Although a wounded husband and wife ultimately have to be the ones to make the decision to stay together, Al and Lisa endeavor to inspire couples toward that decision by discussing the marital factors that often lead to affairs.
“You didn’t start out standing in front of a preacher making your vows and imagining you’d be sitting on this couch talking to us today,” Al explains to couples. “So let’s talk about how this came about. We’re looking at what’s wrong to get us to this place.”
Understanding that not every marriage can survive, Al and Lisa encourage husbands and wives to look ahead by considering what their post-divorce family might look like five years down the road. For couples with children, Al and Lisa talk about them because they believe kids don’t deserve to be in this place of brokenness. “They were born into this world deserving for you guys to get it right,” Al challenges the parents. He says that this kind of focus often resonates with couples in crisis.
Al and Lisa acknowledge that it’s hard to move past the hurt a couple feels in the moment of betrayal and discovery. But their experience has also taught them that choosing to stay together and work on reconciliation is best for everyone involved. “We now have older kids, and our daughter has told us many times that she wants a marriage like ours,” Lisa says. “She’s not talking about wanting to go through all the bad things that we went through, she’s talking about wanting the relationship that we have [today]. That would not have been possible had we not stuck it out and worked through our problems.”
Al and Lisa believe that couples must do the hard work after an affair — whatever that looks like. Regardless of the details of a couple’s story, the Robertsons are convinced that part of the hard work for every couple will ultimately be the choice to forgive. Too often Al and Lisa have seen unforgiveness leave a spouse dealing with bitterness, resentment and anger that has the potential to make him or her a bitter person. Lisa doesn’t hesitate to clarify that as believers we must consider forgiveness “because God tells us that we must forgive.” She points out that God has not given us a definitive timeline regarding forgiveness, but if God tells us to do something, then she’s convinced it must mean He’s given us the capacity to do it. Understanding that a wounded spouse may feel the cheating spouse doesn’t deserve forgiveness, Lisa comments, “When God tells us to forgive, He doesn’t tell us to forgive for the other person. He tells us to forgive for ourselves because it releases within us the victim mentality and the hurt.”