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I do not remember precisely where I read or heard the term “theft of reality.” Most likely, I came upon it through Chump Lady or one of the many books I have read on spiritual abuse.

“Theft of reality” is a term used to describe how we–faithful spouses–experience a marital narrative with serious truth–and thereby reality–gaps.

We do not know what was real and what was a lie from our cheater. Many of us may never know this information. We have no idea–in some cases–how far back into our relationship our cheater was actually cheating on us.

“Theft of reality” complicates the grieving process.

Many struggle for words to describe the losses surrounding their infidelity ravaged marriage. As the saying goes, we need to “name it, to tame it.” Those going through the grieving process need to understand what they lost. This overarching term–“theft of reality”–is one way to tie a bow on a complicated and extended loss in this experience.

In religious circles, people are quick to pressure faithful spouses to “forgive.” But they are clueless about the “theft of reality” complication.

They do not understand that we–faithful spouse–lack the power to forgive as we do not know the extent of sins committed against us. Forgiveness is not real forgiveness unless we are acknowledging a wrong needing forgiveness. The cheater purposely has kept such things secret, and that makes it impossible to forgive those things.

Plus, biblical forgiveness requires repentance first (see Luke 17:3). When you have holes in your marriage created by a lying cheater, you have an unrepentant cheater who ought not–by Jesus’ own words–to be forgiven.

“Theft of reality” is one more cruelty cheaters inflict on faithful spouses. They know the marital history, but it suits their egos to keep that information to themselves and allow the faithful spouse to suffer.

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Republished with permission from, featuring inspiring Bible verses about Complications from “theft of reality” – Divorce Minister.

Republished with permission from

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