A woman catches her husband on the phone with another woman. Is the marriage doomed for failure? That depends partly on the husband and his choices. Sometimes a man will wake up and realize that he has made a mistake. Sometimes he won’t.
The grief-stricken woman who has discovered that her husband is sexually involved with another woman may deceive herself into believing that she is in control of the outcome. Maybe if she just prays enough or loses a little weight, then her husband will repent on bended knees. While a woman should pray that her husband returns, she must be willing to accept that she cannot force him to love her.
If this concept of accepting the possibility of divorce startles you, then think back to the plan of salvation. God offers salvation to everyone. He sent his son to die on a cross so that our sins would be forgiven. He freely offers the gift of salvation. However, not everyone is willing to accept God’s offer.
Just as God gives people free will to decide if they will have a relationship with him or not, men and women are given free will in a marriage. Praying for a wayward husband won’t make him repent. Repentance can never be forced. Prayer does not turn the cheating husband into a robot who will only be faithful to his wife.
Instead, prayer opens the door for God’s blessings. When women pray for their husbands and for their marriages, God begins to work. I have seen God send people to wayward spouses and tell them that they are making monumental mistakes that they will regret. I have heard of pastors meeting with their members and telling them to stop the misbehavior. Sadly, some of these men never repented. God was faithful to speak with these cheating men and to encourage them to reconcile their marriages. Some stopped the affairs, but others refused. (Before we get condemn men too harshly, let’s remember that men aren’t the only ones to cheat. Sometimes women have affairs and refuse to give up their lovers too.)
The bottom line is that people have a free will. They choose their behavior, and they can choose to continue an affair. However, women (and men) should seek to reconcile the marriage whenever possible. Often this requires dishing out a helping of tough love and refusing to tolerate misbehavior. A woman can forgive infidelity, but her erring spouse should be held accountable for his actions. He needs to stop his affair and take steps to restore his marriage. Besides taking firm action, a woman should also pray for God to intervene and heal the marriage. God will be faithful to speak, but it is up to the cheating spouse to determine if he will listen to God’s call to repentance or not.
Love Must Be Tough – a book by Dr. Dobson that tells wives how to handle their husband’s misbehavior
Is There Hope for My Marriage – article by Focus on the Family