My pastor husband of eight years has been unfaithful to me. And, sadly, not just once but on several occasions and with different women. One of his most recent affairs involved the wife of a leader in our church. Obviously, I am saddened beyond words.
We are still together—but barely. Our home is damaged, and the wounds are deep. He is very remorseful and open for restoration, but I have no one to talk to, which causes me to feel isolated.
How can I possibly trust my husband again—much less forgive him? Where do we go from here? To whom can we go for help? What did I do wrong?
So Many Questions
Dear So Many Questions,
No doubt you are hurt beyond description, and understandably so. While I cannot address every issue at hand, I will try to offer you a starting point, and we will trust God to give direction and wisdom.
I want to tackle the tough one first: forgiveness. Although the concept of forgiveness can seem unfathomable, how we respond to pain determines our healing and who we will become as a result. Forgiveness is about connection, not perfection. Romans 12:18 reminds us that “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (NIV). Forgiveness depends on you, not the transgressor. Many people think that forgiveness lets the transgressor “off the hook,” when, in reality, it lets you off the hook.
Second, discovering the root cause of these events is essential. The sin must not be ignored in hopes that it will not return. Complete restoration would be the ultimate goal.
And the good news is that victory in Jesus is obtainable! An essential practice for you and your husband would be to claim Scripture promises daily and personalize them to
make them real. One of my favorites is Proverbs 3:5, 6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he
will make your paths straight” (NIV).
You need to take the difficult step of talking with trustworthy individuals who have compassion and insight. Seek out a professional Adventist or Christian counselor, someone
not connected with your local church. Most conference and union Family Ministries departments have names of Christian counselors hey can recommend. This will be a much-needed step for accountability in the days ahead. Most likely your husband has lost his ministerial credentials and employment as a pastor because of these affairs, and it’s best for him to step back from public ministry to focus on his family and personal growth. If church leaders do not yet know about his affairs, do not feel that you must keep the secret out of loyalty or shame. An affair with a church member is not “just adultery” but a form of clergy sexual abuse, and you should speak up for the sake of vulnerable members as well as your own family.
While I cannot know the ultimate outcome, it is important that your husband be completely honest with you, himself, others, and—most important—with God, so that complete healing and restoration can occur.
You are not alone when it comes to difficulties in your marriage. But with an open heart, commitment to prayer, and two partners who desire change, the possibilities for a union that honors God are unlimited! “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20, 21, NKJV).