A Note from Kelly King: My husband and I just celebrated 29 years of marriage. I’m so grateful for his love and faithfulness throughout our marriage. Even so, I am constantly saddened and maddened when marriages fail because of an affair. If you are a ministry leader, I can promise this subject is one you will confront at some point. In today’s article, Deb Douglas discusses how to respond to someone caught in a messy marriage.
Cheating. Fooling around. Stepping out. Adultery.
The words used to describe having an affair are ugly, messy words. They are words backed up with hurt, grief, loss, and heartache.
Misery. Dejection. Complications.
Here’s what we need to know about the messiness of affairs:
- Having an affair is not an accident. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Affairs take careful planning and attention to detail in order to pull off.
- Affairs do not “just happen.” The idea of an affair has been planted at some point. There have been multiple red flag warnings to step back in to a safer zone. Choices have been made to ignore those red flags.
- Affairs normally are not individual events. They are emotional relationships.
- Affairs are difficult to forget and forgive.
- Most people having affairs regret the hurt they cause, but in the moment they feel they deserve happiness and a chance to explore by stepping away from the demands of their lives.
- In the midst of the affair, the parties convince themselves with lies like “no one knows” and “no one is getting hurt.”
- Affairs have a negative impact on children, friends, and the church.
Every week I have women coming to my office to get the rule book on how to respond to having an affair. There is not one. Each marriage is unique, as is each affair.
What do I say in the midst of a messy affair?
- The spouse needs to express that the affair was wrong and that it hurt others.
- Knowing all the details does not make it easier to get past it. That only gives women more to obsess over!
- A spouse should be very careful not to take responsibility for the other spouse’s affair. The other spouse is an adult accountable for his or her own choices and sins.
- Spouses must take care not to communicate acceptance or approval of the affair. Women are quick to justify what their husbands have done. The reasons behind this may be:
- A need to be in a state of denial of the situation
- A need to hold the marriage together at any cost
- A strong desire to stay at the same financial status as before the affair
What happens if the wife is the one in a messy affair? Read the article next week to find out:
- How to safeguard ourselves from affairs
- How to extract oneself from an affair
- What to do in the aftermath of an affair
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
God has called Deb Douglas to make a difference in the world, one woman at a time. For over 39 years, Deb has served in women’s ministry. Now she spends her time ministering to women in the sex trade ministry and serving as the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Bossier City. Deb is a contributor to LifeWay’s All Access blog, a freelance writer, and an event speaker. Deb was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. Deb is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.