But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. Psalm 130:4
Finding your way back after an adulterous relationship is difficult, but it can be done. There's a roadmap which guides you when you recognize what a dreadful thing has happened and you sincerely want forgiveness, healing, and--yes! --restoration with your husband or wife. The roadmap is found in Psalm 51, and David, the author, simply describes the components of restoration which he went through.
Analyzing this powerful roadmap to restoration, there are several guidelines, all of which are vitally necessary – ones which David practiced.
Guideline #1: Assume full responsibility for your wrongdoing. David did. "I have sinned," he immediately confessed to Nathan the prophet. "My sin is ever before me," he wrote in Psalm 51. Don't bother blaming your DNA, your office worker who seduced you, or your wife who was indifferent to your needs. The first step is to recognize you went wrong and you are the one who needs to come back. Make it personal. David called it "my sin," "my transgression," and “my iniquity."
Guideline #2: Confess your failure for what it is, sin. That's what David called it, and that's what it is, so don't use psychobabble calling it "a wrong choice," or a "misdeed," or a "moral lapse." The Bible says there is forgiveness for our sins, but it doesn't include the euphemisms that allow us to wheedle out from under the yoke of accountability.
To whom do we confess? First, says, David, confession must be made to God because we first sin against Him. "Against thee and thee only have I sinned" he said. Whoa! But what about your wife, your husband, your children? They too figure in the equation of forgiveness and they have to be included in genuine confession. The Bible says, "He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13, NKJV).
Guideline #3: Break off the relationship completely and forever. There is no hope for healing as long as you dance with wrongdoing. Again, the Bible says, "If I regard iniquity [sin] in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18).
Guideline #4: Guard against continued contact or exposure. If you have to change jobs, do it. If you have to move to a different neighborhood, start packing. If you value your marriage and your future, drastic steps may be necessary. Remember, turning your back on your commitment "till death us part" was drastic; so may be the measures necessary to find your way back.
David's failure was initiated by the fact that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes you can't help being in the wrong place, but what you do--whether you hang around to see what might happen or turn and run – is your decision.
Guideline #5: Ask for forgiveness and healing. Ask both God and those who have been hurt, including the person who were intimate with. Will they forgive? That probably depends on your attitude. When you are genuine and sincere, though it may be hard, they will probably forgive just as God does.
Guideline #6: Forever guard your weakness. Call home if you are running late. Watch what you read, guard your heart, and make sure you are never alone with someone of the opposite sex in a situation where you can be compromised.
The way back is not easy, but it's worthwhile. Bones that are broken can heal even stronger than before they were broken. And though it's tough, it can happen with your marriage as well. Affairs never make a marriage better, but they may point out your weaknesses, your human failures, your insensitivity; and you can do something to rectify that, which will make your marriage stronger.
Resource reading: Proverbs 5:1-23.