Avoiding Concealment: Living Your Days as an Open Book

Kent Ernsting

Steve got caught. He and Amy were married several years when she found porn images popping up on their home computer that he thought he’d deleted. He told her that it must have come in attached to an e-mail or something. A couple of weeks later she caught him looking at Internet porn when she normally was asleep. She was devastated, especially that he had concealed this from her and that he had deceived her.

Steve learned the hard way that keeping certain things concealed, like his struggle with sexually compulsive behavior, led to real problems. He found out that in darkness his compulsive and addictive behaviors grew and multiplied, a bit like mushrooms grow in a dark environment. Steve began to do the right thing. He took responsibility for his behavior and admitted that what he was doing was wrong. He changed his behavior and recommitted to Amy. Both Steve and Amy wanted the same thing, the restoration of their relationship. Both wanted the restoration of trust, reparation of the breech that had formed a wedge in their marriage. But how could he restore his relationship to Amy?

Steve took stock of what happened between them. The dishonesty that he had spoken to her had promoted distrust. He held on to secrets that had created an emotional and spiritual gulf between them. His secrets had led to him feeling guilty and ashamed about his behavior. He felt bad about himself and became afraid that if she knew what he had done then she would reject him. The lies and the deception were harder for her to take than his behavior and she began to doubt other areas where she had normally trusted him. She began to ask him lots of questions and whenever he was late she asked him where he had been and what he had been doing. Steve realized that he had to live his life in an open manner.

He began to recover from his compulsive behavior when he talked about it with other men who understood what he was going through. He attended a weekly group with other men who were recovering from compulsive and addictive behavior. From them he learned that he wasn’t the only one who struggled with lust and found out that it reduced his shame when he talked with them. He started to meet with an accountability partner who encouraged him with words like, ‘Good job, thanks for telling me about the struggle you’re having.’ He also found that his emerging spirituality helped him to resist cravings that he had previously struggled to overcome. He asked God to search his heart and know him and show him anything that was preventing him from living in the light.

He began to feel better about himself and he was able to lie down to sleep knowing that he had lived in integrity that day. Steve also found it helpful to meet monthly with his spiritual mentor who encouraged openness in their relationship with one another. Steve found that in order for Amy to trust him he had to tell her the truth, even when it hurt to be honest. One day she asked him if he had deposited a check into their account that he had said that he would do. He knew that she would be disappointed with him when he admitted that he hadn’t gotten to the bank that day. But he also knew that if he concealed that fact in order to avoid her temporary displeasure, he risked a much greater loss when she eventually saw the bank statement and realized that he had lied to her. He knew that he had to be open with her about the little things as well as the big things.

Steve found that he had been hiding more than just his behavior from Amy. He had been hiding his true feelings from her as well. As a result, she really didn’t know a whole lot about him. He decided not to conceal his core from her, he decided not to pretend, and he disclosed more of his true self to her. The irony of it was that when he dropped his mask and let her in, she responded well and began to accept him as he was, even with his blemishes. She loved him for who he was and they began to experience true intimacy. He found that honesty and mutual acceptance became the foundation of the intimacy they had longed to have with each other.

For help, please see Every Man’s Battle.
If you have already attended Every Man’s Battle, take the next step–healing for your marriage–by attending the New Life Weekend.

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