"Mawwiage, the blessed arrangement, the dweam wifin a dweam", or so said "The Impressive Clergyman", if you remember the funny scene from the classic film The Princess Bride.
Though the scene is funny, it is true that marriage is a blessed arrangement. God created the institution of marriage to be a picture of His loving, intimate relationship with His people. In the Old Testament, His people were Israel, and then after Pentecost, also the Church.
However, God knew that man is faithless, fickle, and adulterous. Many times, Israel strayed from her one true love- The One True God. Israel’s departure from their covenant with God pained Him many times.
Wives, as with everything in life, if we are in a situation where our husband has strayed, the Bible comforts us and informs us of how to go on. Let's look at the Old Testament first.
Jeremiah 3:14 “Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.”
Jeremiah 31:31-33 Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah-not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
He even told the Prophet Hosea marry an adulterous woman, as a picture of His relationship with Israel.
Hosea 1:2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”
Thank God His love and promises are true and sure.
Hosea 2:19-20, I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.
New Testament: In His incarnation, Jesus was the God-Man come to preach righteousness and repentance and to teach disciples who would declare His name and His glory among the Gentiles. He is gathering members for His church, and those who are given entry will participate in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. In Revelation 19:7–9, John had a vision of the heavenly multitudes praising God because the wedding feast of the Lamb. Again we see the picture of Marriage in His relationship with us, this time, virginal betrothal of His Bride (Church) to Himself.
As a Man, Jesus was also betrayed by those closest to Him. Not by a wife, as Hosea was, but by one of His closest friends, who sold him to death for 30 pieces of silver. Peter betrayed Jesus three times, and even fled from Him. Judas was the world’s biggest betrayer, having been with Jesus from the beginning, seeing His miracles, and learning from Him, yet sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
Though man has acted adulterously with God, Jesus still loves His elect. Moreover, Jesus is our High Priest and can sympathize in every way with those who have been betrayed, because he has been betrayed.
If you are a wife who is struggling to overcome a similar situation in your marriage, do not feel like your prayers go no higher than the ceiling. They rise to the ears of our Priest who intercedes for us, and to His heart. How own heart was wounded and betrayed but He forgave and and is King and Groom to those who betrayed Him. He loves you, a sinner, and He loves your husband, a sinner. He shows no partiality.
Hebrews 4:15-16 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Psalm 103:10-12 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Luke 17:3-4 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
So…HOW does one go on after a betrayal? Only through the righteous strength of the Holy Spirit. Only through His Word, and prayer, and choosing to behave in ways that are consistent with holy living [no matter what the spouse is doing or what we think he is doing] can we overcome our sinful tendencies toward bitterness, jealousy, suspicion, and anger if a betrayal unfortunately occurs in the marriage.
I know it's painful. I know. The academic and theological tone of this essay is grounded in a close-up knowledge and experience of the devastation of adultery. It's the worst feeling to know your husband has sought after another. It is a direct violation of his body and your body. I've also seen that specific despair on the face on friends who have undergone the grievous process of adultery revealed. And yet, with God, restoration and forgiveness is possible.
Here are some articles that may help.
Who is an Adulterer?
Healing From the Pain of Adultery
Forgiving Your Spouse after Adultery
Picking up the Pieces