Trust issues
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My husband accused me of cheating the other day, down to providing 'evidence' he said he had collected to prove same, except that he was wrong! He spent a lot of time and money hiring someone to follow me and spy on me, but I was able to prove to him that I was totally innocent and his suspicions were unwarranted. Even though I had proof, I think somewhere in the back of his mind he still has me up, because he refuses to be intimate with me and barely acknowledges me as his wife. Of course you can imagine how uncomfortable it is at home, and I think it's his ego that's making him behave this way. I am totally innocent, and always have been, but he is slowly driving a wedge between us. Because of this my self-esteem is on the floor as I question whether he finds me attractive, whether he wanted me to cheat as a way to get out of the marriage, and whether he wants a future with me. What do you suggest that I do?

There's obviously a serious trust issue going on, and when trust goes absent, so does genuine intimacy. That's just how it works. This is why, in an effort to try to prevent these situations, I tell couples "marriage is big people's business" — do not get married if you are not mature as you will hurt yourself and others. For heaven's sake, couples, go to premarital counselling! It's sad that in our culture we, unfortunately, put little value on proper counselling.

If you're a couple planning to get married, consider this: Invest a quarter of your "wedding budget" on good counselling, a half on a decent honeymoon, and a quarter on the actual wedding. Too often it is 80 per cent on the wedding, 20 per cent on the honeymoon and zero per cent on proper preparation.

However, here's my advice:

Be the bigger person: Every marriage that works requires someone to be mature enough to take the initiative, swallow their pride, and seek to fix things. It's often hard to do; however you have already started by writing this letter. Please keep going. If the marriage happens to fail, at least you will know you did your best to give it a fighting chance.

Create the conditions for a good chat: Often, when a marriage is strained, we talk at and through each other, and not to each other. I would suggest you try to have a weekend out, and on the last evening create a nice atmosphere for a sit-down. Try to have a respectful, honest, open conversation. Let him know how you feel because of the accusations, mistrust, and intimacy issues. Let him know why you think you both can and should do better by each other. Reassure him of your love and dedication. Take the opportunity to ask him also about his own commitment and faithfulness to the relationship as well.

Get a counsellor: An important resource in healthy relationships is a good counsellor. A health-conscious person has a good doctor; a good business has a good accountant; and a good marriage often has a good counsellor. After you do the getaway, even if it is successful, sit with your counsellor individually and then jointly. There seems to be a lot to be unearthed and discussed. Trust has to be regained so that intimacy can be rekindled.

Be confident: Don't doubt yourself or question your worth because of the situation. Understand that this is what generally happens under these circumstances. The hard-pressed and questioned spouse tends to begin questioning themselves. Know that what you are going through is not unique to you. Do what it takes to buoy up your confidence and self-esteem — don't crash and crumble because of someone else's insecurities.

I pray for your strength, and that you both may have a happily ever after.

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

Christopher BRODBER

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