One of the most difficult aspects of helping couples is getting them to focus on their own behavior and options and not their spouse’s. It is easy to talk about what a spouse has done or should do, but what about what you do?
The truth is, the only person whose behavior and attitudes you have any control over are your own. So decide right now – you will make it through this.
You will grow closer to the Lord and you will become a better person through all of this. These things will happen not because of what your spouse does, but because of what you do. You cannot control him or her, but you can control you.
Now, what else can you do?
Do not panic. What you say and do at this time is of critical importance. Stand firm for you marriage. While you do not like or condone the fact that your spouse has emotionally strayed, it is a fact. Accept it.
Start praying. First, pray for your spouse. Ask the Lord to rekindle a love for you in his or her heart. Second, pray for yourself. Pray that the Lord will do four things for you. One, reassure you that you are His beloved and He loves you very much. Two, preserve your love for your spouse. Three, give you great wisdom as you determine the actions to take. Four, reveal to you your own sins and failings in the marriage. Confess your sins and ask for God’s forgiveness. When it is appropriate you will want to confess them to your spouse. Finally, pray for His will to be done in your life and in the life of all your family.
After praying, realize there are things you should not do:
Do not chase after your spouse. If you do, you will soon began to act like and feel like a fool. Chasing is an act of desperation, and you are not desperate. The Lord is going to take care of you and you are going to be a better person because of this. You can afford to be patient.
Do not give in to anger. Being angry is not wrong, but in anger people often make serious mistakes. Don’t lash out trying to hurt your spouse as you have been hurt. Two wrongs do not make a right. Don’t throw yourself at someone else to get even. There is no such place as even in this situation. But there is such a place as reconciliation and there can be peace, but actions taken in anger can hurt the chances of finding peace and reconciliation.
Do not give in to despair. The world is not ending. Your child needs you. God loves you and still has a plan for your life. Ask for help. Find a few trusted friends to pray with you and give you emotional support during this time. Allow God to minister to you through them.
Finally, settle in for the long haul. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Do not quickly or easily agree to one. Say you want to wait and see how he or she feels after a period of time. Avoid ultimatums. Suggest counseling. Make sure your spouse knows that you are willing and ready to work long and hard for reconciliation. Tell him or her that you not only love them, but you are committed to them for life. Let God work on your heart to make you a stronger, more mature person; the kind of person your spouse would be crazy to leave.
If they stay, forgive them, praise God and keep on growing. If they leave, forgive them, praise God and keep on growing. You cannot control what they do, just what you do.
Pastor Carl White