I have been married for twelve years. Recently I started communicating in writing with three young women. Nothing sexual happened, but we did have affectionate conversations. It felt like they were with me. I had lunch with one of the young women and helped her to move. My wife found out and wants us to separate. I have two small children. I don’t want to get separated, but she doesn’t understand my mistake. I need some guidance. I asked for forgiveness and said I was sorry, but my wife doesn’t believe me.

Dear Friend,

What surprises us the most about your story is that you expect your wife to accept your apology and then go on as if nothing had happened. Of course, we believe in forgiveness. We can’t be forgiven by God unless we forgive others.1 However, forgiveness is very different from going on as if nothing had happened.

Something did happen, and you do not seem to grasp how serious it was. You seem to believe that since nothing sexual had happened yet, your admittedly affectionate conversations weren’t really very wrong. The fact that you took it even further and actually met one of the women is probably an indication that one or more of the relationships would have eventually turned sexual if your wife hadn’t caught you.

You helped that young woman move, so she obviously was not living with her parents. Therefore, we assume that all the young women you corresponded with are adults and not underage girls. The situation would have had criminal implications if the women had been underage girls.

Any relationship that you have to hide from your wife is wrong. If it had been an innocent acquaintance with a female coworker or female neighbor, you wouldn’t have had to keep it a secret. But you not only hid it, you most likely lied to your wife about it. You may have told her that you were working, when in reality you were having lunch with another woman and helping her move. Did you happen to tell that woman that you are married with two little children? The chances are that you did not. You probably deceived her too.

So how can your wife trust you when she knows you have lied to her? How can she believe that you will be faithful in the future when you don’t even accept the serious implications of what you have done?

Can your marriage be saved? It depends on your willingness and determination to show your wife that your actions match your words of apology. Let her have the passwords for your phone and all your social media. Let her know where you are at every minute of the day. Convince her with your actions that you really are sorry and that you have learned from your serious mistakes. And most of all, understand that it will take months, if not years, to regain your wife’s trust.

You need God’s help to become a man of honor and integrity. Ask Him for forgiveness, and trust Him to give you strength and wisdom for the days ahead.

We wish you the best,

1 Mt 6:14-15; Mk 11:25-26; Lk 17:3-4