Relationships and Marriage

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Infidelity: Distinguishing the Difference Between Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Is there a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation in a case of marital infidelity? Over a year ago, I discovered that my husband had resumed an emotional affair with a good friend of mine. Altogether, the two episodes covered a span of nearly ten years. After I confronted him for the second time, he wept and said he was very sorry. He has assured me – and I think he is sincere – that the relationship has ended. I honestly believe in my heart that I have forgiven my husband, but in spite of this I have had a hard time trusting him or feeling any affection for him. This upsets him. He says that it should be enough for me to know that the affair is over and that he has promised never to be unfaithful again. Even our counselor – who has never talked with us about what went on during the affair or the pain it has caused me – has said that my feelings are evidence that I haven't forgiven my husband. I'm hurt and confused. Can you help me?

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Infertility Testing During Engagement

Would it be okay for me to ask my bride-to-be to get tested for infertility before we're married? I can't understand the current trend toward "intentional childlessness" or the apparent devaluation of children in our culture in fact, I've wanted kids for as long as I can remember! I also believe that marriage, sex, and children are all part of the same package (I'm sure your ministry agrees). Instead of choosing childlessness, I'm determined to be intentional about having kids. If I can't do this with my betrothed, I'm not sure I want to pursue marrying her. What do you think?

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Husband-to-Be Has Been Sexually Active Before Marriage

As a bride-to-be, how can I get past the struggle and disappointment I'm experiencing due to the fact that the man I'm marrying isn't a virgin? I don't hold this against him. In fact, I almost feel guilty for having these feelings because he is a devoted Christian, gentle and kind, and a man of deep character. At the same time, I can't help but worry that this may have some kind of effect on our marriage and how we interact with one another as husband and wife. I have been lying awake at night wondering if this struggle will ever go away. Can you help me?

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Guidelines for Online Dating

What's your opinion of online dating? I'm in my mid-twenties and have developed a friendship with a young woman I met on the internet. She lives in another state and we've talked quite a bit on the phone since then. We've both expressed an interest in exploring this relationship further, but so far we've never met in person. Do you have any advice as to how we should proceed?

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STD Testing for Unfaithful Spouse

Should a spouse who has had an affair be tested for sexually transmitted diseases and infections? My husband recently ended an affair, and we are working toward reconciliation. It's a touchy process and I don't want to do anything that might suggest a lack of trust or indicate that I haven't forgiven him. At the same time, I don't think my concerns are unreasonable. What should I do?

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Spouse Misrepresents Husband / Wife

What should I do when my spouse frequently makes inaccurate or embarrassing statements about me in the company of family or friends? I don't think it's intentional, but these comments often cast me in a bad light or seriously misrepresent my character. This has been going on for several years now. At first, out of respect for my spouse, I would wait until we were alone to set the record straight. More recently this has become such a regular occurrence that I'm beginning to feel the need to defend my reputation in public. What would you recommend?

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The Impact of Gender Distinctions on Marriage

How do gender distinctions – psychological and emotional as well as physical and sexual – impact male-female relationships and the business of everyday life within the context of marriage? What do husbands and wives need to know about this subject, and how will that knowledge help them build a stronger marital bond?

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Pastor Husband Is Compromising His Integrity

What should a pastor's wife do if she becomes aware that her spouse is "embellishing" his sermons with half-truths or outright lies? My husband will often tell stories about himself in the pulpit that I know to be either greatly exaggerated or borrowed from some other source. I've never directly confronted him, but on the few occasions when I've gently questioned him about this, he has become extremely defensive and attempted to justify the practice. I keep hoping the Holy Spirit will convict him, but at the same time I'm worried about the impact his behavior is likely to have on our kids. I'm also aware that it's my biblical duty to honor my husband. Is this something I should just learn to live with?

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When and How to Tell Family About Marital Crisis

When should I tell the members of my immediate family – my parents and siblings – that my marriage is on the rocks? My wife and I have been struggling for a long time, and we've recently begun to talk about a possible separation. We're seeing a counselor and we both want the relationship to work, but so far things aren't getting any better. I've purposely kept our difficulties from the rest of the family, feeling that this would be in the best interest of our marriage. But the direction things are moving, I don't know how long I can or should continue to do so.

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Sexual Intimacy and Sexual Trauma in Marriage

If sex is an indispensable part of a healthy marital relationship – and most of the material I've read says that it is – what does this imply for a marriage in which the act of sex has become traumatic for the wife? That's my situation. There are a couple of reasons for this, and neither of them has anything to do with past abuse or a history of negative sexual experiences. It's partly a question of pain and discomfort due to physical issues, but the bigger problem is my emotional revulsion to the perverse sexual practices in which my husband wants me to engage. He's been addicted to pornography for at least a decade and half (only recently discovered), and he's constantly asking me to help him act out the disgusting images he sees in magazines and on the Internet. As a dutiful wife, I've tried to maintain a "healthy Christian marriage" by accommodating his requests. Unfortunately, it's only made things worse. This leads me to wonder: can sex actually become a barrier to a healthy marriage when it can't be expressed in the way God intended? Is there no place for a man to "love His wife as Christ loved the church" by laying down his "rights" to sex – especially when it's his behavior that has made sex traumatic for her on every level?

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Unsure About Whether to Confess an Affair to Spouse

Should I tell my husband that I've been unfaithful to him? I recently ended a relationship with another man, but I have serious doubts about the wisdom of revealing this to my spouse. As things stand, he has no idea that anything of this kind has been going on. I've confessed my sin before God, but why hurt him and risk destroying our marriage by bringing it up? Would it be better just to sweep the whole thing under the rug?

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Husband Refuses to Work

Is there anything I can do about a husband who simply refuses to get a job and work? We've been married for twelve years, and for the last ten he's stayed home and done nothing all day while I've gone off to work. He contributes nothing to our home and family. It's all "take" and no "give" with him. One of our kids was recently diagnosed with a medical condition that will be costly to treat and my job will no longer cover our expenses. Yet he still plans to maintain the status quo. Do you have any advice for me?

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Husband Looks at Other Women

Do I have reason to feel hurt and upset when I see my husband turn his head and look at other women? He has always been faithful to and affirming of me. I trust him, and he's the last guy I'd characterize as a womanizer. Still, it bothers me to see him react this way when he's out in public. Am I too sensitive about this?

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Cohabiting Boyfriend Has Been Unfaithful

What should I do about my boyfriend who recently cheated on me? We've been living together for the past couple of years, but I recently found out that he's been sexting a "friend" of mine. When I confronted him, he said it's my fault. Then he left me and our baby and is now staying with his dad. I guess that makes me a single mother. I feel so alone, hurt, and betrayed. What should I do?

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Boyfriend Is a New Christian

Should I slow things down with my boyfriend just because he is a new Christian? I recently began dating a young man whom I like very much and who seems to be a person of strong character. He accepted Christ about five months ago, and had been attending church and Bible study before we met. Although we both have expressed our affection for each other, a friend of mine has suggested that it might be a good idea to avoid diving in head-first until I'm sure that he's serious about his Christian commitment and that it's not just a passing thing. What do you think?

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Christian Romantically Involved With a Non-Christian

Is it okay to be romantically involved with a guy who doesn't share my Christian faith? He asked me out on a date six months ago, and though at the time I didn't think it was a good idea, I went ahead and accepted. Now he's captured my heart and I don't know what to do. I'm in pretty deep, but unless he makes a commitment to follow Jesus I don't think I can marry him. At the same time, if there's a chance that he may accept Christ, I don't want to break things off and throw away the most wonderful relationship I've ever experienced. What should I do?

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Emotional Affairs and Grounds for Divorce

Are repeated emotional affairs biblical grounds for divorce? On several occasions my husband has become emotionally involved with other women in ways that have been seriously destructive to our marriage. The most recent incident involved a lady with whom he'd been emotionally intimate in the past. I'm tired of his betrayals, and though we've been in counseling together for some time, I see nothing in him to indicate that there's any hope of change in the future. What should I do?

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Emotional Affairs and Ongoing Friendships

Should my husband and I discontinue our friendship with another couple simply because the man and I became involved in an emotional affair? It's over now, and my spouse and the man's wife have taken a firm but conciliatory attitude towards the whole thing. For obvious reasons, we've also suspended our normal get-togethers for the time being. Quite frankly, this has been one of the hardest aspects of the entire situation. It's a huge loss for all of us. Now that the affair is in the past, do you think it would be okay to go back to "life as usual"? Or should this special friendship be permanently ended?

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Engaged Couple Wants to Know Why Premarital Sex Isn't Okay

Now that we are committed to be married, why should we wait to have sexual intercourse? How can there be anything wrong with our love-making when we've already promised to spend our lives together?

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Woman Wants Husband-to-Be's Relationship With Female Friend to End

How should I respond when my bride-to-be insists that I break off all ties with a lifelong female friend? This friend and I have been close since childhood. We grew up next door to each other. Our relationship, which has always been purely platonic, remains strong in spite of the fact that she's been married for the past five years (she and her husband actually introduced me to my betrothed). Now, with the wedding just a month away, my bride-to-be tells me that this friendship has to end. I realize that my relationship with my female friend must change in some important ways (it already has), but given our history, I can't help feeling that this is an unreasonable request. What do you think?

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Wondering If Spouse Is Truly Repentant Over Affair

How can I be sure that my spouse is really repentant for the pain he has caused me? A year ago, I discovered he'd been involved in an emotional affair with another woman for nearly a decade. He also has a history of explosive anger which has often led to verbal abuse. On a number of occasions he has actually thrown things at me. Though he's ended the extramarital relationship, softened his demeanor somewhat, and even says that he's eager to go to counseling and work on our marriage, I can't help feeling confused. Once he said to me, "I know I've messed up in the past, but you have a pretty good thing going with me." Several times when I've mentioned his violent behavior, he has responded with, "Yes, I threw things at you, but I missed." He also maintains that he only concealed the affair from me for ten years because he "didn't want to hurt me." I don't feel we can move forward until this is resolved in my mind. What do you think?

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Young Man Attracted to His Girlfriend's Sister

What should I do if I find myself increasingly drawn to my girlfriend's sister? I've been dating a very good, kind, and godly young lady for about three months now, and in the process I've spent a lot of time getting to know her entire family. I didn't anticipate that I would end up feeling a greater affinity for and a stronger attraction to her sister, but that's exactly what has happened. Bottom line: I'd like to pursue a deeper relationship with the sister, but I don't want to be responsible for causing dissension within the family. I've sought the counsel of several wise friends, but they all tell me something different. I feel lost and stuck. Any advice?

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Woman Wants Her Lover to Leave His Wife

How can I motivate my lover to stop dragging his feet and leave his wife? I'm eager to start a new life with him, but as long as he's tied to her I'm relegated to playing second fiddle. I know this isn't an easy step for him to take, even though she has treated him like dirt the whole time they've been married. But it's been frustrating and disappointing waiting for him to break free so that we can pursue our own happy lives together. What should I do?

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Husband and Stepdad Viewing Child Pornography

How would you advise a woman who has just discovered that her husband is viewing child pornography? I'm very sorry to say that this is my personal situation. I have a young daughter from a previous marriage who lives with us. I love my husband and want our marriage to survive, but at the same time I need to protect my daughter and make sure she remains safe. What should I do?

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