My Remorseful Spouse Has Taken To Reading The Bible And Trying To Preach To Me After His Affair. Apparently, He’s Found Religion.

By: Katie Lersch:  It’s not unusual for people to turn to their faith when something very upsetting happens in their lives and shakes the entire core of their existence.  An affair would most definitely fall into this category.  And some people who do reach out to me describe a spouse who has suddenly become very religious or even preachy.  This is often abrupt and somewhat new.  So the spouse who is witnessing this might not know what it all means or how to react.

Someone might say: “I can’t claim that my husband has never been religious.  His mother is very religious, which means that he attended church regularly when he was a child.  And, we do attend church on holidays and special occasions.  But as an adult, my husband has not been particularly religious.  This has all changed after his affair.  I will admit that he was extremely remorseful.  It was obvious that he was ashamed of himself.  He begged for my forgiveness.  I am still not sure if I am going to give it to him.  I have not kicked him out or filed for divorce.  But he’s getting nothing but the cold shoulder from me and I’ve yet to decide what to do about my marriage.  Shortly after I found out about the affair, my husband got out his bible and would read it for hours every night.  At first, I thought that this was mostly because he had little else to do – since I was ignoring him.  But he’s kept it up.   Initially, the reading was upsetting to him. He would read the passages about how God condemned adulterers.  Later though, he started saying that God has great forgiveness as long as you repent and admit your sins.  It’s as if he thinks that because he has remorse and God offers forgiveness, I too should forgive him.  I’m not ready to do that.  And part of me wonders if this is all just a prop.  But how can I tell a man that he can’t read his Bible?  It’s so frustrating how everything has changed.”

I agree that it wouldn’t be right to discourage him from finding some comfort in faith.  And honestly, his behavior isn’t that surprising.  Men who have affairs are vulnerable men who are often desperately searching for something to make them feel better about themselves.  So now that the affair is over, it’s no wonder that he’s still searching for something to make him feel better.  And it appears that he thinks that his faith is providing him with that.  And there is certainly absolutely nothing wrong with that thought process.  I’m no religious expert, but most religions do not take a favorable stance on adultery.  So I doubt that your husband is finding justification for his actions in his religious readings.

I think the bigger issue is that just because he is able to find the idea of forgiveness in religion, that does not mean that you are automatically obligated to forgive him.   His relationship with God and his relationship with you are two very different things.  Yes, it’s admirable that he’s looking for religious guidance, but he also needs to be looking for marital guidance.   He needs to take steps to do right by you.  The trust needs to be restored.  The marriage needs to be healed.  It is usually some time after these things happen that the wife is able to offer forgiveness.  Frankly, the healing and the rebuilding can take a while.  You need time to see that he’s going to do what needs to be done and that he can be trusted again.

If you’d like to address this, the next time he starts to share his religious findings with you, then you might try: “I am glad that you are finding reassurance in this and that you feel forgiven by a higher power.  That must be a relief.  But I’m not going to get that type of relief until I know that we are able to heal and that I am able to trust again.  We are a long way away from this.  We are going to need to do concrete things – perhaps with the help of an expert before I am going to be able to make any firm decisions.  I don’t mean to discourage you at all.  I’m glad that you feel that you are making progress and I hope that this continues.  But I need to make progress, too.  And in order to do that, I’m going to need for you to work very hard with me.  I hope that you are willing to do that.  I am willing to have an open mind, but I need action rather than just words and reading.”

If you decide to save your marriage, hopefully you can find a compromise.  He can continue to find comfort in faith.  But he also must take some concrete action.  Ideas and readings are nice, but they don’t always equate into decisive and forward action – which you need in order to heal after an affair.  If it helps, you can read about my own healing process  on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com.

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