The Importance of Getting Wise Counsel
Start by encouraging the couple for seeking help and explain why this step is so important. Any struggle with sin benefits from outside accountability. The writer of Hebrews in 3:12-13 and 10:24-25 encourages us to seek help. In situations like adultery, this is critical. Both husband and wife need someone who is wise and mature in their faith to walk with them through the initial and longer term issues that are a part of the affair.
Begin by Giving Thanks to God for His Forgiving Grace
Help the couple know how to pray. The spouse who has committed adultery needs to remember that their sin cannot trump God’s grace if they are sincerely sorry for what they have done and have genuinely begun the process of repentance. The person who has been betrayed must believe that the grace of God is powerful enough to enable them to begin the process of forgiving. The battle of the betrayer to stop the affair will be equal to the battle for the one betrayed to forgive. Both spouses need God’s enabling grace to move in a new direction.
Cut Off the Relationship Right Away
Most resources on adultery say that this is one of the most important steps to take if a foundation for reconciliation is going to be built. All communication (phone, email, text messages, social media connections) must be cut off. Any mementos that have an association with the other person need to be discarded. Other than asking for forgiveness, this is the first way that the one who had the affair can display how serious their commitment is to their spouse. It is important to deal radically with sin. See Matthew 5:29-30 and Jesus’ use of hyperbole.
Immediately get a Medical Exam to Determine if There are Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
If the affair was sexual in any way, this is imperative. A commitment to be examined for STDs is yet another way to express commitment to the marriage. If the married couple has been sexually active while the affair was occurring, it is important for both spouses to seek an examination.
Confess to Your Spouse What You Have Done
In conjunction with severing the relationship with the other person, the spouse who has committed adultery must confess what he or she has done. This needs to be done without excuses or justification. Even if the marriage needs work, it is unhelpful and unwise to bring up broader issues in this context of confession. If so, it will appear to the spouse who has been betrayed that they somehow are responsible for the affair. When making a confession, it is important to own the sin, tell the spouse that it was wrong and ask them for forgiveness.