Breaking Faith

cheating.jpg “…you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant” (Malachi 2:14). In the last 18 months, I have had personal dealings with two beloved men. In addition to other associations with me, they are my brothers in Christ. They have broken my heart and the hearts of those who love them, their children and their extended families. I am putting this on my blog for them and for others who may be involved in similar circumstances.

It is addressed to these men but I am aware that women are often bogged in the same tragic muck. To all of you I say: there is no need to stay stuck in this morass. You can get out. If you do it quickly and decisively you can, with God’s help, find some measure of true joy. I have personally offered to help you both…that offer still stands.

 

My dear loved one,

So, you’ve decided to leave your wife…maybe for another woman…maybe just to explore other options. And, you are doing this in spite of the fact that your wife still loves you, has been faithful to you and, perhaps most importantly, children are involved. Well, I have a few things to say about that.

First of all, even though you know all this, let me present my credentials for others who may read this: I have been married to the same woman for the better part of 50 years. She was my high school sweetheart and I decided very early that I did not want to live without her. We dated for three years and when our relationship began to be inappropriately physical, we got married. We were young, ignorant, naïve and very much in love. And, we’d do it again!

You’d think we’d have known each other after three years of dating. And, it is true that we knew we were compatible on most levels. But there were major adjustments required along the way. We had most things in common: religion, race, age, values, etc. But we had been reared in homes that were very different in many ways. Our worldviews were different. Our expectations were different. Our way of interacting with our fellow humans was different. Truthfully, we are still making those adjustments and probably will until death separates us. And, the fact that we both continue to change as life progresses means we keep learning to live with various versions of the same person.

Nobody forced us to the altar at gunpoint. We alone made the decision to marry when it became obvious it was high time to do so. When we stood before our family and friends and made promises and vows to each other and God, we both meant it.

The years have sorely tested those vows. There have been years of poverty and chronic illness. There have been winters of discontent. There have been seasons of deep disappointment. There has been at least as much (if not more) “worse” as there has been “better.” Both of us have been “hit on” by very attractive members of the opposite sex (her, more than me, obviously). Through it all, we have survived and thrived…marriage intact.

Because of my life as a preacher/pastor, I have done a great deal of marriage counseling. I could not possibly count the hours spent in both pre and post-marital counseling. I think I may have heard most versions of “it all.”

So there you have it. I believe my credentials prove I am qualified to warn you about the disaster you are bringing down upon your own head and the heads of those who gave you birth, raised you, love you, know you, care about you, work with you, and look to you. And not only you, but this disaster will make tidal waves on the relatively calm surface of the ocean of your life to violently crash on the shore of your wife’s family and friends. In short, this one act will negatively impact the lives of hundreds. Are you ready to trade what you have for such stormy chaos? Are you really willing to be responsible for such unhappiness?

Let’s see. What will you gain for such a high price? Freedom? Good sex? Someone who (for the moment at least) is willing to listen to your wisdom and foolishness with equal interest? Is she (at least for the moment – remember, this is “infatuation time”), prettier, smarter, kinder, gentler, etc.? Are you telling me that you will sacrifice your family, friends and (in case you still care) your eternity for such temporary pleasure?

I want you to think about the other woman. Think about the fact that she has been an accomplice in the breakup of your marriage and home. This is not her first rodeo. She has willingly been unfaithful to whatever vows she made to her previous husband (or husbands) to have you. Here’s an important question: why should she stick with you…especially when whatever heat drew you to each other cools down? Is she going to somehow become trustworthy while she shacks up with you? What will you do when she wanders off with someone else? Go home? Don’t count on it. Home will have become something else by then. After all, adultery is the ultimate betrayal. Trust can be restored, but it will be a long, hard slog.

OK, let’s think about your children. How are they handling this? You think they are handling it well? Wrong! Professional consensus and experience assure us that children are deeply damaged by broken homes – even if that home was characterized by conflict. Your actions are handcuffing baggage to their wrists that they will lug into every human relationship – including their own marriage.

Think about the history you are making. Your breakup will put a skeleton in their closet. Now their real mother has been replaced by someone else. Their children will have multiple grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. You will have put a seamy chapter into your family history. Furthermore, you are setting an example. Do you want your children to follow it? You are deserting them even if you move next door. Is that how you want to be seen – a deserter? Don’t kid yourself…this is how it will be whether you want to believe it or not.

Spare a thought for the person you have betrayed. What a blow to their self esteem! Those who have been through the hell of divorce will all attest to the destruction of one’s self-worth. To have been rejected for someone else…what can be more bitter? Marriage to her may have been very difficult but you saw fit to vow faithfulness. So it hasn’t turned out like you expected…whose fault is that? Remember that part about “for better or worse?”

Sometimes I’ve heard people in your shoes say, “I believe God wants me to be happy.” On what are you basing that belief? Can you give me a scripture reference? If you find one let me know. But even if you are successful, does God want you to be happy by wrecking the happiness of others? Is your happiness more important than that of your wife, children and family?

Speaking of family, what do your parents think of all this? What is your mother thinking about your adultery and the desertion (yes, desertion) of her grandchildren? What does your father think of the son to whom he taught lessons of morality and ethics tossing it all aside for some self-destructive fantasy of happiness or satisfaction? While you are crashing through the moral barriers in pursuit of some illusive happiness; what about theirs? I can tell you one hard truth…you have brought them shame. Is it worth it?

In the end, I’m asking you (in fact everyone’s asking you!) to employ clear thinking and choose integrity and honor over momentary pleasure. In these qualities you will achieve true, genuine satisfaction even when the inevitable unfairness and heartbreak of the world crashes down around your ears. If you choose to ignore your promises and the well-being of others, why should anyone trust you to be honorable in any other realm? To open the door of dishonor in your marriage will only lead to similar doors in business, family and friendships.

You know I have said these things out of a heart that loves you deeply. That love is unconditional. No matter what choices you make for better or worse, I will always love you.

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9 Comments

Filed under Adultery, Culture Wars, Infidelity, Love and Marriage, Men's Issues, morality, Respect

9 responses to “Breaking Faith

  1. Wow,
    Dwight that is the best argument that I have ever read on the break up of a marriage. You have touched me deeply, as I am ministring to a man who is having an affair now. I am going to share this letter with him via e-mail. Thank you for your thoughts and your heart for our Lord Jesus.

    jb

  2. Good thoughts. Hard to write, isn’t it? Lloyd

  3. a bit close to home . . .

    thanks. timely wisdom.

  4. None

    I’m not anyone you’re writing about. I left my wife, but not because I had found another (which I was accused of, falsely). Rather I was ending a relationship that was dead already. I’m still torn up over it, not least of which reason being we have a child as well. I never wanted things to end as they did, but I also recognized that if things were left on their course, things would end even worse than they did.

    So what of estrangement? I’m not talking about lack of passion, I’m talking about lack of compassion. What do you reckon is warranted when the life is gone from the marriage. It seems to me that the divorce is simply putting a legal end to something spiritually dead anyway.

  5. dwhitsett

    Dear None,
    Again, this is something I’ve heard before. I would like to hear more about what you mean by “dead.” And, I am intrigued about what you mean about things ending even worse than they did. How so? Something drew you together at the beginning. What was that? Can it be rekindled?
    Obviously, your relationship went sour but what soured it? If a child is involved, it is worth revisiting all the variables.
    I wish you the very best.

  6. None

    Dead – No life, no vitality. As a child of divorce myself, I’ve seen how divorces can go, how marriages can end badly, and how the children can be affected. As it is, things did not end as badly as I believe they would have.

    As for rekindling what we had… that was attempted, and failed. I’ve admitted my own part to play, but never received a similar admission and know it was not entirely my fault (it is almost never entirely one spouse’s fault). With no admission of what went wrong, there is no way to approach fixing things.

    And while I have also brought up with her the notion of “revisiting things”, it’s only ever been a one-sided conversation. I’ve granted that since I ended things, it’s unlikely she would want to see things brought back together, but at some point you can do no more.

  7. dwhitsett

    You’re certainly right. Only one partner working on the relationship is like trying to paddle a boat with one oar. Unless both husband and wife are willing to work on the marriage…it just won’t float.

  8. Bob McKinnon

    Thank you Dwight. I can testify to all you comments and warnings from personal and tragic experience. God bless you, the message and the soil upon which the seed falls.

  9. Dave Gilchriest

    Thanks, Dwight!
    Very sobering thoughts.
    Godspeed.

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