Question: Dr. Dobson, my wife has been involved in an affair with her boss for six months. I've known about it from the beginning but just haven't been able to confront her. Melanie acts like she doesn't love me anyway. If I give her an ultimatum I could lose her completely. Can you assure me that that won't happen? Have you ever offered the love must be tough advice and had it backfire, ending in divorce?
Answer: Yes, I have, and I certainly understand your caution. I wish I could guarantee how Melanie will react to a firmer approach. Unfortunately, life offers few certainties, even when all the probabilities point in one direction. Sometimes well-conditioned athletes drop dead from heart attacks. Some outstanding parents raise children who rebel and become drug addicts. Some of the most intelligent, cautious businessmen foolishly bankrupt themselves. Life is like that. Things happen every day that shouldn't have occurred. Nevertheless, we should go with the best information available to us. I read a sign on a wall this week that said, "The fastest horses don't always win, but you should still bet on them." Even as a non-gambler, that makes sense to me.
Having offered that explanation, let me say that there is nothing risky about treating oneself with greater respect, exhibiting confidence and poise, pulling backward and releasing the door on the romantic trap. The positive benefits of that approach are often immediate and dramatic. Loving self-respect virtually never fails to have a salutary effect on a drifting lover, unless there is not the tiniest spark left to fan. Thus, in instances when opening the cage door results in a spouse's sudden departure, the relationship was in the coffin, already. I'm reminded of the old proverb that says, "If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it's yours. If it doesn't come back, it never was yours in the first place." There is a great truth in that adage, and it applies to your relationship with your wife.
Now, obviously, it is risky to precipitate a period of crisis. When explosive individuals are involved in mid-life turmoil or a passionate fling with a new lover, great tact and wisdom are required to know when and how to respond. That's why Christian professional counsel is vital before, during and after the confrontation. It would be unthinkable of me to recommend that victims of affairs indiscriminately pose ultimatums with 24-hour deadlines, or that they push an independent partner in a corner. Great caution is needed in such delicate conflicts, and certainly, no move should be made without much prayer and supplication before the Lord. In short, I suggest that you seek the assistance of a competent counselor who can help you deal with the problem of Melanie's affair.