Put out the Fire Before Rebuilding the House

Adultery is Like a Fire

House Firee
House Fire

What do people do when their house is on fire?  Do they start rebuilding the house while it is still on fire?  No.  They rush to get everyone out of the house and call 911 immediately.  They might grab water hoses and buckets to put the fire out.  But nobody rebuilds while the fire is still raging.

But, when the fires of adultery hit our families, often we fail to put the fires out before going on with life or rebuilding.

Recommended Reading: Torn Asunder by Dave Carder

Recommended Reading: The Love Dare by Alex Kendrick

First Fire is Panic or Fear

One fuel for the fire is panic.  This is completely natural.  An affair is discovered.  Quarrels escalate to insults, threats, violence.  At first, things are bad but tolerable, and later they become dangerous.  The family unit is in utter peril.  Given the choice, many faithful spouses and their children would rather have pins shoved under their fingernails or have a limb cut off than to have the family destroyed.

Everyone in the family fears the family will fall apart.  Life will change.  Will the marriage end in divorce?  Will everyone have to move?  Will the kids have a new mom or dad?  Will someone be killed or beaten up?

Second Fire is Selfishness

I doubt adultery or divorce come without warning signs.  Adultery is a very selfish sin.  Those involved only seek their own comfort, and they’re willing to hurt their families for it.  There really is no greater selfishness than adultery.

Adultery is a cowardly sin.  A person usually must feel safe to commit adultery.  It is a sin people begin in secrecy.  Adulterers do not commit adultery if they expect to lost everything–their family, their property, their reputation, their circle of friends, the respect of their children, and a life of intimacy with somebody.  They usually commit adultery because they believe they can build a bridge to a new person without having to suffer any consequences.

Clinging: Death Knell to Marriage

Faithful spouses and their children help the unfaithful spouses build that bridge to the other person.  How?  They’re so desperately afraid of losing the family and everything that they cling for dear life.  And as long as they are clinging, unfaithful spouses do not have to worry.  They always have a bridge back home if the affair does not work out.  Clingy spouses make affairs seem safe.

Almost every book I have read on saving marriages dedicate at least a whole chapter to an ultimatum, a last resort technique, an intervention.  But many faithful spouses feel so desperate and emotionally needy they cannot intervene successfully.  And that is why unfaithful spouses feel safe to continue in their affairs.

Truth is, a faithful spouse is probably more likely to save his or her marriage by going down to City Hall to file for a divorce and cutting off the unfaithful spouse entirely than by remaining needy and clinging.  I am not recommending this approach unless you have thought about it and have decided you want to end your marriage.  If it is only a ploy, your spouse will lose respect and consider you desperate.  Your ultimatum must be real, confident, secure, and sincere, letting your spouse go if he or she should decide to end the marriage.

Choreographing an Intervention

This is where a faithful and unfaithful spouse are given a taste of reality.

  1. Responsibility: You alone are responsible for your bad decisions, and your spouse alone is responsible for his or hers.  You must accept responsibility for all your choices and refuse to accept responsibility for the bad choices your spouse or children make.
  2. Releasing: You need to release all responsibility for your spouse’s decisions.  It is not your job to make your spouse cling or remain faithful to you.  Your spouse said the wedding vows.  Your spouse is morally obligated to honor those vows faithfully.
  3. Accepting: If your spouse is unfaithful, you don’t need to approve, but you do need to understand that the betrayal is real.  You need to accept that your spouse does not value his or her word.  You must accept that your spouse is hurting you and your family and sacrificing your children’s well-being for the affair.
  4. Finalizing: You need to decide the status of your marriage.  You call the shots.  You are no longer obligated to stay in the marriage but your spouse is.
  5. Inventory: You need to take inventory of your options.  What can you do about the situation?  File for divorce?  Stand firm and hold your spouse to his or her wedding vows?  Give an ultimatum?
  6. Prepare: Which decision is best?  Do you have the strength to stand firm in that decision?  Can you carry out that decision faithfully and firmly?  Is it the best and most honorable, the wisest?  Is it God’s will?  Are you confident and firm it is the right decision?  What must you do to make sure you can carry out that decision to completion?
  7. Execute:  When you know the right thing to do, carry out your decision and live with it.


Here is my theory.  Unfaithful spouses threaten divorce.  During courtship before marriage, they threaten breakup.  This does not build a pure, healthy, loving, faithful, and happy relationship..

Bullies lack self-esteem.  They fear if they cannot control the relationship with an iron fist, the relationship will fall apart and they will be alone because nobody would want to stay with them unless forced.

Unfaithful spouses may test the water and see if they can get away with adultery and use it as a threat to control their family members by fear.  The message they hope to carry is, “If you don’t give me what I want, I can get it from someone else.”  Often they will set up a competition between their spouse and another lover and keep both competing for their affections.  Like so many demons, adultery is a cruel task-master demanding illicit worship above all others but never rendering the perfect faithfulness it demands.

When we allow this desperation and panic and lack of self-worth overtake us, we give our unfaithful spouses all they need to control and torment us.  And this encourages unfaithfulness.


Lose Your Fear

If you want to save your marriage, lose the fear and panic.  Panic, clinging, and such makes a person look really ugly and it sends a message to others that says you are not worth much,  But God created you.  Jesus loved you enough to die for you.  And, God is no fool.

Notice this:  A good and faithful life partner cannot be stolen.  No wise person ever goes after someone who already belongs to someone else.  Only a desperate fool goes after an unfaithful, married person.  That person has no regard for marriage or faithfulness or honoring one’s word.  Such a person is selfish and can hurt many people very, very deeply just to indulge his or her lusts.

Now, if your spouse is chasing after a person like that, then perhaps you did not marry a very wise person after all.  Perhaps you would be better off not being so desperate.  Perhaps it would be better for you to give yourself more credit and dignity and know in your heart that it would be a huge privilege for your spouse to be forgiven and allowed to return.  It should be up to your spouse to cling to you–not your job to cling to your spouse.  After all, if they cheat once, how can you be sure they will not cheat again.

Let God Comfort and Heal

So, keep your cool, spend time in prayer, turn it all over to God and know that He did not bring this problem to you but rather gave you the opportunity to come to where the problem was and experience it and learn from it, and know in your heart that God loves you and through and in all things He does all He can wisely do to bring the very best for everyone who loves Him and are called according to His purpose.  (see Romans 8:28).

Rather than letting fear control you, control it.  Refuse it.  Resist it.  Tell yourself positive things.  And, you don’t have to go into denial to do this.  Positive thinking is not about lying to yourself and pretending bad things are not happening.  Positive thinking is about looking at the bad things and knowing that God is able to bring good through them all regardless.

So, make a strong effort to discipline your thoughts to focus on the good.

Be Attractive

Confident, happy people are attractive.  If you can open the cage door for your spouse and let your spouse go, that sends a message back to your spouse that you don’t have to hold onto someone desperately to keep him or her, but that you are so worth having that you don’t have to worry about being alone.  It’s good to prefer to have your spouse with you, but it is also important to be able to be happy without your spouse.

That takes away their motive to bully through adultery and threats of divorce and helps bring health back to the marriage little by little.

About the author: dan

Dan has been building websites focused on Christian evangelism and devotions and on strengthening marriages since 2001 and has worked in Information Technology while being involved in various ministries at church since the late 1970's. Dan's beloved wife, Eileen, stands with him in these efforts and has websites and Christian clothing designs of her own. Dan's daughter, Michelle, is another joy of his life. She is finishing her final year of high school and will be attending her first year of university study in the Fall of 2011. Her interests are in neurology and biomedical engineering.

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