The Ask Affaircare Series started because our readers have questions. About Affairs. Reconciling. Marriage. Divorce. Christianity. The Bible. And God. Initially, we tried to answer each question through e-mail, but we quickly realized that there were many people asking many similar questions, so we started this weekly series!
It’s not our goal to make you agree with us, but rather to explore what the Bible says in thoughtful, and clear manner. Additionally, we try to write our answers in a loving but truthful manner (Ephesians 4:15) because we know there is a real person – with real struggles and dreams – behind every single question. Thank for you visiting Affaircare. Keep those questions coming!
Our email question today comes from a divorced wife, who writes:
It has been a year since I caught my husband and his mistress (also his employee). When I went to his family, they said I was being paranoid. Now it has been 7 months since our divorce has been finalized. His mistress and her husband are divorcing as well. I want to forward the personal email correspondences between my x husband and his employee to his mother. Should I? That is the only thing that is bothering me…that none of his family helped me, they made me feel crazy and paranoid. I also want to resend it to my husband and his employee and to his workplace.
Dear divorced wife,
You are DEFINITELY in our prayers! We bet this has been a very painful, trying time for you working through the discovery of the affair, dealing with in-laws that did not support you, and then finalizing a divorce. It sounds so hard!
But let’s start by saying that the step of “Exposure” in our “Steps to End an Affair” is often a step that is misunderstood. Very often people think that exposing the affair is just going to drive their spouse further away or that it is done in a spirit of vengeance to hurt their spouse back. But the Bible is VERY clear about being vengeful–in both the Old and New Testament God is consistent when He tells us what He wants:
Deuteronomy 32:35 says “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” So in the Old Testament days, God was telling Israel that if a nation did not hear His voice and follow Him, when that evil nation sent thousands against His people, that He would be their ROCK and feed them, defend them, and avenge them. The message was that vengeance is God’s job, not ours.
Romans 12:19 “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” In the New Testament the Apostle Paul quotes the verse we above! He is teaching the new Christians what Love in Action looks like, and he says something beautiful in the verses surrounding this one:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
WOW! What a lesson in how to treat our spouses and their families when they are being hurtful to us!
Now, after reading all this you may be thinking, ‘Well wait! Then how does your Exposure step fit into all this? Seems like it would be contrary to what we just read.”
If you review the steps we suggest, the first step is that if you suspect, before you go off half-cocked making accusations, that you keep an open mind and investigate to find the truth. When a person is sinning (and adultery is sin), they usually try to cover it up with lies, deflection and hiding it, so in order to find out if the gut feeling is true, you keep your mind open to either finding proof they are faithful or they are not, and you search out facts.
The second, third and fourth steps exactly mirror the steps on dealing with sin in the Church in Matthew 18:15-17:
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” [This is Step 2 Confront–alone, one-one-one, giving them the opportunity to deal with it honestly and discreetly.]
“But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” [This is Step 3 Disclose–tell one or two mentors, wise people that your spouse looks up to and may listen to, and give them the opportunity to deal with it as quietly as possible.]
“If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” [THIS is Step 4 Expose–and the goal of “telling it to the church” is to give them the incentive to stop an active sin and be reconciled with God and with their church family!]
It is important to note that Exposure has a very specific goal: to END AN ACTIVE AFFAIR. Yes, the Disloyal Spouse is likely to be angry, because you are not keeping their secret, and having the affair out in the open takes away some of the “fun” of their clandestine rendezvous! But a marriage can survive anger–it can not survive active adultery! So the goal is very clear and very focused: end an active affair. It is somewhat drastic, but often shining the light of truth on a sin that someone is trying to hide is enough motivation for them to stop!!
So to solidly answer YOUR specific question, no we do not think it would be wise or helpful at this time to send the emails to your ex-spouse’s family OR to his workplace. That was maybe an option while you were still married in an attempt to break up the infidelity and then give you two time to save your marriage, but now, the divorce is final. It’s been final for almost a year. And yes, often people disappoint us and hurt us when they are not willing to stand up for the truth and do the right thing.
It sounds like his family just swept his adultery under the rug and/or accepted it, and we understand that is EXTREMELY painful to you. But now you are no longer bound to or obligated to or part of that family. You are free to associate with people who do love you and support you, whether they be your blood family or your Christian family. Personally, we suggest that rather than sending out those emails, that instead you return your focus to living in a way that pleases God, and focus on people in your life who ARE loving and who have acted in a way that supports your spiritual growth. If someone is encouraging you to seek vengeance, that is not a person who is encouraging you to mature in Christ! So instead, let go of your ex and his mistress and his family. Your responsibility to them has ended. NOW your responsibility is to being the woman God intended for you to be.