The other day I mentioned Christian Men’s Defense Network. Given the familiar names in the discussion there and the nearly 700 clicks to his site in the stats since then I know that many of you have already gone over there to see what he is building. If you are interested in a thoroughly Christian take on the issues we discuss here, this new blog is a must read. He has only been blogging for a week now but in that short time he has already easily demonstrated his talent. I’ve added him to the blogroll.
Now, let me explain things to you like they are. When it happened to me, there was almost nothing out there to give me Christian guidance on what to do about it. Almost nothing. And what was there, was, I discovered in retrospect, based on a false understanding of psychology and, even worse, a false understanding of Biblical marriage and sexuality.
Almost all the stuff I found was about a guy cheating, not the woman cheating. This is despite the fact that female marital infidelity is a growing trend within the Christian community, one that the church refuses to deal with and likes to paper over. In our society, women are almost as likely to cheat on their spouses as men, but there’s next to nothing out there to help a Christian man deal with that.
Which is why I wrote this. It’s a little something to guide you through the process. It may not be perfect, but it’s a heck of a lot more than you’ll get from Focus on the Family or other “Christian” institutions, many of whom have given themselves over to latent Christian feminism or faulty unbiblical views of marriage. So calm down and pay attention. Again, God has your back. Trust me. He had mine, even though it took me a long time to realize that.
Then he frames the issue:
The Devil is trying to get at you, to weaken your resolve to abide in quiet faith to your Lord and King. But he isn’t trying to get at your marriage. He already got at your marriage when he got at your wife. There’s nothing you can do about that now. You are his next target. It might be possible for your marriage to continue, but realize the Devil already got it, and you’re now starting over.
Towards the end of the first part he prescribes a daily dose of the three P’s: Psalms, Proverbs, and Paul, and he explains why he recommends each one. Here is why he advises reading Proverbs:
Proverbs because there Solomon talks of the importance of wisdom. You will need wisdom in your life more now than you ever have before. Solomon also talks a great deal about how to avoid the wiles of a sexually immoral woman. Your wife, as hard as it is to admit, is such a woman, and her wiles can be powerful, tearing you and your family down to please her sinful passions. “For a prostitute’s fee is only a loaf of bread, but an adulteress goes after a precious life” (Prov. 6:26). You need wisdom.
In part two, Shame Control, he addresses anger and the very common tendency of cheating wives and Christians in general to blame the husband when a wife cheats:
It’s okay to be angry. Christians today will tell you anger is never justified. And yet they claim to serve a Lord who actually chased people out of the Temple with a whip like a mad man. Ignore all that. Be angry, but do not sin.
Next, you need to be clear that this is not your fault. Shame will be a constant threat to you. And you must not let the Devil shame you. Cling to God and resist the Devil.
Your wife especially will try to shame you. She will try to tell you she did this because she was “unhaaaaapy,” because you don’t listen to her, because you don’t communicate well, because you don’t keep the house clean (my ex-wife tried all of these). That’s baloney.
Christians should consult the Bible, not the movie Fireproof for their understanding of how to view unfaithful wives:
No, the Bible gives us only one reason that she cheated on you: Lust. Rank, disgusting, vile, perverted lust. Women lust too, even though, again, a lot of Christian pastors don’t ever mention that. They only like to talk about guys who look at porn, never about women who commit lust that leads to infidelity.
In part 3 Pitfalls he reinforces the importance of staying strong and not giving into the frame of blame shifting:
The first pitfall to avoid is to not fall for any blame-shifting tricks your wife might throw at you. If your experience is true to a common pattern (one I also experienced), she’s been telling you for weeks or months that she is “unhaaaaapy” in the marriage, and that you need to change. She might even have threatened divorce if you didn’t change.
This is very common. In fact, you might even be in marriage therapy right now to deal with your alleged shortcomings. This is a major pitfall you need to identify and avoid: She isn’t telling you all this stuff because you are really a bad husband. She isn’t going to therapy with you because you need to change for the sake of the marriage. She isn’t threatening divorce because she’s unhaaaapy.
Rather, she’s doing all of these things because she needs you to take the blame for her sin. If you google “christian wife cheated” or something similar, you will find multiple stories where the guy is going to therapy with his wife and then finds out she was cheating. Or you’ll find stories about how she was complaining about the marriage, and then he found out she was unfaithful.
He explains why this is crucial first from a Christian point of view, pointing out something which is almost always overlooked:
Don’t do it. She has to admit that the current crisis in the marriage was caused by her own lack of self-control, not by you being a bad husband. She must admit this, both for her own spiritual health, and because your marriage cannot survive unless she does. Repentance results in healing. Unrepentance results in self-destruction.
Then he explains it from a game point of view:
Furthermore, if you admit to being the chief problem, she will lose all respect for you. I know, this sounds really bizarre, but it’s how female psychology works. She needs a man who is strong and tough, who can stand up to threats and remain stable. She needs a man who can stand up even to her, because if her man cannot stand up to a woman who is clearly in the wrong, how could she trust him to stand up to bigger threats?
He follows this up with some very insightful advice:
Second, if you are currently seeing a marriage therapist, stop. This is the opposite advice of what most Christians will give you. But if your wife brought you to the counselor under false pretenses, then continuing the counseling relationship is buying in to your wife’s scheme.
He advises that the husband reset the frame, and if the husband feels that counseling is still in order he gives advice on how the husband can improve the odds of finding one who will deal with the issue fairly.
He also deftly covers the topics of divorce, forgiveness, and reconciliation:
So do not seek any form of revenge. Divorce isn’t revenge, and if you decide to pursue divorce for the purpose of revenge, you’re making a big mistake. Now, not all Christians agree on when–if ever–divorce is permissible. As a Protestant, I hold to the usual Protestant interpretation that it is only permissible in case of adultery (with the possible exception of physical abuse creating a “divorce for personal safety, but no remarriage” situation). Adultery is the very case you’re in right now.
But my point is, regardless of your personal beliefs about divorce, when you forgive your wife, it doesn’t mean you’ve reconciled the marriage. Forgiveness is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for reconciliation.
I’ve quoted this fairly heavily, because it is easier to show you how good this series is than try to explain it. Still, this is just a teaser. Read the full series on his site (part 1, part 2, part 3), and bookmark it so you can share it with a Christian man in need.
July 5 2016: Updated with corrected links.