Adulterous and Abusive Wife: Do I Have Grounds for a Divorce?


Good afternoon Dr. Buckingham,

My wife and I have been married for 19 years. I will admit the marriage has been on rocky ground from day 1, with the exception of the birth of our children. My wife has been verbally abusive the majority of the marriage; she yells and screams at our kids and rarely apologizes when wrong.

A few years ago, I read a text message my wife wrote to someone whom I considered a friend. The message read, “I know old girl is over there, I’m not mad.” I immediately questioned what was going on and received a response of “nothing” and “oh, we are reading each others text now?” Because I couldn’t prove anything, I didn’t confront the issue further. I just let it fade away, but deep within, I struggled dealing with it.

People had made certain statements around me to make me think she had cheated, but I would always say not my wife (but I always did have some doubt). Oh, did I mention that early in our marriage a man called my house (I could hear clearly), and she said “girl, yes” as if a female was on the phone. When asked why she did it, she said she didn’t want me to think anything.

So recently, I finally asked my wife if she loved me or was in love with me. She turned the question over to me without answering. I then asked if she had cheated on me in our 19 years of marriage. And she admitted she had on two occasions (with different people) within the past seven years. She admitted the affair with the friend, but told me it happened during a time she didn’t know if she loved me and wanted out.

At first, I thought I was not ready to give up on my family, and I’m ready to fight to save it. But now I’m not so sure. I really have a problem with infidelity. I know I can forgive her because that is what Christ requires of us, but I can’t get over the fact she put the family through so much over the years, while cheating in the process. Nor can I get over the fact that she allowed a friend to invade what I considered to be mine. Now she wants to make things right. I am now her ROCK, her man, her lover and her friend. This is the first time I have heard this from my wife in 19 years. My plans are to leave, but my children are priority.

Based on my wife’s behavior do I have grounds for divorcing her?

Signed, Husband in Doubt

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