Â For any brother or sister burdened with suspicion of unfaithfulness without proof positive and wondering if their spouse truly deserves their distrust.
The first question to ask is: has anyone, particularly a male you respected/ looked up to, ever violated your trust in the past? I’m a daughter of an alcoholic, so that’s a big yes for me. And I’ve found I tend to punish everyone else in my life for my father’s trust violations. So keep that in mind when I say the “trust me” bit you’ve probably gotten from your spouse raises my hackles. If my own story rings true to you, that could be at the root of your problem, and will likely require counseling in some form to overcome.
Still, I’d be concerned about any high levels of secrecy. My husband and I have never felt the need to keep emails, cell phone calls, etc. secret from one another. He gets annoyed when I ask him “who’s she?” (the answer is usually “so and so with so and so political organization” or “I don’t know, it’s spam.”) but he’s never acted threatened by my questions. Probably part of this is he understands my background and realizes it’s nothing personal. But its also because he has nothing to hide. Could be a matter of personality differences as well; not everyone is as open as others. Those of us who are, have a hard time understanding our counterpart’s need for privacy. But I don’t think the bible meant your spouse when it said not to let your right hand know what your left hand is doing, if you know what I mean.
Another common behavior that arouses suspicion: staying late at work, such as to use the gym a lot of big companies provide, including my husband’s. He likes to make use of the facilities. On his lunch break. If your husband is stopping in the gym after work for significant lengths of time–an hour versus fifteen minutes– it’d be better if he found a way to use the gym without taking time away from home and family. But that’s not a battle we can win, at least not the new old fashioned way. The methods most of us have been taught tend to be counterproductive, driving our men further from home and hearth, to get away from the nagging, disrespectful, unpleasable, disapproving ways of communicating most modern women (including me) have been taught from the cradle.
That’s another area you can look at. Changing our behavior often can change our men’s as well. I’ve been reading The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands and so far it looks very helpful. In other words, if hubby doesn’t want to come home, one way to deal with this is to look at ways to change the home environment to make it more inviting to him. If he’s hanging out any place besides home after work, he most likely finds that locale more relaxing than what’s waiting at home. And the second degree he gets for retreating there? In his mind, that only reinforces the need to make that pit stop/detour. So again, do you want to be in the right, or effective?
But what if your husband sites work as his reason rather than home and you have every reason to believe he’s being honest on that point? If your husband has a job so stressful, he’s taking off to the batting cages, the gym, shooting range, etc. to blow off steam so he doesn’t take it out on you and the kids, he probably really needs another job. Something less stressful–and closer to home if a long commute is a contributing factor. Might require some lifestyle changes, so you’ll have to decide what’s truly important to your family.
Also, some wives find it hard to take off the mommy hat and put on the lover hat. Are you showing up to romance time still looking, feeling, and behaving like Mom, especially one who can’t get the baby fat off and feels unattractive? That’ll come across big time. Even if you’ve got the body of a super model (yeah right), if you come to bed looking and feeling like Mom, that’s seriously going to kill the mood.
If you’re the majority of the population, keep working on the weight, sure, but also learn to love/accept your body the way it is. If you’re down on yourself, that can be expressed in ways that aren’t exactly appealing. Embrace yourself, take off the mommy hat for a little while, and show him you still remember how to have fun 😉
At least once a month (or more if you can manage) find someone to watch the kids, do something that makes you feel like a woman rather than Mom (a bubble bath, nice perfume, whatever works for you), and then just be his wife for an hour or two. You both need it, and most moms really have a hard time with this. If you’ve recently had a child, also talk to your doctor and make sure postpartum depression isn’t a factor, too.
This last section, of course, assumes the suspicions are unfounded. The confidence that you’re both fully satisfied with this side of your relationship will greatly relieve fears of adultery. Conversely, if you’ve made efforts in this area, and he’s not responding to you at all (and his physical and emotional health can’t be faulted), that’s an indicator he may be getting his jollies elsewhere. The fantasy of illicit encounters leaves them seared to the joy of martial bliss and hence less or unresponsive to their wife.
If you’re struggling with suspicions you believe he doesn’t deserve, try this tact. Once you’ve rooted out any personal issues contributing to the situation, find a time when your husband isn’t on the go and stressed out, and have an open discussion–what you’ve been dealing with, and about his needs. The rule is no accusations; abstain from “you never . . .” “you always . . .” and all their kin. Instead, “I feel unattractive because I can’t get the baby weight off” “I have a hard time trusting because of ____ that happened to me in the past.” “What can I do to make our home a relaxing, peaceful place you’re eager to come home to?” “I respect and admire you for ______” (anything related to his career or his role as provider will really mean a lot to him most likely) “I miss you. How can we make more time for each other?” “Let’s get a sitter and make a date on ____” “I think I need to see a counselor to work out _____ (insert personal issue). Would you be willing to go with me?” “Honey, I saw this ad for your dream job and it’s only 3/4 of a mile from home and has an even bigger gym . . . ”
Okay, that one might not happen exactly like that, but I hope you get the idea 🙂 If you bring up the job thing, it has to be in a way that affirms him in his work, his provider role, and is encouraging/approving of his goals in general. Otherwise his defenses will go up.
If you’re married to the guy always hitting the gym or similar activities, when was the last time you complimented him on the physical endowments he’s spending so much time enhancing? Men desperately need that kind of affirmation from their wives. But we tend to withhold it in this scenario, in which case they experience an urge to seek the affirmation they need elsewhere, thereby leaving them vulnerable, although in most cases, it’s the activity they said they’re doing that they’ve turned to. Also consider asking about a family gym membership and working out together, or whatever his activity of choice is.
If your man’s going all out on his appearance lately, and that’s what’s causing your concern, I see nothing wrong with coming right out and asking him why. But watch how you phrase it. Frame it around complimenting and affirming how great he looks rather than a critical, accusing tone; ie, when he’s actually doing it, “Wow, you look great! What’s the occasion?” His response will be telling.
In this scenario, while this can be a serious sign, it’s also possible he’s had some negative feedback on his appearance/hygiene at work and that’s why he’s been paying extra attention to it. That happened to my husband once, and he overreacted so far, he got another complaint that his cologne was too strong, that some of his coworkers were having allergic reactions.
My husband came home and brought his misery to me and I was able to reaffirm him. But many men don’t feel that same freedom to express these kind of feelings even with their wife. Most men in my husband’s situation would internalize ie, “stuff” their emotions and if it’s really bad, the effort to keep up the strong veneer leads them to withdraw–precisely the kind of behaviors that lead us to wonder if there’s another woman. But if this *is* the kind of thing going on with your husband, your fears, though understandable, probably are only compounding his emotional distress.
However, in this case, if you can convince him to take the perceived risk of revealing the issue to you, respond with affirmation, and he’ll be much more likely to bring these issues to you in the future to begin with.
Ask Andrea :: Christian Advice, Book Reviews, and more.
Light at the Edge of Darkness, An Anthology of Biblical Speculative Fiction
Featuring: FROZEN GENERATION a short story by Andrea Graham
available from the Writer’s Cafe Press
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