Friday, August 10, 2012

Husband Renting Rooms to Women?

Dear Jocelyn,
What can I tell my husband who thinks it's okay to rent to all female foreign exchange students and live there with them, without me? There are 8 of them right now (in the two rooms upstairs, he is downstairs). While I trust him to remain pure, there are concerns, including his Christian witness. He and I are reconciling our marriage (after only one year) and he has work that needs to be done, and rent to collect, but I know God can provide a way for others to help with this.

I trust him, but I'm not okay with the mingling at times like in the kitchen, etc., especially how some of them dress, or should I say don't dress. He says it means nothing to him, but it isn't right. (Plus he is very friendly and outgoing - he can't help himself sometimes...) I've mentioned what the Bible says about avoiding the appearance of evil, even his pastor said "Others don't know what goes on behind closed doors," which is the exact thing I said. It breaks my heart to think of him talking, laughing, sharing with them when he should be with me talking, laughing, sharing, etc. I feel like my feelings don't matter. I'm trying not to say too much anymore, since I've already told my husband how it hurts me and why.

-Worried About Him

Dear Worried,
I'm so sorry to hear about your marriage troubles.  This is a tough situation to comment on, since I don't know your husband's heart, and his side of everything.  The first part of my advice is going to largely give him the benefit of the doubt, and then I'll share what I think he is doing wrong.

I wrote a while back on co-ed roommates; I agree with you that it is not a good idea.  However, there are some differences between having a roommate and what your husband is doing.  For one, these women are students (and I am assuming he is not).  This, of course, does not mean that they are any less attractive, but it does mean that they are probably not viewing each other as peers and potential romantic partners.  In addition, he is renting to eight students (how big are these rooms??), which means that there is not the same one-on-one intimacy that a roommate has.  There is a good chance that these students mostly keep to themselves and to each other, and don't talk more than just in passing with your husband.  Of course, I am not there, and cannot guarantee anything. It is possible that there is something inappropriate going on, and that your husband has bad motives for renting to females—but it is also possible that the situation is completely innocent.

It sounds like jealousy might be clouding your view of the situation.  Jealousy is not necessarily badhaving a certain level of possessiveness towards one's spouse is normal and natural.  However, jealousy usually becomes more pronounced when we are feeling insecure and uncertain about the partner.  You are going through an extremely difficult period of time right now, which is contributing to these feelings.  After a year of being separated, you clearly still love him and want to reconcile.  But knowing he has eight women staying in his home is probably stirring up old arguments and feelings that had been laying dormant for a while.  It is easy to ruminate and picture him talking and flirting with scantily-clad students over breakfast.

My recommendation is to first realize that this might not be the case.  Examine what you know about your husband and these women, and what you have seen of them.  Do you see evidence of them being overly friendly with each other?  If not, consider that your heart might be hurting more than it needs to over this situation.

Secondly, if you are not already doing so, please get marriage counseling.  This is not optional for you and your husband—it is a must.  If he won't go with you, you need to go alone.  

Now, a word about his actions: I do not think that what he is doing is wise.  What I wrote above is to help you realize that you might have a much different mental image than what is really going on.  I also think that if he truly wants to reconcile with you, he needs to make some sacrifices, including giving up renting out these rooms to women if it continues to make you very uncomfortable.  While the main issue that you need to work on is jealousy, the main issue he needs to work on is respecting your feelings. You say that it seems like your emotions don't matter, and that you've already told him that it hurts you.  This is exactly why a therapist is neededif he does not respond to you being hurt and take your feelings into account with his decision-making, then reconciliation is going to be much more difficult.

I hope you and your husband reach a compromise on this issue and are able to mend the rift between you two. The best thing you can do right now is pray and seek counseling.


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