Emotional Abuse, Pain and suffering

The Two Types of Adulterers

The more I talk with people who have walked the dark path of adultery, the more I realize not all affairs are the same.

I have a dear friend who walked the dark, painful days of adultery with me. Her husband had been a pastor at a local church when he had an affair. Through many painful days and tearful nights, they worked hard to redeem their marriage. Today, nearly a decade later, they are madly in love with one another. She had to choose forgiveness; he had to choose repentance and the consequences of broken trust.

I received an email today from another man who committed adultery. He longs to have his wife back, tells of the pain he experiences daily facing his sin. He talks of the many consequences, from financial ruin to loss of everything he held dear. His tone to me is one of great anger, disdain, condescension.

“You say you’re a woman of God, a minister….Did he repent? … Would you take him back if he truly repented? … God allows you to divorce for his infidelities … but why would you do something Jesus despised? … all I need is one more chance…”

It’s obvious he is struggling with tremendous pain and anguish, the pain of the consequences for a sin he committed. He longs to make it all right again, and yet his wife has chosen to walk away.

Or there was the email I once received from a lady who made it clear I must have done something to push my husband into the arms of another man. She talked of her critical nature, of how she pushed her husband away by her negativity. Eventually, he found intimacy with another woman.

“You didn’t forgive. If you had forgiven, your marriage would have been saved. Your family would still be intact.

I kindly responded that I only wished my story had been like hers, an affair caused by lack of emotional support. I only wished my offer of forgiveness had been accepted and we had been a shining example of what God can do in a broken marriage. I only wished…

Yes, there are the adulterers who, for whatever reason, have a momentary lapse in judgement. They step away from their vows and immediately regret their actions. They understand the consequences, the broken trust, the pain they have caused their spouse and their children. If they could go back and change it, they would. They are broken over their sins and long to be right with God and their family, no matter the cost.

But…

There’s another kind of adulterer. The serial adulterer. The abusive adulterer. The addicted adulterer. The manipulative adulterer. The victim adulterer. The narcissistic adulterer.

I lump them all into one category, far different from the above adulterers. These cheaters are not the ones who regret what they did, who are willing to pay the consequences of their actions. They aren’t the ones who long to make things right.

These are the adulterers who twist the circumstances to make you think it’s all your fault, you were the cause of the problem. These are the adulterers whose minds are so twisted and warped by pornography that their “love” is truly just a lust, an attempt to get what they want no matter the cost. These adulterers are the ones who will promise never to do it again and yet get caught on an online dating site within a few short weeks. These are the adulterers whose rage controls you and keeps you in the marriage out of fear.

These are the adulterers who make your life a living hell whether you stay in the marriage or you leave.

“My husband’s addiction always put tremendous pressure on our relationship once he decided recovery was no longer for him…. He started having an affair with a coworker and left shortly after…”

“I lived for my husband. Today, with psychological help, I recognize that I was in an emotionally abusive relationship. I feel very emotionally tired…”

“I’m married 34 years and I want a divorce…I can no longer put up with his drinking…help!”

“I have … children and a successful career but am married to a man that is a cheater, pathological liar, and has an extreme anger problem. Just this morning he said he was leaving in front of the kids and called me [expletive], [expletive], and retarded as he has numerous times. He’s broken various objects, thrown things at me, and punched holes in walls…I can’t believe I’m in this position and fear the judgement from Church and family…”

I read stories like this daily. Pornography. Alcohol. Drugs. Emotional abuse. Verbal abuse. Narcissism. Anger. Control.

Can this type of adulterer change? With God’s help, yes. Unfortunately, most see themselves as the victim, rationalize away their sins. Their minds are so warped, so deceived, they can’t see the truth. They’ve told so many lies they believe they truly are the victim. Most don’t have any desire to change.

Do they want to keep their family together? Yes! But, they also want to be allowed to continue their relationships on the side. They don’t want to face any consequences for their actions. They want to be able to continue with life and never face the truth of who they have become.

My heart aches when I hear of anyone walking through divorce because I know the pain, the heartache, the devastation. I know the far-reaching consequences of divorce.

But I also understand there are subtleties the outside world does not understand. Occasionally, I see the repentant adulterers walking through divorce…and it breaks my heart. I wish I could help their betrayed spouse understand their marriage can survive. I applaud the couples who take time to look deeply into their own lives, to evaluate their faults, and do the hard work of restoring broken trust. It’s a long, hard road, but it is worth the journey.

And then there’s the second type of adulterer. My heart aches for the victimized spouse, and I long to help him/her catch a glimpse of the vision God has for their future. I long to help him/her know the amazing work God can do in them and through them because of the pain. I long to help him/her understand that divorce may often be the only option, and that it can be a new beginning not an ending. I long to help him/her understand they cannot tolerate the sinful behavior of his/her spouse. I long for him/her to experience freedom in Christ!

I hope no one ever thinks I recommend divorce to anyone walking through adultery. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

But to those married to adulterer #2? Sometimes, it’s the only option….

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19 thoughts on “The Two Types of Adulterers”

  1. Oh my goodness yes. That narcissism where everything he ever did to damage us is MY fault, and if it’s not directly my fault than he’s critical of my REACTION to his sin. I’ve come to realize that almost anything he accuses me of…..that is his sin. Hatefulness? Pride? Unforgiveness? Check, check, check. I have been officially divorced one month and he just gets more and more mean, hateful, condescending. I’m only now beginning to understand the emotional abuse I lived under for over 2 decades, and I can’t stop crying. This post is so validating. You get it.

  2. I like to share my story..I’m married to a narcissist man..he have a feeling but the same time he can be a good friend..
    We are.married for more then 34 years..
    We have 4 kids and now 4 grandkids.
    My husband is a womanizer since I delivered my daughter..now my daughter is 28 years old..and my husband now have. A small boy 2 yrs old with another woman..I’m still with him and I still love him..we were married in the church..I went through a lot of physical and emotional trauma..but I also learned a lot about Jesus Christ love for me..I don’t know what is my future but I stay faithful to my promise to God in Thea altar..when I married to husband..I learned to love him with out expectations..just one way love..if it’s possible for Jesus Christ to love us he will make it possible for me.. God will not pun me in this situation and leave me alone..he is always accompany me…it’s a very deep understanding of love and to humble me..so I love others in return..
    Flo.

    1. It’s a tough road, and I respect you for holding to your covenant. I love your heart that God never leaves you because He doesn’t. I pray your husband sees the gift he has in you and turns his heart to God.

  3. Thank you Dena for reinforcing the truth that adultery is not spawned out of the inadequacies or failures of the spouse who was betrayed. For years I lived under the condemnation that it was my fault he strayed. I’m drawing closer to God now more than ever before and boldly stand on His promises.

    1. It’s not about you! I used to believe it took two to lead to adultery and divorce. I no longer believe that in any way. It only takes one hardened heart to stray from the God-ordained covenant. Hold tight to Him!

  4. Hi Dena, it’s been awhile since I’ve chimed in, though I do read your blogs when they come to my inbox..
    I always ask myself; why is it the woman that thinks these things through so comprehensively most times and not men?. Maybe I’m not finding this subject matter writings from men or maybe it’s that women are more in the victim role than the man, which has brought it under the microscope for fair scrutiny. And biblically speaking it is vague other than the obvious scriptures that we are quoted by councilors. I guess that’s where grace and truth come in. And, that’s where you come in. Keep sharing the truth and grace.

    1. I am sometimes asked (by men) why it’s always written from the woman’s point of view. I can’t answer that. Maybe it’s too much of a blow to their ego to admit they’ve been rejected. Maybe it’s because women are more verbose. I really don’t know. What I do know is that when there’s an unfaithful man, there’s usually an unfaithful woman right there with him.

  5. Thank you for speaking the truth that affairs are not the result of someone’s inadequacies. Affairs are the result of brokenness, sin, and a spouse trying to fill a hole outside of God’s will and outside of God. I did everything I could to save my marriage. I worked hard to change everything my former husband complained about. I faithfully went to counseling to work on me. I am far from perfect but I would have tried to do whatever I had to do and I did. I truly believe I could have spit gold coins out of my mouth and been nearly perfect and it wouldn’t have mattered. My former husband has something inside of him that is broken that he never dealt with and Satan saw a weakness in him and ran with it. The last person I wanted to be was a divorced woman with four young children but I was forced into it. I wanted nothing more than I wanted my marriage to be saved and for it to be a beautiful story of God’s redemption and grace, but I couldn’t save my marriage alone. My former husband pushed the divorce down my throat and then remarried the woman he had the affair with before the ink was dry on the documents. So thank you for being a voice that tells the truth-that sometimes no matter what someone does to save their marriage, it’s never enough if the other person doesn’t want to repent and try.

    1. I’m so sorry for your pain, but so glad I could speak some words of love and encouragement into your heart. The fun part of this journey is when we see the redemption and grace…even if it looks drastically different from anything we ever wanted or expected. Hold tight to Him!

  6. I think mine is #2 he cheated on me. We went to marriage counseling trying to work it out even the priest asked me if he really did love me… 4 yrs later we are still in the same spot i have forgiven him never bring it up even though he has a daughter out of it… I offered to help him with her so he can see her but he keeps lying to me.. For the past year i have found plenty of cell phones where he keeps talking to the other girl.. Its to the point that i am tired and drained from all the fighting

    1. And I am willing to bet you are slipping away, losing yourself, slowly becoming a shell of the beautiful person you were created to be. God didn’t design you to live this way. He created you to live a life of abundance. I pray He gives you strength, wisdom, and direction as you make decisions for your future.

  7. Thank you for hitting the nail on the head – again. I praise God for the hope you have brought to my life and the healing he has granted me through your words. I appreciate you very much.

  8. I can barely type these words through my tears. After 19 terribly painful years of marriage, I am separated from my husband. As I read your description of Adulterer type #2, it couldn’t have been a more accurate description of my situation. Repeated hurt and betrayal. No change from my husband; in fact it seems to have gotten worse. I have always been scared that God would be mad at me if I left. God is showing me through this time that He is FOR me, not against me . I have felt several times as if God is setting me free from the marriage. This blog post was so very encouraging to me!! Thank you for writing it–you are such a blessing to so many of us walking this road of separation and divorce.

    1. God is definitely for you! I believe many of the scriptures surrounding divorce are about elevating women to a place of honor in marriage, rather than possessions to be used and abused as many men in Biblical times treated them. Here’s what you need to know: God is faithful, and He will carry you through. Seek to walk so close to Him that He guides you every step into the future He has for you. And, take time to sit in His presence and enjoy the love He lavishes on you.

  9. Oh my! My husband falls into the #2 category. Our divorce will be final in 2 days. We were married for 29 years and I became a shell of the happy, confident person I used to be. I have tried everything to save my marriage, but nothing worked. I have clung tight to Jesus and have been blessed with wonderful, supportive Christian friends. I am finally starting to wake up every morning with joy in my heart!

    1. So sad and yet so beautiful. I am glad you are beginning to find joy again. It’s really a fun process to rediscover yourself, to become the person God created you to be. I pray He guides you in that process.

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