These are very good questions. It is very discouraging to think that things can never be the same again, once we have crossed certain lines or once we have rung certain bells. I would even take it further and say it’s more than discouraging. It’s grievous. There has been a loss. And often, so often times people come into marriage counseling and they want, they’re trying to get to the way it was before. Whether that’s a year ago or ten years ago or at the beginning of our relationship, and I think it’s a really misguided goal. Although on one hand we really do understand what that desire is, it’s almost like a fantasy of going back to the way things were, but I really don’t think that is God’s desire in situations like this. God is not surprised, God is not looking onto this situation where you have broken trust, where you have betrayed something, where you have done really serious wrongs to the other person, saying, “Oh no, what do we do now, how do we go back?” Not in the slightest.
In any marriage and in situations like this especially, there’s an opportunity—the way forward is not to try to get back to something but to accept that there’s been a loss, that we can never get back to the way it was. And yet, in these situations, we have to say, “Well, just like in any good marriage, there are going to be periods of remarriage. There are going to be periods where we rededicate ourselves to create a new marriage.” And it’s not true that marriage is just one thing over the course of ten, twenty, thirty, forty years. It’s actually a series of maybe one, two, or three remarriages, where a couple has an opportunity to grow something new, something different. To actually in humility and love acknowledge what’s been done, acknowledge how that’s impacted them, and to slowly devote themselves to creating or recreating a new marriage, where the marriage that goes forward is actually better, is much more full of a humble acknowledgement of failure, of wrong, and an opportunity to grow in love and in rebuilding trust. So what does the process of rebuilding trust look like? It is first and foremost resigning ourselves and accepting that we cannot go back. And then saying, “What was broken, what have I done, what have we done? How can we create a new marriage that is actually deeper, more beautiful, full of humility and a growing love for one another?”