Infidelity is PainfulThank you Captain Obvious for that heading. The pain experienced not only by the one who is betrayed, but also by the one who has cheated is probably one of the worst kinds of pain a human being can endure. Yes, the one who cheats also experiences pain, shame, guilt, self-loathing and many other secondary negative emotions. If you haven't read the post, "Raw Words From My Wife," from the perspective of one who has been cheated on, I'd encourage you to take a look at the way she's expressed herself.
The Results Leave Us CaptiveWhen a person makes the conscious decision to let their thoughts wander, "If this marriage doesn't work out..." it causes a tiny and almost unnoticeable callous to form on their heart. From there, they begin to fantasize, "If I were married to that person instead..." Their eyes wander, and the construction of small protective stones begins to build up around their heart. The likelihood of an affair is much more possible at this point. Sometimes people can even enter into a marital relationship with stones covering and protecting their hearts from prior hurts. Vulnerability with their spouse isn't even possible anymore because they have sealed it away behind thick, cold layers.
The Bible has wisdom to prevent such things.
I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman - Job 31:1
If we made covenants with our eyes not to lust, the 'if this marriage doesn't work out factor' would not enter into the equation.
Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart - 2 Timothy 2:22
If we truly fled from youthful lusts and desires, while pursuing righteousness, an affair would not happen - even within one's mind or thought life.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord - Ephesians 5:22
If wives submitted themselves fully to their husbands, they wouldn't give in when someone else offers attention or affirmation that might be lacking in their marital relationship.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her - Ephesians 5:25
If husbands sacrificially loved their wives in the same way that Christ Jesus loved the church, they would not allow their minds to even entertain the thought of having sex with another woman. They would never go out of their way to make another woman the object of their desire.
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church - Ephesians 5:28-29
It's so easy for someone to hear words of wisdom, recognize the truth of those words, and still not apply that wisdom to their own life.
I was captive by a calloused heart. In my deepest heart of hearts, beneath all of the protective layers, I never wanted to be a cheater. I never wanted to be the kind of person who caused another person to experience heart-piercing pain.
Dealing With VulnerabilityAfter all was said and done: I confessed, I filed for divorce, my wife continued to pray, my wife chose forgiveness, I ended up recanting the divorce papers, and of course there was still the issue of vulnerability.
In the beginning of our journey to restoration, I was unable to recognize my lack of vulnerability. I was unable to recognize my hidden and protected heart. I was unable to make conscious steps towards full vulnerability.
Through prayer and willful decisions to open myself up to the possibility of being hurt (and that's the major reason for a lack of vulnerability - the desire to protect oneself from being hurt), my heart began to emerge. The calloused layers peeled back.
Where We're At NowI love my wife with all of my heart! I understand that there is risk when you truly and fully love someone. I understand that I've opened myself up to the potential for deep pain. But this is where trust comes in. I trust my wife not to hurt me. I have made a choice to trust her fully. She has never done anything to violate that trust, but the hurts from my past made that decision difficult.
My wife wants to fully trust me. My wife wants to be fully vulnerable with me. Over the past two years, she has come a long way in that regard. This decision feels dangerous for her, in terms of what my past actions have taught her.
We are moving towards full trust and vulnerability. One day at a time.