Unfaithfulness. Divorce or not to?
The first reason for a divorce is unfaithfulness and God allows people to separate under such circumstances. In The Old Testament the conception of it was even more stern: a marriage automatically discontinued in case of unfaithfulness. Moreover, if one of the spouses was ready to forgive the unfaithful one, then according to the law he/she couldn’t do it and a marriage had to be dissolved.
Since the Advent of Christ this attitude has been changed and nowadays we hail the forgiveness. If unfaithfulness resulted from a mistake or temporary weakness followed by repentance, you’d better to forgive. But there can be other cases too, say, if a woman knows her husband has been cheating on her and is intending to keep it going, then there is no sense to maintain such a union.
Once I had a talk with a woman whose husband happened to betray her. Nevertheless, she had forgiven him. But in a while the situation repeated and so she decided to break up with him. One of her friends tried to stop her referring to her children that needed their father’s money to survive. The reply was that if she accepted things the way they were then the children would consider them as a norm and once grown up would take it as an acceptable way of living. As she said, "I knew it wouldn’t be easy but my kids had to realize that under certain circumstances a family cannot exist."
– Was she right? If she stayed with her husband then seeing mother’s pain would be a lesson to the kids anyway and it would show them how to be tolerant and forgiving?
– There was no repentance from the man’s side, he was going to keep on living that way. So the woman made this decision having realized he wouldn’t change, otherwise she would forgive her husband for she loved him.
– Let’s talk about some other cases. For instance, the unfaithful partner wants to come back but a second side doesn’t have the same loving feelings to him/her, the trust is broken and love is not there any more. You see, it is always questionable if a betrayal won’t happen again. What to do then? Should we forgive or not?
– To me, you should do your best to forgive, maybe after all you will be able to overcome these difficulties.
I would like to emphasize one point: if you say you forgive you should mean it, don’t reproach your spouse for something he/she had done in a past. If you’re positive in your decision to restore a marriage that seemed to be destroyed, you must prohibit yourself to recall your spouse’s sin. Obviously, the memory of betrayal will stay deep inside your heart for some time, however, there is no need to demonstrate it to your partner.
Igor Gagarin, Archpriest
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Try your best to avoid a divorce (Sergey Nikolayev, Archpriest)