The family can be under constant attack and it is the responsibility of each family member to combat these attacks and be committed no matter what. Let us look at some situations:
My marriage seems beyond repair to me. My husband is running around with other women and threatening to divorce me. Is there really any hope for us?
It's difficult to say without knowing the details, but I can tell you this: I've seen dozens of families who were in your fix but are now happy and whole. I taught a class for young married couples for a number of years and infidelity was a surprisingly common event. There was one period of time during which I dealt with nineteen different couples where extramarital affairs had either occurred or were seriously threatened.
These families are still known to me, and nine of them are apparently happily married ten years later. Though this percentage may seem low, remember that these were families on the verge of divorce that have now survived intact. Loving toughness played a role in their recovery. So, yes, hope springs eternal, as well it should.
Let me give you a final word of encouragement. Nothing can seem as fixed but change as rapidly as human emotions. When it comes to romantic endeavors, feelings can turn upside down in a day or two. I've seen husbands or wives who expressed hatred for their spouses, saying, "I never want to see you again," only to fall weeping into the other person's arms some hours later.
Hang in there.
I know that my husband is a "womanizer"--a guy who can't resist anything in a skirt. Will he always be like this? Can I change him?
It is difficult, if not impossible, to change anyone. It certainly cannot be accomplished by nagging and complaining and chastising. That only causes a person to dig in his heels and fight to the finish. What you can do is make it clear to your husband that he can't have you and a harem too, and that he must make a choice between his lust and his love.
Unfortunately, merely putting these alternatives before him verbally will not force him to select one over the other. He would rather have both toys. That's why there will probably come a time for loving toughness, when you back your words by firmness and definitive action.
I've been aware of my husband's unfaithfulness for some time now. I've taken him to task for it, which has resulted in some incredible, horrible battles. I have even made demands that he stops his infidelity, yet no change in his attitude and behavior has happened. What am I doing wrong?
I'm afraid you've made the common mistake of misunderstanding the difference between expressions of anger and loving toughness. Simply becoming angry and throwing temper tantrums is no more effective with a spouse than it is with a rebellious teenager. Screaming and accusing and berating are rarely successful in changing the behavior of human beings of any age. What is required is a course of action--an ultimatum that demands a specific response and results in a consequence. Then you must have the courage to deliver on the promise.
Is it harder for a man or for a woman to recover from an affair by a spouse?
I have not observed any appreciable difference between the sexes at the time of disclosure. Both husbands and wives suffer incalculable anguish when a mate is unfaithful. Men do seem to have a cultural advantage after the crisis is over, however. Their work is often a better diversion, and their economic consequences are less severe. They also find it easier to find someone new, as a rule. But no one wins in illicit affairs of the heart.
How should a person respond to someone who is in denial? I have a very good friend whose wife is cheating on him, but he chooses not to see it. Should I make him face reality?
There is no blanket answer to that question, in view of all the thousands of specific situations to which it could be applied. There are times when denial is the only link to sanity or stability, and it must be preserved. On other occasions, to break the bubble of illusion can be a loving thing. Either way, it is risky to awaken a dreamer. If the need for denial is intense, the individual will often lash out at the one who threatens its validity.
What do you say to the woman who tolerates infidelity in her husband because she has no financial resources? What if she is afraid to confront him because he could leave her in poverty?
I have no simple answers for that lady. Life can place us between rocks and hard places where problems seem almost unsolvable! Such is the plight of mothers raising children with little or no financial help from their ex-husbands.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, this is the primary source of poverty in America today. Almost half of all people living below the poverty line are divorced women with children. The same survey revealed that half of the divorced mothers do not receive the court-ordered amount of child support from the ex-husbands.
I'm pleased that the federal government is taking steps, at last, to deal with deadbeat dads. It's about time! In a society that is regulated to death with laws and ordinances for virtually every human activity, it has taken us intolerably long to deal with parents who won't care for their kids. For now, impoverished moms are faced with extremely difficult questions when spousal infidelity is disclosed.
(This article was written by Focus on the Family Malaysia and the Questions and Answers are extracted from "Complete Family and Marriage Home Reference Guide" by Dr. James Dobson with permission.
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