It is very common for couples dealing with marital infidelity to both be in a place of grieving. The unfaithful partner suffers a grief born of guilt and regret, if they’re penitent, whilst the other partner suffers a grief born of the plain hurt of betrayal, and ultimately of rejection.
A chasm has been created within the core of trust that was once enjoyed, but now trust is a distant concept that is grieved in the both of them. This is the core of the grief both partners are impinged with.
The transgressed partner
has a trust issue with their partner.
The transgressing partner
has a trust issue with themselves.
This sounds bad, but,
both must grieve that loss of trust.
There is intense sadness in both even if the sadness is caused for completely different reasons. But this doesn’t mean there can’t be a viable sense of hope in both as they negotiate their way through such a tumultuous season in reconciling the brokenness inflicted on the marriage. Both will, however, feel broken.
But it is grief we are dealing with – a grief that involves all the stages, denial for shock and of flip-flopping, anger in the innocent spouse toward their partner and the anger of the guilty spouse toward themselves, bargaining for both in their second-guessing themselves and their relationship, and depression for what seems like an unbelievably unforeseen set of events (how on earth did I/we arrive here, and what can I/we do?).
It is incredibly normal
that all stages occur
randomly and repetitively.
Grief is exhausting.
As each partner bears their individual grief, each partner is benefited in the ministry of God as the Lord endeavours to restore them. Boundaries will need to be dealt with. The hurt and guilt will be felt for some time. This is normal. And even some patterns known to trauma can very well manifest themselves.
A strategy for the road forward,
to negotiate the way out
of a comparative marital hell,
is both wise and necessary.
Essentially what has occurred changes the direction of the marriage, which is not to say all that is good cannot be redeemed; usually couples recovering from infidelity go on to an even stronger intimacy if they insist together that they will get through this and do everything they can to achieve that objective.
Nobody should ever underestimate
the power of two people
combined as a force of one.
But the transgressed partner should not be rushed to accept their partner. Nor should the transgressing partner be encouraged to make swift peace with themselves.
As one repents – literally changes their mind and behaviour under the surrender that the fear of the Lord compels – and the other forgives in response to the fruit of repentance, both forge, a day at a time, a new direction of marital strength from their innate and collective weakness.
This doesn’t mean that the process is smooth.
It will be rough for some time yet.
Trust isn’t rebuilt overnight.
But it can be rebuilt when
both partners put their marriage first.