Pain of Infidelity: You’re Playing with Fire

Our society ignores the pain of infidelity, treating cheating like it's No Big Deal--and it is.I read a news report recently of a crime that really didn’t surprise me.

A guy was fooling around on his wife with three different women, none of whom knew any of the others, including the wife, existed. The wife finds out and calls the three women to tell them. Instead of confronting the cheat, they decide to get revenge. One lures him to a hotel room where she manages to get him to agree to being tied up. Then the other two enter and do things with him that include crazy glue.

They’re now on trial for assault.

I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be charged with a crime; but at the same time, I don’t think our society gives enough weight to the devastation involved when someone we trust cheats on us sexually. That is a huge betrayal.

Adultery Causes Immense Pain

I remember reading the story twenty years ago of the housewife who was married to an upper class guy. She had dropped her career to care for their four children, and nurture his career, and then he had dumped her for a gorgeous secretary or something like that. To top it all off, he arranged for his wife to get very little money, and humiliated her in the divorce proceedings. One night, she sneaks into his bedroom and shoots both him and his new lover.

I forget what sentence she got, but again, I couldn’t help feeling a little uneasy. Should she be tried? Yes. She broke the law. But so did he, just in a different way. And when you go about cheating on someone, you should realize that you’re putting in place a chain of events in your life that you won’t be able to control. You’re playing with fire.

The Pain of Infidelity Naturally Leads to Other Horrible Things

Our society denigrates the true feelings of betrayal that people have. The idea is that we should all just “act like adults” and “get over it” is predominant in our legal system, and indeed, our culture. In my extended family, for instance, one woman cheated on her husband, who had been a great provider and who was a great dad, and walked out. But she still gets joint custody, she still gets a huge chunk of his money (and any raises he gets in the future), and she gets half of the retirement savings. It’s all part of “no fault divorce”. No one can be blamed, so everything’s divided up equally.

But imagine that. Your husband cheats, and now you have to go get a job, he gets the kids halftime, and there’s nothing you can do about it. The law expects you to grin and bear it, because these things happen.

Maybe they do, but they’re not supposed to. I don’t think that scorned wife would have been charged in that double homicide a hundred and fifty years ago. I think people would have assumed he had it coming. And in the first case, the one with the three women and the crazy glue, I don’t think there would have been charges even 75 years ago. No real harm was done (although I’m sure he lost some skin), and again, he had it coming.

We think that we have progressed because we no longer allow these kinds of “crimes of passion”, but I wonder if in the meantime we have begun to excuse major sexual sin. We don’t realize the true consequences of sexual betrayal. And to say that all parties should move on, and not assign blame, is treating the human condition in a rather naive manner.

The Only Way to Find Healing from the Pain of Infidelity is in God

When you are betrayed, there is a little part of all of us that flips out. And the only way to avoid the revenge is just to take it to Jesus and ask for His grace. And even then, it’s going to be hard to get over infidelity. At least God acknowledges that this kind of betrayal is very serious, unlike our legal system. Only He can help us forgive and move on (and here are some wonderful books on surviving an affair). I don’t think it’s easy to do this on your own. And that’s why, whenever I hear stories like this in the news, I find myself perhaps a little too sympathetic to the woman with the Crazy glue, or the gun, or the knife. I can only imagine what that must feel like. And I can only pray that God gives them grace–and me grace if I were to need it after something that bad.

I’m not saying our legal system should excuse these crimes; I’m only saying that I’m uncomfortable with how nonchalantly we treat adultery. What do you think?


  1. >Both actions are equal sins in God's eyes. It doesn't seem fair but that is what happens in a fallen world.

  2. Prodigal says:

    >I've been on both sides of this. Adultery is not playing with fire, it IS fire. It plays with your brain, it makes you feel insane, it takes years to work its way out of your head and heart.

    Check out the first the section entitled "The Rescue" at for a detailed description of the effects.

  3. Weird Unsocialized Mom says:

    >I personally laughed through the entire news piece about the guy and the women with the crazy glue. I think he got off easy. If my husband were to ever cheat on me, he might be needing the crazy glue to glue things back on. 😉

  4. >In the same way … it bothers me the way that many people in the midst of divorce move on to new relationships – sexual relationships.

    A friend of mine is doing just that – his wife cheated on him, filed for divorce – and now – before the divorce is even close to final he's boinking an old college flame – who is married with children.

    He says his wife cheated on him first and he's just moving on. When I point out that his 'friend' is married – he says, "their marriage was over long ago."

    But she's still with him. If she hasn't left him after all this time – what makes you think she's going to do right by you?
    "because it's us" he says.
    Well, that's a real nice fantasy you've got there – but it's just a fantasy. Stop it before everyone gets hurt.

    My point is… everyone thinks they are entitled to everything.
    That is very wrong thinking.

    (doubly frustrating when I'm single and abstinate — grrr!! – and all those people end up getting everything I'm working so hard for!!)

    (funny – word verification 'crymes' – appropriate no?)

  5. >First Wives by Olivia Goldsmith wrote about three friends, duped by the men in their lives, super gluing a cheating spouse to a mattress – but only a certain part.

    I wonder who did it first?

  6. anonymous says:

    G.K Chesterson makes the point that maybe not allowing for passion is making us less human. He makes the point of
    Nietzes’ Superman being cold, rational, smart, strong, beautiful and ultimately, inhuman. Which he contrast with heroes of old who had great passion and wept openly, kissed their friends, collapsed on their necks and wept in their beards and would move heaven and earth for their wives. Just think of David who danced before the Lord, wept openly, threw himself to the ground and refused to eat when his baby was sick ect.
    Think of Samson who killed 1000 Philisteins because they killed his wife.

    You are not supposed to just laugh these things off. You are allowed to be broken and you should wrestle it out with the Lord.
    Your world just ended after all.

    They actually allow the cheating party custody and alimony? That’s crazy.

    • This is such an interesting point! Thank you for this. My husband and I are reading a Chesterton book out loud to each other at night before we go to sleep. That man was brilliant.

  7. anonymous says:

    It seems as though not only does society look at cheating as though it’s not a big deal, they also look at the actions of the scorned as “justification” for the act itself. I have met many women who have gone through complete smear campaigns as soon as they found out that their spouse was cheating. As a woman who has been through infidelity in her own marriage, I find that quite horrifying. Just because your spouse cheated does not give you the right to belittle, degrade, or downplay their manhood/ existence. These attitudes and actions cause more of a rift, and lead to divorce far more often. When my husband admitted to cheating- we sought help. We prayed, we talked, we listened, we FOUGHT FOR OUR MARRIAGE. It seems that cheating gives license to both sides to “behave badly”. Did I feel betrayed- of course. But I also knew that the Lord placed me in this marriage, and I was not going to take that lightly. If my husband would have decided to leave, then I would have taken that to the Lord- the only source of comfort and healing.

    • Elsie Bouwman says:

      Anonymous, you’ve got it right. Christ is the head of the husband according to the Word of God, and remains the head of the husband. Fighting for your marriage is the right thing to do!

  8. A different perspective: I am the wife who found out about my husband’s infidelities years after they had taken place. Because we were in a church life group at the time, and they knew our “stuff”, I shoved the anger and betrayal deep down, didn’t leave, forgave and didn’t forget. I struggle with abandonment issues anyway, so for years after him coming clean, I felt more and more abandoned. And no one seemed to really care. I continued raising our babies and following to whatever town his job moved us to. I never once was given the grace to work through the betrayal and all it entails. Fast forward 15 years to my old flame texting me. I jumped at the opportunity to feel valued again. For 7 months I carried on an emotional and sexual relationship with this man. It was during this time I realized that God had given me the strength and the grace to walk away from both of these men in my life. I had a decision to make. To carry on my affair because I felt it was justified or to truly pour myself into wading through the muck of my marriage to find out what God would do with my transparency. I ended the affair, slowly and painfully walked through THAT healing…alone. And, then, was completely honest with my husband…about my affair and about all of the pain I had been carrying for years. It hasn’t been easy. And, although I didn’t crazy glue any body parts, I acted out in an embarrassing and shameful way. I’m still paying the price for that in some ways, but my husband’s eyes were opened

  9. …to the problems in our marriage. God is good and has brought incredible healing to us both. We are enjoying marriage that neither of us thought possible. All of that to say…society may make small matters of infidelity, but the heart and soul never do. There is ALWAYS healing that must be received.

  10. I agree with you. All movies, shows, etc it is just a commonplace theme that stabs me in the heart each time. It is too commonplace and what are we teaching our children & the future if they are not seeing parents fighting for their marriages. I do battle every day to stay married. . .he ripped my heart out and shattered our vows but I feel that it is my job to keep working on it and no matter how much it hurts, I will keep doing it because that is what God wants. Thank you for addressing the tough issues and it really is not just grow up and act like an adult because it can make you crazy and the swinging pendulum of moods/feelings can be quite overwhelming to process in day to day. But I keep doing it.

  11. I found out a few months ago that my husband had been carrying on a three year affair. He travelled to the same place repeatedly for work and pretty much lived with her when there. She knew he was married. As I was still reeling from this discovery he confessed there were four other one night stands before her. Our marriage was strained before all this. My history is that my parents marriage was broken up because of my fathers infidelity so my husband knew how I felt about cheating. I always thought I would leave him no questions asked if he ever cheated. But when I confronted him in that moment I knew I didn’t want to leave if we could work it out. I gave him the choice, her or me. He chose me. We have been seeing a counselor and working through all the emotions and pain that go with an affair. There are days I think I can’t do it anymore and other days I think we will have a better marriage once we can start to heal.

    I think beyond giving the cheater a pass there are other issues as well. We also give the other person in the affair a pass. I give just as much blame to the women he cheated with. They all knew he was married before they had sex with him. The one he had a long term relationship with even told him he needed to work on his marriage while she invited him back to her bed. She should have turned him away and back to me if that was truly what he wanted. Also, society and the cheating spouse tend to blame the other spouse. If the non cheating spouse had been good enough, had sex enough, met needs enough then the other spouse would not have cheated seems to be the thought. I know we didn’t have a good marriage but I never cheated so why do people want to lay blame on me?

    The betrayal I feel is huge. It is something I deal with everyday. I am learning that my husband also has a massive amount of guilt he is dealing with. It has been hard for me to see how much the affairs affected him negatively, but that is one of the things we are addressing in counseling. I would also add that the growing acceptance of porn has led to a growing acceptance of affairs. Before the affairs my husband had used porn for years. I truly believe if I had addressed that problem instead of looking the other way he would have been less likely to cheat and our marriage would have been stronger. I see the easy access of porn and it’s acceptance as a gateway to the acceptance of cheating. It makes taking that next step all the more easy.

    • I’m so sorry for your struggles.
      Just wanted to let you know there are those in society that view NEVER view cheating as an option, regardless if the other spouse were sex deprived, argumentative, disrespectful, or emotionally detached. People who would never blame you despite shortcomings.
      That being said, you will never know about “what could have been” with the porn issue. While I believe it is essential to address sin, even if you did address it instead of allowing it to grow ( “a little leaven does leaven the whole lump”–in this case the leaven in teachings of lust, infidelity, and self-gratification), you wouldn’t be able to guarantee that your husband would have stopped. There are a lot of women who fight with issue with their men, only to find it was a secret despite agreement (and end up divorcing from the years of secret continued porn use or divorcing after in culminates to an affair).
      So while that should have been addressed, HE made that choice and HE could have chosen to continue despite your guidance. He can still be forgiven and yes the course *may* have been changed had you tried to intercede for him–but you will never know, so forgive yourself for not trying to help him, just as you forgive your husband for his sins. It can get better, and I pray that it will.
      I pray that you both can grow together in this and have the strong marriage you want. <3

  12. Yes, I completely agree. It’s almost expected for adultery to be committed and for the wronged spouse to gain and easily go on. Sad.
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