Getting over an affair

Jay Dee

Getting over an affair

Aug 16, 2016

I received this question a couple of days ago in from our anonymous Have A Question page about recovering from an old affair: I found out about my husband’s affair 3 years ago. The affair happened @ 12 years ago and he kept it from

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Anonymous Question: How do I get over my husband's affair?I received this question a couple of days ago in from our anonymous Have A Question page about recovering from an old affair:

I found out about my husband’s affair 3 years ago. The affair happened @ 12 years ago and he kept it from me for that entire 9 to 10 years. The fact that he “lied with omission” for so long is making it difficult for me to get over the affair. Also it lasted for 8 months back then, and it was with an old sexual conquest of his. All of these factors are making it difficult for me to get over it. When we make love, I still think of them together…. I know what they did together and there is very little left for “us” to be original about. Will time heal since he kept it from me for so much time?? HELP!!

First, I should say that my wife has never had an affair, so I don’t have first hand experience with this.  That said, I do have some ideas on the subject that might help.  Maybe my readers will have some insight as well (I know a few who have been through this type of struggle).

The choice to forgive is the defining factor

The big question here is “Will time heal”?  And while time may play a role, ultimately it is not time that will heal you.  The choice to forgive coupled with help from God will heal you.  Adultery is a difficult thing to get over.  It’s an extremely intimate betrayal.  This one thing you should only share with your spouse, you have shared with someone else.  You have every right to be angry and hurt.  But, eventually you need to decide whether to forgive them or not.  For some, it’s too hard.  Some can’t see past the sin to see the sinner.  This sinner that they vowed to love, no matter what.  And yes, the Bible says that adultery is a valid reason to divorce, but that concession is given right after Jesus says this:

Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. – Mathew 19:8

So, if you choose to forgive, then forgive him and start enjoying your marriage again.  Stop punishing him, and yourself.  Yes, he hid it for you for a long time, and so it feels like he’s been lying for years about it.  Look at it from the other side though.  He’s been scared you’ll find out for a decade.  Can you imagine living with that sort of dread?  This is the problem with hiding a sin for so long.  For the sinner, it’s suddenly a relief.  Life feels better after confession.  The healing process can begin for them.  For the one who was betrayed, it’s a sudden blow and the damage is just starting.  It takes time to process and to move on to healing.

But, it’s been 3 years since you found out.  It’s time to let it go.  Holding on is not helping you, or him.  Ask God to give you a spirit of forgiveness.  He will help you when you are weak.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

Why did the affair happen?

There is a theme in the Bible of God taking horrible, tragic events and turning them into good.  I have faith that God can do the same with affairs.  I know He can, because I’ve seen it in people’s lives.  They’ve shared their stories with me and with others about how an affair actually turned out to be the best thing for their marriage.  Not that the affair was good!  But that it forced them to look at their marriage and make adjustments.

For the rest of my readers: You can do this without an affair!  It’s a lot less painful that way.

So, you should know the answer to the question: Why did the affair happen?  What was it he was looking for?  What’s missing in your marriage?  Affairs are rarely simply about sexual pleasure.  Often it’s more about an emotional connection, or the feeling of being desired.  Or a sense of adventure that’s missing in their daily life.  Something is going on in your marriage, or at least was 12 years ago, that made it possible for this indiscretion to happen.  I’m not saying it’s your fault.  But I am saying there is an opportunity to improve.

The Bible is clear that while we each are responsible for our actions and sins, our spouses can help protect us from temptation (1 Corinthians 7:5).

So, have you talked about the affair in a productive way?  In a “why did it happen, and how can we avoid it” way?  With the state of the marriage being the problem, not your husband.  I’m sure he’s dealt with himself as the problem for a while now.

There’s plenty original still to do

As for finding original things to do with sex, between the two of you, don’t worry.  You’ll find things.  My wife and I have been married for 15 years and I’ve been writing about sex for nearly 5 years.  We still keep having “firsts”.  I routinely get emails from couples later in life than we are thanking me for a post because it opened them up to explore something new in their marriage.  Sometimes they’ve been married for 50 years and they’re still learning new things!  You’ll find new things too.  Just go looking through the category on physiology here, and I’m sure you’ll find some new things.  Or pick up the spice jar printable.  I’m sure there’s something there you haven’t tried yet.

 

So, is there hope?  Yes, I think so.  But a lot of that hope is going to rely on your attitude and choices.  It’s your marriage.  Make the most out of it.

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7 thoughts on “Getting over an affair”

  1. Anonymous says:

    There is no “getting over” adultery. My husband has done it 3 times so I speak from experience. I have forgiven all 3 to release him from my rage/revenge so that God can deal with him. I still want him to be a father to our kids, but I don’t want him to be a husband to me anymore.
    I know the questions swirling in your head, and that’s the enemy. If he’s REPENTANT then you are not at liberty to divorce. Make a list of RATIONAL things you feel like he could do for you to be able to trust him again. One for me was all the passwords to his email & his phone. Another was that he had to send them emails saying it’s over & they can never talk again. These things have to be reasonable though.
    Do you go to a church that will expect you to grow? Lots of churches won’t speak in to anyone’s life or correct sin when it’s right in front of them. Have a meeting with your pastor to find out where they are at spiritually.
    There’s a book called At the Alter of Sexual Idolatry. I read it so I could talk about it & it gave me a swift kick. That authors wife wrote a book called When His Secret Sin Breaks Your Heart. It’s a compilation of letters to various women from the wife of a repentant adulterer who has begun a ministry in KY. (No pun intended)
    Good luck! This journey is not for the faint of heart, but if this was a one time deal and he’s willing to repent & do the things necessary to rebuild your trust…you have a good man who made a big mistake. Just keep praying.

  2. Mike says:

    I think that if one remarries, there is going to be former sex activity that the new husband has had with his former wife. We probably don’t resent that, because our former spouse was legally married. So, to me it is not the sex acts or the originality of the sex that matters. It is our mindset that makes the difference. Forgiveness gives us a different way of viewing the one we love.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Well, there’s a betrayal of trust involved too that needs to be healed. But, I agree, forgiveness is the deciding factor. Sometimes we forget we’re married to human beings.

  3. LatterDay Marriage says:

    My wife has never had an affair thank goodness, but i have been betrayed by somebody close to me in another way. Forgiving means you release yourself from any desire to punish or make them suffer for what they did, let go of the anger etc., but it alone does NOT heal the hurt over what happened.

    The betrayal is a wound on the relationship, and it is up to the offender to fix what they broke by showing they are truly repentant. They must correctly recognize their fault and admit to it, no denial or downplaying it. They must regret it in proportion to the magnitude of how wrong it was, a cup of regret for a swimming pool of hurt caused doesn’t cut it. They must do what they can to make amends, undo what they did or go above and beyond to make up for it, and they must have a change of heart that they become somebody who won’t do that again. When there is repentance and forgiveness, then the relationship can be repaired and Christ can turn the hurt into joy.

  4. Kay says:

    I have been through in my lifetime so far : 1. A parent (mother) who had an emotional affair for a year and a half at her work and then decided to leave my Dad and go through with a divorce to be with my step-father. I was 8 – 9 years old then. They are still married and she has since then been saved again. Pain from that was very very hard on me. Changed who I was inside and out.
    2. At the age of 11 and 12, my dad had remarried and my stepmothers stepdad molested me for almost 2 years of my life. I told my dad about 5 months into the sexual abuse and I remember like yesterday what he told me….(he didn’t believe me in that way of him actually touching me and just thought I was taking it out of context. I guess being newly married to someone and it being their father figure/stepdad really put a wedge in his heart to know what to say or do or think…I get it now and I did then but it hurt like crazy.) “I do not want to ruin someone’s life”!! My dad making this statement to me after I poured my heart out hoping he would save me, help heal me and make this person stop hurting me by sexually abusing me with his hands, body parts, facial expressions and words. My heart just sank to the floor and I felt and still feel those wounds of alone and nothing more than a object to be tossed away for someone’s desires or fantasylands. I felt like nothing and I really struggled after this and my parents divorce from an affair. This continued to happen off and on, I tried to avoid going near and over there as much as possible….it quit when I quit going around because I moved in with my mom and stepdad at 12 years old the summer before I went into 7th grade. I gained weight and then started to have body image issues and turned to bulimia. Which later led to both bulimia and anorexia in high school years. I then started to seek love and just wanted some boy to be my husband who would love me and care for me like no one else could. After my first boyfriend at almost 14 years old and losing my virginity, he broke up with me 4 months after the pressure of sex and oral sex. Claimed I wasn’t a virgin bc I didn’t bleed. Heart wrenching reality. I didn’t care anymore. I still felt a longing to have someone love me and provide emotional security and protection at heart levels but knew this was just a fantasy I had in my own mind and that it never existed! I let boys grab me, gave in to pressured sex both oral and vaginal, all i seen from every boy in school and church was pressure to every girl in this world they seem to bluntly ask them or pressure them into having sex or giving oral to them all the time. The pressure was real and felt like this is what we girls were made for, reality of adulthood didn’t look any different either.
    3. I met someone at work when was 15 and I had changed a lot of who I was, cleaned up my act of letting boys abuse and take advantage of me. He was 3 years older and in college. He really did love me and I loved him. One stupid night of drinking when my parents were out of town cost me an experience I didn’t even know I had done. A carwreck home and a month later I find out I am pregnant. We get married and he goes to school and works night shift. He loses weight and begins to get attention he never had growing up because he was always overweight, thinking nobody seen him for who he was…..but I DID! He forgets this I guess! A baby boy who is 6 months old and an girl who is sleeping with my husband at her place after work, he was not coming home after work anymore but excuses of late arrivals and fun things he was doing with this one guy pal who was her. 17 years old I made the choice to stay with him, just bought our first house and still loved him and gave him a chance and forgave him. Not long after (2 years later at almost 20 years old) he is cheating on my agiajn with his best friends sister who had moved into his house. He leaves me and our son for her. We go through with the process of divorce and start what paperwork you start in the beginning. I locked myself in my room and quit going to college classes bc I was not making it very well. My best friend gets me out of my box with drinking when I didn’t have my son on my weekends and it numbed the pain. But it never healed my wounds. I slowed it down a good bit and got it back together and went to school again. I met my now husband whom I love more than anything in this world besides my Lord! I knew he was the one and he felt the same. He wasn’t saved but believed in God, I was backslid in blindness and did not understand like I do now at 30. We get married 2 years after we were together and have 2 daughters and my(our) son who is 13. I dealt with porn issues since dating and it tore my world apart over and over and over. Lie after lie and promise after promise. He has been porn free for almost a year but still has lust and masturbating issues. So with all my lifetime of having it this and that way being crushed inside and out….I can say the feelings of what is worse would be if physical or emotional or mental…..they all feel the exact same beside the physical! The physical actually is easier to bare and heal from than the mental or emotional adultery and the constant crazy feeling that goes with never knowing what is going on when he chose to lie or hid or deny something and I would of rather it have been a physical deal and just got it over with for whatever the season. It is the same in Gods eyes and it is for me as well. But for the pain which comes close but for a foot or two off, the lust/porn/mast. Adultery is the worst and extremely overwhelming insane to deal with inside! I pray for you to heal and to grab hold of God with everything you have. Bless you and keep your heart secure in Him and safe from anymore hurts and harm. Sister to sister love:)

    1. Kelli P says:

      Have you read At The Altar of Sexual Idolatry? It has a workbook too…maybe a good study for you & your husband to do together…if he’s willing. The book is convicting for someone who’s truely repentant.

  5. Kevin Grant says:

    Yes, you can heal. I had an affair. I felt immediately guilty and told my wife, but that didn’t end the affair – I just had it with her knowledge. I had a confused period when I didn’t know which woman I wanted. However, God let me know that I had no right to be with anyone other than my wife.

    By God’s grace, she chose to stay with me. She was very hurt, and I had brought hurt onto myself also. I thought I should be able to confess the sin to God, that he would forgive me immediately, and fellowship would be restored. It didn’t work out that way. There were things I needed to change. I had to make a new, deep commitment to my wife for the rest of my life. I had to acknowledge how very badly I had hurt my wife, and make changes. I knew she should be able to live with me confident that I was totally committed to her. I allowed her to seek assurance from me whenever she felt the need, and know that I was 100% going to tell her the truth no matter what she asked. I gave her permission to read my emails and check my online use.

    We moved town to have a new start. I went through some years of mental illness. Eventually, my wife realized that she could trust me now. We may both still carry scars, but we believe our marriage now is much much stronger than it ever would have been had not we experienced this horrible sinful failure on my part (because I was so immature and weak in my commitment). We are now confident and assured in our love for each other. My relationship with the Lord is restored. I will never be unfaithful to my wife ever again – I would rather die than cause her that pain again.

    Some people say you should leave an unfaithful husband, as he will only do it again. I’m here to say “bollocks”. Men can and do change.

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