What Should a Wife Do with Her Suspicions?
When a husband is truly trying to overcome his sin, his wife may wonder at times whether or not he is truly changing. In this short interview from our archives, Kathy talks about how to navigate this difficult position.
Host: Kathy. We want to talk today about a letter you received from Janet. She was facing what so many women have to face. And that is, how does she know whether or not to confront her husband when she's dealing with suspicions about him?
Kathy: That's a very touchy situation for a lot of wives because I think most women that have been through this with their husbands are suspicious. So, when do you decide to take some of those suspicions and actually deal with them? One of the things that I would say to a woman who has suspicions and is concerned that there's something going on is to first of all pray and try to get the heart and mind of God for her own life. I know for myself when I was going through this, I was so paranoid all the time that Steve was up to no good. I had already conditioned my mind to think suspiciously of him.
So, when he started doing well, I couldn't believe he was doing well because I had carved these ruts in my mind so deeply. So, I really tried to pray and ask the Lord to help me to believe the best about my husband. There are some questions that a wife can ask herself once she has prayed through some of these things where she can try to get her own heart and mind in a neutral position, which is very hard. First she can look back at the last six months. Look at his track record. Is there some legitimate fruit of repentance in his life? Is he in the Word of God daily? Is he praying? Is he interacting with the family in a good way? Is he in fellowship with other believers? Is there a desire for the things of God? Those are really good telltale signs of where he's at and how he's doing.
If those things are kind of weak and lacking then there may be a reason to be suspicious. But always when you confront it has to be in a spirit of gentleness and kindness. Also, I would go into it with a little bit of fear and trepidation because the one thing a wife doesn't want to do is to spew her suspicions on her husband who is trying to obey the Lord and leave him feeling defeated amidst the efforts he's making. It's very discouraging to be trying so hard and then have your wife come along and basically say, “I don't believe you and I don't trust you.”
<pull-quote>It's very discouraging to be trying so hard and then have your wife come along and basically say, “I don't believe you and I don't trust you.”<pull-quote><tweet-link>TweetThis<tweet-link>
Host: One of the things you said in your response to Janet was that a wife has to walk a fine line between trust and caution. What happens if you go too far in either direction?
Kathy: Well, some women will stick their head in the sand and just assume everything's great because they don't want to deal with reality. And that's very detrimental to her family and her husband because she's not going to be there to help hold his feet to the fire. The opposite extreme of that is the woman who doesn't believe anything the guy says. And it's very discouraging for a man who is trying to obey the Lord to have a wife that won't cut him any slack. I would like to also say to the wives who have been through a lot with their husbands that trust takes time to build.
I don't recommend that any woman immediately run into a place of giving superficial trust that isn’t real. If he's a week or a month out of sexual sin, I do not feel like a woman should be in a position where she is throwing the gates wide open and saying “I completely trust you.” Trust has to be earned and for the time being he has forfeited it. He has to prove his trustworthiness. That is healthy for both the husband and the wife. Trust is not something that we just offer out freely. And when I talk about being suspicious, being suspicious and not trusting are different. You can be suspicious and be thinking all kinds of things are going on that are not going on. Not trusting him is a merited reaction to bad or sinful behavior. But you don't punish that person. You've got to give it time. You've got to wait for that person to walk it out.
Host: Is it true that ultimately whatever evidence she sees, whether it shows he is doing well or not, that she still needs to leave things in God's hands?
Kathy: Yes. From beginning to end she has to leave things in God's hands, whether he's doing well or whether he's not doing well. Ultimately his change is going to come from heaven as he is willing and determined to walk a pure life. It really is between Him and God. It's not between the wife and him as much as it is between him and the Lord. If there was one thing I could get across to women, it is that this is not about you, even though you have been so devastated by his sin.
I know what that feels like. It took me years to come to the revelation that he did not do this because of me. This is who he was before I came along. And this was definitely a thing between Him and God. So, when I began to understand that in my heart and mind, it changed the way I prayed. It changed the way I saw my husband. I didn't feel like a victim. I didn't feel like he was trying to hurt me or ruin me as a person. This was just a sin that he had harbored in his life for many, many years.
Host: Did that free you then to pray for him and be an advocate for him?