How to Tell a Married Man to Back Off

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How to Tell a Married Man to Back Off

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Disclaimer: This isn’t therapy, and Dr. Audrey’s advice is for the general audience, meaning it may not always work for everyone. 

I have a question. It’s about confronting a married man . . . who is hitting on my wife a lot . . . the man told my wife (“Jennifer”) to keep his texts to her a secret.

We attend the same church, and we are neighbors. The wives are friends with each other.

I know both well, and we have hung out a lot in the past.

The married man has suggested he was attracted to Jennifer. He told her he had a dream about her and she asked him “to be alone with her.” Perhaps he wants to justify his desire for her by imagining there’s something wrong between Jennifer and me. So he keeps asking her if she’s OK and has asked several times to go on walks around the neighborhood by themselves.

This is what I was thinking of sending the gentleman:
”Jennifer mentioned to me more than once that you’ve been reaching out to her a lot and asking her to go on walks. I do appreciate that. But I think you might need to know more information about some of the things she’s experienced and her family of origin if you really want to help her. Maybe you and I can talk? And if you’re still concerned, then come over and bring your wife with you too and we can talk.” – N

Thank you for reaching out to me. I’m sorry about the turmoil this other man has caused. 

He might as well have waved a flaming red flag when he insisted to Jennifer she should keep his texts a secret from you, her own husband. An obsession with secrecy signals the fact that this man knew his behavior was wrong but plowed on anyway.

I’m glad your wife confided in you about what has been going on. Score one for the unity of your marriage!

But since you sent me the note you composed for him, let’s focus on it.

Your words show how thoughtful you are about the entire situation. The tone you employed conveys your desire to maintain an amicable relationship with him. 

Understandable—since the four of you are neighbors, friends, and attend the same church. 

However, there are a couple of problems I foresee if you send the note as is. 

Married Man, Walking with Your Wife?

Let’s start with him asking your wife out on walks.

If this man has been hitting on your bride, is it wise to unlock your front door and allow him to pick her up before he proceeds to stroll by her side? This behavior might fit what the Bible describes as little foxes spoiling the vines (Song of Solomon 2:15). 

What may seem to be little, innocent things—nothing to see here, just a couple of friends sauntering the neighborhood together—can eventually demolish not one, but two, marriages. 

Let me explain. 

Here comes a married man who wishes to spend alone time with your wife, with the possibility of him pouring out even more of his feelings and other personal matters to her. This setup can lead Jennifer to feel obligated to do likewise and open her heart up to him. 

That’s just human nature. We tend to mirror the behavior we see in each other.

Besides that, it’s also natural for things to progress. A mutual sharing of feelings will eventually draw them closer to each other. In time, what began as sharing emotional intimacy can morph into other kinds of intimacy, including the physical and sexual kind. Full-blown affairs often began when two individuals confided their hearts in each other.

God forbid things will ever go that far with your wife and this man!

Even so, it’s unwise to let anyone else develop emotional intimacy with you—or, in this case, Jennifer. Being too emotionally intimate with anyone other than your spouse may drive a wedge into your marriage.

Which brings me to the second problem with the note you’re proposing.

Action Steps

By attempting to talk to your wife without your consent (since he asked her to keep their texts from you), he’s disrespecting two people: you as Jennifer’s husband, as well as his own wife. Yet helping your wife—whether in person, through text messages, or anything else—is your responsibility. Not his.

If Jennifer needs something, especially of an emotional nature, she can turn to you, the church, or female friends—like this guy’s wife. There’s no reason he should spend private time with your wife or repeatedly inquire if she’s okay when his wife can do the same thing.

And even if there are problems in your marriage—a big “if”—it still doesn’t give license for this man to console your wife. 

So, where do we go from here?

Here are some ideas. Please pray over these recommendations with Jennifer first before communicating anything to this man. The Bible says, “One can be overpowered, but two together can put up resistance. A three-ply cord doesn’t easily snap” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, CEB). If you and Jennifer are on the same page about conveying a firm “no” to this man, your unified resistance sends a strong message to the person to back off. 

1. No Room for an Affair

Let him know, in no uncertain terms, how his desire for your wife is not welcome—not by her, and certainly not by you. 

2. No Room for Secrets

You might need to confront him directly, with you explaining how inappropriate it is for him to isolate you from your own wife. In contrast, it’s not wrong for Jennifer to tell you what this guy has been up to. You and she are one flesh (Mark 10:7-8). Whenever he tells Jennifer something, in essence, he’s also telling you the same.

Making no room for secrets might also mean making it clear to him how he has zero private access to your wife, including through digital means. Let’s restrict all communications through group texts only. No personal voice mail. No direct messaging on social media. No clandestine emails. And, a most definite no to the two of them spending time in person without you or the man’s wife. Anything he needs to tell Jennifer, he can include you (and his wife) in the loop.

3. Make Room to Help

If this man is attracted to another man’s wife, one thing is clear: His marriage is in trouble.

Which means it’s time for outside help. There are mental health professionals who are trained to help married couples. For instance, Focus on the Family runs a list of Christian therapists who are qualified for the job. 

By you recommending this resource or pastoral counseling to him, you’re communicating two things at once: the importance of his own marriage, and your interest in helping him walk out the process. 

Aftermath 

I can understand if the following question pops up after reading the above:

What if this frank discussion jeopardizes the friendship between your two families?

Certainly, there is no need to confront him huffing and puffing. Put up firm boundaries with this man, but speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Having said that, if your words provoke him to scowl and raise a big stink, that’s too bad—but still, the sanctity of your marriage comes first. Jesus taught us as much: “A man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined inseparably to his wife” (Matthew 19:5, AMP). 

If you left behind everyone, including the two people who conceived you, in favor of Jennifer, who is this guy to wedge himself in the middle of your sacred union with her? 

Besides, if you and Jennifer convey a clear message that neither of you is interested in her carrying out a secret relationship with this man, you’re exemplifying a righteous fight for your godly marriage. Your stance speaks volumes.

Hopefully, it will inspire him to fight for his own.

All the best to you and Jennifer!

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Fizkes

dr. audrey davidheiser bio photo

Audrey Davidheiser, PhD is a California licensed psychologist, certified Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapist, and IFSI-approved clinical consultant. After founding and directing a counseling center for the Los Angeles Dream Center, she now devotes her practice to survivors of trauma—including spiritual abuse. If you need her advice, visit her on www.aimforbreakthrough.com and Instagram @DrAudreyD.



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