Intimate Clarity

Clarity On Recovery from Adultery

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript



Series Code: IC

Program Code: IC180124A

00:01 The following program discusses sensitive issues
00:03 related to sexuality.
00:05 Parents are cautioned this presentation
00:07 may be too candid for younger audiences.
00:29 Welcome to Intimate Clarity.
00:31 I'm Jason Bradley and I am here with Jennifer Jill Schwirzer,
00:34 and she is a licensed professional counselor.
00:36 And today we're going to be discussing
00:38 a very sensitive topic
00:40 but it's a conversation we need to have.
00:42 Jen, how...
00:44 It's a conversation you need to have.
00:45 Yo.
00:47 We're going to have this conversation today.
00:49 How does a marriage recover from adultery?
00:52 And can it even do?
00:53 Yeah, is that even possible? Yeah.
00:55 In my case if it happened, I don't feel it's possible
00:59 but I'm not married right now.
01:00 That's right.
01:02 But, you know, in my thinking at this very moment for me now.
01:05 You're coming into the convo with a little bit of baggage
01:07 and a little bit of bias and you just think
01:10 if that happened in my marriage, it'll be over.
01:12 Yes.
01:13 And you know, you're allowed,
01:15 I mean, we're permitted to divorce
01:17 but let's say,
01:19 people don't want to go that route,
01:21 what can they do in that case?
01:23 So Jesus and Moses
01:25 cited only adultery as grounds for divorce.
01:27 We've had other discussions
01:29 about if there are any other grounds,
01:31 kind of the conventional wisdom is,
01:33 if it's any of the three A's adultery, abandonment or abuse,
01:37 then divorce is permissible biblically,
01:39 some people don't believe that
01:41 but they believe it's just adultery.
01:43 Jesus said that, Moses said it.
01:46 So that's kind of where I land
01:48 but I realize there are different views.
01:51 Disclaimer here, if there's abuse going on,
01:54 separate, we all agree about that.
01:57 So at any rate when Jesus said, it's only adultery,
02:02 He was obviously saying
02:04 that adultery was a serious assault
02:06 on that relationship
02:08 if it's the only grounds
02:09 and if it's in His thinking
02:10 worse than abuse perhaps potentially,
02:13 like that's a serious assault.
02:15 You kind of wonder why?
02:16 And I think it's the very reason
02:18 that you're kind of bringing out in your view
02:20 and that is that the trust is so completely destroyed
02:24 as a result of that adultery.
02:27 But even then He encouraged forgiveness.
02:29 So let's look at the verse itself,
02:32 chapter says, I'm sorry, this is Matthew 19:8.
02:37 "Jesus said, 'Moses permitted you
02:39 to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.
02:42 But it was not this way from the beginning.
02:47 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife,
02:49 except for sexual immorality,
02:50 and marries another woman commits adultery.'"
02:53 Very strong words there. Absolutely.
02:54 So he said,
02:56 "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives
02:58 because your hearts were hard."
03:01 So apparently it's not an ideal situation
03:03 'cause God doesn't want our hearts to be hard.
03:05 And Jen...
03:07 I'm not trying to be hard on you.
03:08 No, no.
03:09 What I was going to say was, adultery is a hard situation.
03:12 That's true. Yeah, you're right.
03:14 The hardness of heart could be on the other person's part too.
03:16 Could be the person that cheated,
03:18 they're like, I'm not even sorry, you know.
03:19 It's all your fault or whatever.
03:21 So, you know, we don't know exactly what that means.
03:23 But let's just say for instance that God has led a person
03:28 and there are reasons, you can see
03:29 where if you're in a marriage for many years
03:31 and it's been basically happy and you have children
03:34 and there's just a whole kind of
03:35 commitment going on there
03:37 that it would be hard to leave that relationship,
03:39 harder than the situation where it's just two people.
03:42 So let's talk about adultery recovery.
03:45 I would put it this way,
03:46 it's possible but it's difficult.
03:49 Okay.
03:50 Number one, first and foremost,
03:51 there needs to be clear deep repentance
03:54 on the part of the person that cheated.
03:57 And we're really clear on this that the Bible teaches
04:00 that repentance is a gift,
04:01 it's not something you can manufacture,
04:03 something you can conjure up within yourself.
04:06 It's something that God gives you
04:08 but you have to be willing to receive it.
04:11 And so that's essential
04:12 because what the repentance does
04:15 is it cuts at the root
04:16 of the person's obsession with sin
04:19 or the person's addiction to that sin.
04:21 You know, John the Baptist said that the axe is laid
04:24 to the root of the tree.
04:26 He was calling the people to repentance,
04:28 that was his ministry.
04:29 He says the axe is laid to the root of the tree.
04:31 You get a sense that repentance cuts you off
04:35 from the sort of the tributary of sin into your life.
04:39 And so that repentance is just essential
04:42 and that person will manifest fruits of repentance.
04:46 Lot of times when I deal with abuse cases I'll get this,
04:49 well, how do you know if they've repented or not.
04:51 Well, Jesus said there are fruits of repentance
04:53 and when you go buy an apple tree,
04:55 you know, you see the fruit on the apple tree
04:58 or you at least see the little buds
05:00 that's going to become the fruit,
05:01 it's just suitable to individuals on the outside
05:06 that fruit of repentance.
05:07 So the spouse of the person will be able to see
05:11 the fruits of repentance.
05:13 They're going to admit they're wrong without excuses.
05:17 There may have been some provocations
05:20 on the part of the grieved spouse
05:23 that a spouse that did not cheat,
05:25 they may have made home life miserable
05:27 but never under any circumstances
05:30 is adultery a good idea,
05:33 never is an appropriate response,
05:36 never is it justifiable.
05:37 So that individual needs to take responsibility,
05:40 admit what they did without excuses.
05:44 However I do not recommend a detailed description
05:47 of what went on.
05:48 And what I find is sometimes the grieved spouse
05:50 is obsessed with what happened
05:52 and they'll start asking for details
05:54 and they'll require that,
05:56 let me just say this upfront that it's very important
05:58 that a couple that's been through adultery
06:00 have a counselor
06:02 because that is another pair of eyes
06:03 on the situation
06:04 that will help you avoid those pitfalls.
06:06 For instance the cheater having to tell in detail
06:11 the grieved spouse what went on in the relationship
06:14 which ends up being more destructive than helpful.
06:16 So those are some things that a counselor
06:18 can help you with.
06:19 And then you need to be willing to hear
06:21 the pain of the grieved spouse
06:24 and you may need to hear that pain
06:26 and empathize with that pain for longer
06:28 than you think is necessary,
06:30 but that well is very deep, and that blow is very severe,
06:34 and the trust is very shattered.
06:36 And so you need to hear the pain
06:39 that you caused in that person's life.
06:42 And hearing that pain and empathizing
06:44 with that pain is foundational to never repeating that again
06:47 because you start to feel what they feel
06:50 and then you develop an aversion to the very sin
06:52 that was once attractive to you.
06:55 So you need to be willing to hear the pain
06:56 of your spouse.
06:58 I think that what people are going through recovery
07:00 from any sexual sin,
07:02 they need to bow out of spiritual responsibilities.
07:06 I'm pretty strong on that.
07:08 I think if someone violates their congregant
07:11 has an "affair" with the congregant
07:13 like a pastor or someone of spiritual authority.
07:15 When it's done, I think they're finished
07:18 and they no longer have the privilege
07:20 of being in spiritual leadership
07:21 but say it's a consensual affair
07:23 and that person may be a deacon or a Sabbath school teacher.
07:27 I would recommend you back out of those responsibilities
07:29 just so that you can focus everything
07:31 on repairing that situation and that relationship.
07:35 And I would say
07:36 also there's with spiritual leadership
07:39 sometimes a denial factor
07:40 where you think you're more together
07:42 than you really are
07:43 because you're presenting as together.
07:45 And this can help backing out of those things
07:47 can help break that spell so to speak.
07:51 A lot of times the grieved spouse
07:53 will try to police the other spouse
07:57 as the one that cheated
07:58 as they try to rebuild trust,
08:01 that's not a good idea.
08:03 We talked about this before. Yes.
08:05 You said the reason you wouldn't want to try
08:06 to repair a marriage in which there had been adultery
08:09 is because you just wouldn't be able to reinstate trust.
08:12 Yeah, once trust is broken, it's very hard to rebuild.
08:16 You know, it's hard and then if,
08:18 let's say, the person who cheated
08:23 then the person who he cheated on,
08:27 if she, he or she is bringing it up constantly,
08:32 you know, years down the road then it's...
08:36 That's not going to work.
08:37 It distrusts the relationship. Yeah.
08:39 And the person who was cheated on
08:40 if they don't have that trust, you can't trust...
08:44 But I have seen it
08:45 where people really do get past it.
08:48 I think it's possible, I do.
08:50 I agree with you. Yeah.
08:51 I think it's possible, it's just not for me, you know.
08:56 Well, we have to go there.
08:57 So maybe a counseling session or something.
08:58 That's good.
09:00 But you know what I'm saying like,
09:01 it's possible to do this
09:02 but what I recommend is rather than the grieved spouse
09:05 policing the spouse that cheated,
09:09 the spouse that cheated is the one
09:11 that volunteers the information the grieved spouse needs
09:16 to reinstate trust 'cause there's going to be
09:17 a period of time where you don't know
09:20 if you can trust them again.
09:21 Yeah, yeah.
09:23 And so there has to be that period of time
09:24 where you're just extra, extra accountable.
09:25 So I was working with one couple,
09:27 and there had been strip clubs involved
09:29 and the wife was tempted to police him,
09:34 where are you driving,
09:35 how are you getting to work in this type of thing.
09:37 And instead what he did was he said,
09:39 "I had to go around the long way.
09:41 I didn't even want to go by it.
09:42 But then the next day I had to drive right by
09:44 because the road was blocked off.
09:45 But I want you to know that, honey, that I did that.
09:48 And then here's my phone I want you...
09:49 And here's my password.
09:51 I want you to be able to look at my phone
09:52 anytime you want to."
09:53 So he's volunteering this stuff rather than withholding it
09:56 and her policing him.
09:57 Very, very important
09:59 that you kind of switch that process.
10:00 So some of the accountability measures
10:03 that are extra important are number one,
10:05 the cheating spouse
10:07 needs to cut off that relationship completely
10:10 or cut the supply line if it happens to be,
10:13 you know, pornography or whatever it is.
10:15 They need to make a clean break with that.
10:17 They need a computer filter if porn is involved.
10:20 The couple needs individual and marriage counseling.
10:24 So you need both,
10:25 you need someone to talk to that individual who cheated
10:28 and help them restore and help them recover
10:30 and of the individual who was cheated on
10:32 needs a counselor
10:34 and they need marriage counseling.
10:35 You're thinking,
10:37 "Man, I can see the counseling bills just.
10:38 And it is expensive." But you know what?
10:39 How can you put a price tag on a marriage?
10:41 If you really want to fix this marriage
10:43 then be willing to make the sacrifice,
10:45 take out a loan or whatever you have to do.
10:47 I recommend to the individual who cheated a support group.
10:51 We like Celebrate Recovery
10:52 because they're available everywhere,
10:53 it's a Christian based, biblically based support group.
10:56 But whatever you can find locally
10:58 that will help people
10:59 in recovery from sexual addiction
11:01 or any kind of,
11:03 if you can find one that's just for adultery recovery, great.
11:06 But if you can't, usually a sexual addiction group
11:08 will address the same issues.
11:10 And I recommend that the cheating partner
11:12 have an accountability partner,
11:15 someone that they can talk to about these things.
11:17 So do you see a little more possibility
11:20 of how it could work?
11:21 Preferably of the same sex.
11:22 Oh, definitely.
11:24 Then you're running into another issue.
11:25 That's right.
11:27 That's particularly when you're young.
11:28 Yes.
11:30 You know, the Bible says, Ephesians 4:32,
11:32 "Be kind one to another, tenderhearted,
11:35 forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake
11:38 has forgiven you."
11:40 And that tenderhearted, kindness toward one another
11:43 really comes into play
11:45 typically when if an individual is truly repentant.
11:49 And they have strayed and they're truly repentant,
11:51 they're overwhelmed with shame at times.
11:54 And they hate themselves.
11:55 And tender kindness and forgiveness
11:57 from their spouse can mean so much.
11:59 You know, I'll say this too that.
12:02 Sometimes we carry around
12:05 a big bag of self-righteousness.
12:07 And we can be difficult to be around,
12:10 difficult to love when we're self righteous.
12:13 Sometimes making a concrete mistake
12:16 can really be the wake-up call we need.
12:19 Humbling experience.
12:20 Yeah, can be this humbling experience
12:22 that can make us so much more godly spouse
12:23 in the long run.
12:25 So I think there is life after adultery.
12:27 But I need to clarify that forgiveness
12:29 and trust are not the same thing.
12:32 You may choose to forgive your cheating spouse
12:35 but you may not choose to continue
12:37 in the relationship with them.
12:39 And you have biblical grounds, it's okay you can opt out.
12:42 But trust is kind of built on top of forgiveness.
12:46 So if there's that foundation of forgiveness
12:47 and if your relationship is salvageable,
12:50 it may be that you can rebuild the trust.
12:53 I'm with the forgiveness aspect,
12:55 like I definitely support that the forgiveness
12:58 is just the continuing down the road and allow...
13:01 With our relationships.
13:02 Yes. Yes. Yeah.
13:04 Rebuilding.
13:05 Forgiveness is a given. We forgive everyone.
13:07 We don't live in bitterness and resentment
13:10 toward people that have hurt us.
13:12 However do we want to continue in that relationship
13:14 is the question?
13:16 And that is a question a person needs to answer
13:18 with a lot of variables and in prayer with the Lord,
13:22 and seeking His will in their lives,
13:23 and asking Him to,
13:25 you know, mould their hearts to be like His heart.
13:28 And you know, I'll pray for you.
13:30 Yeah, thank you.
13:31 But I'm sure you're just the most forgiving guy,
13:34 but this is obviously a difficult area for you.
13:37 I am very forgiving.
13:38 You know, I am a very forgiving person.
13:40 I've been forgiven in a lot of things, you know.
13:42 God has forgiven me in a lot of things.
13:44 And so I am a forgiving person,
13:46 it's just a matter of continuing that.
13:48 And it is the ultimate challenge
13:51 for a marriage to get past that,
13:52 it is the ultimate challenge.
13:54 It's very, very difficult.
13:56 And I continue to check in with,
13:58 you know, clients that I'm working with,
13:59 do you want to work past this
14:01 because you can, you can end your relationship
14:03 if you want to.
14:05 You have to be fully engaged.
14:06 It's a deep and very interesting topic there.
14:09 Our time is just about up.
14:11 But if you want some more information,
14:13 more resources, visit intimate
14:17 And we hope to see you on the next episode.
14:20 God bless.


Revised 2018-11-05