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Six Ways to Help When Your Friend's Marriage Is Wrecked By Adultery (Adultery - Part 6)

  If you have a friend that is going through an affair, you can be a huge help and blessing or a source of further pain and heartache. I want to share with you the type of friend that I hope and pray surrounds those I am counseling through affair recovery. These principles may be broadly applicable, but I am specifically thinking about how to be a good friend to the faithful AND unfaithful spouse that are trying to decide whether to save their marriage or who have already decided to try to rebuild their marriage.

1. DO NOT pressure quick forgiveness.
A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity. — Proverbs 17:17 (ESV)

A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. — Proverbs 18:24 (ESV)
Forgiveness may take a while. Infidelity causes some of the deepest pain imaginable. It is hard to forgive what you do not understand, and the offended spouse normally does not understand many of the ramifications of his/her spouse’s infidelity for many months. By pressuring your friend to forgive their spouse quickly, you unintentionally minimize the pain your friend is feeling. Do pray for your friend to extend forgiveness. Do ask gently where he/she is in the forgiveness process. Do not expect or pressure quick forgiveness.

2. DO NOT avoid talking about their pain.

Your friends, whether you are primarily friends with the unfaithful or offended spouse, are often thinking about the pain of the affair for months and even years after it is discovered. You may be afraid that they are not feeling the pain today, and by asking them about it you may make them think about it. That is normally not the case. It can be comforting for them to be able to talk about it with a good friend without having to bring it up every time. When you bring it up, it communicates that you understand that what they are going through is big, consuming, and difficult. Bring it up. Pray for them. Pray with them. Ask how they are doing.

3. DO NOT insist that your friends talk about their pain all the time.

Do ask how they are doing, but do not insist that they talk deeply about their pain all the time. Your friends may need a break. Be a friend that can help your friends to rest from the recovery process by laughing, talking about hobbies, and just hanging out. Affair recovery can be exhausting work, and a good friend can be invaluable in providing temporary relief from the emotional exhaustion.

4. DO NOT bash your friend's spouse.

     If you are closest with the spouse that was faithful, do not bash his/her spouse. If your friend is considering or seeking to forgive and rebuild the marriage, you need to be a friend of the marriage. You can listen and empathize with your friend’s pain without bashing his/her spouse. Believe with your friend that God can make his/her spouse a man or woman of integrity. Do not shun your friend’s spouse. Pray for your friend's spouse with your friend.

5. DO serve practically.

You can help your friends in many ways in the months and years after the affair comes to light. They need time and space to pray, read, grieve, and attend counseling. Offer to babysit your friends' children on a regular basis so that they can make time for healing. Assure your friends that you are glad to serve and want nothing in return. Offer to help financially with counseling costs if you are able. Many in affair recovery spend a year or two in counseling, which can be very expensive. If you have access to a beach house, lake house, or other relaxing environment, offer your place so they can get away individually or as a couple. Again, your friends need time and space to process, pray, and have healing conversations. Lastly, ask you friend how you can practically serve them.

6. DO expect your friends to be in the recovery process for several years.
A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out. — Walter Winchell
Your friends will likely struggle with feeling like a burden in your friendship, and therefore will be tempted to isolate themselves. My experience counseling through affair recovery and my research on the topic leads me to believe that most marriages take about 18-24 months to substantially recover from an affair. Tell your friends that you know that it can take years to recover, and let them know that you want to walk with them the whole way. Yes, you will get exhausted. Choose to listen, stay engaged, grieve, pray, encourage, and serve. Of course your friends need encouragement, empathy, and practical service during the first few weeks after affair discovery. They also need it after a year, when most of their friends and family expect the marriage to be "back to normal." 
Genuine, sacrificial, supportive friends are crucial for rebuilding a marriage that has crumbled due to an affair. Are you willing to be a friend when your friend is hurting, depressed, and fearful and may be that way off and on for years? Will you walk in when many others walk out?
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1 Comment

Dee - July 27th, 2022 at 7:47am

This is from personal experience. From the outside my sister's marriage seemed perfect so it was quite a shock for everyone in my family to learn of her husband's multiple affairs and porn addiction. She never suspected anything for 19 yrs. Unfortunately, it was revealed in a public way which added to the shame of it. He was an elder in the church and on his children's Christian school board. These affairs demolished my sister's confidence, security,her outgoing nature, and unfortunately her relationships with other women in the church. Only one makes the effort to comfort and walk beside her and her children and until recently she has backed off. Her husband did have a true confession of his sin and many men in the church hold hold him accountable. Although this is wonderful, my sister has deep pain unlike I've ever seen. She feels as though her entire marriage was a sham. Nothing was sacred. It's been 2 yrs and they still sit towards the back of church and slip out quietly when it's over.. She's been told that the other women don't know how to approach the subject or help her. So they do nothing. Im appalled at how some believer's feel after a certain amount of time, it's time to pull on the boot straps and get on with life. Her therapist actually told her if she's made any headway and comes close to healing in 5 yrs she's doing good. In other words, it takes an enormous amount of time for some. Quite frankly, those scars will be left indefinitely. Everyone heals differently and there isn't a time my advice to other women in the church that feel uncomfortable with the subject or awkward in knowing what to do ,is sit quietly holding her hand, or giving sincere hugs, praying aloud for her, read uplifting and hope filled scripture, and wait. You may get weary of hearing about it, seeing tears, witnessing anger or insecurity but this woman needs this tenderness and support. If God says that you become one after marriage then you can imagine what it's like to be torn in two. Love her as she needs..