My wife and I have been married for six years and have two small children. For some time now I have not been giving my wife the attention that she deserves. As a result, she met a guy who did pay attention to her, and that attracted her. She confessed to me how sorry she was that they went out twice and kissed once…. I forgave her because I realize that what happened was my fault. But what I can’t forget is that kiss. Thoughts of it torment me. What can I do?

Dear Friend,

It sounds like you already worked through this problem in your marriage, but now you just want to forget that it happened. The problem with trying to forget something is that the harder you try to forget it, the more you remember it.

Therefore, we suggest that you stop trying to forget. Instead, every time it comes to mind, mentally answer the thought saying, “Yes, it happened. It is part of history, but it means nothing now. It has no power over me.” Write these phrases down, if you need to, and always respond to unwanted memories by reading and thinking about the phrases. Repeat the same responses again and again until your mind gets occupied with other thoughts.

It is not often that a spouse readily acknowledges his or her own guilt in having contributed to the errant actions of the other. Usually, each spouse justifies his or her own behavior, while blaming the other for causing the problem. We congratulate you for being mature enough to recognize the ways that you had been neglecting your wife. And we hope that there aren’t other things that you did which you do not mention.

However, no matter what you did or didn’t do, it is not acceptable for a married woman to go out with another man. Even though the outing was probably very casual and may have happened without being planned, the kiss was your wife’s wake-up call. When that kiss happened, she was suddenly confronted with what she was doing. She was reminded that she loves you and is faithful to you, so she knew that she must stop.

It is difficult to stop doing something that we are tempted to do, even if we don’t really want to do it. The Apostle Paul described his own experience when he wrote, “And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (1)

Paul wasn’t giving up; he was just expressing frustration with his sinful nature. He was telling us that, even though we may feel like it is easier for us to sin than to refrain from sinning, our condition isn’t hopeless! God wants to forgive us from our sin and break the hold that it has on us. When we ask Him to do that, He gives us strength to defeat our sinful nature.

We wish you well,

1 Ro 7:18-19