Destroyed by Adultery?

Question:” In light of all your teaching it seems rather hopeless for those living in a marriage ruined by adultery. What hope is there? How can (we deal with this)? …you are leaving some of us feeling as if we have no hope of getting to a marriage like you describe.”   


1.Let’s begin with a basic observation: your goal must not be to have a happy marriage. The reality is that you may not have a happy marriage. Your goal must not be to fix your marriage or to win your mate back. Your goal must be to please God by becoming a biblical husband/wife. So you should do things to please your spouse primarily as a way to please God. This is a goal you can meet!  I find that most people in sour marriages miss this critical point.  

2.I admit that adultery is a high act of treason against the marriage partner. It is a despicable sin.  I also acknowledge that adultery is a legitimate ground for divorce. However, I cannot agree that adultery necessarily “ruins” the marriage or that it means the aggrieved partner is in a “hopeless” situation. And yet, I want to be clear that I do realize how difficult it must be to stay married to a person who has betrayed you through adultery. I can only imagine.

3.A phenomenon called “forgiveness” changes everything. No genuine Christian should have to be convinced of this. God has forgiven us of the most despicable of sins. In fact, it is instructive that the OT prophets often describe Israel’s sins against Jehovah as harlotry! NAU  Jeremiah 3:8 "And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also. 

4.Then, there is the unbelievable story of Hosea wooing his adulterous wife, Gomer. NAU  Hosea 1:2 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, "Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.” 

5.Furthermore, numerous studies have clearly shown that staying in a bad marriage is more beneficial than ending it. There is hardly anything to gain by ending the marriage. . Divorce is one gift that keeps on giving. 

6.So, adultery need not be the end of your marriage. Here are some rudimentary thoughts and perspectives to consider.

a.This seems elementary, but, make sure you are operating on facts rather than suspicions. Can you be positive your spouse actually committed adultery?  Does he/she admit it? If not, how do you know he/she is lying?

b.Adultery is normally symptomatic of larger problems; more often than not it exposes the fact that your marriage is unhealthy. Thus, you can view the immorality as a means to strengthen your marriage.   

c.Focus on yourself, not your adulterous partner. Let God work on your spouse; you work on you. No amount of nagging, berating, or manipulating will help.  Evaluate how you are doing as a wife or husband in light of God’s expectations. What changes do you need to make? Don’t point to your spouse. You can’t blame anyone else for your failure to be the kind of husband/wife you should be. You are not responsible for your spouse’s actions, so don’t blame yourself. However, you are responsible for how you respond to his/her actions; and you are responsible for how you fulfill God’s requirements of you. 

d.Do you really believe adultery is forgivable? Or do you act as if it is the unpardonable sin? It is possible that your spouse can genuinely repent no matter how awful the sin.  If God can forgive, what about you? It is possible that you too can forgive. 

e.Chances are this didn’t happen overnight. Consequently, you shouldn’t be surprised if it takes time for both of you to act biblically and thus rebuild a trusting relationship. You must be prepared to be satisfied with incremental progress. So, slow down. 

f.Do take basic action. Just because you should slow down doesn’t mean you do nothing. Begin by seeking counsel from godly leadership at the church. Also, you should be clear with your spouse that as long as he/she has divided loyalty (i.e. won’t cut off the adulterous relationship) he/she is forfeiting normal marital relationships with you.

g.Both the husband and wife must be willing to openly discuss the circumstances with one another. Talk through what happened and why. What was the adulterous partner thinking? Silence is not golden in this case; it is disastrous; it won’t make things better. Open communication is essential, albeit, painful. As a rule, it is helpful to know the general particulars, but not the graphic details. 

7.I fear that many whose spouses have committed adultery are quick to play the victim card; they quietly shout, “Please feel sorry for me”.  To those spouses I would respectfully ask, do you deserve a happy marriage? Is suffering an unfair hand dealt to you by a harsh God? Is it not true that from God’s hand we receive both the good and the bad? And our God is a loving Father in either event. I trust I am not being insensitive; rather I am attempting to encourage you. You are not the first of God’s children who is forced to deal with betrayal. Take heart, God has not abandoned you! 

8.So, there is always hope. Why? Because we are not dealing with sexual addiction; rather we are dealing with sin. And God has the solution to sin! He can change the heart. As long as people are breathing, there is hope.