Question:

I have been reading some of the articles on your site and I couldn't wait to post my question to you too.

I am married with one child, the first and second years of our marriage life was so good. I love my wife very much. Things began to change after two years of marriage. I had problems with my wife, especially when she began controlling me. At first I thought we were both good Christians, but when the problems started I figured out that my wife wasn't what I thought she was. I must have offended her in some way, but she never let go of any wrong doing on my side.

The big trouble came when I started looking for comfort somewhere else, in the event of doing so, I got another lady pregnant. I could not hide this from my wife, so I told her at the early stage of the pregnancy. I went through a tough times in the hands of my wife. I accepted her torture, verbal abuse, and anger. I told the elders in my church about my unfaithfulness. They have tried to help us keep our marriage, but my wife continues to be hard on me. I have a child with my wife and the other woman too. My wife want me to denounce the other child and not to even set my eye on the child. I told her I can't do that. I told her I love her, that I have nothing to do with the other lady, but I can't just ignore the fact that I have brought the other child into the world and that she needs a father and support too. I and my wife are attending marriage counseling, but my wife still doesn't want to let go the past. It's been over a year now, and she is asking for me to start a divorce. I do not want to do that. I love my son, which I had with my wife, and I don't hate this other child I had with the other woman either, please I need help!


Answer:

Sins have consequences, often unforeseen because the sinner is so focused on what he wants that he doesn't think about what comes as a result.

What is left out of your account is why you think your wife changed. From my experience, people generally do not change without motivation. You talk about your wife being controlling, but in truth this is a vague charge. What I gather from the statement is that you don't like being saddled with responsibilities or being reminded of your responsibilities.

The "not letting go of the past" is a problem because love "keeps no record of wrongs" (I Corinthians 13:5 NIV). If she is not letting go of your past sins, then I gather that she is having trouble forgiving you. What I can't discern is whether she is the type that says she forgives, but never forgets, or if she doesn't see a change in you and so doesn't trust you, or that from her perspective you are constantly flaunting your sin before her.

I am assuming that you have repented of your sin because you told the elders and they are trying to help you resolve this matter. But let's talk for a moment about what went wrong initially. You and your wife hit a rocky stretch of road in your relationship. This isn't uncommon in a marriage. There are always adjustments which need to be made in order for two people who grew up in two different homes to form a unified home of their own. Instead of working on the issues that arose, you chose what appeared to be the easy way out. You started seeing other women.

My guess is that this was the core of the "controlling" issue. I've often seen men who don't stop looking at other women when they marry, thinking it is harmless because they don't intend anything. Yet the wife notices. The more she insists that it needs to stop, the more the man rebels against his wife -- never stopping to consider that she might actually have a point (Matthew 5:28). The marriage then quickly spirals out of control. The looking becomes talking because at least someone else listens.

The problem is, through it all, the focus is on yourself, your rights and what you want. Eventually it leads to justifying in your mind the "right" to bed another woman and that results in further problems.

Your wife lost all trust in you. While you are right to take responsibility for the child you created by your sins, your wife has just reason to fear the affair will continue or restart -- there just hasn't been a way or opportunity for you to prove that you've given up your sins. I'm wondering if you are giving off mixed signals without intention.

I don't recommend divorcing your wife. It isn't going to gain her the peace that she desires, nor can she run from reminders of you since you will always be involved in your son's life. Checking your country's laws, it would be difficult for your wife to gain a divorce without your cooperation. I would suggest asking if you might adopt your daughter, but I suspect that your wife will hold your past against her.

The answer to your wife's hostility to your daughter is to point out that you can't fix a wrong with additional wrongs (Romans 3:8). It was wrong to have sex with other woman, but it is equally wrong to not take responsibility for what resulted from your sin.

I encourage you to put all your efforts into winning your wife back. Treat this as if you are dating her once again, but this time continue it for the rest of your life. Since I suspect that a good deal of your wife's complaint is that you are not listening to her, I would like you to suppress the feelings of being controlled, and seriously think about and implement your wife's suggestions when they are good, or they don't cause you to do what is wrong. If she sees that in other areas you are treating her as an equal, she will more likely ease or drop her campaign against your daughter. Right now, your daughter is a symbol to your wife of all that is wrong in this marriage. By getting the marriage right, the need for a symbol ends. It might mean eating some humble pie, but it will be worth it to gain your wife, your son, and your daughter.

Thank you so much for your quick response to my message. I really needed someone I could share this problem with. I feel every word in your message hit me hard, but that was exactly what I was looking for.

After reading your mail, I realized that I was the problem in my marriage. I have hurt my lovely wife so much by failing to listen to her because I felt she was controlling me. She, rather, was protecting her love for me and our family. I have done so much evil in my past, especially womanizing. I feel I am addicted to woman and most of my friends are woman. Like you said, my intention of being friends with them at the initial stage wouldn't be to have a sexual relationship with them, but I was enjoying chatting and making jokes with them and ignoring my wife. I love my wife and she loves me too, but I have broken her heart out of my ignorance.

Now look at where I found myself. I don't really have the strength to win my wife as my heart has turn into a very aggressive toward my wife. I get angry quickly whenever I disagree with her. I don't understand this new person of me.

I am struggling to get rid of this woman I committed adultery with, but she uses my daughter as a trap to get me near her, and when that happens she try to be so nice to me. In her heart she thinks there is a hope for me to divorce my wife and marry her, but I made it clear to her to move on with her life. I am at this crossroad in my life and I don't want to die in my sins. I am really scared. I can't adopt my daughter because she wouldn't agree to that.

I suggested to take the child out of this country to her grandparents who are living in another country. This way I feel I will have no reason to visit this woman.

I disagree. I think you do have the strength to win your wife's affections. I know the task looks daunting because you are so far from where you ought to be. But the only way to get close is to move in that direction, no matter how small the move or how long it takes.

Work on your anger. I suspect a good part of it is because you blame your wife for the situation you are in. Not intellectually blame her, if we sat down and talked about it, you would admit that your problems are of your own making. Still, emotionally, she is a reminder of what you failed to do. "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:19-20). There are two lessons I want you to go through: The Wolves Within and Of Gnats and Other Annoyances. There are lists of Scriptures at the end of each lesson. I want you to take the time to read and think about every one of them because in learning them they will change your prospective.

In regards to your sins, I don't know where you are at on your spiritual journey. Take a look at Are You a Christian? If you haven't done all that God wants you to do to become a child of His, there is no better time than right now to start down that road. See also Things That Accompany Salvation.

In regards to the child, I don't know the intricacies of the laws in your country. You could talk to a family law attorney to find out how you can have visitation rights with the child that limits your interaction with her mother. But don't let your concerns for your daughter blind you to the dangers of seeing her mother. You might have to conclude that the dangers are too great and while you want to be there with her, you must take a less direct approach to keep yourself from sin and to be there for your wife and children.

It is a difficult situation, but that is why God has warned against the dangers of adultery. There are times when there just isn't a good solution to all the problems sin raises.