Every Monday I try to answer a Reader Question. Sometimes the questions I get are really hard ones, and today’s is an example. I know many of you have caught your husband on Facebook with another woman, or texting another woman, and your whole world is thrown up in the air. You’ll likely relate to this:
My husband does have a history of looking at porn on the internet, but claims to not do this anymore. Recently, I logged into his computer to print something, and his facebook was up. There happened to be a text between he and a “friend” who he claims helped him when we were going through marriage problems a while ago. He says they were just friends and she helped him understand a women’s point of view. Well, the FB text was horrible, sexy talk from him. He was asking her about masturbation and if she thought about him during it, etc. I have been praying about this since, but my question is: do I tell him I know? I am having a very hard time with this, as I feel every time he brings up sex or talks to me about something personal, that he is lying to my face.
I am so, so sorry if you’re walking through this, and I want to give a few general thoughts about it. These would apply whether you catch your husband texting another woman, catch him using porn, or even catch him in an affair.
You Are Not to Blame if Your Husband is Being Unfaithful
I see this in so many women’s emails: the husband is doing something that is completely and utterly wrong, and yet she is the one who feels badly or guilty. Here she’s wondering if she should tell him, because if she does he turns it around and often blames her, and this sends her into a tailspin.
When a spouse is doing something wrong, one of the marks of it is that they will deflect the blame. If you’re walking through a relationship like this, you’ll often suspect something, but if you bring it up you’ll be told that you’re crazy, that you’re jealous, that you need to see a counselor, or, if the person can’t deny it, that it is all your fault because you weren’t sexual enough, or you weren’t available, or you nagged too much.
I’ve seen women who were certain their husbands were having affairs for years, but at the same time they felt that maybe they were just too jealous or were reading too much into things. They started to doubt themselves.
There’s two reasons for this: Your husband often denies and turns things around on you; but you also are so scared to face the truth that the relationship may be as bad as you fear that you throw the responsibility back on yourself.
So let me say this loudly and clearly: If your husband is texting another woman, or sexting another woman, he is the one doing wrong, not you.
You are not to blame. Yes, we can contribute to the temptation to sin. But no matter what you did, there is NEVER an excuse to start a relationship with someone who is not your spouse, and you need to let go of that guilt.
No Matter What Happens, You Will Be Okay
Please hear me on this one. You are bigger than your marriage. You are precious to God, just who you are. If your marriage falls apart, God will not leave you, and He will carry you through this.
For most of us, divorce or separation is the scariest thing we can imagine, next to losing our children. Our whole identity is tied up in being a wife. The thought that the marriage may be at stake sends us into such a tailspin.
Marriage is a wonderful thing. Marriage matters. The vow matters. But listen: God is bigger than your marriage, too. You are more important to Him than your marriage. And you honestly will be okay. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, you will cry a river of tears. But He will carry you.
Now, hear me on this, too:
I am not saying that your marriage is over. I am not saying that it can’t be rebuilt. But until you are able to say, “My trust is in God, not in my marriage”, you will not be able to deal with this problem effectively. You will be so scared of losing your marriage that it will be hard for you to confront, to draw boundaries, and to do what is necessary to give yourself a chance at saving your marriage.
Now is the time to go running to God, and to find a close friend or counselor to help you do that, so that you have His inner strength and peace to deal with this.
You Must Confront Him Over the Texting–or the Betrayal
Our letter writer is wondering if she should confront her husband with the texts to another woman she saw on Facebook.
Her reluctance is understandable. As soon as you say the words, you can’t take them back. You can’t go on pretending everything is fine. It’s out in the open, and now all the ugliness has to be dealt with. What if you can’t put that genie back in the bottle?
If you don’t confront him it will get worse. If you don’t confront him you are hurting his own spiritual life. He needs to feel the consequences of his actions; that’s the only way that he will have the motivation to do the right thing.
Many men (and many women) are living in this fairytale that they can have their cake and eat it, too. The more they go down that path–by pursuing a relationship with another woman–the more they damage themselves as people and hurt all those around them. He must be made to choose, which means that you need to be willing to accept the fact that he may not choose you. As I explained in my book 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, it’s all about choosing to live in truth, because if you just try to “keep the peace”, then you’re actually continuing to live in a lie. And ultimately, that’s bad for everyone.
(See the book here).
A few practical things: If you have caught him texting, take a picture of it. If you caught him on Facebook, take a screen shot. It is best to have proof so that he can’t argue or tell you that you’re crazy. If you found him using porn, take a screen shot of the computer’s internet history, just so that he can’t deny it. Then, instead of debating whether he actually did it, you can move on to dealing with the consequences of it.
Also, sometimes it’s better to confront him in the presence of a third party who can help you navigate that conversation. If it’s something big, talk to a pastor or counselor first, and ask them to be present while you talk to your husband. This isn’t always possible, but often these conversations go better this way.
Living in Truth is Better than Living in a Lie
There is nothing more exhausting than trying to maintain a fiction about your life. It is easier to live in the truth, even if the truth hurts, than to maintain a lie. Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus is the Truth; Jesus lives in the Truth. If you decide to live in the Truth, too, His resources and His power are there for you in a very powerful way.
Luke 8:17 says:
For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.
God is in the “bringing things out in the open” business.
When people start to be honest with each other, and honest with themselves, then God can work.
Whether you caught your husband using porn, or caught him in an affair, or caught him texting someone else, the first step always is to run to God and put your trust ultimately in Him. Then remember: things need to be brought to light. Find a friend, or a counselor, or a pastor who can help you do this. Sometimes sitting down with a third party and confronting him is better than confronting him on your own. But do confront, do bring to light, and do know that no matter what happens, God is there for you and He can carry you.