Emotional Abuse, Hope, marriage, parenting, Uncategorized

It’s Not About You (Revisited)

I’ll never forget the conversation I had with my then husband about the woman he was having an affair with.

“It’s just exhilarating that someone like that would be interested in me,” he said.

Adultery hits at the core of your being. Every ounce of self-confidence and self-respect you carry is destroyed. You look in the mirror day after day, criticizing every aspect of your appearance. You question everything about yourself, doubting even your greatest strengths. You begin to see yourself as worthless, unlovable.

You ask the question: “Why was I not enough to keep my spouse satisfied?”

And here’s the answer: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!

Your spouse’s adultery is not about you. It is not about your weaknesses. It is not about your appearance. It is not about your failures or even your successes. It is not about what you are doing or not doing. The truth is your spouse’s decision to have an affair has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU.

I encourage you to evaluate your marriage and see what you contributed to the demise of your covenant. Maybe you nagged. Maybe you were too busy with the kids or your career. Maybe you contributed to financial problems. Maybe, like me, you enabled your spouse to live in a selfish manner by not confronting their sinful behaviors.

But no matter what your contribution was, the affair IS NOT ABOUT YOU.

Let’s take a quick look at a couple of American icons. Tiger Woods was married to an absolutely, drop-dead gorgeous woman, and yet he strayed. It’s not about your appearance. Arnold Schwarzenegger had been married to his beautiful and successful wife, Maria Shriver, for over 25 years when it became public that he had fathered a child with his employee. It’s not about your abilities.

But, adultery is not limited to Hollywood and sports icons. The news is full of pastors who have fallen from grace by engaging in adulterous relationships, leaving their loving and supportive spouses to pick up the pieces. Christian recording artists are caught, leaving their careers a pile of rubble. Our churches are full of amazing spouses who are left devastated by the affairs of their Christian spouses.

Even in the Bible we see adultery, forbidden relationships that developed in spite of faithful, loving spouses. I wrote a post some time ago about a biblical love triangle. In it, I focused on David, Bathsheba, and Uriah. Despite Uriah being a faithful, responsible man, a man of integrity and courage, his wife chose to participate in an adulterous relationship with King David. IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH URIAH.

Hear me out: If your spouse has chosen to have an affair, it has nothing to do with you! It is not a reflection on who you are. It is not a reflection on your successes or failures. It is not a reflection on what type of spouse you have been. It is not a reflection on your inner or outer beauty.

It is a reflection on who your spouse is, the condition of his/her heart.

And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you.  For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.  All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” Mark 7:20-23

Adultery is about a hardened heart, a heart that is harboring evil, immoral thoughts deep within. Adultery is about a person who has refused to let God and his word penetrate the deep recesses of the heart, allowing him to have free reign and transform from the inside out. Adultery is about the deceit and evil of the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Adultery is about failing to allow God to replace the heart of stone with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

While there are many contributing factors to an affair, I have found some themes that seem to be very common among the stories I hear each and every day.

Pornography. I was visiting with a pastor one day, telling him my story. He looked me in the face and said, “Your ex-husband has a pornography problem.” Sure, I knew there had been some small issues with pornography, but I didn’t know just how big of a problem it actually was. And, I had been reassured it was no big deal, it was just something all men do.

The pastor went on to suggest I read “Every Young Man’s Battle” with my boys and help break the cycle. Although I was uncertain, I decided to at least peruse the book. The reality of my life began to unfold through the pages of that book. I suddenly came face-to-face with the reality that pornography was a much bigger problem than I ever realized. My ex-husband’s mind was so warped by pornography that women had become nothing more than objects used to gratify his selfish desires. I was nothing more than an object to gratify his selfish desires.

Pornography is devastating. It rewires the brain, changes the way men look at women. It destroys a woman’s value. And, once it is in the mind, those images are burned there for eternity. It takes a lot of time, energy, and counseling to overcome the hold that pornographic images have on a man. (Women may also succumb, but it is a different type of pull).

I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman. Job 31:1

Discontent. One of the last sermons my ex-husband preached before I learned of his affair was on temptation from the book of James. He made the statement that temptation happens when Satan gets us to doubt the good gifts God has placed in our lives. That statement has stuck in my head for years, because that was the exact method of operation used on my husband. You see, my husband was surrounded by a loving wife, three amazing kids, and a great church. And yet, rather than focusing on all he had, he was focused on what he perceived he didn’t have. His church wasn’t big enough. Finances were tough. Rather than recognizing all of the good gifts in his life, he felt as if God was withholding better things from him. He began to doubt the good gifts in his life.

Discontent happens when we focus on those things we don’t have. Discontent happens when we fail to see the blessings God has given us. Philippians 4 tells us to think on those things that are lovely, noble, true, right, excellent and praiseworthy so God’s peace which surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. Paul then continues with:

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. Philippians 4:12

Contentment changes the way we view life. Contentment changes the way we view circumstances. Contentment changes the way we view our spouse and our marriage. Contentment keeps our eyes from wandering to those things that would seek to ultimately destroy us.

Selfishness. I have yet to hear a story of adultery in which the offending party was always looking out for the good of his/her spouse. Instead, I hear repeatedly how the offending spouse was concerned only about his/her needs and desires. I hear about the one-sided nature of the relationship, how in retrospect it was all about one person.

Selfishness is a work of the flesh, in direct opposition to the fruit of the spirit. A selfish spouse often seeks to fulfill his/her own wants and desires instead of seeking to be a blessing to the faithful spouse.

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other… When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures Philippians 4:12 (selected portions)

Could it be any more clear?

Addiction. I had an addiction counselor define addiction as self on the throne, as an attempt to fill a God-shaped void with something other than God. It is an attempt to mask a deep pain, perhaps a deep wound that occurred in childhood. Of course, we all think of drugs and alcohol when we think of addiction. The truth is, however, we can attempt to fill that void with anything. Have you ever known someone who was addicted to shopping? Or books? Or anything else? Have you ever known someone who couldn’t understand the concept of moderation, that everything was done to an extreme?

As I look back, I see the seeds of addiction in my ex-husband. It wasn’t drugs or alcohol. But, he used socially acceptable items to try to mask his pain. We had more books than a Christian book store. We had more movies than a Blockbuster video. We had more music than iTunes. I now realize each obsession was about masking a pain was deep inside of him, perhaps wounds inflicted during his childhood.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you. Isaiah 26:3

Our only addiction should be to God, his word. If we fix our thoughts on him, we will be at peace.

If you have been the victim of adultery, please hear me when I say IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU. You are precious, greatly loved, chosen. You are the apple of his eye, his treasured possession. You are child of the King, heir to all the treasures of heaven. Your spouse’s actions are about him/her. They are not a reflection on you.

Look in the mirror and love the image looking back at you. Hold your head high knowing you are approved. Remind yourself daily that your spouse’s actions are simply not a reflection on who you are. It is not about you.

 

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11 thoughts on “It’s Not About You (Revisited)”

  1. What about not the act of adultery but been unhelpful, nagging, temperamental, division, stubbornness, laziness and lack of willingness to learn and value the institution of marriage.
    Well I believe you might have a piece written on the above because I know it’s not always adultery that do led to divorce like my own case and I make the decision to divorced her to save myself from spiritual, mental, psychological and physical stagnation and retrogression.

  2. A few years into my first marriage, my husband had an affair. I took our two children and moved in with my in laws as they were nearby as I figured out what I was going to do.
    My father in law actually said to me “well, men tend to run away from a nagging wife at home”.
    Ohhhhhhhhh yes it must of been ME that was the problem and the reason! Of course it wasn’t the porn addiction, secret drug addiction, or double life he had…no no no.
    It was obviously ME🙄🙄🙄🙄

  3. Married for 26 years along the way my husband had numerous affairs. He was also dedicated to pornography. I stayed for the children until he did the most despicable act of which I will not go into. Throughout my marriage I felt a failure as a wife. Why would my husband continue to have affairs when I did everything I could to please him. I had such low self esteem at this time no self worth. Truly considered ending my life what was the purpose of it any way. God was my life line as I looked to him more and more for help. He picked me up and brought me through. I was special God created me and loved me with an everlasting love. He would never leave me or forsake me. I truly believe I had Gods permission to divorce my husband. Thank you for your encouraging words today. God Bless.

  4. God works in mysterious ways. This morning I was fighting with God about the things he’s told me to do yet he still takes away from me. He told me to tithe, to volunteer at church, to change the life style I had. I did all this and prayed for healing. My mom is hurting, Jena is getting worse, Josh doesn’t want to come out, and dad died. #ButGod…..mom is getting the best treatment and listening to her doctors instead of taking care of dad, Jena is getting the best treatment, Josh…????, and dad is no longer suffering. I have the most amazing family, wife, kids in-laws, etc….God did answer my prayers HIS way and I didn’t see it until I read this. #BUTGOD

    1. I love you, and I’m here for you. I know this year has been so tough. Not a great way to start a marriage. Not only is he answering your prayers, but he’s given you three kids who ADORE you! And me? I’m so blessed to share my life with you. I love you!

  5. All woman who have suffered through adultery need to hear this! We often blame ourselves and suffer guilt and remorse that are not ours. It’s such a hard road to walk but the God that saw it coming already made provision for our healing and restoration to wholeness!!

  6. Once again do you know you hit the nail on the head as a victim of adultery I have suffered with self image and not feeling like I was good enough I’m I’ve tried to MoveOn my divorce is been going on for three years it is been a horrible horrible journey and it seems like the other women in the comment section understand it is well I just continue to stand and pray for God’s healing and restoration and that God would open my husband’s eyes but if not the guy would show me what my ministry needs to be I think it is for women that are going through this it’s the most awful wilderness journey to ever experience but I am so thankful for your blog today really really hit it for me

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