I am in a bit of a predicament with what has been happening with my wife. I was away on the farm work programme and when I returned, she confessed that when she got lonely one time, she got together with our neighbour. She said it only happened once. She asked for forgiveness, and I sort of understood, because to be fair, while I was away I got lonely too, and strayed a little. She has vowed that it would never happen again, but I'm not so sure. The problem is that I'm due to leave again shortly, and I can't trust her with him. He doesn't know that I know and still acts like a good neighbour around me, and that's why I'm fearful, because I know he will be able to charm her again and men will try anything. What can we do? We can't move away, because we own the house, and so does the neighbour.
I am glad you have chosen to join in on The Couch. Your situation is difficult, but not impossible. Kudos for choosing to forgive her, that's noble. Did you confess to her your situation when you "strayed"? Only mature couples face difficulties and work through them together. When marriage vows are made everything must be done to honour those vows - those vows to be faithful and to love. Vows of "for better or worse" should be kept in mind. If something happens that violates vows of fidelity, the other vows to work through the challenges must kick in.
Here's my advice:
Speak to your neighbour: Be diplomatic with it, but you must let him know that you are aware of the incident with your wife. Don't be combative, but make him aware she has informed you. This way he will know that she loves you and that you both are committed to your marriage and are working things through. He should also know that she informs you of everything that happens in her life and in your home. Dissuade him from trying again.
Be accountable to each other: Your marriage can certainly survive your occasional trips for work, despite the risk, but only if you both help each other to make it. Since you know that you both are susceptible to becoming "lonely", be creative with plans to check in on each other regularly. Tell each other the truth about how you are feeling during the time apart. Be as open and honest as you can. Determine to tell each other detailed plans of where you are going, with whom, and what you are doing. Inform each other of anyone coming into your space, before they come. Protect each other from slipping.
Create plans to make up for lost time: This is one way that you can both survive the time apart, by have exciting plans for your return. For example, a plan and promise of a week away together for adventure and excitement can create eager anticipation for your return and give you both something wonderful to look forward to. Yes, it may cost you that hard-earned cash, but investing in your marriage in order to maintain it is important. The plan you make should be big enough to create excitement and motivate endurance. Give yourselves every fighting chance to have a great marriage.
Make sure the away time is limited: I figure that you'd already have a plan for how many times you'll make that trip, and what your financial goal is. Remind your wife of the plan and make sure you are sticking to the timelines, so she knows an end to the distance is in sight.
Long distance relationships are necessary at times in order to get ahead financially, but it takes good planning to enjoy a great marriage despite the distance. I pray that you both will enjoy happiness and success.
Get on The Counsellor's Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to email@example.com.
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