Q: Should I ask my husband to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases? He recently ended an affair, and we're working toward reconciliation. It's a touchy process and I don't want to do anything that might suggest a lack of trust or that I haven't forgiven him.
Jim: I'd strongly suggest that you both get tested immediately. The health risks and ramifications are too serious not to. But I sense you don't need to be convinced of this. Your bigger concern is that any suggestion of mistrust or lack of forgiveness may derail the reconciliation process.
While I can understand your hesitancy, medical testing has nothing to do with trust. It's just a straightforward way of ascertaining some very critical facts. There's also a sense in which trust is a moot point at this stage in the game. Your husband has already proven himself untrustworthy. But if he's truly interested in changing, he should admit this and face the consequences head-on. His willingness to do so is the only way he can expect to rebuild his relationship with you.
Finally, it's important to understand that forgiveness and trust are two different things. You can forgive your husband for his past waywardness, but this doesn't mean that you should give him carte blanche for the future or necessarily take his word for it when he insists he'll never stray again.
Through his actions he's forfeited a degree of freedom and respectability. Real healing and reconciliation between the two of you can't occur unless he's ready to be held accountable. Trust can be restored only if accountability is maintained over a long period of time.
If you haven't already, I'd suggest you locate a good counselor who can guide you through the reconciliation process. Don't hesitate to call our Focus counselors for a referral at 855-771-HELP (4357).
Q: We just learned our teenage daughter is five weeks pregnant. She and the father are only 17, and we're trying to get them to think seriously about how they're going to care for and support a child. We've assured our daughter that our love for her has not wavered and that we're thankful they've chosen life for the baby. But we're frustrated that neither of them is open to adoption. Do you have any advice?
Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: Although it won't be easy, I'd encourage you to take a low-key approach and not pressure them to make a decision right now. If you do, they may react by proudly and publicly proclaiming that they're determined to become parents. At that point, it will be much harder for them to reverse course and consider adoption later on. You also should refrain from making any commitments of financial or practical support.
After the dust has settled, encourage your daughter to contact your local pregnancy resource center. These centers -- which can be found by visiting the Option Line website (optionline.org), or by looking up "Abortion Alternatives" in the Yellow Pages -- provide practical help and emotional support to those experiencing a crisis pregnancy. According to some experts, many teen couples say early on that they aren't interested in the adoption alternative. But as time passes and they begin to consider what it really means to care for a baby, reality starts to set in. At that point, many teens are willing to take a second look.
In the end, it's important that you honor their final decision. Though the hopes and dreams you had for you and your daughter look much different today, this news doesn't mean your futures will be worse. As only He can, God often surprises us with joy from unexpected places.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
Focus on the Family counselors are available Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Mountain time at 855-771-HELP (4357). Focus on the Family's website is at www.focusonthefamily.com.