The world of restoration following an affair is a dangerous one. I've seen couples I'm sure were going to make it end up divorcing a couple months later. I've seen couples take the cap off of the pen to sign the divorce papers celebrating their anniversary after a few sleeps. I can't predict who will or won't be able to find restoration and redemption following an affair. Yet, there are still a few principles that seem common to the couples that do survive and develop a better relationship than they've ever had. Keep in mind these are far from a guarantee with the slow rises, dramatic falls, hairpin turns and loopty loops contained in the emotional, spiritual and physical journey post revelation.
Restoration – these are key principles to restoration
- Relationship with God becomes central. This will include some deep honest wrasslin' full of doubts. Black and white areas will be reduced. Individuals will learn more of real relationship with God containing significant tension of competing truths.
- Marriage becomes a primary priority. All decisions go through the lens of how it will impact the relationship in the marriage.
staying away from people, places and activities that are not good for your marriage,
copious amount of time spent talking about the relationship past and present with no subjects off limits and
participating in activities that reinforce your marriage. Each spouse develops an appreciation of the others perspectives.
3. Dedication to a full processing of the relationship. The decision whether to stay married or not may be put off but each spouse stays engaged in the messy processing of emotions and the marital story. An awareness of reconciliation prior to regaining total trust is evident.
4. A commitment to lifelong individual growth is made by each spouse. Two dynamic individuals have a changing vibrant relationship. An old book by Charlie Jones described it as being 'on the grow'. Another term is learning to live a reflective life.
5. Being In Community – Families, friends, counselors, church
Your close friends are people who let you be where you are, but also bring an awareness of God. They are present with you in the here and now, in your anger, cussing, frustration and sorrow, yet they bring transcendent reminders without pounding you over the head with god talk. These folks will be people you can laugh and cry with and they both feel genuine. They'll hang out with you and talk about your 'stuff'. They are also able to just hang out and enjoy some Settlers of Catan or play some rummy.
Within the context of these 5 guiding principles we would like to share four areas– not linear – of focus in looking at your story, your relationship with your spouse and your relationship with God.
Knowing these principles and going through a boatload of healing doesn’t make us invulnerable to desert times again. But as we have traveled through the desert, we have learned much about that journey where we experience the freedom that leads to greater intimacy with God, with each other, and with ourselves.