.” The confession is common.
Though statistics reveal that most marriages don’t survive unfaithfulness, marriages don’t have to end because of it. Moving beyond betrayal and saving a marriage is entirely possible. When betrayal has occurred, several questions must be asked and answered.
• Is forgiving the right thing to do?
From God’s perspective, forgiveness is always appropriate. Although it may seem impossible, forgiveness should be immediate. As God forgives us when we commit sins against Him, so we must forgive others. His forgiveness is tied to our forgiveness of others (Matthew 6:14-15). While I can’t forgive in my own power, I can with God’s (Philippians 4:13).
Forgiveness may have to be repeated numerous times. The betrayer might not deserve forgiveness, but forgiving is more for my benefit than for theirs. If the betrayer has confessed, expressed sorrow, asked for forgiveness, and reiterated their love, they have shown signs of true repentance.
• What does God want me to do?
God hates divorce; He wants marriages to last. Sometimes it’s impossible, but many that fail could be saved. While God permits divorce on the grounds of adultery, He never insists that divorce must take place. That—like unfaithfulness, is a choice. Partners who are willing to work diligently can experience a stronger marriage on the other side of unfaithfulness.
• Can I live with my betrayer without trusting them?
Forgiveness and trust aren’t identical. I can forgive without trusting. Trust is like a credit rating. One unwise decision can affect both. And like a credit rating, trust takes years to fully bloom. The question is whether the betrayer is doing their best to restore trust in the marriage.
• Do I have to know all the details?
When betrayal happens, adverb questions are common: how, when, where, how often, to what extent, why, and under what conditions. Knowing more makes it more difficult to forgive and re-establish trust. Settle for the simple fact that they have betrayed.
• Can I live with my betrayer without bringing up the incident again?
Re-hashing the incident impedes healing. So does assigning blame. God doesn’t keep bringing up our sins (Psalm 103:12).
• What was it about my spouse that initially led me to love them?
Build up the betrayer through prayer and encouragement. Love them unconditionally. Remember, none of us are beyond sin—betrayal included.
Keeping a marriage intact in the face of betrayal is possible. Let God move you beyond betrayal.
Prayer: Father, help us to forgive those who betray us even as You forgive us when we betray You through sinful acts.