Dear Renita,

My husband and I have been married for 28 years. For the past 3-4 months, he's been looking at another female in our church, who is 10 years younger than we are. She has young children, and he stands next to her and helps her with them. When she walks outside to quiet her child, he follows her out. We won't leave the church until she does, so it seems. She smiles at him as he helps her. When another gentleman helps her, she doesn't smile at him. My question, what do I do or say without making him angry at me? Because, he will get mad at me. She's legally married, but her husband "lives in another state." It's like they're being flirtatious with each other. I tried to be next to him when they were talking, but he asked me to "let me talk to people without you right next to me!"

--Married to a Flirt

 Let's get one thing clear: the only way you're going to avoid irritating your husband when you bring up what you perceive as his flirtatious interest in a certain woman in your church is to ignore your suspicions and to keep quiet about what you think you see. No husband relishes having this conversation with his wife. If your perceptions are correct and your husband is indeed smitten by this woman, he won't appreciate your confronting him about what you've seen. If your suspicions are wrong, and you've completely misjudged his intentions toward this woman, he won't like that either.

But in marriage you don't get to avoid topics just because they are uncomfortable, not if you expect the marriage to have any chance of surviving and staying healthy.

Find a time when the two of you can talk without distractions or disturbances. Share your perceptions of what's going on whenever he's around this woman. Give him the opportunity to explain his behavior. If your perceptions are wrong, you need to know that. If they are correct, you need to know that too. Whether you are correct or incorrect about what you see, if he loves you and values this marriage, he will have his wife's feelings in mind the next time he interacts with this woman.  

But something worries me about your question. 


Judging by the scorecard you've kept on your husband's reactions to this woman, I'd say that you two have been down this road before. Does that explain the anxious, timid tone that seeps through your note? 


That you don't just ask how to talk to your husband about what you perceive as his flirting, but how to bring up the topic without angering him strikes me as odd. How does he react when he's angry? If anger escalates to emotional and physical retaliation, then trust me, that your husband is a flirt is not your biggest problem in this marriage. Husbands and wives do and say lots of things that drive each other to apoplexy.  Fighting is unavoidable in marriage. It's how you fight that makes the difference.


For example, we get to disagree, but we don't get to hit each other. We get to interpret events completely differently, but we don't get to call each other names, attack each other's character, and make threats. We get to be wrong, make mistakes, and hurt each other's feelings, but we don't get to stop talking to each other for months on end. We fight, we slam doors, we calm down, and we come back to the table to work out our differences.


Finally, the question you raise here shows that you are an attentive and perceptive woman. You're also diligent and resourceful, which is obvious in the fact that you've sought counsel and advice. You've come now to that place where you must ask God for strength and wisdom. We all need the strength to face the truth, and wisdom as to what to do with the truth once it presents itself to us. The truth might be scary--it might be that your husband has a dangerously wandering eye, or that he has an anger management problem, or that for whatever reason you are insecure about your marriage and have taken to imagining things that aren’t there. Scary as it may be, however, the truth is the only ticket there is to freedom and wholeness.




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