A few months ago I traveled to [another country] to work and make money to help my family get ahead. But after only three months… my sister started gossiping that my wife was going out with another man. I called my wife and she began to cry. She swore to God that it wasn’t true and said, “How could your sister think I would do such a thing?”

… I trust my wife, but I can’t help but think: “Should I, or shouldn’t I, believe her?” What advice can you give me?

Dear Friend,

The words you use to describe what happened are very revealing. You say that your sister “started gossiping.” This tells us that you know, on some level, that your sister’s actions were not motivated by her love for your family.

Let’s examine the true motivation that anyone has for gossiping. A person who gossips does so in order to gain some status or influence by appearing to know something that the listener doesn’t know. Having knowledge that others don’t have can also be seen as a type of power. Of course, the irony is that to prove that the power exists, the knowledge must be passed on to someone else in the form of a secret. Thus, the teller gains power or status not only from possessing the knowledge, but also from being willing to relay that knowledge to another person who has been specially selected to know the secret.

The problem for the gossiper is that the actual facts of a situation may not be interesting or juicy enough to capture the attention of the listener. If the facts themselves are not novel, the gossiper will add a little speculation in order to make it a more interesting story. In addition, the gossiper will intermingle the facts with the speculation so that the listener can’t tell the difference. When the listener repeats the story to someone else, there is no difference between the facts and the speculation. Anyone hearing the story now believes all of it to be factual.

The gossiper places a higher value on gaining status or power than on the feelings that may be hurt or the lives of the people involved. Your sister has probably never liked your wife, and now that you are no longer available to run interference between them, your sister is taking advantage of the situation and trying to come between you and your wife by starting this gossip. In one of his proverbs, King Solomon wisely says that a person who gossips separates close friends. (1) What two friends are closer than a husband and wife? Don’t let this gossip separate you!

You say you trust your wife. When you married her, you made the decision to trust her with your own life. The story that you have told us gives absolutely no reason why you should not continue to trust her. However, if you, on the other hand, continue to accuse her and mistrust her, you will alienate her and create a real conflict between the two of you.

Being apart from one another is not conducive to a good relationship. We strongly encourage you to find a way to live together with your wife. We have received dozens of cases of couples who are having problems because of living in two different places. Long-distance relationships may be acceptable for those who are dating, but are not healthy for married couples.

We wish you a healthy marriage,

Linda and Charles
1 Pr 16:28