Should my husband and I discontinue our friendship with another couple simply because the man and I became involved in an emotional affair? It's over now, and my spouse and the man's wife have taken a firm but conciliatory attitude towards the whole thing. For obvious reasons, we've also suspended our normal get-togethers for the time being. Quite frankly, this has been one of the hardest aspects of the entire situation. It's a huge loss for all of us. Now that the affair is in the past, do you think it would be okay to go back to "life as usual"? Or should this special friendship be permanently ended?
Much as you may not want to hear it, we're going to have to say yes – your friendship with the other couple should be terminated for good and all. From our perspective, there's simply no way around it. When marital unfaithfulness has occurred, one of the most important elements of the reconciliation process – perhaps the most important element – is a willingness on the part of the offending spouse to take responsibility for his or her actions and face up to the real-life consequences of the mistakes he or she has made. Those consequences can assume a number of shapes and show up on several different levels. In your case, we'd have to include the loss of this "special friendship" among the casualties.
Just to show you how serious we are, let's imagine that the man in question was not merely a friend but a co-worker. Would it be possible, once the affair was over, to "go back to life as usual" in the office? We don't think so. As a matter of fact, if you were in that situation, we'd advise you to give two weeks' notice and start looking for a new job.
What if he were your next-door neighbor? This is admittedly a more complicated scenario, since there are lots of other factors, including the housing market, your kids' schools, and your spouse's place of employment, that impact your ability to pack up and relocate. Nevertheless, circumstances permitting and all other things being equal, we'd still recommend that you remove yourself from the vicinity and stay as far away from this person as possible.
Why do we say this? Because it's foolish to place yourself in the way of temptation. You may think you've got the situation under control, but the affair can re-occur if you're not careful. As the writer of Proverbs asks, "Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?" (Proverbs 6:27, 28). The answer, of course, is no. The best thing you can do is cut all ties with the other couple.
If you'd like to talk about this at greater length with a member of the Focus staff, feel free to contact our Counseling department. Our counselors would be more than happy to discuss your situation with you over the phone, and they can also provide you with referrals to Christian therapists in your area who can help you work your way through the aftermath of the affair.
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Affairs and Adultery