The happy marriage is now a distance memory. It's lies upon lies - you don't know what to believe. You stumbled upon the truth, your fears are confirmed, your spouse has cheated on you.
What do you do when your spouse commits adultery?
1). You must turn to the Lord to heal your marriage. God performed the first marriage between Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28. He instituted this covenant between a man and a woman, which is the foundation of the family. Since God created marriage, He's the One who can heal and sustain your marriage.
Eventually, the cheating spouse, if he or she is a believer, has to come "to his senses" (Luke 15:17) and turn to the Lord for forgiveness. This could take some time, especially if the cheating spouse is still experiencing the excitement of the affair. You should never let up praying for conviction of sin, and given the opportunity, sharing Biblical truth to your spouse about marriage and adultery.
Remember, it's the Lord who will save your marriage, not you. God is faithful, He wants two believers to stay married. Here are the steps (in order) that need to eventually happen and be addressed:
- The adulterer must repent and ask the Lord's forgiveness. God is the ultimate victim of adultery. He created the marriage covenant and you broke it. 2 Samuel 12:13
- The adulterer must ask forgiveness of his or her spouse. This likely will take some time, especially if they got "caught" and never really wanted to stop the affair. The adulterer doesn't realize how much they've hurt their spouse, mentally, they've rationalized the affair away, "it's no big deal, just sex."
- The hurt spouse must forgive the adulterer and not remind them of their sin every third day. Forgiveness doesn't hold your spouse hostage. They've confessed their sin, you've forgiven them - Christ has forgiven them - this must happen for your marriage to heal and be restored.
2). Be cautious speaking with friends and family. If you speak with someone who doesn't believe what Mark 10:9 says, "What God has joined together, let no one separate" - they'll likely encourage you to get divorced.
Jesus said that Moses permitted divorce because the hardness of your hearts (Matthew 19:8). Divorce is not the plan and purpose of marriage.
Don't make life-altering decisions when you're hurting and you just discovered your spouse is cheating on you. Allow the Lord to heal and forgive. If God can raise the dead, you have to believe He can restore your marriage.
3). Begin meeting with a Biblical counselor and / or Bible-believing pastor. Having a couple pray for you, encourage you in worship attendance, and learn to rebuild trust and accountability is a must to prevent future adulterous encounters.
A marriage discipleship plan - couples are praying together, reading Scripture together, and worshiping together - should be in place. This will be a challenging step if your spouse isn't repentant.
Social media, apps, bars, and our immoral culture have made compromise too easy and common.
I believe God can restore any marriage - the betrayal, pain, hurt, broken trust, and embarrassment are all real. I can't promise you a restored marriage, but I can promise you God is faithful as you cry out to Him.
Baptist Press: Adultery, Divorce & the Believer
Billy Graham: Adultery Brings Devastating Consequences
Adrian Rogers: How Do I Forgive My Spouse for Past Mistakes