A while back I discovered that my wife was talking to another man and that she wanted to go out with him. When I found out… it hurt me so much that I just wanted to ask her why. At that time, I went to where she was so that we could talk, but I was overcome with rage and I hit her. I couldn’t help it.

I regretted it deeply because I had promised that I would never again let myself be dominated by anger. Three days later I asked for her forgiveness and asked her to give me an explanation.

We have been together for twelve years, and we have two daughters, who are my life. We forgave each other and we are happy now, but I live with the fear that I can’t trust her…. I want to forget about it and be happy with my family.

Dear Friend,

Cases such as yours are evidence of why counselors need to hear both sides of any story to be able to give helpful advice. You have left out details that are critical to understanding the situation. For example, you say that your wife “wanted to go out with” the other man. How did you find out what she was thinking or what she wanted? She obviously didn’t tell you, so how could you trust anyone else to know what she was thinking? People who are suspicious or jealous by nature often imagine what someone else is thinking. To help you get past this, it is necessary to examine the actual evidence and not what someone might have imagined.

You say your wife was talking with another man. What kind of talking? Is it possible there was an innocent reason, such as issues with the children’s school or some kind of volunteer work? Is it possible that someone made it into something that it was not? If so, you don’t tell us that part of the story.

For the purpose of this counsel, I will accept your belief that your wife was talking to a man in a manner that was not appropriate, and that she did, in fact, desire to go out with the man on a date. Your first concern seems to be the “Why?” but you don’t include any explanations she gave you when you forgave her, or anything that she said in response to your questions.

Clearly if there was something inappropriate going on, then there is no reason that would justify it, nor any situation in which it would be acceptable. For married people, friendships with the opposite sex are safest when a couple is friends with another couple. Obviously there can be friendships within a work place, or within a volunteer community, or within a social group, but the kind of talking going on should not be on a personal or emotional level, nor is that talking done in private. When a married person begins communicating privately on a personal or emotional level with a person of the opposite sex, it is not appropriate and it is very dangerous. If this is what your wife did, then you should expect that it will take a number of years for her to earn your trust once again.

However, you should expect that it will also take years for you to earn her trust again. When you hit her, you betrayed her trust. You broke your promise and you hurt the one you were supposed to protect. There is no justification for physical abuse, and she now has reason to constantly live in fear, not being able to trust you.

I strongly suggest that you find a way to get professional counseling. There are issues here that can’t be worked out with just a few paragraphs of advice.

Our example for true forgiveness is Jesus Christ Himself. Even though the Apostle Peter had blatantly denied Christ during the events leading up to the crucifixion, Christ not only forgave Peter, but He also trusted him to be a foremost leader in the church. Every morning, ask God to forgive you for the ways in which you have sinned against Him, and to help you forgive others as He has forgiven you.

We wish you well,