My wife confronted the woman I was 'counselling'

Dear Counsellor,

My wife went in my phone, found some messages she said were suspicious from a woman at my workplace, and came to my office and embarrassed me, and now I can't forgive her. This lady was just a friend and was confiding in me about some issues she was having with her husband, and I was just encouraging her. My wife didn't understand this and initially just accused me of having an affair. I explained to her that it was nothing like that, and she seemed to have calmed down. But the next day I was at work when security called me because she turned up there with our kids in the car and was behaving very boisterous and loudly, accusing me of having a relationship with this woman. She embarrassed both me and the woman as my office is a very conservative place. My human resource (HR) manager managed to calm her down, and later in the evening she apologised to me. But I'm so turned off by her actions, so much so that I don't even want to look at her anymore. How can I move on from this?

It's understandable that your wife's actions were embarrassing and caused you inconvenience. Her response was certainly wrong. It was inappropriate and disrespectful to you, and putting your employment in jeopardy would be particularly upsetting. However, she has acted correctly by offering an apology, which means that she acknowledges that what she did was wrong. Give her credit for that. Of course, the apology doesn't fix the damage she's done. She also owes the woman that she confronted at the office, the HR manager, and others affected at the office a personal apology.

If information we find brings a partner's integrity and loyalty into question, the first thing to do is to speak with him or her about it. Respect them enough to give them the opportunity to clarify. Yes, some people try to become investigators to prove their partners infidelity. Occasionally, a criminal gets a better deal than a spouse — the criminal at least is innocent until proven guilty. But some spouses are guilty until perhaps, maybe, proven "semi-innocent".

My advice to you:

Forgive her: Write it off. Her folly was a momentary misjudgement. Let her know how much the situation has hurt you personally and probably professionally. Ask her to go to the office to apologise, especially to the HR manager. The damage doesn't start to be repaired until that's done and assurances are given.

Apologise to her: Yes, you do have something to apologise for as well. You should have mentioned this lady to her. A woman confiding in you about issues with her husband? That's a red flag. Why confide in you about her husband? Unless you are a counsellor or a minister? It begs for questions. Situations like these are indeed first manoeuvres by some women to draw a man in. Your wife, being a woman, would perceive that. In cases like that your spouse should know. You don't have to share specifics, but you have to mention it. This protects you from getting caught in an unintended intimate situation that even her husband would take offence to. Sharing personal information (especially secretly) is an intimate act.

Keep your open-phone policy: Most people will struggle with this, but it's the test of a mature relationship. Your spouse's phone should be free for you to access. There's nothing that should be hidden from your partner. Confidential correspondence with relatives can be mentioned as a no-go text. But to hide the phone is to be hiding something and looks suspicious.

Get counselling: Both of you will need to go sit down with a good counsellor to discuss why she reacted so brashly, etc. You'll also need to express how you feel and get assurances.

I pray that you both overcome this pothole in your marriage and resuscitate something wonderful.

Get on The Counsellor's Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to

Rev Chris Brodber

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