You’ve been traumatized by your spouse’s sexual sin. However, with care, you can begin to experience moments of relief and eventually even refreshment. And if your spouse truly repents of their sin, it will take bothof you to accomplish full marital healing. Trust, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration are all part of the recovery process.
Trustis like healing water: Over time your spouse must deposittrust, drop by drop, and you must collectit. Keep in mind, though, that you might not fully experience a stable sense of trust in your marriage for several years. Your spouse needs to patiently and humbly follow a recovery plan that shows heart-level transformation and new, sincere relational skills — not merely a brief behavior change.
Forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration are closely linked. Forgiveness must be present for reconciliation and restoration to take place. However, forgiving doesn’t mean you should be naive or let your spouse take advantage of you. And it doesn’t depend on the other person’s actions; it’s an individual spiritual choice. Forgiveness is a matter of releasing yourself from resentment and bitterness that may hold you hostage.
Unlike forgiveness, reconciliation is a joint venture. It means that you and your spouse agree on what happened and are no longer in a battle over the reality of where things stand. But reconciliation doesn’t necessarily mean restoration. Occasionally, husbands or wives settle for a less-than-full recovery because they might not realize there’s more healing to come, or they simply don’t want to do the work. Ideally, however, your marriage will experience something better and greater ahead — something redemptive that’s in line with God’s character. It’s called restoration.
Restoration is part of the joint venture that is biblicalreconciliation in the fullestsense. Restoration fulfills God’s heart and purpose in a way that puts His redemptive characteristics and love on display. It means that you and your spouse have progressively forgiven and reconciled and are now working on repairing and rebuilding your relationship and intimacy. Restoration is the best relapse-prevention plan.
A special note if you have children
If you have children, they’re also going to need help to work through this family crisis. Older children may already know what’s been happening; younger kids will have sensed stress in the home and will need someone to come alongside them as they deal with feelings they don’t really understand.
It’s especially important to assure children of all ages that they’re emotionally and physically safe, and you won’t let anything harm them or threaten their security. Handle the topic sensitively and don’t overload your children with unnecessary details. Follow your children’s lead. Don’t give them more information than they’re asking for, but don’t withhold or lie.
These principles are drawn from the book Aftershock: Overcoming His Secret Life with Pornography—A Plan for Recovery by Joann Condie and Geremy Keeton.
Next month: Set Yourself Up for Success