WHEN A BAD AND UNEXPECTED THING happens to us, we often ask why. We want to know the reasons why it occurred. Nowhere is the search for rationale more pressing than when the distress is caused by someone we love and trust.
I have often heard this question raised by the hurt party to their unfaithful spouse. They seek to understand how it is possible for their spouse to commit such an act of betrayal – to do something so selfishly hurtful to the other.
When this comes up during counselling, I try not to intervene too much. I believe it is the hurt party’s prerogative to ask the questions. I believe that the unfaithful spouse must give an account for his or her action. This belief is given added weight as the infidelity is often carried out under a shroud of secrecy and deceit. One of the ways to address this is to try to be as open as possible.
There is usually a mix of emotions when the question “why” is asked. Besides pain, sadness and disbelief, there is also anger. Sometimes the hurt spouse wants to fi nd out as much as possible. This type of questioning and revelation can be hurtful, and the pain for both parties is deepened in the process. This is when I try to guide the conversation. Counselling should not be a type of “Spanish Inquisition” no matter how justifi ed the inquisitor may feel.
My view of the need to know more is that it is an attempt to understand what and why things happen. Perhaps in knowing, we can try to resolve pre-existing problems, address unmet needs and hopefully try to prevent the recurrence of the infi delity. Herein lies the paradox. Knowing more may not necessarily help them to prevent this problem from surfacing again. Knowing more also does not help the injured party to feel more reassured. Yet not knowing leaves one feeling lost and out of control.
There are three portions of Scripture that record Jesus’ encounter with women of loose morals (Luke 7:36-50, John 4:7-26 and John 8:1-11). The Bible does not offer any explanation or justification as to why these women had to sell their bodies. Jesus does not condemn any of them. Instead, one is left with the impression that their own conscience weighed heavily on them, as in the example of the woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears. Jesus was more interested in forgiving and restoring them to wholeness. Their actions are seen as within their control and they are told, “…do not sin again”. (John 8:11). Their actions are dealt with by an acknowledgement of their wrong and an admonishment to not repeat these actions.
“But that is Jesus,” many readers will correctly point out. Many, especially the hurt spouses, might feel that they cannot be as forgiving as our Lord. This important aspect will be covered in the next issue.
Benny Bong is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church, is a family and marital therapist.