Hello Pastor Kitoto,
I’ve been a keen reader of your column. Today, allow me to pour out my heart to you. My once loving husband confessed to cheating on me a few years ago. Since then, the two of us have been unhappy. On his side, guilt has consumed him while anger and bitterness has been eating me up. We have tried, on various occasions, to talk about this matter; but each time we found ourselves where it all started. We cannot seem to find a solution. Now his guilt has become hatred, which he has also extended to our children. We try as much as possible to keep our discord to ourselves so those around us believe that we are a perfect couple because they do not know what we are going through. Our sex life has also been greatly affected especially because I don’t desire him anymore. We have been married for nine years and I don't know what to do to save our marriage. We have always gone to church as a family, but lately he doesn't want anything to do with church and prefers to remain at home watching TV or on social media on his mobile phone. As for me, I’ve immersed myself in work and looking after my children, at times even forgetting about him. The respect I had towards him just faded away. Another matter that bothers me is that he showed me the woman he cheated on me with. She is a colleague of his, and they still work together, a factor that disturbs me a lot since I cannot help thinking that they are still having an affair. Will this ever end? Is there anybody else who has ever gone through this and managed to overcome it? Will I ever regain the trust I had in him? Is it possible to save this marriage? I feel that I’m losing it. Several times I’ve tried to revenge to get back at him, but I simply cannot due to my Christian background. Kindly help us.
If you have been reading this column as you say you have, then you know that you are not sailing this boat alone.
Reading about and listening to other people’s experiences can be helpful and encouraging. Through their experiences, you are able to reflect how certain choices influence your life and associations.
Your current anger and bitterness has clouded everything you hear or think about when it comes to your husband.
It’s clear that you were deeply wounded by the actions of your husband. He slept with another woman.
This is a reality that you must acknowledge and deal with if you are going to help yourself heal.
Acknowledgment that your husband betrayed you and had an affair is hurting, but you need to know that there is nothing you can do to change what happened.
Therefore, you need to move on from this stage that you have dwelt on for years.
Acknowledgment of hurt is the first step towards healing, which must be followed by a desire to look for a solution to the pain you feel.
Boundaries that the two of you must commit to need to be set and respected. Forgiveness must be followed by a commitment to live differently to avoid another cycle of hurt and pain.
It is obvious that there is a mixture of conflicted feelings in both of you that is controlling how you feel and respond to each other.
Feelings of betrayal followed by a desire to revenge can linger for a long time, which is the situation in your life right now.
No one can resolve these deeply embedded feelings that have prevented you from moving forward for years apart from you.
You must make a choice to move on regardless of the choice your husband made. The state of your emotional and spiritual health is key to your future choices and decisions.
Forgiveness is a choice, and to free yourself from the bitterness holding you back, you need to forgive your husband if you still desire to save your marriage.
But even as you forgive him, know that there is no guarantee that you will never be hurt in a similar way or in other ways by your husband.
As for your husband, he must commit to a lifestyle that assures, affirms and testifies to the confession and change that he has committed to.
Responsible living and being accountable for his actions is key to your marriage working.
It is not possible or even advisable to supervise him or keep tabs on everything he does or everyone he sees, so don’t even think about that.
What your husband needs from you, apart from your forgiveness, is your friendship and acceptance.
It is worrying if he has decided to shun the church, yet this is where he is most likely to meet others who could walk with him.
Nine years together is too long to ignore. I suggest that you first deal with your inner bitterness and anger towards him and faithfully guard against how this is influencing how you treat him and relate with him.
This will be painful and hard to do, but it is the only way to show Christ’s love.
Second, set acceptable boundaries and make a conscious choice to hold each other accountable.
Accountability is one sure way of moving your relationship towards an acceptable value system.
Finally, revenge has never been the solution to hurt. Revenge has a way of spiralling out of control, because the probability is that you will hurt another person in the process of revenging against your husband.
There is hope only if your husband confessed his infidelity and showed guilt and remorsefulness.
If you are the one who forced him to confess though, the forgiveness your husband needs from you might not come easy. It is however possible if you are willing to save your marriage.
Four steps to take if your spouse cheats on you
1. If your spouse cheats on you and you decide to stay and work on your marriage, it is advisable to have an HIV and STI done. The last thing you want to do is endanger your life.
2. Don’t bottle up your feelings; talk about what you’re going through with a close friend, relative or counsellor. Infidelity can be overwhelming. Therefore, you will require lots of emotional and psychological support. It will greatly help if you talk with someone who has gone through a similar experience.
3. Be introspective; ask yourself hard questions and give honest answers: what was the lead-up to the infidelity? Could it have been avoided if you and your spouse behaved differently, for instance? If you decide to save your marriage, what will the two of you do differently?
4. Consider going for counselling together, rather than the spouse that cheated going alone. During counselling, your spouse will be given the opportunity for full disclosure, which is key in healing.
It is also here, through the mediation of a neutral person, that both of you can talk about the challenges affecting your marriage and get a lasting solution.
Do you have a relationship question? Email [email protected]