Does the fact that I'm not ready to sleep in the same bed with my husband since learning of his affair mean that I haven't forgiven him? Several months ago I discovered that he had been involved with another woman for more than four years. He's sorry about it now and has cut off the relationship, but for some reason I'm still not at a place where I feel comfortable getting close to him or being intimate with him. He's frustrated by this and says that I obviously haven't forgiven him. He has also suggested that it might be best if he sleeps at a friend's house (of the same sex) until I'm ready to come back to bed with him. What should I do?
To begin with, you should take some time to educate yourself more thoroughly about the real meaning of forgiveness. Yes, forgiveness is an absolute necessity, but forgiving doesn't mean putting yourself in a position where you can easily be hurt again. The affair may have ended, but you and your husband still have a long way to go before you can begin to get back to anything approximating "situation normal." Beware of falling into the error of those false prophets and priests who thought they could heal Israel's wounds "slightly" by saying, "Peace, peace!" when there was no peace (Jeremiah 6:14). Infidelity is not just a minor scratch on the surface of a marriage. It's a deep and painful breach of trust that goes straight to the heart of the marital relationship, and it has to be understood and managed accordingly. Under the circumstances, your feelings of uneasiness are completely understandable.
Bear in mind, too, that forgiveness is an emotion as well as a choice. You may have made a rational decision to forgive your husband, but it will probably take some time for your heart to catch up with your head in this regard. Feelings have to mend at their own pace. You can't force this to happen. This is especially true in cases of deep and serious hurt, and it's truest of all where sex is concerned. Sexuality and intimacy are all about vulnerability, and you can't make yourself vulnerable until you're convinced that it's safe to do so.
We should add that it concerns us to read that your husband has become "frustrated" with you about this. What's more, we have an uneasy feeling that all his talk about "going to sleep at a friend's house" may be nothing more than a passive-aggressive way of trying to shame you. From our perspective, these behaviors and attitudes indicate that he has not yet reached the point of experiencing real "godly sorrow" (2 Corinthians 7:10) over his past actions. A person who is genuinely repentant is also humble and meek. He doesn't make demands or blame someone else for the pain and awkwardness he's caused by his own poor choices. Instead, he asks, "How can I make you more comfortable?" He is sincerely willing to do whatever it takes to put the relationship back on a good footing.
So much for your spouse's "issues." On your side of the ledger, it might be a good idea to search your heart and make sure that you aren't refusing to come back to bed out of an unconscious desire to punish your husband. You need to realize that no amount of "hurting him back" can ever remove the scar his infidelity has left upon your marriage. The only real solution is to find some way to get beyond the pain and start over again. These are the kinds of questions you'll want to hash out at length with a trained marriage therapist.
Focus on the Family's Counseling staff can provide you with referrals to specialists in this field who are practicing in your area. They'd also be more than happy to discuss your situation with you over the phone. If you think this might be helpful, don't hesitate to contact them for a free consultation. They're available to speak with you at this number.
Love Must Be Tough: New Hope for Marriages in Crisis (book)
Healing the Hurt (booklet)InYourMarriage
Hope for Every Marriage (broadcast)
Moving Beyond Ordinary in Your Marriage (broadcast)
Hope Restored® marriage intensives - Focus on the Family offers marriage intensive programs in a retreat setting, designed to rebuild and restore marriages experiencing significant distress.
Marriage Alive - The Web site of Dave and Claudia Arp, a husband and wife team who strive to help couples build better marriages and families.
Love and Respect - This ministry offers materials, articles, and conferences designed to help those already married to enrich their relationship and for those considering marriage to prepare for the journey together.
Affairs and Adultery