Hus­band ag­o­nizes over wife’s in­fi­delity

The Covington News - - Religion -

QUES­TION: My wife has been in­volved in an af­fair with her boss for six months. I’ve known about it from the beginning, but just haven’t been able to con­front her. Me­lanie acts like she doesn’t love me any­way. If I give her an ul­ti­ma­tum, I could lose her com­pletely. Can you as­sure me that won’t hap­pen? Have you ever of­fered the Love Must Be Tough ad­vice and had it back­fire, end­ing in di­vorce?

DR. DOB­SON: Yes, I have, and I cer­tainly un­der­stand your cau­tion. I wish I could guar­an­tee how Me­lanie will re­act to a firmer ap­proach. Un­for­tu­nately, life of­fers few cer­tain­ties, even when all the prob­a­bil­i­ties point in one di­rec­tion. Some­times well-con­di­tioned ath­letes drop dead from heart at­tacks. Some out­stand­ing par­ents raise chil­dren who rebel and be­come drug ad­dicts. Some of the most in­tel­li­gent, cau­tious busi­ness­men fool­ishly bank­rupt them­selves. Life is like that. Things hap­pen ev­ery day that shouldn’t have occurred.

Nev­er­the­less, we should go with the best in­for­ma­tion avail­able to us. I saw a sign that said, “The fastest horses don’t al­ways win, but you should still bet on them.” Even as a non-gam­bler, that makes sense to me.

Hav­ing of­fered that dis­claimer, let me say that there is noth­ing risky about treat­ing one­self with greater re­spect, ex­hibit­ing con­fi­dence and poise, pulling back­ward and re­leas­ing the door on the ro­man­tic trap. The pos­i­tive ben­e­fits of that ap­proach are of­ten im­me­di­ate and dra­matic.

Loving self-re­spect vir­tu­ally never fails to have a salu­tary ef­fect on a drift­ing lover, un­less there is not the tini­est spark left to fan. Thus, in in­stances when open­ing the cage door re­sults in a spouse’s sud­den de­par­ture, the re­la­tion­ship was in the cof­fin, al­ready. I’m re­minded of the old proverb that says, “If you love some­thing, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t come back, it never was yours in the first place.” There is a great truth in that adage, and it ap­plies to your re­la­tion­ship with your wife.

Now, ob­vi­ously, it is risky to pre­cip­i­tate a pe­riod of cri- sis. When ex­plo­sive in­di­vid­u­als are in­volved in mid-life tur­moil or a pas­sion­ate fling with a new lover, great tact and wis­dom are re­quired to know when and how to re­spond. That’s why pro­fes­sional coun­sel is vi­tal be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the con­fronta­tion. It would be un­think­able of me to rec­om­mend that vic­tims of af­fairs in­dis­crim­i­nately pose ul­ti­ma­tums with 24hour dead­lines, or that they push an in­de­pen­dent part­ner in a cor­ner. Great cau­tion is needed in such del­i­cate con­flicts.

In short, I sug­gest that you seek the as­sis­tance of a com­pe­tent coun­selor who can help you deal with the prob­lem of Me­lanie’s af­fair.

QUES­TION: Our chil­dren are all on their own now and my hus­band and I are free to do some of the trav­el­ing we have al­ways planned to do when we got them through col­lege. But lately I feel too tired even to keep the house clean, and too de­pressed to care about plan­ning or do­ing any­thing ex­tra. I’m only 46, yet some days I can hardly get out of bed in the morn­ing. I just want to put my head un­der the pil­low and cry — for no rea­son at all.

So why do I feel so ter­ri­ble? My hus­band is try­ing to be pa­tient, but this morn­ing he growled, “You have ev­ery­thing a woman could want — what do you have to be blue about?” Do you think I could be los­ing my mind?

DR. DOB­SON: I doubt if there is any­thing wrong with your mind. The symp­toms you de­scribe sound as if you may be en­ter­ing menopause, and if so, your dis­com­fort may be caused by the hor­monal im­bal­ance that ac­com­pa­nies glan­du­lar up­heaval. I sug­gest that you make an ap­point­ment to see a gy­ne­col­o­gist or other physi­cian in the next few days. He or she can help you.

Dr. Dob­son is founder and chair­man of the board of the non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion Fo­cus on the Fam­ily, Colorado Springs, CO 80995(www. fam­ily.org). Ques­tions and an­swers are ex­cerpted from “Solid An­swers” and “Bring­ing Up Boys,” both pub­lished by Tyn­dale House.

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