Three years ago I discovered that my husband had been unfaithful with various women, and… I asked him to leave the house. He begged me to forgive him, promising that he would never do it again, but I insisted that he leave…. After only one day with my children crying and begging for their daddy to come home, I forgave him and he returned, and since then we have been happy together. But the problem is that my husband’s family believes that I put a witch’s spell on him so that he would come home. I protested to them, and I don’t allow them to come to my home to visit anymore….

Now my husband has asked me to go with him for a week to the city where his family lives, but I told him that I will only go if I can stay in a hotel. This makes him sad. I want him to be happy with his mother, and take advantage of the time with her… but I don’t know how to explain this to him in a way that he will understand.

Dear Friend,

We will assume that you have had nothing to do with witchcraft in your life and that there is no valid reason for the accusation of your in-laws. Unfortunately, there are some people who seem to delight in stirring up trouble in their families. They frequently tell one family member what another family member said, knowing that the story being told will cause hurt feelings and possible future confrontations and animosity. They take comments out of context and put their own spin on what they hear. Because they are duplicitous themselves, they take it for granted that everyone else is the same. Sometimes they even join together to plot and scheme against a family member or in-law because of jealousy, insecurity, or a financial issue.

Your husband’s family may have some members who fit this description, causing you to want to keep them out of your everyday life to minimize the negative influence on your children and on yourself. This is a reasonable desire and is sometimes necessary. However, holding a grudge against them and refusing to forgive them will never hurt them; it will only hurt you. Just after Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer, He followed it up by saying, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”(1) Therefore, we must forgive others so that we can be forgiven for all the ways that we ourselves have broken God’s laws and sinned against Him. Asking God for forgiveness in the name of His Son Jesus Christ is the only way to obtain eternal life. Therefore, if you refuse to forgive your husband’s family, then God cannot forgive you and you will not be able to go to heaven when you die.

Your home is not just your home. It is your husband’s home also. So it is not right for you to deny your husband the right to have his family in his home. However, when they come, you can greet them politely and then excuse yourself to go out to the grocery store or visit with friends. This is not ideal, but if it is necessary to protect yourself from them, then it is wise to find another place to be while they are in your home.

As for the trip to your husband’s mother’s home, you ask us for a way to explain to him why you insist on staying in a hotel. Based on what has happened in the past, he likely understands why you need to have the ability to get away from the family if their words or actions make you uncomfortable. However, he may be ashamed to have to explain it to his mother and is afraid that she won’t understand. Therefore, if he cannot find a way to avoid offending his family, then possibly he should agree for you to stay home and not accompany him on his trip.

We wish you the best,

1 Mt 6:15