Question: I have been married for 9 years and recently found out that my husband was pursuing one of my friends from church. He told her how he felt and that he was attracted to her. This went on for about 8 months before I found out. From my understanding nothing happened, but there were two incidents that alarmed her and she felt like I needed to know. However, I don’t know if I can feel comfortable going to the same church with her knowing that my husband is attracted to her. I don’t trust my husband, and I really never have because he was unfaithful to me during our high school years. My husband doesn’t regularly go to church but when he wants to come now, I don’t want him to because I think it’s only to see my friend. He doesn’t think he did anything wrong. How can I deal with this in a godly manner? I don’t want to leave my church, but I don’t know if I can deal with us and her being there? I love having her as a friend and he’s my husband. What can I do? Please help?
Answer: Your husband has put you in a very awkward position. Your biggest problem is in your marriage, not with your girlfriend. It sounds like she was a good friend and she regretted having to tell you of your husband’s inappropriate behavior. You may decide to change churches so that you aren’t tempted with anxiety every time you see your friend and your husband isn’t tempted with lustful feelings, however, it’s a short term fix because you can’t control your husband’s heart.
First, let me just say that if we were totally honest, many of us would admit that sometimes we’re physically and/or emotionally attracted people who were not our mates. But most people who feel that way don’t share those attractions or act on them because we love our spouse and don’t want to hurt them, or dishonor God. Instead, we pray hard and ask God to take those feelings away. We also work harder to rekindle our marriage and the loving emotions associated with our mate.
Your husband did not do that and furthermore sees nothing really wrong with his behavior even though it hurt you and it bothered your friend. Your problem now is how do you live in a godly way in marriage with a man you don’t trust and who doesn’t exhibit a strong commitment to you or your marriage.
I love the description of a godly woman in Proverbs 31. One of the things it says is that she brings her husband good not harm all the days of her life. That doesn’t require that you trust him, or do whatever he wants, but it does mean that you love him with God’s love. What would that look like in this case? What is in your husband’s best interests?
First, it is in his absolute best interests for him to come to Christ. It would also be good for him to recognize his foolish and immature ways. It would be good for him to rekindle his relationship with you and build a strong and loving marriage for your children to be raised.
Although you cannot change your husband, you CAN strongly influence him for good or for evil. Wives are encouraged in 1 Peter 3 that even if their husband isn’t a believer, that by their wife’s godly behavior he can be won to Christ. I think many times we blow these moments because we are so angry (rightly so) that we don’t think through the powerful opportunity we have to show them what Jesus is like.
So let me give you some ideas of what specifically you might do in this instance. You can refrain from harsh criticism and sarcastic put downs (that he may deserve right now) but that won’t influence him toward Christ or toward you but close him down and turn him away. You can pray that God show him his sin and that God help him want to be a man who loves God and loves his family. You can speak the truth in love to him, not pretend everything is just fine, nor verbally vomit when you are upset with the memory of what he has done.
You will try to initiate fun things you can do together to rebuild your marriage. You will try to be easy to talk to and work on being a good listener so that he wants to open up and talk with you. If he continues to disrespect you or your marriage vows you will set very clear boundaries that his behavior is unacceptable and that although you want your marriage to work, you do not want to be married to someone who lies to you or betrays you. You can find some wise and godly people you can talk to and who can pray for you because these things are not easy to do when you are mad and hurt.
But I find that women who can act in a godly way when their husband sins against them have the best shot at influencing their husband to see Jesus and his grace in a real way. That is your hope and God’s will for your husband’s life. Satan has already influenced your husband’s mind and heart, don’t let him influence yours too.
My book, How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong will give you many more practical suggestions on how to respond instead of react, how to overcome evil with good, how to love in godly ways, how to implement the gift of consequences when someone repeatedly refuses to change sinful behavior and the benefits to you of learning such difficult lessons. My heart goes out to you. This is not easy but I promise you that if you learn how to act right to his wrong, you will be blessed.