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Question 108

Q: My husband and I have been married for 30 years. It’s been tumultuous at best, and started with the fact that we got married because I was pregnant.

I was saved out of a liberal church 25 years ago, and while my husband says he is born again, I don’t think he gets it.

My husband left when our son was 15. He had a “deep, intimate, emotional affair” and then came back a year and a half later, but he came home for our son who was having difficulty in high school; he did not come back for me and our relationship. Our son’s needs were always put ahead of ours.

Our son is now 28 and married. My husband paid a very sizable amount of his very expensive wedding. I was so angry about the extravagance that I made many inappropriate comments. This caused tension which still hasn’t been resolved. My son will not allow me in his home to see his wife or my grandchild.

My heart has changed since then, and I have apologized. They say they forgive me, but unless I am talking about some general topic, I’m told I’m saying something inappropriate.

My question is: since my husband refuses to seek counseling for our marriage, clearly we have no emotional connection whatsoever. What should I do?

Asked by: Janice, Illinois

A: Janice, first of all let me say that my heart certainly goes out to you. You know it’s a reminder to me, as a pastor, that people live in a great deal of pain. Clearly you do.

You feel isolated, you feel alone, you feel as if there’s nobody there, there seems to be no hope for your marriage, and now, of course, you’re being cut off from your son also and his wife.

First of all, let me say this: it is important for you to see yourself objectively in all of this. You do have to ask yourself the question, “what have I done to cause such hostility toward you?” I always say the ability to see ourselves as others do is a divine gift. And I mention that because you need to make sure that your own conscience is clear.

Now, thankfully, you have asked for forgiveness, but there may be some other things that you can do to somehow ease the tension and to defrost the cold relationship that you have with the members of your family.

But there’s more of course to your story. From your letter I got the impression that when your husband had that affair and came back, there was no counseling, there was no repentance. He came back into your life and wanted to be accepted as if nothing happened, and that, of course, was a mistake. Because when you don’t deal with these issues seriously, when sin is not taken seriously, the cure is not taken seriously. But that is history, and you can’t go back to the beginning in that relationship.

So what you must do now is to simply prove your love and have the right attitude toward your husband and toward your son. And you need to trust God and simply say, “Lord I believe that this is unfair, I see no hope, but I’m going to be a faithful wife. I’m going to be a faithful mother, and I am going to try to prove my love and prove all that I believe about You being adequate for this situation.”

Finally, go for some counsel, talk to your pastor, ask others to pray with you. You can’t clean up this mess, I don’t think you can, but I know that God can. So all that you can do is to guard your heart, to have faith, to go for some help and trust God to sort all this out.

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