Question: My husband and I have had a troubled marriage for years. Recently he confessed to extra-marital affairs. I’ve forgiven him for these infidelities, but now he says he wants to date other women while continuing to live in our home. I’m desperate to save our relationship so I don’t want to provoke him unnecessarily. How should I respond?


Are you familiar with Dr. Dobson’s book Love Must Be Tough? It’s a must-read for any woman in your situation. Study it carefully and you will find the strength and resolution you need to stand firm and resist the temptation to appease your husband by giving in to his unreasonable and sinful demands.

Time for an ultimatum 

You say that you don’t want to provoke him unnecessarily, but there’s an important sense in which provocation is exactly what he needs. A man who feels he has the right to violate his marriage vows, live a life of habitual infidelity, and betray his wife while continuing to live with her under the same roof is seriously misguided. You need to force a crisis and give him an ultimatum. If he wants to "date other women," he’s going to have to find new living accommodations. He has to understand that his adulterous behaviour will not be tolerated under any circumstances. If separation is what it takes to open his eyes and stimulate some self-examination on his part, then so be it. At this point there is no other hope for your marriage.

Seek counselling and support

If you haven’t already started counselling, now is the time to do so. A trained Christian counsellor can help you travel this rocky path and find your way to a brighter future. Our counselling staff will be happy to discuss your situation with you and provide you with referrals to qualified marriage and family therapists in your area. You can reach us Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Pacific time at 1.800.661.9800.

In addition to counselling, a healthy Christian support system is vital. God wants us to lean on one another during times of trouble. Many churches sponsor support groups for individuals in your circumstances. We’d strongly urge you to avail yourself of the help and encouragement they can provide. You will be inspired to see how others have weathered similar storms. In turn, you will be equipped to help the hurting women who come behind you.

Stay strong for your kids

One last thought. If you have children, they’re going to need you now as they’ve never needed you before. This means that, as deeply as you’re hurting, it’s important to find a way to stand strong for their sake. They deserve a healthy and stable parent, and that parent is obviously not their dad! So cling to God and your Christian friends and pray without ceasing for the courage you need in order to make it through each new day. The enemy has already gained an important victory over your husband. Don’t allow him to make you and your kids his next victims.

© 2010 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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