Q: My husband was recently deployed to Afghanistan. Just before he left, I discovered that he was having an affair. I want to try to repair the damage to our relationship, but it's difficult to communicate with him now that he's overseas. What can I do?
Jim: I'm sorry to learn of your terrible predicament. Infidelity deals a terrible blow to any marriage, and this period of separation adds another layer of difficulty.
Until your husband returns, there isn't much you can do to deal with this directly. But Focus on the Family's counseling team recommends some proactive steps you can take in his absence.
First, a vital part of the healing process can be found in consultation with a counselor. Contact Focus on the Family for an initial consultation, as well as help in locating a licensed counselor in your area with whom you can discuss your hurt and disappointment. When your husband returns, get involved in joint counseling as soon as possible.
Second, while your husband's deployment lasts, stay in touch with him to the best of your ability. You don't need to address his infidelity in your letters or emails -- in fact, military experts advise against this because on-base disclosures can affect security. Instead, supply him with detailed information about you and your kids (if you have any). Keep the lines of communication open even when he doesn't respond in kind. This will remind him of your love and commitment to the marriage until he returns.
Once he comes home, you'll have the opportunity to talk face-to-face about the affair and to discuss the future of your marriage. May God grant you grace during this trying time!
Q: My husband and I have two small children. We don't want them to be in day care, but we can't agree about who should stay home with them. I always assumed that I would be home with my kids, but my job pays more than my husband's. How do we resolve this?
Juli: First of all, I applaud your desire to be home with your children. While some parents don't have a choice about childcare, it's wonderful when parents are able to be with their young children during the day.
Thirty years ago, this question was a no-brainer. Practically everyone thought that mom should stay home and dad should bring in the paycheck. Now, there are many different opinions. Stay-at-home dads are on the rise, and many couples are finding ways to co-parent, with both mom and dad taking less demanding jobs so that each can contribute substantially to parenting.
The key issue is that you agree with the plan you decide upon. While finances are important to consider, they should be low on the list compared to unity. I'd encourage you as a couple to wrestle through two important questions:
First, "What is best for the kids?" Normally (but not always), moms are better equipped to handle the day-to-day interactions with young children. A woman's body is designed to nurse, and her hormones are geared toward nurturing and greater patience.
Second, "What is best for our marriage?" In some families where dad stays at home, his wife may feel resentful that she's not able to be at home with her kids and has to take on the financial burden for the family. Likewise, the husband's confidence may take a hit when he's not providing financially. Don't ignore these underlying basic drives as you make your decision.
I know my answer isn't exactly politically correct. However, when making important decisions for your family, look beyond what's trendy and consider what you might possibly regret 10 years from now.
(Submit your questions to: ask@FocusOnTheFamily.com)