I have had an affair but have ended the relationship. …For a while I truly believed that I was in love with this other man and that he could give me what I thought I was lacking in my marriage. I now realize that this was a completely unrealistic point of view and that I truly do love my husband and we both want to repair our marriage. Last night my husband and I saw a marriage counselor for the first time. When I began talking about my alcohol abuse and how it is affecting my marriage the counselor immediately asked me if I was â€˜seeing someone else.â€™ I denied it of course, but he indicated that at some point he would like to see me without my husband. I am terrified that the counselor will first get me to reveal to him that I had an affair and what I am most afraid of is that he will ask me to reveal this to my husband. HOW COULD THIS POSSIBLY HELP HEAL MY MARRIAGE??
First off, I can assure you anything you tell your marriage counselor is one hundred percent confidential. The only time the marriage counselor would repeat anything you say is if you inform him you’re going to commit a criminal act, like murder, or have reason to believe you yourself are in danger, in which case he’s obligated to report that to the authorities. The counselor is not there to condemn you, he’s there to help you through the process of repenting and getting your life and your marriage back on track. He’s probably not going to be shocked or surprised, marriage counsellors deal with adultery often and if he’s been in his business any length of time, he’s already read the truth in your eyes and in your body language and is why he wants to meet with you alone. If you tell him, he can help you deal with your fears (which are perfectly normal) and won’t push you into anything you’re not ready for. If you don’t tell the counsellor the truth, well, that would be like seeing a doctor and not telling him about an embarassing symptom that’s at the root of the problem. If, after meeting with him you don’t feel he handled it well or you’re not confident in him, you can discontinue your
relationship with that counselor and he can’t tell your husband or anyone else.
As I said, though, marriage counselors deal with your issue all the time and most marriages CAN survive. Despite what that little voice in your ear is whispering, your marriage is more likely to survive if you tell the counselor–and, when you’re ready, your husband–the truth. Certainly, sweeping the problem under the rug is much easier than facing the truth, but, practically, that carries the same risk, if not greater, of divorce than if you confess and ask forgiveness. You’re probably all too aware you’re husband isn’t obligated to stay with you biblically at this point, but let’s not forget Jesus wasn’t obligated to die for us and make a way for us to go to Heaven, either. The marriage counselor can help your husband choose to be christ-like and forgive. God forgives us when we repent, so we are under the same obligation towards each other.
Again, it’s normal to be afraid, but I can tell you from experience, if you listen to the voice of fear, you end up worse off than if you had resisted and took those painful steps into the light of truth. First, your husband may already have some sense that he can’t back up of what happened. There are clues and signs. It would be much harder on you if he connected the dots and find out for himself rather than if you confess it in a counseling setting, where the counslor would be there to help you both.
Second, you’re carrying around a big load of guilt that eats at you constantly.You can’t forgive yourself. You live in fear of being found out. Even if he never finds out, those feelings can lead to behaviors that are also lethal to your marriage. Regardless, your marriage becomes like walking a tight rope over a pit of lava. I’ve heard that voice of fear whispering in your ear, he wasn’t saying the same things he’s saying to you, but it’s the same beast and he’s a terrible master. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life enslaved to him, or do you want to live a life of freedom? You would be better off a divorced former adulteress, who’s confessed her sin and has the peace of knowing she’s clean and free through in the blood of the lamb than a miserable wife enslaved to fear.
I know how frightening–and seemingly impossible–standing up to fear can be, but a good marriage counselor can help you overcome that and help your husband through his feelings so you can as a couple deal with this issue. With counseling and prayer, your marriage does have hope of survival.
P.S. the letter was abridged for privacy. I numbered this 51 because King David wrote Psalms 51 after his sin with Bathsheba. It’s an excellent psalm of repentence, for anyone that’s committed sexual sin, or otherwise.