Dear Dr. Meg,
I was unfaithful to my wife, ten months ago. I hid it from her, but it has come out now. She is now questioning 10 years of marriage. She believes I have had multiple infidelities. I cannot combat something that has never happened. I rededicated my life to God, and living as a godly man. I had an inspirational moment in this that has changed me forever. How would you suggest I treat this problem with her? I have been honest and continue to be kind and loving. She doesn’t believe I love her because I betrayed her. Now she believes there have been multiple affairs. I am forgiven, but lost. I want my marriage restored and I am willing to make any change in my life to bring healing and restoration. Please help me.
Forgiven But Not Restored
Your wife is bleeding on the inside because of betrayal and hurt and it is perfectly normal for her to question everything about your relationship. Women don’t think the way men do. When something happens in a man’s life, he identifies the problem, finds a solution and then implements it. Women do not do this. We think about the problem, why it happened and how we could have prevented it. We think about the problem, the solution, the repercussions, who’s to blame, who isn’t to blame and then a thousand feelings land on top of every thought.
Your wife is reeling right now so you need to be patient. She feels paranoid and frightened. She doesn’t know where to go from here because she’s wondering where she’s actually been with you. She wonders whether your relationship has all been a lie. You know that it hasn’t but right now you can’t convince her of that.
Here’s what I recommend that you do. If you have a pastor or Christian counselor that you like, go see him. I recommend that you go to a male because this will make your wife feel better. The last thing she needs is project jealousy and fear onto a female counselor helping you. Many pastors and counselors have helped numerous married couples through this situation. Their job is to help you and your wife clarify the issues, not mix the issues with other ones and then resolve them.
In the meantime, keep your wits about you. Come home from work on time. Help her with chores, the kids, cooking, whatever. Roll up your sleeves and become engaged at home. You don’t have to do a lot of talking or convincing right now. That will come with time. She will eventually come to see that you were unfaithful once, not multiple times but that will take months to happen. First, she needs to see that the love you have for her is real, that you are serious about reconciling and that you are the good man that she always thought you were, you simply made a mistake. As time goes by and she sees these with her own eyes, she will gain clarity.
Finally, I encourage you to do some soul searching and figure out why you had the affair. A good counselor can help. Believe it or not, many affairs are not about sex but are about respect. Many men are unfaithful because they don’t feel respected by their wives. If this is true for you, this can help you explain things to your wife down the road.
Take heart. The two of you can get through this. If she didn’t love you as much as she does, she wouldn’t be so upset. So be patient.