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The Opposite of What You Feel

Aug 28, 2022

It happens almost every week. Sometimes it happens a few times per week. We receive an email; a Facebook message or yesterday this was posted on my Facebook wall:

Please help me help my friend navigate through the restoration of her marriage. She had an affair, which was revealed a week ago. Her family wants her out of the house. She wants restoration and is doing the right things to move that way. How can this marriage be restored? Is it best to give the family space to heal or should she stay? Thank you so much for your help.

When an affair is revealed it is the equivalent on a marital level as the moment cancer is found on a medical level. The illness was there all along, now everyone is aware of it.

One of the most common questions we get is, “Now what?”

While every situation is different; every person is different; every marriage is different; we almost always advise people that navigate infidelity to separate.

Separation was something that Trisha would have never chose on her own…in fact she begged me to come home. But we firmly believe our marriage is restored today because she listened to a counselor from Focus on the Family when they advised her to kick me out.

Separation after an affair is the opposite of what you think should happen. Shouldn’t you beg them to come home? Shouldn’t you promise you will do anything if they will just choose you? Shouldn’t you try to prove how much you love them? Shouldn’t you overlook their infidelity and just hope you can convince them to love you again?

We believe in restoration. We believe God can bring any marriage back from the dead. We believe that there is no one, and no marriage beyond the radical redemptive power of Christ. But we also know that separation gives each person the time and space to pursue what only Christ can give.

For the person whose hurting, this will be the last thing you feel like doing. Separation sets boundaries. Separation creates ground rules. Separation allows each person to heal without having to see each when one or both aren’t emotionally ready for a conversation or confrontation. Separation prevents more damage being done because of proximity.

For me personally, separation broke me. Separation caused me to realize the severe consequences of my choices. Separation brought a huge dose of reality to what my life would be like seeing my kids on Wednesday and every other weekend. Separation allowed me to seek God and find desperation for Him even above my desire to be married.

Separation works when both people are committed to restoration. Separation works when both spouses are willing to own the dysfunction they brought into their marriage. Separation works when both husband and wife are committed to allowing God to change them and heal them as they work toward living together again. (Separation also only works if both are committed to marriage counseling.)

Should everyone who has experienced an affair separate? No. Should everyone consider it and talk about it with a counselor? Yes.

Not separating appears easier. Not separating saves others perception of you. Not separating allows you to pretend like things are okay even though they aren’t. Our experience is that not separating often cuts short the healing process.

There are no shortcuts to recovering from an affair. The path is long and it hurts like hell. There are times that you will have to choose the exact opposite of what you feel, so you can have the opposite of an affair…restoration.

What are your thoughts on separation?