I have been married for four-and-a-half years, and we have a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter. For the past year my wife has been coming home late from work. I started drinking, and I was feeling lonely. Soon I began to distrust her, so one day I spied on her and found her kissing another man. I returned home and, when she came back, I hit her and we said a lot of things to one another.

We are separated now, and it hurts because of my daughter. We are still married, and I don’t know whether or not we should get divorced. What is your counsel?

Dear Friend,

We are so sorry to hear about the problems in your marriage! It is good that you admit the things that you did wrong along with telling us what your wife did wrong. Most troubled marriages, like yours, are the fault of both spouses.

The fact that you are not divorced gives us hope that your marriage is not over. We would like to know if your wife is currently in a relationship with that man or someone else, but we think you would have mentioned it if she were. And if you suspected that she had been unfaithful to you, we think you would have mentioned that also. So we are going to assume that the kiss was a one-time event, or that she was an unwilling party to the kiss.

You say that you are hurting because of how your separation is affecting your daughter. We believe that she is an important reason that should motivate you to work things out with your wife. Your daughter’s life will never be the same if she is not able to live with both her dad and her mom.

It takes a male and a female to procreate children. God designed it that way because children need both their moms and their dads, committed to one another in marriage, to provide the best possible environment in which to grow up. Children are more likely to grow up healthy and happy when their parents are good examples for them and work together to provide love and discipline.

Statistics show that if you divorce, the communication difficulties and negative behaviors that brought you to where you are now will likely be carried into your future relationships. So if you divorce and marry again, you will probably drink a lot and hit your next wife. And she will have her own issues that you will believe are responsible for your unacceptable behavior. So you will likely find yourself going through the same communication issues, and probably with more children to be hurt.

The very best step that you can take now is to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. He understands every part of your story and loves you in spite of your faults. Ask Him to forgive you for your sins and to give you the wisdom you need to repair your marriage. Find a church where the people demonstrate through their lives that they are true followers of Christ, and begin to faithfully attend. Ask the pastor to recommend a mentor for you who can help you learn to express your feelings without resorting to drinking or hitting. And, if at all possible, see a professional counselor.

As you begin to change from the inside out, showing patience and gentleness, your wife will notice the difference and may once again remember the man she married. Your daughter will also be better off for taking her to a church where she can learn that God loves her and has a plan for her life.

We wish you the best,