Heart to Heart by Esther Fenty

My adulterous husband keeps picking on our son


I’ve been married for over 20 years and have three children. My husband, a gifted preacher, was formerly a respected member of our church leadership team. All that changed when it came to light that he had an affair with a lady he was counselling. It had a devastating effect on our family. We’ve come over the worst of it, and are rebuilding our marriage. However I’ve got a new problem. My son has his father’s gift of oration, and is regularly invited to speak at church events. Since the invitations started flooding in, my husband has started generating arguments and saying things to undermine our son. I feel my husband is jealous of our son, because he sees in his son what he failed to be – a true man of God. My son has confided that his father has been physically rough with him, and I’m frightened that these altercations may become violent. I’m hoping your advice will help bring peace to my home.

Susan, Wolverhampton


Esther Fenty says:

Undoubtedly, your son’s developing ministry is reminding your husband of his past; that would include not only his ministry, but the hurt that he has caused his family. Whilst not totally dismissing the possibility that he could be jealous, it is likely that he is more concerned about trying to prevent his son from falling into a similar trap.

However, it appears that, although you are trying to rebuild the family, your husband still feels insecure about the relationship with his son, and finds it painful to counsel him about avoiding similar pitfalls. His way of handling the situation is to be negative, perhaps in the hope that it would discourage his son from being too ‘big-headed’. However, resorting to being ‘physically rough’ (however that is interpreted) with his son is a matter of concern.

I suspect that, since your son has confided in you about his father being ‘physically rough’, you do not always have firsthand experience of the altercations. In order to attempt to resolve the conflict, you will need to observe (wherever possible) and then act. You will need to observe the situation neutrally, making sure that you are not taking sides. You will need to discuss the behaviour with whoever is the perpetrator. I suspect that, at different times, it will be either of them. Remember, it takes two to tango.

If it is not possible to observe, and you are getting the information secondhand from your son, you will need to discuss this with your husband. As a couple who are trying to rebuild your marriage, you should be attempting to keep the lines of communication open. From his response, you will know whether your husband has been unaware of his behaviour, and whether his behaviour betrays some other deep-seated problem. It could be that, after a discussion, father and son could talk together and come to a mutual understanding, or a 3-way meeting, with you being the mediator is needed. If you have a mediation meeting, you will need to do this at a time when all of you are calm.

Although you have said that you are trying to rebuild your marriage, this past affair still seems to loom large within the family situation. You may benefit from family counselling, so that you can discuss these issues together and move on as a family.


Choir members are giving me the cold shoulder

I’ve joined a new church, after moving to take up a new job, and am part of my new church choir. I love singing for God but, since joining my new church choir, I’ve experienced a lot of snide remarks and opposition. I’ve only been in the choir for six weeks, but the choir director has given me a lead. When I go up to sing at practices, however, there are a few people who state loud enough for me to hear, why have I been given a lead. And when I am in the choir changing room, they make it obvious they are giving me the cold shoulder. I don’t want to be the root of any contention. What’s the best way of dealing with this situation?

Josephine, London


Esther Fenty says

Unfortunately, these rivalries exist in the place we least expect them to be: the church. Whilst one would expect the church to be welcoming of new members, there will also be some who are jealous of the ‘new kid on the block’. It is possible that those who are speaking against you have their own issues about their gifting, and may be in the choir for the wrong reason.

It depends on why you or anyone wants to be in the choir. 1 Peter 4:10 reminds us that ‘God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another’ (New Living Translation). Try to ensure that you serve with your gift.

With that in mind, ignore those discouraging remarks. Be an example to them, so that you give them no excuse. ‘But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ’(1 Peter 3:16).

As you pray for them and love them as Jesus commands us, you will also begin to see a change in them, and friendships will develop.


Esther Fenty is a qualified psychologist and Pastor’s wife

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