Marriage matters >> Jim just found out that his wife, Maureen, had an affair. Can their marriage survive this crisis? He says:She’s having an affair Tim says: I just found out that Maureen has been having an affair with one of her coworkers. I feel completely betrayed. She says it’s over, but I don’t think I can ever forgive her – or trust her again. Should I file for divorce?
She says:I am so sorry Maureen says: I feel so guilty. I never meant to cheat on Tim, but my colleague at work was so flattering and made me feel young and pretty again. After a few weeks, I really regretted having this fling, and I want to work on my marriage. I swear I’ll never do anything like this again if Tim will give me a second chance.
What do they do? When Tim and Maureen, like all married couples before them, stood before God and the community and pledged their love by repeating the words, “..for better, for worse...” or “..in good times and in bad...” they committed themselves totally to each other. Yes, as a married couple we agree we didn’t know how bad it could be, yet we committed to making it work ‘..until death do us part.” It is easy to forgive in good times and most difficult to forgive in bad times. Yet, if God can forgive us as individuals, if he can be totally committed to each of us, why do we have such a difficult time forgiving our spouse? In the good times, Tim and Maureen can see God’s total love for them being reflected in the eyes of each other. Likewise, in the bad times they can also find God’s forgiveness in each other’s eyes. This is an occasion when Tim can demonstrate God’s unconditional love by beginning to forgiving Maureen and in helping her rid herself of guilt. That is what Jesus would do and that is what we are called to do for our spouse when they, like us, slip and fall from grace periodically. This is not an easy situation to overcome, but nothing is impossible with God’s grace and mercy. As a spouse, our primary role is to build up our spouse, to help them attain life eternal with our heavenly Father, to help them be a living example of Jesus. To often couples see their role as a loving spouse only through rose colored glasses when experiencing good times. We show our true commitment to God and to our spouse in the dark times of our marriages. It is easy to see God’s hand at work from the mountain top, it is the mark of a truly committed spouse when they can see God’s hand at work when they are deep in the dark valleys of life. For us humans, rebuilding trust in a relationship takes time and takes commitment from both parties. It takes a lot of forgiveness and it takes an unbelievable amount of unconditional love. Most couples who have experienced the same situation as Tim and Maureen, find that once their relationship has been rebuilt, it will be stronger than it was before the indiscretion. The immature and cowardly way to handle this would be for Tim to run immediately to the divorce court. The mature and Christian way to handle this would be through prayer asking God’s help in living out the commitment made on their wedding day; through open and honest communications between Tim and Maureen. Through the love and forgiveness that Jesus demonstrated for us and that he offers us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Tim and Maureen can begin to rebuild their sacramental union. We don’t want to underestimate the amount of communication and re-building that every couple must go through to heal from infidelity. But with God’s grace all things are possible. Sometimes it may take professional help to work through the issues surrounding infidelity, but if we believe in the commitment we made on our wedding day, even infidelity can not break the marriage. It takes prayer, it takes being honest with each other as to what led up to the indiscretion, it takes time to rebuild trust, and it takes forgiveness like Jesus forgives, but it is possible given the will to remain together.