There is hope. How do I know? Because I am a recipient of hope.
I believe every spouse who lose their way – has hope to find their way back. I truly believe that deep in the inner compass of our spouse, there is a strong north that points them back to their family. We need to help get them back on track by praying and responding in the most Christ-like way.
John and I usually counsel couples who have undergone infidelity. Observing every husband, we have sat with, there are somehow common sentiments:
- He is striving to make things right but doesn’t know how or where to start.
- He doesn’t want to hurt anyone, both his wife including the other woman but knows that he has hurt them anyway.
- He is in a complete mess.
- He is discouraged.
- His self esteem is so low because usually the wife withdraws love and he is aware he deserves it.
- He is beaten and broken.
On the other hand, the wife is over analyzing everything.
- She will investigate everything.
- She will check out the other woman and start comparing.
- She will have a roller coaster of emotion: self pity, anger, feeling of betrayal and depression rolled into one.
- She will try to find other women to share her pain and find her bearing.
- She is bound to withdraw from her husband.
- She wants her husband to feel the same pain.
Where to start when you want to set things right?
Go back to the Designer.
I have not been scuba diving for a year or so. So when John and I went on a quick scuba diving escape, I thought everything will be okay. But that confidence soon disappeared as I got down maybe in my estimation of about 15 feet, my dive computer goes blank. When this happens you lose a lot of your awareness. You don’t know your depth, how long you are in the water, you can’t gauge your safety stops and the list goes on and on. This made me panic because I also lost my dive buddies. For safety, I ended up doing shallow diving. I tried to move the buttons and even changed batteries but because its completely blank, I knew this had to be returned to the designer to have them fix and restore it.
You and I are like that dive computer. We are designed for great purpose but when it becomes dysfunctional, you cannot fix it on your own. You need to return to the Designer of Life. He is God. He knows how you are wired. You can’t fix the marriage just by changing your schedule or by being good. If you are broken you wont know the depth of your relationship, understand the safety stops of your hedges until it is correctly repaired by the Maker. So if you are wanting to start: Go back to God. Find yourself a church, find a godly couples group that can mentor you and hold you accountable.
Apologize and Repent
I need to emphasize that when you make a mistake, you need to acknowledge that you made a mistake. Every spouse wants to hear that you are sincerely sorry. Many until today, just want to fix it without asking the forgiveness of their spouse. If you have not done this yet, its time to swallow your pride, take heart and apologize. You also need to repent. This means no turning back on your past mistakes. That is the clearest act of apology when they have seen you change.
When John confessed and asked forgiveness, I was still very hurt. But because he acknowledged his wrong doing, it made me want to help him more. I saw John clearly repent, when he finally decided he needed God to be in the picture of his life. He started attending a small group – regularly without me nagging. He made intentional decisions to stop doing things that will lead him back in the lost path again. This meant saying no to alcohol, avoiding late night meetings, not being in conversation with the opposite sex that can have emotional investments. He also began spending time with the kids. I knew these were big changes for him. That’s why I decided I must hold my tongue – instead of doubting and nagging, I learned to pray for my spouse. I also learned to bless him. I blessed him with encouraging words every time he was on the right track. I did not selfishly withhold it.
*Warning: When a spouse confesses do not use this against them so that you can overpower them, manipulate and hurt them back. Doing this wont repair your marriage.
This is a Latin word that was used to mean scraped tablet (one from which writing was erased). It also means an opportunity for a fresh start. Many married couples are stuck between the sin and the hurt. They cannot move forward. This is something that we need to decide on. I always ask the couples we are counseling – What is your end goal? Do you want to fix it or do you want continue being miserable? If your answer is the first one, then we must begin with a change of perspective. Give your spouse a break. Remember everyone makes mistakes. Like sin – there is no differentiation between someone who lied to someone who killed. The fact big or small – sin is still sin. But our gracious God pave the way for us to experience a “Tabula Rasa”. He knew we could not do it on our own, that’s why he sent his only son Jesus to die on the cross as the payment for our sins! But Jesus resurrected and arose as a testament that He has the power to restore us and give us a clean slate. God did this for you.
You can do the same for your spouse.
Throw in the towel of anger, bitterness and unforgiveness and go back to start. Square one means – getting to know each other again. Trusting your spouse to the Lord. Reminding him/her, that they are ultimately accountable to God. Be desirable. Date again. Don’t pick a fight, Don’t show attitude of ungratefulness. Don’t keep bringing back the past. Don’t push your spouse to go back to their old state. Give them enough space to pursue you and exercise loving you again. Be forgiving and cheer them on.
I can already hear you say – “this is so hard to do – you don’t know what I had to go through.”
Here is my encouragement for you: There is strength when you bond in your weaknesses. When someone openly shows their weak side and you as the spouse walk along side and help them, there is a power of intimacy that ties you together to make you even stronger. So when you feel like giving up, know the best is yet to come.
If you want to see the handprints of God, you need to connect the dots backwards. You see before I could see change in John, God already saw John and what he would become in Christ. I just needed to put my faith in the Lord. I knew I could not change John but I believe God could. Here I am 15 years later with peace in my heart. I remember what John told me in 2007 when he finally surrendered his life to Jesus;
“I want you to know that you are loving the John Mateos Ong in the same old body but with a new spirit. I am a changed man by God’s grace. Thank you for not giving up on me.”
Don’t give up on your spouse. There is hope.