My fiancé had an affair!

Upon completing marriage prep my fiancé confessed to me that he had slept with another woman 3 times in the cores of a month. He apologized and has told me he has been completely honest with me about everything. I have forgiven him, but I am still hurting, I love him very much and I want to believe that he is going to change his secret lifestyle and will turn back to God, and I don't want to doubt Gods ability to save and change hearts. The only trouble is that we live in opposite sides of the country, he got stationed in NY while am living here in Washington. He says he wants to do anything to make this right and earn back my trust, but already I have to give him so much more trust than I want to, because of the distance ... do you have any advice? Esperanza

Esperanza,
Your immediate question is 'do you have guidance or advice?'  I do, don't settle.  
I am not speaking about settling for your fiancé, I mean don't settle for a marriage of mediocrity... or worse.  Don't allow yourself to go through with your wedding until you are certain that you will have a chance for a long and successful marriage.  Your fiancé may be a good man, even a very good man, but somehow, he has allowed himself to be seduced by our culture. 

Life in 2017 is rife with so many distractions, sexual and otherwise.  It’s not that people are so much different than in past times but the culture is changing and its temptations can easily cause relationships to suffer enormously.  When I was a boy, my sexual titillation came in the form of real girls, lingerie catalogs (like Sears) and then, of course, Playboy; despite that relative lack of access, I managed to become a slave to my sexual fantasies.  Then, when the Internet showed up, it got worse; I found every possible way to act out sexually.  That's where we are: today it is barely possible to view a computer without some sexual content designed as click bait or actual pornography.  Early in life, if I wanted to meet girls, I had to go to a dance or to the club; today people hook up on Match, Tinder or worse. 

Maybe the year doesn't matter, whether 1970 or 2017, sexual impurity is a problem; my experience working with couples who have been married for many years is that you won't be happy in marriage unless each of you is sexually pure.  I didn't say that either of you must be virgins prior to marriage but in marriage (and in betrothal) you must be chaste.  Here's a definition of chastity which comes from Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine.

"Chastity is the virtue that enables one to use one’s sexual powers properly.  The chaste person is in control of his or her sexual desires rather than being controlled by them.  Chastity frees one from being dominated by one’s sexual passions.  Necessary for both the married and unmarried, chastity is rooted in deep respect for the other person, who should never be used as a means to satisfy one’s sexual desires.  The power of sexuality allows one to make a gift of oneself to another.  Again, chastity is the virtue that allows one to make a proper use of that power."

That's a high standard but I hope to convince you that your own long-term happiness depends heavily on this standard.  Count the number of times the word 'power(s)' is used in that short definition; that power comes from our own body's chemicals.  When we are sexually excited, and when we orgasm, a series of chemicals and hormones are released in our brains; go here: Chemical Soup if you want to read more about this. These chemicals are designed to bond us to continually make that bond stronger as time passes.  The important thing to know is this: for these chemicals to be effective, they must be used exclusively within the relationship.  This means no other partners are allowed, not in the flesh, not in masturbation, not in pornography, nor in any other form of sexual fantasy.  Every form of infidelity (remember, it is inside us, in our brain, not on the outside) weakens the bond.

Your original question seems to be, can I trust him if I'm on the other side of the country?  The issue is fidelity, not distance; many people living under the same roof blow up their marriages by being unfaithful.  If each of you will be committed to honesty and sexual purity you can make this relationship work.  In addition, my experience tells me that a man can do that if he will commit to working on his weaknesses; it also tells me that most don't stop these behaviors without engaging in some program of recovery.  Will he commit to being open with you about all forms of sexual impurity, including pornography, soft porn, masturbation, chat, talk, etc?  It is not your job to be his mom, to tell him what he can and cannot do but you do have the right to know if he has crossed any of these boundaries.  

There is much hope if your fiancé desires to have a great life with you but please exercise caution so that you get the relationship you need.  Since I'm sharing, check out my story, there is trial, hope and redemption: Ron's story.  I wish to give you hope mixed with a healthy bit of reality.

Esperanza, please follow-up if you need further assistance.

Ron Kaufmann, MA, CO LPC #11336, EMDR Clinician

National Certified Counselor #267299

AASAT Certified Sexual Recovery Therapist 

Recovering Hearts Counseling

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Agapè Catholic Ministries

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