My husband and I are working on renewing our marriage after he had an affair with our mutual friend. I forgave both of them, and my husband and I are committed to starting our marriage over. I have been thinking about her a lot lately, wondering how she and her daughter are doing. I would like to reach out to her via text to see how she is doing. What are your thoughts on this?
I’m glad to hear that you and your husband are finding healing in the aftermath of an affair. It’s not easy to move forward in a betrayed marriage, especially when the affair impacted a close friendship. While all of these relationships can heal, it’s important to proceed carefully before jumping back into contact with your friend. Let’s talk about some important considerations so you don’t unintentionally undo the healing that has already taken place.
You used the phrase, “working on renewing our marriage,” to describe the current climate of your relationship with your husband. I interpret this to mean that the discovery of the affair happened recently and your husband is still working to rebuild trust and security in the marriage. Without knowing more details, I’m going to recommend that you give it more time before you focus on this other friendship.
Time is an essential building block of rebuilding trust and you don’t want to interrupt the rhythm of recovery you and your husband are creating. This is a time to be protective of your marital bond and not allow any outside disturbances to interfere. Even though your intentions to reach out to your friend are coming from a genuine place, reconnecting with your friend during these delicate times isn’t as simple as it may appear.
For example, consider how opening up this door with her will impact your husband, her husband (if she’s married), and especially you. Affairs create tangled webs of emotions and passions that take time to untangle. Reintroducing your lives to each other doesn’t just stay contained between the two of you. I encourage you to respect your healing process and allow her the same opportunity to heal.
The Lord counsels us to, “Not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means.”[i] It’s important to be honest not only about your own strength, but also the strength of everyone involved and impacted by this affair. Your concern for her well-being matters, but it can’t matter more than the stability and security of your wounded marriage.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh lamented, “My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds.”[ii] You lost a good friend in this affair and you don’t automatically stop caring about her and her innocent daughter. You are clearly a thoughtful and loving woman who doesn’t want anyone to suffer. I have no doubt that your compassion and thoughtfulness will be blessing to this woman who made a terrible mistake. I just question the timing of it.
It’s also important for you to be clear about the end goal of you desire to reach out to her. Do you want to rekindle your friendship? Is this just going to be a one-time conversation? What do you hope will happen as you re-enter her life? It might not be wise to jump back into a friendship, especially since neither your husband or your friend could manage their proximity to each other. I’m sure you miss your friend. You didn’t create this mess and you had a good friend stolen from you by their selfish choices.
They crossed serious lines that can easily be re-ignited, despite everyone’s best intentions. I encourage you to surrender her healing to her, to God, and to others who can better assist her. Sometimes when we’re in shock from a significant relationship betrayal, we want to circle back to make sense of what happened. We want to really see if this person is who we thought they were. We have difficulty letting them go. Carefully check your motives. Are you seeking closure? Is there a better way for you to make sense of what happened?
There may come a day when you have a more solid foundation in your marriage and it makes more sense to reach out to your friend. I believe in reconciliation and healing. I am also a witness to countless situations where innocent intentions weren’t thoroughly considered and created more heartbreak. You don’t need more of that in your life.
Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at [email protected].
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About the Author
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples, pornography/sexual addiction, betrayal trauma, and infidelity. He is the founder of LifeStar of St. George, Utah (www.lifestarstgeorge.com) and Alliant Counseling and Education (www.alliantcounseling.com). Geoff is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, the host of the Illuminate podcast, and creates online relationship courses available on his website www.geoffsteurer.com. He earned degrees from Brigham Young University and Auburn University. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children.
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[i] D&C 10:4