by Lou Priolo
This is probably not the kind of article you would expect to find in this kind publication. It’s a piece aimed at trying to help people who have cheated on their spouses and who find themselves “in love” with two different people. Now I’m sure those of you who are not in this predicament will have absolutely no interest in this topic.
What? Oh, I see. You say that you have some friends who’ve been in this predicament and you want to read this article so that you might offer some hope and help to them.
Well all right. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt anything to have you follow along.
Now, to those of you are trying to gain control over romantic feelings for someone with whom you’ve cheated on your spouse let me assure you that there is hope for your situation.
Many unfaithful spouses I’ve helped over the past twenty years wondered two things:
1. “Can I ever get over these powerful feelings I have toward the other woman/man?”
2. “Will I ever be able to love my spouse with the same kind of intensity I have for the other person?”
If you are a Christian who is truly willing to do what the Bible says, the answer to both of these questions is yes.
When you met and married your spouse, you, in effect, opened up a lifetime savings account at a brand new bank: First National ___________ (insert the name of your spouse in the blank). You soon began to make some rather large investments in her/his account. You invested a good deal of time, effort, thought, money, and even your own body. You also placed in the safety deposit box of that bank many of your valuables along with the majority of your secret treasures. And for a while, perhaps a good long while, you were pleased with the interest you received on your investments.
Then, little by little, after becoming disillusioned with the returns you were receiving on your principal, you slowed down the frequency with which you deposited your assets. Perhaps you even stopped making new investments and simply tried to live off the interest for a while.
Then one day you received information quite unexpectedly about a brand new bank that had just opened a branch close to where you work (or golf, or play tennis): First Federal ___________ (insert the name of the other person to whom you gave your heart and/or body in the blank). This new bank promised to give you a much better return on your investments-especially in those areas where the other bank had disappointed you.
You began investigating all the additional perks that First Federal had to offer. The list seemed quite impressive. So, before you knew what you were doing (and before you counted the costs), you opened up a First Federal account-you signed on the dotted line without carefully reading the fine print. Little by little, you began making additional deposits in this new bank. It wasn’t long before you were taking your assets out of First National and moving them to First Federal. First National, on more than one occasion, brought to your attention the indisputable fact that your principal investment with them was dwindling considerably. Of course, you denied it and tried to shift the blame back to First National. But deep down in your heart, you knew who was really at fault.
For a while it helped to remind yourself that First National wasn’t quite as good a deal as you thought it would be when you opened up your first account with them. You had convinced yourself long ago that First National would probably never be able to provide you with the returns you were looking for.
But be that as it may, now you’re in a real quandary. It’s as Jesus said it would be, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). You now have investments in both banks, and consequently your heart is torn between the two of them-you have feelings for both persons.
So what are you going to do? If you want God’s best you will have to take two very important steps.
1. Totally close the account at First Federal.
2. Systematically redeposit every last investment that was made in First Federal back into First National.
You must completely end the adulterous affair. This other person must be told plainly that the relationship is over. If possible, ask for forgiveness (preferably on a conference call with your spouse or pastor on the line) for your selfishness and deceit. There can be no continuing communication (no secret rendezvous, telephone calls, cards, letters, or E-mails). The other person should be told emphatically not to contact you anymore. You must be willing to amputate from your life anything that will tempt you to reopen this illegal bank account.
Jesus, after explaining to the disciples that lusting for a woman was, adultery of the heart, said this to His disciples:
If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30 NASB)
He told them they must remove anything from their lives that made them stumble into sin-even if it was something they cherished (cf. Eph 5: 29). Don’t keep any mementos, photographs, keepsakes, or other memorabilia that might tempt you to spend time thinking about (and fueling romantic feelings for) the other person. You may have to change your telephone number, E-mail address, or the route you take to and from the office. I’ve known several men and women who were even willing to give up their jobs in order to take this important step.
Having closed the illegal account, you must next begin the process of systematically transferring all of your assets back to the original bank. Exactly how much of your money, time, thoughts, dreams, affection, initiative, and creative energies did you invest in the other person’s account? They will all have to be reinvested with your spouse. Did you buy the other person gifts? Ask yourself, “What kind of gifts can I buy for my spouse?” Did you go on dates with the other person? Ask yourself, “Where can I take my spouse out for a date?” Did you call the other person from/at work? Ask, “When are the best times for me to surprise my spouse with a telephone call?” How many hours did you spend thinking about what you could do to please the other person? Spend that much time thinking about what you can do to adore and please your spouse. And perhaps most importantly, how much time did you spend revealing your heart to the other person and listening intently as she revealed her heart to you? Invest the same amount of time in the revelation process with your spouse. Are you willing to invest the effort and creativity necessary to make these kinds of redeposits? If you’re serious about obeying God, you will be willing to invest whatever it takes to repair your marriage. Like Zaccheus, (Luke 19:8-10) your willingness to make restitution will be an indication of the sincerity of your repentance.
If you want your feelings to change, you must begin to court your spouse as vigorously as you courted the other person. After they’ve changed, continue courting him “as long as you both shall live.”
“OK, I see what you are saying, but when I think of all those promises I made to the other person-for the most part with every intention of keeping them-I feel so guilty.”
The fact that you feel guilty is probably a good thing. It means you’ve not yet totally defiled your conscience. Not unlike a computer virus, your sin may have simply misprogrammed your conscience to believe that you owe the other person more than you really do. But you are more indebted to your spouse than you are to the other adulterer. You owe God even more than that. You may have made promises to the other person that you will have to break and for which you must ask forgiveness. But breaking your vow to God and lifetime covenant with your spouse will have further reaching consequences than breaking a rash promise to your adulterous lover (cf. Eccl. 5:1-7).
“But I can’t just abandon her. That wouldn’t be Christian!”
Closing the bank account is not abandonment. Your pastor or another biblical counselor is in a much better position to minister to the other person than you are. If you truly are concerned about the welfare of the other individual, turn him over to the care of a pastor or other biblical counselor. You are not qualified to help in this situation. The other person has also sinned, and may be in need of repentance. Don’t stand in the way of His divine discipline by trying to remove the culpability and consequences of his sin (cf. Heb. 12:1-11).
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:7-10)
If you are willing to take these two steps, then you will benefit from reading this book. If you are not willing, as much as is possible, to close First Federal and reinvest in First National, it is doubtful that you will ever fully “fall out of love” with your former lover. May God grant you the humility, courage and grace to make the right choice.