12 Steps for Rebuilding a Marriage After an Affair
- To rebuild, people must choose to rebuild
- c.f. Jn 5:6 “Do you wish to get well?”
- The counselor must encourage a true biblical hope
- c.f. Heb 6:18-19: “so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an ANCHOR OF THE SOUL, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.”
- Understand the biblical directives for marriage
- God’s regulations were planned for our happiness.
- Have confidence in God’s wisdom. A fundamental human delusion is “If I keep His commandments I will not be happy.”
- There is pleasure in disobedience, but not true happiness.
- In every marriage that ends, either 1 or both parties don’t know or aren’t willing to follow God’s directions.
- God is FOR marriage and has given us directions.
- c.f. Gen 2:18-25: Premarital instruction.
- c.f. Ps 127 & 128: The “Home” Psalms & “Family” Psalms.
- Proverbs; S of S; Mt 19; 1 Cor 9; 13;
- Each person should specifically identify his sins or failures
- Adultery is a symptom of a lot of other things wrong in the adulterer’s life.
- Do not just focus upon the adulterer.
- Do not break a bruised reed: Timing and manner are very important.
- C.f. Prov 15:2: “The tongue of the wise…” “Prov 15:23: “How delightful is a timely word…”
- Also: Mt 7:2-6; 18:15-17; 5:23-26: If a brother thinks you have done something wrong, YOU go to him. In any case, it is YOUR move. Phil 4:2-3.
- Accept responsibility for your sin, confess and seek forgiveness from the other person
- Stop whining: Get busy and take out the trash!
- Confession: Say the same things about your sins as God does. See them as He does!
- Do it because it is what God wants you to do: Do not make bargains.
- Please forgive me PERIOD (no excuses!).
THE SEVEN ‘A’s OF CONFESSION
1. ADDRESS everyone that is involved.
2. AVOID “ifs”, “buts”, “maybes” & “whens”.
3. ADMIT specifics: Not generalities.
4. ACKNOWLEDGE your sorrow over hurting and offending the other person. Display a heart that is broken.
5. ACCEPT the consequences. Forgiveness does not mean that you are absolved of all the consequences of your sin (i.e. STD’s). Ps 51: “LORD, you are justified when You judge…”
6. ALTER your attitudes and your behavior.
7. ASK for forgiveness.
- How to grant biblical forgiveness
- Unconditional forgiveness is not biblical.
- Forgive as God forgives: Not minimizing or excusing what the other person has done.
- Forgiveness is not a feeling.
- Forgiveness is not forgetting.
- Our forgiveness is conditional: God’s forgiveness is conditional. “Repent or perish.”
- I must not forgive someone else unless they have repented. One is not obligated to forgive an unrepentant sinner. BUT: One is always to be ready to forgive.
- Forgiveness is frequently costly.
- Forgive for Christ’s sake: Not because the other person deserves it. Because we ourselves know forgiveness, we too must forgive. C.f. Mt 18:21.
- Forgiveness is a promise, not a feeling. It is a promise to not bring the other person’s sin up against him again. If you honor the promise long enough, eventually your feelings will change.
- Forgiveness leads to reconciliation and restoration. This is what God’s forgiveness does: it leads us to reconciliation and restoration.
- You have not truly forgiven if you are unwilling to seek reconciliation and restoration.
- Plan ahead to do right
- Make specific plans on how you are going to change. Keep a journal.
- c.f. Ro 12:17
- Commit yourselves to a command-oriented way of life: not a feeling oriented one
- c.f. Mt 6:33; 2 Cor 5:9-14; Heb 5:14
- Help them to practice good communication
- This is the nerve center and heart-throb of a good marriage relationship.
- Make the changes for the right reason: the pleasing of God
- Practice your new disciplines until they become habits
- c.f. Heb 5:14: Our faculties are trained by reason of practice. 1 Ti 4:7: We train ourselves for the purpose of godliness.
- Seek godly counsel
- Think of yourself as a race car driver: you need a pit crew.
- Get a good coach.