Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
-Hebrews 13:4, NIV
“Yes, it happened. She cheated on you. And that’s right: you didn’t deserve it. It’s not your fault. Not at all.”
You really want to help a faithful spouse. These are the sort of things they need to hear.
They need their reality validated and truth spoken into their lives, or they will chase after control where none is to be had–e.g. buying “The Shared Responsibility Lie” or thinking it’s their mess to fix when it is not.
“Yes, it happened. She cheated on you.”
If the cheater is your garden variety type, he or she has been waging a war of deception and gas-lighting for months or even years! Gas-lighting is a form of abuse where the actual reality is denied and replaced with the lie that the cheater wants his/her victim to believe.
Here are a few examples of cheater lies employed to gas-light: “We’re just friends from work,” “The kids must have been on the computer looking at porn and soliciting prostitutes,” “I was just getting my things when I picked up my condoms,” etc.
This is why a true friend validates reality for the faithful spouse:
The true friend is refusing to participate in the scheme to screw with the faithful spouse’s mind and emotions by pretending something isn’t happening when it is. A true friend speaks even a tough truth, and that tough truth–e.g. she is cheating on you, dude–sets the faithful spouse free of feeling utterly crazy. This truth affirms something horrible has indeed happen. And it gives tacit permission to the faithful spouse to grieve the great losses that “happening” denotes.
“And yes, you didn’t deserve it. It’s not your fault.”
And the second part of the affirmation is important as well. It teaches the sound biblical truth that we are not responsible for another person’s sins (e.g. Mark 7:21-23, 2 Corinthians 5:10, etc).
Faithful spouses need to hear this truth spoken to them by people who genuinely care for them. They need to hear that because the world and the Church is full of people who tell them otherwise.
People have a vested interest in perpetuating “The Shared Responsibility Lie.” I have written about that elsewhere. The real basic reason is that people fear powerlessness. And being cheated on is a rather blatant reminder of said powerlessness. We do not make the choice for our spouse to sin or choose godliness…they alone do.
Remember: Cheating is a character deficit problem in the cheater.
Faithful spouses generally take on more responsibility than is due. I must have read 10-20 books within less than a six month period in my attempt to better myself and keep my marriage. Some were good, and some were awful looking back.
Faithful spouses need a voice of reason reminding them that while personal betterment is good, this is not their fault, and so, it cannot be fixed via personal betterment. A cheater engaged in full repentance is the only way something like a marriage ravaged by infidelity gets fixed, biblically speaking.
Further, a loving friend reminds a faithful spouse that the soul rape that they experienced was never deserved.
The trauma of having your spirit united with another (or more) without your permission is bad enough alone. Empathy-impaired Christians make it worse through suggesting such a painful violation was deserved in some way or measure.
A true and loving friend serves as a soothing voice to such salted wounds reminding the faithful spouse of God’s truth that he or she never deserves to be violated so treacherously.
So, to those of you reading who have discovered your spouse cheated on you:
“Yes, it happened. He/she cheated on you. And yes, you didn’t deserve it. It’s not your fault.”
*A version of this post ran previously.
Republished with permission from www.divorceminister.com.