So Your Spouse Is Having an Affair…A Practical Christian Guide

So Your Spouse Is Having an Affair…A Practical Christian Guide

“Your knee-jerk reaction, many times, is to try to win them back.”

You are dumb-founded. You can’t believe this is happening to you. You are stunned. Horrified. Shocked. You ask yourself, “What have I done to deserve this?” You have been working hard, taking care of the kids, attending church, paying bills, etc. You have been responsible. You ask yourself, “How could they do this to me? To our family?” Thoughts are racing through your mind.

I Don't Love You Anymore
“I Don’t Love You Anymore”

     Your spouse tells you, “I don’t love you anymore.” You don’t know how to respond. You are hurt. You are confused. Your knee-jerk reaction, many times, is to try to win them back. You’ll blame yourself. You’ll cry. You’ll plead. You’ll compromise. You will do whatever it takes to get them. Lose weight. Have more sex. And it will be all wrong.

     Many well meaning Christian counselors and pastors encourage the offended spouse to “love” the adulterer more. They’ll help you find out what you did wrong in the marriage. They’ll advise you to be a better wife or husband – to please them more with your love and attention.

Here’s the Deal…

     It’s always good to learn more about yourself and your responsibility in the marriage, but now is not the time. You want your spouse to repent. You want your marriage back. Now is the time to prepare for battle. God hates sin. And your spouse has sinned against God and you. God wants you to confront sin in a direct, assertive way (2 Sam. 12:7; Matt. 5:23-24; Matt. 18:15-17; 2 Cor. 13:2; Gal. 2:11; 2 Thess. 3:14-15; Titus 3:10-11). Below are steps that marriage counselor David Clarke outlines on how to do just that. Here’s the beginning of your battle plan:

Step #1: Get Close to God

     Attend church regularly. Pray to God – not only spoken prayers, but written prayers as well. Read the Bible and other Christian books. Join a Bible study group.

Step #2: Get a Support Team

Get a Support Group
Get a Support Group

     Gather a select group of friends or family members to go to battle with you. Persons who are confidential and positive. Make sure at least two of them live close by. Have them pray for you and ask for emotional and possible financial support.

     I do not recommend your parents as your first choice as support. Many times, their view is not objective enough. Friends or siblings are usually better choices.

Step #3: Get Angry (and yet do not sin)

     Anger will give you power and strength. You will need it as you go through this difficult process. Of course, you are not to be aggressive or violent with your anger, but do use it to fuel your dogged determination. The purpose of this anger is to motivate and strengthen you to work on your marriage. It can give you gumption, courage, and steadfastness.

Step #4: Confront Your Spouse

Confront Your Spouse
Confront Your Spouse

     Before you confront, make sure you are prepared financially. The goal of the confrontation is to bring your spouse to repentance. You will need to be very intentional about what you say and how you say it.

     You may wish to write it down to organize your thoughts. Have prayer warriors praying while you confront.  This is a difficult step.  Here’s some advice on approaching it.

Step #5: Take Action Against the Sin

     Have your spouse end the extra-marital relationship. Make sure that the communication is clear to other person – use face-to-face conversations, phone calls,  or emails to communicate the ending. Afterwards, block the phone number or email. Have your spouse to delete their social media accounts.  If there is an account,  have a combined account with you.

     Have your spouse to attend counseling and get an accountability partner of his or her same sex. Have your spouse to confess his sin in detail. You need to know what they did, where they did it, and how often they did it (i.e. they took a trip here, they held hands and walked around here at this time). Healing is in the details. But you do NOT need to know the details of their physical touching or sexual acts, the other person’s body, or how they reacted.

     When the spouse doesn’t know these details, then they will fill it in with the worse case scenario. By being fully honest, the offending spouse is laying the foundation to rebuild trust later on.

Step #6: Work on Your Relationship Together

Work on the Relationship Together
Work on the Relationship Together

     Up until this point, your spouse should be actively working on their sin and themselves. After this sin is under control, you can begin to work on communication, forgiveness, rebuilding trust, and other couples issues. Many times, you need a marriage counselor to help you work on issues and guide you through this process.

     I recommend that you find a counselor who is a member of the AACC (American Association of Christian Counselors). Here’s my structure for working through an affair and building a strong marriage.

You Might Be Wondering…

     If your spouse refuses to repent, then you will be forced to take more severe actions. This will include confronting with witnesses, shunning, and possibly separating. Matthew 18:15-17 are Jesus’s words about confronting sin which include witnesses, shunning, and separation.

“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17 NRSV)

     You cannot force your spouse to do anything. You can only control yourself. I find that when an adulterer refuses to repent, they stay stuck in blaming their spouse. They justify the affair because they are angry at their spouse. You cannot get your spouse to change their thinking, but you can get a lawyer and separate from them. Many times, it takes this separation for them to get a different perspective.

For Those Who Are Going Through a Very Difficult Affair…

     If you or someone you know is going through this kind of ordeal, I recommend them reading David Clarke’s book What To Do When Your Spouse Says, I Don’t Love You Anymore. Dr. Clarke provides a wealth of practical Christian advice that works. Need some additional help going through this ordeal? Read about marriage counseling.

Published by Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

Vincent Ketchie, LPC is a marriage counselor, but also counsels men and teenagers. He is married to Laura. They have a son and two dogs. His favorite verse is "I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live but Christ lives within me..." Galatians 2:20


  • Sara

    June 15, 2020 at 4:28 am Reply

    What about wanting to get a divorce even when your spouse says he’s repented but you obviously don’t believe him since he’s said that before and cheated again?

    • Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

      June 15, 2020 at 6:40 pm Reply

      Well, it sounds like you’re having a difficult time deciding. If he continually has affairs or compulsive relationships, then he may have a sexual addiction. True repentance for a sexual addict at that level is a long, arduous journey. Sexual addictions expert Patrick Carnes says about 3-5 years of individual counseling and support group. You may want to listen to the interview I had with Nate Danser from Pure Life Ministries.

    • Julia

      August 31, 2022 at 2:46 am Reply

      I am a wife, and I cheated on my husband. I regret it so much! I told my husband about that, we are trying to work on it. It us so hard. Do you have any advice to make this process easier

      • Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

        September 6, 2022 at 1:35 pm Reply

        Yes, the process is difficult, but it is good if done correctly. Having a good Christian counselor guide you through the process will helpful and give you some guardrails.

  • Rob

    September 12, 2020 at 4:35 pm Reply

    In my particular situation, my wife has cheated, said she’s stopped the affair, but continues to talk to the guy as ‘friends’. I have confronted both of them. As far as I know she hasn’t repented and still doesn’t want me. It has further complicated things that we have had to move into her moms house because of finances/covid, and now (in CA at least) there are no churches that I know of that are open. My only support system has been my parents (which live in OH). Her mom gets on me at times to try to rebuild my relationship with her, but I have made it clear that I cannot trust her until she has stopped talking to the guy. I try to spend time with her and she talks to the guy via text messages even during that time. Not sure what to do. It’s been a mess.

    • Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

      September 14, 2020 at 3:51 pm Reply

      It sounds like you are in a difficult position. You have confronted her and him, but she has only half-heartedly made a boundary with him. The boundaries are even more complicated with COVID and living with her mother. It seems to be even more complicated since you have no support in CA.

    • Vicky Smith

      February 15, 2021 at 4:28 am Reply

      My husband had a yr and a half affair and we are still together but he refuses to have anything sexual to do with me… why? It has been 3 yrs since the affair ended.

      • Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

        February 15, 2021 at 4:10 pm Reply

        Dr. David Ludwig says sex is the glue for a marriage. It bonds the marriage together. Lack of sex is a strong indicator of something amiss in the relationship. (I am not speaking of the exceptions – when there are physical or mental limitations like a stroke or dementia in one of the spouses.) So definitely, the relationship has not been fully restored into a healthy, vibrant marriage. Of course, your mind may wonder if the affair truly ended or has another started or has pornography replaced it – any of these may or may not be true, but definitely the marriage has not been reconciled into a trusting, loving relationship. I encourage you both to continue to work on your marriage – go to marriage retreats, go to marriage counseling, read books about it together, etc.

  • Nik J

    February 16, 2021 at 3:23 pm Reply

    My husband has had affairs(physical and emotional) and has a pornography problem our entire marriage (7years) and cannot give me straight answers or tell me why he wants to stop and he keeps changing his stories. He has said he’s sorry and won’t do it again but how do I believe this?

    • Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

      February 16, 2021 at 5:25 pm Reply

      It sounds like there may be a sexual addiction. No matter how sincere an apology is from someone with a sexual addiction; it will not go away without a lot of hard work. When they say that they will not do it again, they are not only lying to their spouse and others but to themselves as well. They will need help outside of themselves to overcome this problem. This help should come in the form of counseling, attending support group (like Celebrate Recovery), and accountability partners. For more severe cases, more help may be needed. Our mental health crisis resource page list additional resources.

    • True BT

      October 23, 2021 at 9:35 am Reply

      Same issue here, I know I can’t trust it. It’s been 7 for us and the excuse and actions get more and more disrespectful like you get caught red handed and you yell at your with and drive away with the strange woman you just picked up on the street, that is last straw behavior.

      • Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

        October 25, 2021 at 8:19 pm Reply

        Sex addiction expert Patrick Carnes has categorized 10 types of sexual behavior. He would describe the being with “strange women you just picked up on the street” as Anonymous Sex. Anonymous Sex is high-risk sex with unknown persons. Arousal involves no seduction or cost and is immediate.

  • Bruce Fritchey

    May 21, 2021 at 3:21 am Reply

    As you said, “Healing is in the details.” You further back this up by saying, “When the spouse doesn’t know these details, then they will fill it in with the worse case scenario. By being fully honest, the offending spouse is laying the foundation to rebuild trust later on.” However, in the midst of all that, you say something that seems inane to me; as if it were an oxymoron or possibly a paradox. You state, “But you do NOT need to know the details of their physical touching or sexual acts, the other person’s body, or how they reacted.” How do you reconcile these as different “details”? I will reiterate you verbatim, “When the spouse doesn’t know these details, then they will fill it in with the worse case scenario. By being fully honest, the offending spouse is laying the foundation to rebuild trust later on.” Please explain.

    • Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

      May 24, 2021 at 5:35 pm Reply

      Yes, I agree that it does sound quite ambiguous and contradictory. Each couple and situation is different. I generally address this with each couple more specifically in session, giving handouts with examples. But generally, the details that need to be shared are about when, how often, where, who and what happened including whether it was a text, phone call, hug, kiss, sexting, oral sex, or intercourse, but not the details of the physical touching or sexual acts, the other person’s body, or how they reacted.

  • Andrew Gilliam Sr.

    August 15, 2021 at 3:52 am Reply

    I abandoned my faithful wife of 39 years and grown children for a co worker. Now she is pregnant. I really blew it with my family. Any advice would be helpful. I still adore my family and the coworker was just a fling. I have cheated on my wife many times, but this time I told her I did not remember her or the kids. How do I fix my errors with my family?

    • Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

      August 15, 2021 at 6:43 pm Reply

      Thank you for sharing! My first recommendation is that you see a Christian counselor – someone who is a member of the AACC (American Association of Christian Counseling). There are many things that you will need to navigate delicately. You had mentioned numerous affairs which may indicate that you may have a sexual addiction. Celebrate Recovery (CR) is a support group for anyone struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind. I recommend CR to most of my clients while I am seeing them. CR will be essential for your recovery and restoration.

  • M Flackson

    August 15, 2021 at 4:45 am Reply

    I’m really struggling with this. My husband of 37 years had an affair. When confronted, he neither denied or affirmed. I chose to forgive him and we have remained married now for 49 yrs. About the same time he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and dementia. I stayed with him and eventually became his caregiver 24/7 for 12 years until he had to go into a nursing home recently since I was no longer able to care for him.
    A few months ago, a widowed childhood friend contacted me. We hit it off and have been seeing each other long distance. Since finding the Lord at 25 (I’m now 71) I have lived my life according to Biblical precepts. I had 12 long years of taking care of my husband, giving up so much during that time. Now I want this new relationship to prosper for our remaining years. My husband doesn’t know me when I visit him in the nursing home but has a strong constitution and may live quite awhile . I know for certain I’m a born-again Christian but struggle with what I’m doing. Prayer for wisdom and guidance is a constant but things continue to get better. I’m wondering if the Lord is ordaining this new relationship but I don’t know how that could be – based on His Words on adultery. Any helpful words on this?
    Because my husband broke our marriage covenant, am I free to pursue or do I have to wait for him to pass. Divorce is not an option at this point.

    • Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

      August 15, 2021 at 6:49 pm Reply

      Thank you for sharing! It sounds like speaking with a therapist would be helpful for you to navigate this difficult time. I recommend that you see a Christian counselor – someone who is a member of the AACC (American Association of Christian Counseling).

  • Rachel Pruiett

    October 25, 2021 at 7:20 am Reply

    I got married almost 2 years ago and 8 months into our marriage I found dating apps he had downloaded well AFTER our wedding and he was talking to multiple women. I forgave him and decided to just trust him (we’re young (19-20)) figured he’s just young and dumb lol. However three months after that I found dating apps on his phone AGAIN and he was talking to local women. This time it hit me so hard. I really thought I was going to leave him but I decided I wanted to at least try my hardest to trust him again and we went to marriage was great but only lasted like 8 months until I’ve caught him twice masturbating in secret while watching porn and we hadn’t had an sort of physical affection around the time I caught him masturbating. I’ve decided to leave him.. I have been faithful.. I have prayed and asked God so many times to let me know my husbands true intentions, because he would always apologize and then try by going to church and reading the Bible but it was short lived every time.. I can’t keep holding on waiting for him to grow up. He pretended to be someone totally different before we got married but man it still hurts because I’ve been patient and understanding and I just know he’s not going to change. I just still cant help but feel like it’s my fault we aren’t working out.

    • Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

      October 25, 2021 at 8:11 pm Reply

      In chapter 19 of David Clarke’s book I Don’t Want A Divorce, he addresses the “popular advice” of where the spouse is told that it is their fault. He tells the sinning spouse it is 100% his fault. It is 100 percent the addicted spouse’s problem. The spouse cannot make the other addicted to sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, work etc. It is their decision and decisions.

  • Priyasha

    May 4, 2022 at 6:40 am Reply

    My husband denying he is cheating . But I have evidence. But still he wants to have sex with me . But I feel very uncomfortable, so I refused it. What can I do in this , I feel very sorry for him. He said he loves me. But Denys he is cheating. . As a child of god is it fine to give him space to have sex as he is my husband, even if I feel confused

    • Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

      July 7, 2022 at 5:00 pm Reply

      It sounds like you both would benefit from marriage counseling or individual for yourself if he refuses. Many clients use the evidence as leverage to get their spouse to go to counseling. I recommend you seeing someone who is a member of the AACC. Of course, shop around to find someone that you feel confident in. It may cost more, but it will be worth it.

  • Neela Gampal

    May 22, 2022 at 1:01 am Reply

    I am struggling with what to do with my marriage, my husband told me 10 days ago that he needed some space because he lost his identity, so he stayed at a worldly friend’s house, now he came back and is a different person, he told me that he won’t hide his feelings anymore (he was afraid to express his feelings\opinions because he didn’t want to hurt me before) so he expressed all of his feelings, he decided to stop following God, he flew to CA (we live in TX) to meet a female friend and told me he had the best sex ever and now tells me that he will like me to meet another man just to understand what did he went through. He is totally a different person, all he told me I totally disagree, now I’m feeling hopeless, I would like to meet someone who went with a similar situation because I am alone in this and right now I cannot afford for a counseling.

    • Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

      July 7, 2022 at 4:46 pm Reply

      It sounds like you have really been going through a lot and need support. You mentioned that you cannot afford counseling. I am not sure about Texas, but many counties have government-sponsored mental health counseling (usually groups) that are free or low cost. I also recommend Celebrate Recovery (CR) with is a Christian-based support group. It was started by Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in California. Many churches host CR groups around the nation.

  • Michael D. Bonsall Sr.

    June 10, 2022 at 1:38 pm Reply

    Thoughts on a man who is married to a woman who experimented with bisexual sex prior to marriage but over the course of a 17 year marriage has engaged in numerous adulterous affairs with women and another man? The husband is Christian although he strayed away from God for a period of time but has found his way back with a passion. The wife was willing to abandon the marriage and the children to move forward in a lesbian affair a number of years ago and is again involved in a gay relationship. Advising in this situation is particularly difficult as it is my oldest son who is struggling with this situation.

    • Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

      July 7, 2022 at 4:53 pm Reply

      It sounds like your son needs to speak with a Christian counselor (a member of the AACC) to figure out how to navigate through this difficult situation. A lot is going on with his wife, probably due to previous traumas and/or abuse. He will need to learn how to be assertive (not aggressive) and set boundaries that are appropriate to help/protect himself, her, and the children.

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