In this counseling answer:
“If you want to give it another chance, be ready to work on removing the resentment from your heart if you really want to be with him and begin to look ahead and not the past. You must be sincerely committed to moving forward. I would encourage couples therapy as it provides a professional space to travel this process of healing.”
As-Salamu ‘Alaikum Sister,
Unfortunately, adultery has always been a struggle, and online forms of adultery are a contemporary phenomenon. Allah has prohibited adultery in his Holy Book and the punishment is clear:
“And come not near unto adultery. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way.” (17: 32)
From your narrative, I understood that his affairs were exclusivity online, based on picture exchange and chatting. As horrible as it sounds, it is still less severe than if he had physical contact with those women. Despite this recent discovery of his debauchery, you described being happy for the most part. You say that generally, your relationship was sound. Considering the last 15 years of dedication in light of the recent discovery, the question you have to ask yourself is whether you want to maintain this relationship. Not for the sake of your children, but because YOU want to be married to him and you are willing to forgive.
Communication is very important in marriage. it is a means to provide us the answers we need. You should be open to hearing why he decided to get his needs met by other women and understand his perspective. This way both of you can work towards avoiding any relapse of such behavior. You must also be very clear that his behavior is repugnant and has affected your well-being and ability to trust him. He will need to work on rebuilding his trust with you if you stay with him. You will need to establish what actions are required for you to feel safe with him again.
Adultery is a great sin and the whole family feels the consequences of it. If you truly believe you will never be able to forgive him, due to your personality type or any past trauma, you have the right to seek a divorce. If you stay with him and do not truly forgive him, you will harbor resentment and keep bringing his mistakes up. The whole family will be miserable.
However, if you have a love for him in your heart and really want to forgive, you must keep your heart and soul committed to believe in this marriage and in his sincere repentance. In my experience, sister, I can tell you that some couples will recover from adultery and build a beautiful life together. Others, unfortunately, cannot move forward as they were never able to focus on the good parts of their relationship. It is not my place to tell you to get divorced or not; it is a very serious and important decision that only you can make. But if you want to forgive him, you both need to have a clear and firm conversation about the next steps.
Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:
“Those (are the true believers) who, when they commit an evil deed, or wrong their souls, remember Allah, and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who but Allah forgives sins? They do not insist upon the sins they have committed, and they know (that Allah is forgiving).” (3:135)
Here are few steps that you should share with him:
Find out the deep reason why he decided to sin: He needs to understand that what he did was horrible and try to recognize what led him to commit sin. Evaluate your intimate life with him. Have an open conversation about his expectation from this marriage and what can be improved to fortify your relationship and avoid any temptations to commit zina.
Feeling remorse: He needs to be aware that the feeling of regret or guilt might not go away. It is actually a sign of faith to feel remorse for sins committed. When regret leaves him, he will become more susceptible to fall in sin again. Guilt is a reminder that what he did was wrong and that feeling is his punishment. He needs to seek forgiveness with Allah and the closer he gets to Him, the more his life will be filled with joy, and over time he will overcome the pain.
Never return to sin: He needs to make intention repeatedly to never commit zina again. The person who has sincerely repented should always remember the grave consequence of his sins, how painful punishment is and how weak a person is when committing such sins. He needs to be aware of this and work on himself to never do it again. It has to be a daily exercise, a jihad between spiritual self and ego self.
In conclusion, if you want to give it another chance, be ready to work on removing the resentment from your heart if you really want to be with him and begin to look ahead and not the past. You must be sincerely committed to move forward. I would encourage couples therapy as it provides a professional space to travel this process of healing.
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