A reader asks:
I have been married for three years to a man I dated off and on for almost 15 years. We have children ages two, four and 10. I have found inappropriate chat messages from another female to my husband. My husband said he wasn’t happy, especially with my weight gain. We just finished building a new house and moved into it. The messages to the other woman date back two years. We have been in counseling and everything seemed to be resolved. I have obvious trust issues because I found the text messages. A second time, this time with an ex-wife, my husband says he’s done. He’s tired of me snooping and I just need to get over it. He doesn’t know that I’m aware of the messages from the second woman. I’m afraid to ask since I am not supposed to be snooping anymore. His phone is always faced down because he says you can’t hear it ring any other way. What should I do?
This is one of those questions that I have a hard time answering because it is going to contain an equal amount of hard to swallow response for both spouses. The point I want to start out with, which is a general point to everyone reading this (and seems to go lost today in a big way): you reap what you sow. The Bible tells us “be not deceived, God is not mocked, what ever you reap, you will sow.”
A little entry-level sleuthing brings us to the obvious point that while you were dating your future husband, you guys were fornicating. You had children out of wedlock. You had an on-again, off-again relationship which should’ve spoke to you both about the level of commitment. I’m sure there were other relationships during the “off-again” times that most likely had sex involved too. For over a decade you established a pattern with him of being with you part of the time and with other women part of the time and now it surprises you that he still doing the same thing after you signed a piece of paper that says you’re “married”.
Choices Today Have Consequences Tomorrow
It’s not my intention to make you feel worse about the situation, but everyone has to learn at some point in their life that there are consequences that follow choices. You are not in this situation by some innocent and unfortunate turn of circumstances. The behavior your husband is exhibiting is exactly the same behavior he had for the 15 years before that. So it is important to you going into the future that you are a person who learns lessons from the past and does not ignore the fact that your choices today have consequences tomorrow.
As for your husband, the most delicate way I can respond to his “you should not be snooping” is this: he’s an idiot. I’ll bet if you are cheating on him, he would think snooping is okay on his part. I’ll bet if someone was stealing his money, he would be snooping around trying to figure out who it was. This whole idea of a husband or wife demanding privacy from their spouse only comes up when there is something to hide. Spouses don’t need “relationship privacy” when they’re not having inappropriate relationships outside of their marriage. I always get a bittersweet chuckle when I hear those juvenile excuses like “you can only hear the phone ring if it’s face down.” Does he not realize how utterly stupid and juvenile that sounds?
As to your question “what should I do?”, I cannot give you an objective black or white answer but only my subjective opinion based on my experience. I think you should immediately go tell your husband you are aware of the other woman. I think you should tell him that his demands you not “snoop” are ridiculous when he is giving you every reason to be suspicious because of his behavior. I think that you should demand from him that he put in place accountability and safeguards to protect your marriage. I don’t think that you should tolerate for one second any unfaithfulness on his part.
At that point he will no doubt, and in some ways justifiably, throw up all the past in your face. But neither of you can change the past, you can only change what you’re going to do starting today.
Having said that, I will tell you that you are in a very difficult position because your marriage and relationship from the start has been “on-again, off-again” and not based on the commitment and security that only comes with God’s plan for sex and marriage. If both you and your husband are committed to a Godly marriage, there is no doubt that you can have one. Sadly, if both of you are not committed to it, there is not a whole lot you can do about it. From my experience and given what you have told me, if he is not wholeheartedly committed to a Godly marriage he will eventually commit adultery and your marriage will probably end in divorce (“off-again”). It pains me to say that, but you did not write me for anything less than a truthful answer.
We all make bad choices sometimes, and we all have to face the consequences of them. The question is whether not we learn those lessons and take God at his word and begin to live according to unbreakable and unavoidable rule that “God is not mocked, whatever you reap you will sow.” When we reach a point in life where we truly believe that, it will have a profound effect on our choices. So generally speaking to everyone reading this, that’s the message and point I want you to take away from my answer.
Specifically speaking to those who find themselves in this situation or similar, you can’t change the past. You can only do what is right from this point on and pray that your spouse will do the same. Don’t play games, don’t hide from the past, and don’t allow the offending spouse to manipulate the situation with guilt or threats. Put the truth on the table and control the only thing you can control: your own choices and behavior.
Readers, what is your advice and opinion about this?