Ask an Older Woman #20: How Do I Fight for My Marriage?

Editor’s note: In this series, women on our blogger team respond to questions from our readers. If you have a question of your own, you can share it with us here

Q: “How do I fight for my marriage? My husband is having an affair and says he is in love with another woman.”

A: My sister, though you may feel an avalanche of sorrows that seems to be undoing everything you thought was certain, God remains steadfast and sure. 

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. (Nah. 1:7)

You may question if you will ever feel secure or cherished again, but God’s abounding love for you has not changed or dissipated. Your position in Christ is secure. Your identity has never truly been “married woman” or “mother of three with husband” or anything to do with your marital status, home, financial security, appearance, or children.Your identity is in Christ, and that identity is not in jeopardy. 

God isn’t angry at you. He is not punishing you. You don’t have to tiptoe around, as if God is going to send lightning bolts to destroy you if you make a wrong move. God is for you. He didn’t leave you. Man did.

Condemnation Versus Conviction

You can play back a hundred different scenarios in your mind as to what you could have done differently. That doesn’t change the current situation. There may be areas where you neglected your marriage relationship, but it is not your fault that your husband became involved with another woman. When it comes to any regrets you have, the most effective approach is to sincerely pray, asking the Lord to reveal any sin within your own heart. Pray with the psalmist:

Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!(Ps. 139:23–24)

Conviction in any area of your life, if it leads you to confess it and change, is valuable. That repentance increases your intimacy with Christ. Condemnation, on the other hand, leads you to feeling shame, placing the blame upon your shoulders. That is the design of the enemy, not God.

Spiritual Warfare

There’s more going on than what you see on the surface. Warfare has been waged over your marriage. You have a very real enemy. Remember, Adam was drawn into sin and separation from God while he stood next to his wife as she was enticed by Satan. Adam knew what he was doing, but he entered into disobedience anyway. 

Proverbs is full of warnings to stay clear from the adulteress’s lying lips. Temptation is at our doorstep, and the enemy will make anything look appealing, easy, and fulfilling if it will pull us away from the truth. If your husband has entered onto this slippery slope, it doesn’t mean you have to be carried away on the mudslide of his sin. You can trust that God will deal with him. 

You don’t have to retaliate, be filled with bitterness or even despair. You can choose to set your mind and heart to praying for your husband. You can pray that God would have mercy on his soul and draw him to a place of repentance. Perhaps start with Ephesians 3:

[I pray that] according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (vv. 16–19)

Your Story Isn’t Over

You might feel embarrassed, ashamed, less than, deserving of the pain, not seen, unheard, or even hopeless. But God has not forgotten you, and your story is far from being over. Though you may not see it now, none of what you are going through will be wasted. Not one bit of your sorrow will be for nothing. No matter what the outcome, God will give you the grace to endure. He will reveal to you just how faithful, compassionate, and loving He is to His children. 

There are countless testimonies of God resurrecting dead marriages. Years ago, I walked with a young bride after her husband left her for a younger woman. The fact that they had a son as well as an infant daughter made it even more exasperating for her. Her heart ached! But she refused to give up on her marriage. After much prayer, waiting, repentance, and humility, their marriage was restored and became stronger than ever before. It was the turning point for her husband’s faith. Today, they have two more children and minister in leadership positions at their local church. Husbands can repent, return, and be restored to their wives. I have watched God restore marriage after marriage, including my own. 

Even if your circumstances do not change for a very long time or at all, God will be faithful to you, and your story will speak of His faithfulness, compassion and love for you. So “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23). You will get farther and farther from the initial shock. God will give you new mercies for each new day, and you will glean immeasurable wisdom that will be invaluable for ministering to other women down the road.

You Have a Savior Who Is Understanding

In the meantime, grieve. Weep. Wail. Your heart has been broken. You don’t have to pretend that it hasn’t. God understands. He has a wayward Bride. She is a forgetful Bride. Generation after generation of his Bride has neglected to remain faithful to Him, even though He has continually sought her, rescued her, and remained faithful to her. 

In the book of Hosea, God used Hosea’s marriage as a parable for the relationship between God and His people. But Hosea didn’t write his adulterous wife off, he eventually went far as to buy her back, redeeming her even though she broke his heart. In the same way, God says to His people, “I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy” (Hos. 2:19). 

God understands the sorrow that is intertwined with your husband’s adultery. It has been the same story with His children since He first created and desired intimacy with them. We’ve turned our back on Him. We’ve searched and longed for greener pastures. We’ve desired something other than His perfect love. But still, God’s love remains for the Church. Despite our wanderings, God chose to redeem us. He chose to love us. It is possible for your husband to return and for your marriage to be healed and redeemed. No one is too far from the Lord and His merciful hand.

These Sorrows Won’t Last

The sorrows of this world are temporal. Though it seems so overwhelming now, you will dwell in glory for all eternity. Though your heart is tempted to believe otherwise, the confusing pain you feel is a mere blip on a screen. Perhaps this will be the very trial that defines your faith. This is a great opportunity for God to reveal His faithfulness to you. 

Our hardships are never what we would wish for ourselves. We never choose painful lessons, but God knows the ways our fragile ashes will emerge into something beautiful and breathtaking. Faithfulness in the midst of suffering brings Him the greatest glory. Just as God will deal with the sin of your husband, He will also reward your faithfulness.

According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. . . . In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3–7)

Fix Your Eyes on the Author of Your Faith

Keep praying. Ask the Lord to make your heart pliable. Ask the Lord for a measure of grace to endure the lonely nights and the long days. Allow the Lord to work in you. Don’t concentrate on what God is doing in the life of your husband. Don’t be fixated on the other woman. Fix your eyes on Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).

There may be times when you’ll be so overwhelmed that all you can do is throw yourself on the bed and weep. But God sees. He knows your needs. He understands the complexities that you are dealing with each day. Though you cannot see it, He is at work. 

No matter the outcome of this story, God is writing your story, and it is one of redemption, grace, compassion, and His everlasting care. His love for you endures.

About the Author

Joy McClain

Joy McClain

Joy is the author of Waiting for His Heart: Lessons from a Wife Who Chose to Stay. Married to her beloved for over three decades, Joy and her husband are passionate about discipling the wearied and wounded in the context … read more …

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