Married But Separated: How To Handle An Unfaithful Spouse In 5 Steps

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The Common Problem

After encouraging thousands of married couples, this is a question we’ve found many still struggle with:

“My husband and I still live together, but consider ourselves separated. We are still having sex, yet he is still going out and talking to other women…maybe even messing around. When we are together we do ok, but because we are “separated” he still wants to do his thing too. I love my husband and want our marriage to work…what do I do?”

Whether you are living together, separated or married but living like roommates, it is tough to face the fact that your spouse isn’t being faithful and the fact that you don’t know what to do about it. But one thing is for certain…loving your spouse when they are at their worst cannot be done without putting in work on YOU first.

Are You Blaming Me???

Before you slip on your sneakers and oil up your fists, no I am not blaming you for where your marriage is today. I will say however, the key to loving your spouse when they seem most unlovable takes God, wisdom, confidence and consistency…and then repeat. Think I am making light of this? Not at all because I too was in your shoes.

This process is not easy, but trust me, once you read the steps I have outlined for you to stand when your spouse is not faithful, you will see that my logic and reasoning makes total sense and are completely doable. These 5 steps will lead those motivated spouses in how to stand in love when their spouse is unfaithful. These steps will help anyone who is determined to stand for their marriage do so without losing themselves in the process. Let’s dive in.

Step #1-Set Some Boundaries.

Being motivated to love is not about standing in denial or desperation. It is not about letting your spouse walk all over you and you just roll over and take it. It is about FIRST becoming a healthy, whole and confident individual. Through that place of renewal, we study and learn about truth, unconditional love, grace and mercy through the example of Christ.

Use Wisdom.

Showing love and being honest about a situation doesn’t mean we are to be unwise. You can love and still believe that restoration is possible without being physically intimate or letting your spouse know they cannot have it both ways. When David and I were going through our rough time, I had to let him know he must cut off the emotional affair he was having if we were going to be intimate in any way. Here is an example of the dialog you can have with your spouse about this matter:

“I love you and still believe we can reconcile at some point once we both get the healing and understanding we need individually. I don’t know exactly what is going on in your mind and heart, but I believe inside you are a faithful, strong and loving person who wants a life that is not filled with confusion. Because I know this I will continue to pray for myself, you and our marriage. But understand, you will not be physically intimate with me and this other person.

You will need to make a decision. I have made the decision to work on me and become a better me…for me. Again, I will continue to stand for us because that is a promise I made that I meant. I do apologize for any part I played in getting us to this point, but we will no longer sleep together and cross certain lines until you cut ties with this other person.”

You see this is an example of how you can set boundaries and still stand strong in love and grace.

Guilt Trip.

Please also beware of the fact that your spouse may try and hit you with “guilt and blame” trip because they can no longer get what they want from you without being held accountable for their actions. Remember, the Bible does support the fact that infidelity is a form of abandonment and breaking of covenant. That being said, do not allow them to convince you that you are required to physically submit your body to them no matter what they do. Although, you have decided to stand for your marriage and God has the power to restore, infidelity is never an acceptable behavior.

“But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved (meaning required or mandated to stay or held responsible for). God has called you to peace.”

1 Corinthians 7:15

Step #2-Safety First

It is not ok for your spouse to be sexually intimate with you and someone else at the same time and that fact is supported by the Word of God as outlined above. Even for health reasons, you must cut that off until change happens. No need to feel guilty or accept ridicule from your spouse about withholding as some may try to use the Bible against their spouse to justify their actions, but remember your precaution is supported by God.

Again, standing for your marriage is not about laying down and allowing your spouse to walk all over you. Standing in love starts by being an example of love and wisdom. Continue to stand, but at this time, you must stand spiritually and keep yourself safe and healthy.

Step #3-Let Go.

Being motivated to love can be hard and scary all at the same time because you do not know what the outcome will be. But, understand in order to fully trust God with the heart of your spouse and your marriage, you must risk all…even losing them.

Shift Your Focus.

Once you have peace with this, you can confidently take your eyes off of your spouse and your marriage. You must start within yourself. You cannot give what you don’t have. You must really dig deep into God’s love, love for yourself and getting back to a healthy version of YOU. Surround yourself with a positive support system and engage in positive activities and entertainment to keep your mind renewed and at peace. My book, Motivated to Love, can serve as a support and guide for you in these efforts,

Remember if you don’t build yourself up first, you cannot pray, love or stand for your spouse or your marriage consistently or successfully without falling apart.

Planting Seeds.

Remember that even if they do leave and that is final, all will not be in vain! If you truly begin to understand the power and ways of the Lord as outlined in scripture, you know that you will not see a visible victory in every situation, but know that if you allow God to shine through you and use you, seeds will be planted and healing will begin.

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.”         

1 Corinthians 3:6-7

We must trust God with the heart of our spouse. We must never try to change their mind, but give them up to their Maker for direction and the deep healing they need to get them out of confusion and darkness. Only God can reach the deep parts of their heart, so let Him. No matter what, confidence and consistency in our love walk is key if it is to lead our spouse back to Christ.

Step #4-Confidence is Key!

Confidence is very important when standing in the midst of infidelity and drama in your marriage. You will most likely deal with feelings of stupidity, doubt, defeat and even confusion as to why you are even standing for someone who seems to be “off” of you.

I can relate because I was you. I was the woman whose husband said, “It feels more like you are a maid and we are roommates than a marriage. “I was the woman whose husband snickered at me when I continued to say I believed in our marriage and that things would get better. I was the woman whose husband said he didn’t love me anymore, but felt he loved another woman. Trust me…I know where you are!

But God!

God restored because I began to understand that spiritually my husband was lost and needed me to allow God to shine through me so he could be made whole and healed! God restored because I did not waver!

Remember as I stated previously, if you choose to hold on to faith in a situation that seems impossible you must not waver in your stance because it will bring even more confusion. If you are going to believe, believe and continue to build yourself up in faith. If you spend more time wallowing in the misery of your situation you cannot walk in confident faith. But, if you continue to overflow your spirit and soul with peace, love, joy, positivity and purpose you will have no choice but to give that vibe off. You will automatically think and rest in God’s promises and your faith because it is what you fill yourself with the most…that is what I did and I am a witness that it works!

Cancel That!

The only way to combat negativity is to learn what vexes you and speak against it. For example if you are hearing in your mind, “I’m stupid for doing this…I want to just quit.” Replace it and mediate on, “God uses the weak things of the world to confuse the wise…I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me!

If you are going to nursing or law school or even preparing for a presentation that could change your life, you would FIND a way to fill your mind with the information you need to be successful and confident in the task ahead. Why not do the same in your pursuit of love and renewal in your marriage?

Step #5-Be consistent.

Say it. Mean it. Do it. In love and with respect. When we are inconsistent in Godly love and confidence when our spouse is wavering, they won’t take us seriously. Our efforts will look just as confusing and indecisive as the behaviors they are displaying.

Remember God is consistent in love, so as we grow in love, we must build ourselves up to be as consistent as possible so our spouses can see the change in us is authentic. They need to realize you are not just being different to get them to change their minds. They need to see the change in you is for your personal growth and this new you is the real you.

Once they realize the change in you is consistent, they will no longer have a reason to blame you or make excuses against you for their shortcomings. They will be forced to look in the mirror and either change for the better or continue to change for the worst.

It’s Up to You.

Remember no matter what, standing strong for your marriage is not bowing in weakness. Love through a place of wisdom. Set boundaries, keep yourself safe, release your spouse to God and remain confident and consistent as you continue to be motivated to love. This journey isn’t for everyone because it will cost you your life…your life surrendered to God who is our great teacher of unconditional love.

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Question: What did I miss? Are there any steps that you have used that I did not mention? Or, what step(s) do you need help with the most?