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My Wife Loves Another Man

 
     
 
Share your thoughts with Dr. Bill in 1Community
   
Dr. Bill Gaultiere
Clinical Psychologist, Director of New Hope

Question:

Dr Bill, my wife told me that she loves another man.  She says that she has been unhappy for a long time and wants a divorce.  I'm trying to accept this, but it's so hard. My friends say I have to let her leave, but I have three children. If I just let her leave what am teaching them about life and marriage?

I've resumed going to church and started counseling with my pastor and I'm reading "Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do" by Dr. Schuller. I desperately want to save my marriage. I can't just do nothing and let her leave. There must be something I can do!

Reply:

This must be very hurtful for you to hear that your wife loves another man.  The thought of your marriage and family breaking apart is so hard to accept. To lose what is so precious to you would be very sad.

You're asking how to deal with this.  What can you do to save your marriage? You've gotten off to a good start by going back to church, seeking counsel, and reading "Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do."  You're certainly not doing nothing! You're seeking God, getting help for yourself, and persevering through this painful time.

I think what your friends are telling you is that you can't keep her from leaving.  They are right.  Trying to hold on to her or to control her may just make her want to leave all the more.

What you can do is ask her why she's leaving and what you could do to make her want to stay.  Is there something in you or the way you treat her that makes her unhappy that you could work on in personal counseling?  Would she go to marriage counseling with you? 

You could offer to work on things and ask her to give you and the marriage six months.  Six months to turn things around for the two of you.  Six months to try to keep the family in tact - for the kids if nothing else.  Six months without her seeing or talking to this other man out of respect for you and your marriage and your kids.

Unfortunately, if she refuses to do this then you need to respect her decision, wrong and painful as it is.  She alone is responsible for and in control of her choices. The hard truth is that it takes two to make a good marriage, but only one to break it apart.

If she has an affair with this man then out of self-respect you need to consider asking her to leave your home. It's not fair to you to have her in such close proximity to you while she's continually hurting you. Every day you'd feel kicked in the gut again.

Furthermore, staying in the home while having an affair would rescue her from the consequences of her affair. She'd get to keep her home and her family in tact. She'd have you right there waiting for her and wanting her. And she could keep her affair a secret from everyone who knows her. It'd be like her affair didn't cost her anything! This protects her from broken relationships, guilt, explaining her behavior to others, and re-location hassles.

If indeed she leaves you for this other man then make sure that you still continue counseling. In that case you'd need help for yourself to deal with the pain and adjustment of a pending divorce. You'd need to go through a healing process and to learn whatever you could from this.

You also expressed concern about what you're teaching your sons if you let her leave.  I'm more concerned about what you're wife is teaching them!  I gather that you are teaching them faithfulness to a spouse, dedication to trying to make a marriage work, how to have Christian faith in difficult times, how to deal with injustice and pain with honesty and courage, and that no matter what you love them.

I'd encourage you to talk with them about what's going on.  Of course, don't slander your wife even though she may deserve it.  But do ask them how they feel about the true state of the marriage and work to draw them out and listen to their feelings.  And do make it clear to them that she is the one who wants to leave and explain to them what you've been doing to deal with this and to try to save the marriage.

 

 
     
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