Q: I recently found out my wife is involved in an emotional affair. She says she is in love with him, that she never loved me, and that she feels no passion in our marriage. I still love my wife and want this marriage to work. Is there any hope for us? We have three young children and I am devastated.
Dr. E says: First of all, yes, there is hope. But you have entered a time of suffering and you will need Godly support and wise counsel to get through this as a man of honor. Thank you for reaching out. Your children are worth every effort!
But don’t conclude that your marriage is over. It isn’t! There is no situation, no marriage, too difficult for God.
She Must Choose
Let your wife know you want to work on the marriage, but she must choose. You love her and are willing to stand by her, but she must choose between her marriage and this other man.
If she chooses him, then allow her to leave rather than you leaving. This is her idea, not yours, so she is choosing to leave the home and her children. Allow a period of separation, but let her know you do not want a divorce. State this lovingly and without harshness. Don’t plead and beg. Use this as an opportunity to be the kind of leader God intends, as difficult as this is.
If she leaves, turn your focus to your children and do everything you can to be there for them. Do not give in if she pressures you to leave. This is her decision, and she must be the one to leave the home and her children. You must be the stabilizing force in the home. If she doesn’t return, she will need to deal with the consequences of her decision.
Ask your wife to attend Christian counseling with you, but if she refuses, consider going by yourself. You will need the support.
Time to Heal
If your wife decides to stay, you will need to give the situation some time to heal. She has transferred her emotions to someone else so she does not want to emotionally connect with you right now. This is extremely painful, but you must not let your hurt and pride control you. If you explode or do whatever you have done in the past, you will put a nail in your own coffin. That will simply reinforce to your wife the rightness of her thoughts about why she feels no love for you – because you don’t really love her.
You must kick into the man of honor you are. God will honor your humility. The key in this situation is to wait it out.
Your wife is numb and won’t be herself for many months. She is caught between two worlds and therefore isn’t living in either one. This will take a ton of patience on your part.
Be Humble, Loving, and Strong
This can be temporary, although to her it feels like the “real thing.” Don’t try to get her to tell you that she loves you. Right now her feelings are telling her otherwise, but feelings change. It is very common for someone who “feels” they are in love with someone else to decide they never loved their spouse in the first place. That’s because she is letting the intense feelings of infatuation rule. Don’t let those words devastate you. Don’t put too much stock in them. I know it’s painful, but it’s also likely untrue.
As you walk in humility and love, two big virtues to a female, she can come around. Right now she is living in a world of fantasy that excited the deepest feelings she has as a woman. To her it is love. She feels love and believes she is going to be loved in a way every woman longs to be loved. However, it isn’t parallel with the fallen world that God has clearly revealed in scripture.
We live in a sinful world where perfect love does not exist. Once she awakens to this, she’ll slowly move back to you, given you are the humble and loving, yet strong, very strong man of God that you are called to be.
Don’t Give Up
Yes, this is unfair to you. Yes, this dishonors you. And yes, you are suffering. I don’t minimize any of that!
Regardless, your anger or bitterness won’t bring that point home to your wife any more than she already knows. Seek out a godly wise man who may have gone through a similar situation and get his counsel and support.
Can you do this? As a man of honor, I believe you can. Don’t give up. This really can turn around and would happen far more than we hear if people would not quit too soon.
If you haven’t read Love & Respect, this book will encourage you greatly. Follow the section on “COUPLE: How to Spell Love to Your Wife,” to learn how to unconditionally love your wife through this. Also, chapters 23 and 24 on the Rewarded Cycle will encourage you to keep going.
Your precious children are worth it!