Making Up For It

Almost every day we get emails from people who are experiencing the pain, loss and devastation of an affair. They are wounded and hurt and don’t know what to do or where to turn. They want their life back; their marriage back; their spouse back. Often as we read through the emails and then begin to correspond with the man or woman that sent it there is a belief that at some point in the future, their spouse will make up for all the pain they caused. When their spouse makes it up to them, then they can move on; then they can forgive; then they an rebuild. This expectation will always leave a void in a persons’ heart. Because if your spouse has a sexual addiction; if your spouse has had an emotional affair; if your spouse has had a physical affair, there is nothing they can ever do to make that up to you. When making up for it is the expectation:

  • You will become a suspicious person
  • You will become a resentful person
  • You will become an insecure person
  • You will manipulate and guilt trip to get your way
  • You will live out of fear and worry

The bar can never be set high enough for you to find the redemption you are looking for. When you are waiting for your spouse to make it up to you, they will always fail and you will be left searching for one more thing that will make the pain feel better. The redemption you are looking for can only be found in Jesus. You trying to find your own redemption through your spouse’s performance will never give you the marriage you desire.

For as many emails we get from spouses that are devastated, we get just as many from spouses that are broken and desperate. They are the ones that cheated; they are the ones that have a sexual addiction; they are the ones that broke their marriage covenant. They want help; they want their marriage back; they will do anything to make this up to their spouse. If they could just prove to their spouse how sorry they are, then that would make up for all the hurt they have caused. There is only one problem: You can never make up for it. You will never be able to say enough or do enough to make up for it. It isn’t possible. When a spouse starts to live with the mission of making up for it:

  • You work really hard to not make your spouse mad
  • You walk on egg shells cause you know you were the one that messed up
  • You don’t give your opinion or feedback because you don’t feel like you have that right
  • You constantly feel guilt and shame for all the mistakes you have made.

Living in a performance based marriage will never build intimacy.

Here is the truth…you can’t make up for it. You can’t redeem yourself. The redemption you desire can only be found in Jesus. When you spend all of your time trying to perform and make up for your mistakes, you rob God of the work that He needs to do in your heart.

The answer is grace. It is grace that provides redemption. For the spouse that is hurting, it is offering forgiveness. It doesn’t mean trusting, but it does mean forgiving. The power that forgiveness has to bring redemption is greater than anything you can demand.

For the one that has done the hurting, it is receiving grace and living out of the forgiveness that Christ offers. It is only in that forgiveness that you can find the freedom you desperately need.

5 Responses to Making Up For It

  1. Faye

    I am new to your website but I am excited about the possibility of finding some answers and some help. I have suffered betrayal multiple times, rage from husband, verbal abuse, and lies you would not believe. Only because of My Lord and Savior, and trying to follow what he expects of me, I am still with my husband. I don’t understand why but I still love my husband. And there is a difference between forgiving and forgetting. We must all forgive for God forgave us. If we don’t forgive, God will not forgive us.

  2. needtoforgive

    Do you have any good resources on forgiveness?  And what it looks like when you have lost more than a faithful spouse?  LIke when you have had an unfaithful spouse, one that has destroyed your finances and living situation, one that isn’t pursuing you and just is downright unpleasant a lot of times…….how do you do that forgiveness day after day, minute by minute?  I stay with my spouse because I ideally want the family to make it for the kids’ sake………but I don’t like or respect my spouse and every day I have to wake up and face the consequences of all he has done, try to forgive, and live a day that is not going in a direction I want it to go because of what he has done.  So I’m looking for some pretty serious resources on forgiveness!  I’d love suggestions.

  3. Christie

    This is true … but difficult to receive.  Still trying to get there.

  4. Wow.  Excellent post.  I never thought of it in that way.  A lot to think about here.  Thank you for sharing.  A

  5. I have learned that fidelity (and infidelity) does not begin in the pants, it begins in the heart. As a betrayed spouse I know that the words you have written here are all too true. On this Recovery Road I realize nad have accepted that the marriage my husband and I had died. There is nothing either of us can do to undo or redo the past.
    I just pray two things 1) that my spouse continues to give his whole heart to the Lord and 2) that he truly desires to esteem me higher than he does himself (and anyone else) [Phil 2:3]– that he does now plan to forsake all others and live the honorable life with me as his wife that Jesus died to provide for us.  Thank you RefineUs, as always.