A wife has a hunch about these things. Something doesn’t quite feel right. Her husband’s excuses sound improbable. Could he really be working sixteen hours a day? Was that truly an overnight business trip?
I’ve known quite a few women who’ve smelled smoke and haven’t looked for the fire. Understandably, they didn’t really want to know the truth. They didn’t want to face it head on, so they waited . . . and waited. When they finally felt like they had to know, there was very little marriage left to salvage. They waited too long.
Like I said, I understand. Who even wants to go there? What wife wants to believe the worst of her husband?
But, it’s important that wives follow their noses about these things earlier rather than later. Why?
- If there isn’t a problem, she’s being honest, and her husband is more aware that he needs to keep his wife in the loop with what’s going on in his life. He understands she needs more loving attention.
- If she catches an affair early, it’s easier to limit the damage to their marriage and rebuild trust and transparency.
Here’s some advice for how to find out what’s going on:
- Talk to your husband about his daily schedule. Be kind and not accusing. Just ask what he did that day and be interested—genuinely—in his work. Watch him as he answers. Does he seem nervous, look away, get angry, or become touchy? Then, there’s probably some kind of a problem. It’s not necessarily adultery, but something’s wrong.
- Ask someone he works with how things are going. Ask about the late meeting on Wednesday night. Find out about the overnight in the neighboring state. Just find out if things are the way you’ve been told.
Did you get satisfactory answers? Then, you’re probably overreacting somewhere. Maybe you can suggest that your husband help you out by giving you a copy of his calendar.
Did you find out things aren’t as they should be? Take action. (You want your husband! Win him back to you. Fight for him! Don’t let anyone else have him.)
- Talk to him. Tell him he means the world to you, and you want him. Let him know you feel hurt, yes, but more than that, you want your marriage to work, and you are willing to do what it takes to rekindle the fire.
- Forgive him. It will take some time, but you need to forgive him for giving attention to another woman.
- Forgive yourself. If your husband has wandered, he might criticize you. It can be hard to swallow. You might not have been as loving as you should have been, or you might not keep yourself pretty, or you might have come up short in another area. Learn from the negative lessons, and go on to correct anything you need to. But, don’t blame yourself or get down on yourself. Ask God to forgive you and move on. Strengthen your marriage.
- Get counsel. Go to a trusted older godly woman with experience in biblical counseling, and find out how you can do your part to heal your marriage. It would be great if your husband got biblical counsel as well. Encourage him to do so.
- Make some rules. If your husband indeed had an extramarital interest, make sure that he and the OW (other woman) know that any future texts, calls, or other interactions between the two of them will go through you. There is to be no other contact. (It’s best, of course, if there is no contact between hubby and the OW. But, sometimes, there are circumstances—work, a baby born to the OW, or maybe financial arrangements—when contact is necessary. If it is, it goes through you.) Make it crystal clear that your husband is your husband!
- Determine to be more of a companion. Go with your husband and do things together. Sit together at functions, when possible. Show him and others that you are a couple. Take the initiative and be with your husband when you can.
- Date again. Make sure you make time for each other, even if you have a large family. You can even have “at home” dates, making time to be alone together. One way you can restore trust is to begin enjoying each other again.
- Give it time. It takes time to work through hurt, especially after adultery. It’s gutting! It’s sickening! A wife wants to have exclusive love from her husband, and she’s been rejected. So, it’s only natural that, even if she has forgiven him, it will take a while to rebuild what’s been torn down. She needs to be open and honest and demand the same from her husband. She needs to reestablish her love for him. Acknowledge there will be some ups and downs, but you are rebuilding something very important—your marriage.
- Realize you’re not alone. There are many women who’ve taken back their marriages after adultery. I know some of them. They have my utmost admiration and respect. It can be done!
Get into the Bible about your marriage.
- She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26). Is this the way you talk to your husband?
- The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency (1 Corinthians 7:4-5). Are you enjoying intimacy with your husband?
- She that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband (1 Corinthians 7:34b). Are you taking care of your husband?
- Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing (Ephesians 5:22-24). Are you happy in your role in your home? You’re one “military” rank under your husband, who is one rank under Christ. (Note that both wives and husband are to be subject to someone. It’s God’s way of keeping an order. Just as there’s an order in the church, so there is in the home.)
- Whose adorning . . . let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (1 Peter 3:3-4). Do you have a controlled and tranquil spirit? How do you react to your husband?
- For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement (1 Peter 3:5-6). Do you give your husband respect? (Even if he hasn’t earned it, the husband is in the role as head of his home. Respect his position and defer to his leadership.)
- Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it (1 Peter 3:9-11). Don’t retaliate, blame, and scold. Make the effort to keep the peace and speak pleasantly and positively.
To summarize, you can save your marriage if you look for the truth when you “smell smoke.” Find out if your fears have any basis, and work on your marriage. God’s plan for marriage is beautiful, and the Bible is your best guide.
God bless you!