In my work, I often support people who are experiencing distress about the state of their personal relationships. Here is a common story... "A woman has been in a ten-year relationship with a man she loves dearly, both are middle-aged and have been living together for a year or so. Some months ago, an acquaintance of the woman, tells her that for the entire duration of her relationship with her partner, he has slept around with other women. The woman is devastated and betrayed. Her partner whom she has up until now held in great esteem suddenly falls into the realms of disgust for her and all the trust she felt has evaporated.
She now sees everything about his behaviour through the eyes of suspicion. She is now forced to confront things about him that regularly feed her suspicions. All his friends are women and when he spends time visiting some of them, she doesn't know where he is or when he might be coming home; and he never answers his phone.
He'll return in the middle of the night and even after dawn! She's thrown many an uneaten meal away because of this and now it's very difficult for her to want to provide any meals for him at all.
His behaviour is unacceptable to her and she doesn't understand why he would choose to behave in such a manner. He has many, mostly women friends on Facebook, which he spends a great deal of time on. He often stays up chatting with them and sending messages or lewd pictures.
She has found herself resorting to the kind of preying, investigative behaviour she had always felt was beneath her and found out that he even responds to some of them in terms like "hi darling" and "hi sexy", complimenting them on their profile picture and even telling one that she is the incarnation of the goddess. Whenever the woman has made comments about his behaviour he laughs it off or bluntly refuses to share any information about his movements, motives or behaviour.
If she confronts him, he has also at times become angry, abusive and aggressive towards her and responds with unfounded counter-allegations. Hence they are unable to communicate effectively enough to find a resolution. For her, the atmosphere is often tense, as silence has become the mode of their shared existence. Now that all the trust she once enjoyed has evaporated and the peaceful lovingness she held so preciously has diminished, in their place, a great gulf has been created. This is a woman who has always felt that it was better to unquestioningly give the trust that she herself would want to receive and to be as generous and unconditional as she can towards her partner as a basis for building sound foundations.
She has wanted to treat her partner with the loving respect with which she would want to be treated.
She doesn't believe in so-called traditional roles between men and women, but tries to accept some of this up to a point; she prefers to work at having a loving 'partnership' where most things are shared.
Additionally, he contributes little to the continuing maintenance of the home and she feels expected to cook, clean, shop etc regardless of how overburdened she may feel.."
If this woman were your sister, what would you say to her? How do you see this mans behaviour?
What spiritual and practical guidance would you offer? Remember that guidance can be more helpful than criticism.