Heart to Heart by Esther Fenty

My husband has had affairs with some of his congregants

My hands are shaking as I am writing to you. Such is my state of shock. My husband is pastor of a growing, vibrant church. Although many very attractive women are part of the congregation, I have always been confident in myself. I love my husband dearly; have always supported and trusted him, and never worried he might be unfaithful – until today. I’ve just had a conversation with the choir director, who has stated that she’s been having an affair with my husband, adding that she is one of a few. I know she is telling me the truth, as she shared some things with me that only someone who’s been intimate with my husband would know. I asked her why she told me, and she said because she couldn’t deal with the guilt anymore. I’ve always got on with the choir director, so I cannot understand why she would betray me like this, let alone why my husband would. We have three children; people look up to us. Why would he do this? I’ve been crying ever since I heard, and haven’t even spoken to my husband yet, though he senses something is wrong. How on earth should I deal with this situation? It’s something I never expected to experience.


Tina, Birmingham


Esther Fenty says


Knowing your husband better than I do, you will have to think of the best way to broach the subject. At this stage, it is still an allegation. Your behaviour has already suggested that there is a problem, and it is better to discuss matters sooner rather than later, otherwise, the matter may just be aired in the heat of the moment, and words said then may be regretted later. Whether this allegation is true or not, there are issues for both your family and the wider church.


However, you need to consider that the choir director may have motives for wanting to break up your marriage. I don’t know what information she has about your husband; whether it is a physical mark, etc., but it is possible that she could have got the information from someone who knew him before he became a Christian. Notwithstanding this, you may also have to face the possibility that it is true, and that the choir director is simply annoyed that she is not number one; hence the need to tell.


A discussion with your husband may establish whether there is any foundation in the allegation. It may be that you are still left feeling perplexed after your discussion. If your church is part of a larger organisation, you will need to put your complaints procedures into action. Even if your church is completely independent, as a vibrant and growing church, there must be a leadership team who can investigate the matter. Although this will not be an easy time, let the investigation take its course; do not wonder about the others, nor try to do your own investigation.


If it is true, you will, undoubtedly, go through the stages of grief; feeling betrayed by the one person you thought you could trust. The infidelity of a spouse is particularly painful, especially when they are Christians and hold leadership positions. Your husband may have a particular difficulty which he needs to resolve. It will be your decision whether to stand by him, or separate for a while before you come to a final decision.


Through it all, recognise that you are a child of God – wonderfully and fearfully made – and that God still takes pleasure in you. You may need the prayer support of friends and family to help you through this time and some counselling. However, take one step at a time.


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