Hi Dr. Lawyer,
Hope you are well.
How do I help my friend who found out her husband has been cheating on her for 3 years? It took me about 20 minutes to process what happened after I heard and then I cried. It’s heart breaking. She has a 12-year-old and a 1.5-year-old and is in a dark world of pain and betrayal.
I’m sorry to hear about your friend and her husband. These kinds of things are always a shock and are difficult.
You didn’t ask any questions of me, so I’m assuming here. Here are some things that help me when I get into situations like you’re in.
First, always remember that God is in it with you. He never leaves you nor does he forsake you. He is always in it. Whatever ‘it’ is.
Second, God is sovereign. This means that things aren’t just happening. They are happening for a reason and God is not only in it, he caused it to happen. And he caused it for his glory. We often say, he “allows” things to happen, but I think that isn’t Biblically accurate. The Bible says he causes things to happen. We can take solace from this because we know that the things happening are not an accident.
Third, God is love. This means that everything he brings into our lives he does as a loving father. So, when hard things come, we can be assured that it is in our lives for good reasons; again, for his glory and our good.
Fourth, God’s goal for us is to be conformed to his image and to the image of his son—to make us like Christ. This means that even though we might not know how things are working for our good and Christ’s likeness in us, we can know that it is happening. We might be able to look back and see how our character was shaped by hard things, but we might not. Whatever, we know that it is happening. And it is good.
Finally, we know that all this is true because Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection is central to all that we do, think, feel, and say. If Jesus didn’t rise, we are all lost and stumbling around in the dark. But he did rise and it is all true. Praise God, there are reasons for what is happening to us and in us and around us.
The way I use this in my own life and try to help others is to simply calm down and rest in his presence. Get with other Christians who are doing well with the Lord and let their strength and closeness to God rub off on me and to remind me of all these good things. Then, when I’m reminded, I cling to them in my heart and ask God to help me believe it all and to go on from there. And then I seek to apply it in the lives of other around me. Trust God. He’s in it. He loves us. He has a plan. We’re part of his plan. And the plan is good and will bring him glory. So, I make it my goal to please him, even in the darkest times. I make it my goal to be content that I am where I am supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and I am glad, thankful, joyful.
Is the husband repentant? How did the wife find out? How she found out might give a clue about how repentant he actually is. Some men repent because they were found out, but it isn’t a down to the ground kind of repentance. It is only an “I got caught” kind of repentance. This kind will usually not last. When things calm down, he will slide back into old ways and more adultery is a real possibility.
If he busted himself because the Spirit of God was convicting him, his repentance is more likely going to last. He needs to get some counseling to find out why he went off on his own. This is so that he can “fix” the reason for the sin, not only put a Band-Aid on the sin. He needs to cleanse and change his heart. He should search out things he can do to “make things right.” This includes becoming the man of God God wants him to be and to be the husband and father God wants him to be.
Adultery gives grounds for divorce, but it doesn’t require divorce. This is up to the wife. If her husband isn’t repentant, her life will continue to be Hell until she does divorce him. He if confesses his sin, but nothing else changes, she probably should divorce him. If he falls all apart, acknowledges his lack of godliness and godly leadership in the home and does things that show that he genuinely knows the pain he’s put his family through, or at least wants to know, then she should probably work with him and not divorce.
Of course, nothing works out perfectly, but if you have these general guidelines and pray for wisdom, good decisions can be made.
I hope this helps.