However, salvaging a marriage when one spouse is in love with someone else usually isn’t accomplished by pointing the adulterer to scripture, logic, or consequences. If I had space, I’d explain why. (You can read about it in chapter four of my book Your LovePath.) The short version is that they are driven by strong and compelling emotions that they’re convinced you have no way of understanding. Therefore, you are dismissed, along with your Bible, lectures, and piety. Very often they’ll even tell you that God sent the lover to them.
So what do you do to save these marriages?
Based on my experience (75% success rate in saving these marriages over the last decade), I suggest the following to both the offended spouse and to all Christians attempting to help:
- Believe that an affair – even an exceptionally strong Relationship/Love Affair – is not necessarily the end of a marriage. It may well be, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t give up. Keep praying and keep doing the right things, no matter how hopeless it may seem at the moment.
- Don’t beg, cajole, or attempt to manipulate the adulterer. S/he is already emotionally on edge; emotional actions from you exacerbate the situation. Be firm and calm. (This is especially important for the offended spouse NOT to do.)
- Don’t try to convince him or her that the lover is a bad person or primarily responsible for the affair. That might work in a Short-Lived Affair. It always causes a person in a Relationship Affair to develop an “us against the world” union with the lover.
- Drag out any divorce proceedings as long as possible. The intense emotions involved with being “madly in love” last anywhere from six to thirty-six months. (see Your LovePath) Though the straying spouse may become angry and try to manipulate the offended spouse into divorce (“I’ll make things tougher for you if you don’t go along with me…”), the abandoned spouse should be strong, endure the other’s wrath, and drag it out as long as possible. There is a very real possibility that the abandoning spouse will eventually lose the intensity of desire to be with the lover.
- The abandoned spouse should demonstrate his or her ability to not only survive but prosper without the abandoning spouse. S/he must concentrate on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. This accomplishes two things. 1) The abandoned spouse needs this for him- herself. 2) The abandoned spouse becomes more attractive when strong and self-sufficient.
- In fervent prayer ask God to bring chaos, financial distress, and anything else He will do to cause pain as a result of the sinner’s actions and to make it difficult for him or her to continue in the affair.
- The abandoned spouse needs an attorney that will protect his or her rights, finances, and the like. Though this may sound vengeful, this attorney should make the divorce as painful as possible – financially and otherwise – to the abandoning spouse.