Hi Dr. Buckingham,
My husband and I have been married for 3 years now but he has been cheating on me even before we got married. When I was pregnant with our daughter , his ex was also pregnant from him as well. Our babies would have been a few weeks apart but she had a miscarriage. After our daughter was born, he promised that he would stop cheating and I forgave him and tried to move on. But not too long after I found nude pictures of another ex that he was sex-texting. This is getting to me as the list of women goes on and every time I try to tell him how I feel and how hurt I am he makes me feel like it’s my fault that he cheats. I am holding on because of our daughter and the promise I made to God in my marriage vows. But I am at my breaking point and I can’t handle it any more. What should I Do?
I am not a big supporter of divorce because I am a Christian who believes in the power of change and maintaining holy vows. Also, I understand that God hates divorce. However, God does allow divorce in certain circumstances. There are two biblical grounds for divorce. The first is adultery and the second is if a Christian is married to an unbeliever who wants out of the marriage.
Divorce is not good, but neither is emotional abuse, degradation or infidelity. God demands that we respect, cherish and honor our significant others. The seventh commandment states, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Adultery is not only a sin against one’s mate, but an attack on the sanctity of marriage, and a course of behavior that can cause chaos in many people’s lives. Adultery is also most importantly a sin against God.
Your desire to sustain your marriage because of your daughter and your promise to God is noteworthy, but know that God desires us to live in peace. Coping with infidelity can be very challenging because it threatens our ability to live in harmony. Listed below are three recommendations that can help you make the best decision for all that is involved.
1. Take Care of Yourself. It is important not to deal with this issue alone. Seek spiritual and professional counseling so that you can develop balanced thinking. Through spiritual counseling you might be encouraged to work hard on forgiveness and sustainability in spite of the emotional abuse. While spiritual counseling provides helpful information from a biblical standpoint, you may not get an objective, balanced view. For this reason, it is important to also seek professional counseling so that you can learn how to cope with psychological issues. Coping with domination, belittling and disrespect can contribute to psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress. Dealing with trauma can cause you to feel like you are walking on egg shells, and you might continue to have emotional and physical reactions when you are reminded of the infidelity. Given this, it is critical to cope with infidelity both spiritually and psychologically.
2. Take Care of Your Daughter. Make sure that your daughter has an outlet to process and/or express her concerns if she has been exposed to marital distress. Do not try to hide your distress from your child. Let her know that you working through some things with her father. However, do not share the details of your troubles. Taking care of your child’s emotional well-being is good regardless of your decision to remain married or divorce.
3. Ask Your Husband to Get Help. I have counseled hundreds of individuals who suffer from sexual addictions. Reasons for infidelity vary greatly from one individual to the next and seeking help can provide answers. Through my professional experience, I have learned that adultery is a psychological shortcoming that is manifested through inappropriate behavior. I have successfully helped “cheaters” identify psychological issues that contribute to their sexual indiscretions. Your husband might benefit from discussing his behavior with someone besides you. See if he will make a commitment to save the marriage.
I wish you the best and hope that you seek help to cope with your unfaithful mate. Feelings of betrayal, mistrust and confusion do not go away over night so be patient with the process. Time is your best intervention. Remember that forgiveness empowers you to move on. However, forgiveness alone will not help you get beyond the pain. Take your troubles to God and take care of yourself so that you achieve the best outcome for you. If you do decide to end your marriage, make sure that you have thought about potential challenges and a way ahead.
Best regards, Dr. Buckingham