The Challenge and Importance of Disclosure – Part 2

When inappropriate sexual behavior is discovered, it’s natural for men to attempt “damage control,” by minimizing, rationalizing, excusing, or denying their behavior. We fear our wife will leave if the full extent of our behavior is known. Or we may just want to spare our wife more pain. We want an easy way out, but there is no such way.

Both the White Book of Sexaholics Anonymous, and SAA’s similar book, Hope and Recovery caution against disclosing too quickly or too much, and to talk to their group members first. But the writers were predominantly males who were deciding what was best for their wives without consulting them.

When wives are asked what they want they overwhelmingly say they want to be in charge of how much is disclosed, and to have their feelings of violation and betrayal validated by their husband. So, our disclosure is best guided by our wife’s desire to know, rather than by our desire to get out of it.

Wives often describe their reactions to the disclosure in terms of despair, devastation, and hopelessness. Although they may initially consider ending the relationship, most choose to stay and work it through. But, for trust to be restored in our marriage we have to be honest and vulnerable.

There are several things we need to be aware of. First, it’s important that we be reasonable in accepting our wife’s emotions. Allow and accept her rage, confusion and depression. Begin by accepting her anger and demands. These are common signs that she is hurting because of your behavior.

Second, keep in mind that this is not the time to preach and demand forgiveness. What is called for is genuine humility and ‘godly sorrow’ (2 Corinthians 7:10-11).

Third, it is important that we seek to educate our wife about our recovery process. Let her know what you’re dealing with ‘ masturbation, pornography, illicit contact. Explain your recovery plan so she knows what you’re actually doing to establish and maintain sobriety. Reassure her that she is still the primary focus of your love.

Once you’ve disclosed, your wife will likely make demands and set boundaries. It’s similar to losing your credit rating with the bank ‘ they have to set up new terms, including higher monthly payments. See her demands as requests she needs to rebuild trust. Being truly authentic about the healing and restoration process means forbearing her pain ‘ taking the emotional blow and hanging in there even when it’s uncomfortable.

Some wives want a policy of on-going disclosure, usually to protect themselves from any further pain.

Though total disclosure is not healthy because she’ll become your accountability partner instead of your wife, it may be necessary in the beginning. Honor this desire and show your willingness to do whatever it takes. Meanwhile, be sure to find an accountability partner to actively take this responsibility off your wife.

Instead of total disclosure it is better that we commit to ‘some disclosure.’ This pertains to any significant difficulty or struggle with lust. If you set up a policy of ‘no disclosure’ (except if you act out), be sure you accompany it with accountability elsewhere. Some of us have to face the fall out of our wife’s broadcast to our kids, family, and friends. This can become very poisonous to the family. If this happens go to each person and talk to them individually, offering appropriate repentance. Share your plans for dealing with the problem. Bringing it ‘to the light’ allows for the possibility of restored relationship and forgiveness (1 John 1:7).

Finally, there are a few possible exceptions to full disclosure. First, you may want to remain silent about affairs from a long time ago in order to protect your wife from additional hurt for something that no longer poses any threat to your marriage. But be honest with yourself and with any desire you may have to continue it in the future. Revealing this may disarm it from having any importance to you.

Second, there are some rare cases where disclosure may be different. For example, if your wife is terminally ill, mentally ill, or emotionally unstable to extent that her life is at risk–in this case loving your wife means disclosing and working wholeheartedly with an accountability partner, a band of brothers, and your pastor.

You desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being. (Psalm 51:6)

If your marriage has been affected by a lack of sexual integrity, we recommend two healing options.
Every Man’s Battle for men and for couples The New Life Weekend.

Positive Pain

Steve Arterburn

Sometimes forgiveness involves pain. When we confront people regarding betrayal, abandonment, abuse, deception, or other offenses, we’ll likely experience sorrow. We need to accept this as part of the consequences of sin and learn to freely express it to God. He can transform the pain associated with wrongdoing and bring about good for everyone involved.

Remember men: not all sorrow is bad for you. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Corinth that made them sad because he confronted them about wrongdoing. He initially regretted hurting them. But after reflection he wrote these words, which you can find in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10: ‘Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to have remorse and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed’in any way. For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow.’

The grief Paul described was good. It was caused by his love for others in action, and accessed in light of honest self-evaluation. Like Paul, we too must learn that sometimes sorrow is a positive part of our spiritual growth. So when you’re confronted with it, don’t run from it and don’t reject it. Enter into it asking God to use it to direct the course of your life along redemptive paths.

Confession (Part 2)

David Speicher

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10

As we addressed the concept of confession needing to be an adopted life style of the recovering sexual addict; let me lay out for you just one template of what thorough confession looks like. This will be a six step process that does not have to be followed exactly; this is designed to be a template for you. Several of the components are crucial; otherwise, you will fall back into worldly sorrow which is not the least bit productive. We know from our discussion last time that worldly sorrow leads to death, the death of your relationship. You do not want the death of your relationship, for that leads in most cases to the death of you.

Here are a few principles to hang on to as you go through the process of healthy confession:

1. Stay out of your own stuff. Confession is about the other person, not about you, so do not make it about you. Do not defend yourself, do not rebut, do not offer excuses or reasons why you did what you did, focus intently on the person you are offering confessions to.

2. Do not apologize or seek forgiveness until later. This is vital to understand, if you offer ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘please forgive me’ early, you may leave the impression that you are done with the ordeal. Trust me, you are just beginning, and the man who would be willing to just begin again with his wife is a man on the road to recovery. Apologizing too early short circuits healthy confession and forgiveness. Remember, this is not about you. This is about God using you to bring healing to someone you have wounded.

Let’s begin’

    1. Describe to your partner what it is that you have done to hurt your partner. I suggest that you write it down and share it with your partner. Now, she knows full well what you did in most cases, however in order to have intelligent conversation, you two must talk about the same thing. Speaking what you have done will also begin the process of ownership. Yes, that is correct you have got to take ownership. Do not tell her what she did to cause this, tell her what you did wrong. This may be some of the hardest stuff you have ever done’do it anyway. The end result is Godly intimacy.

    2. Ask your partner to share with you three feelings that came out of that experience. Feelings? I can not adequately convey to you the importance of addressing the issue of feelings with your wife. So often, when you apologize, feelings are left out of the equation. She has them, and you put them there. She truly needs to know that you realize that they are there. This is a travesty of your sexual sin, men. You are out doing your thing and she is paying for it. When you ask her how she feels about it, you get to look in and see the price tag for what you’ve done… step on in, be a man. As men sometimes we have to go places where we do not want to go, this is one of them.

When she shares with you those three feelings, be sure to give her every opportunity to pick the words she wants. Do not change them to absolve your guilt, listen to the words that she chooses. Make sure that you ask her why she chose those words over the thousands of other feeling words that are in her arsenal. This is not to make her defensive, this is to create conversation so that you can move to step number three.

3. Reflect back to you partner EXACTLY what has been shared with you. Be a tape recorder; push the rewind button and then the play button. Share with her exactly what you heard her say. Do not put your spin on this, do not point blame at her, and do not become frustrated with her. All of these things are about you; remember this is not about you. This is a very necessary segment of this process. Believe it or not, she needs to know that you heard her. She needs to know that you are willing to listen to what she has to say without telling her what she is supposed to feel or say.

Give to your wife the opportunity to clarify her message to you. After hearing you say what she just said, she might think of something different and want to share that with you. The more she has the opportunity to share and clarify now, the less she will do that with growing levels of intensity later.

4. Share with your wife whether or not you are responsible for the hurt she is feeling. Look at it this way, consider your wife as a hit and run victim. Were you an innocent bystander that is touched and grieved by the carnage left by the truck that ran her over? Or, are you the guy behind the wheel? This is important men. Later when the time comes, you can apologize for this thing happening to her or you can apologize for doing this to her. Which ever one of these that you choose will make all the difference in the world as to whether or not you experience Godly sorrow or worldly sorrow.

Tell her you were driving the truck. Now, one thing to remember to help you through this process, you are not taking responsibility for everything ever gone wrong in the relationship, only that one thing that you stated at the beginning of this process.

5. Share with your wife how you feel for her hurt. Men, follow me on this one for just a moment. Picture in your mind the throne of God. However that looks to you is fine. Seated next to God is you. It is take your kid to work day, and there you are for the day watching Dad (God) do what he does. Interesting thing is that He has His arm around you, holding you close to Himself. He is very happy that you are there with Him. What is it that God is doing at this moment in time? He is not looking at you, He is looking at your wife, the moment she found out what you did. He is looking at her heart. Men, my question to you is, what is the look on the God’s face? What do you see?

Do you think anger is the correct response, is God angry with you? No, in the most grace filled way let me say, that this is not about you, this is about her. God is not looking at you; He is looking at your wife. He is very glad that you are there with Him. Why, because He wants to invite you into a deeper sense of what He feels for your wife when you hurt her with sexual sin. God has you close so that you know that He is not rejecting you (Isaiah 41:9). There is another reason why God has you close, He wants you to see what He truly feels for your wife.

What is the look on God’s face? Maybe it is compassion, sorrow, a broken heart, maybe sadness. Do you think it would be all right if some of what God is feeling for your wife began to move into you? Do you think it would be OK for you to begin to hurt the way God hurts for your wife?

Now you are getting a deeper picture of 2 Corinthians 7:10 ‘Godly sorrow leads to repentance…’ Imagine if you will that God asks you a question, ‘What are we going to do about this?’ I believe that God would want to use you as a tool in His hand to bring healing to your wife even though you are the one who brought the hurt to her in the first place.

Men, do your best to communicate to her what you are feeling for her, not for you. This is not the time for ‘I am sorry,’ or ‘would you forgive me.’ Think about looking into the soul of your mate, tell her what you see. Here are some ideas for your use: ‘It saddens me that you are hurting so much,’ ‘it breaks my heart that you are left with this,’ ‘I can see that you are in a lot of pain.’ Some of the most powerful exchanges between a husband and a wife that I have ever witnessed have come out of this time. Those times were not because of the husband’s eloquence, it was because of the struggle for words. Men the words are not nearly as important as your heart attempting to communicate the heart of God. You at this point are God’s messenger.

6. Seek forgiveness and pray for you wife. Now is the time to say that you are sorry for hurting her for just the one thing mentioned at the beginning of this process. Seeking forgiveness before this would be premature. Men, ask her for forgiveness in a humble way. After you have done this, pray for her. You may not be a man who prays out loud much’learn to, your wife needs you to. Listen, when you pray, do so in such a way that your wife hears you ask for God’s forgiveness as well. She needs to know that you place yourself under His authority. This will allow her to trust you sooner in most cases. Be sure to pray specifically for the three emotions that she mentioned, ask God to specifically heal those through the power of the Holy Spirit. If appropriate, hold her at the end of this process.

If you are interested in a handout that greatly helps the flow of this process you can contact my office in Tampa at 813-626-5394. If you would like to e-mail me the results of this process please do. My email is Dspeicher@crosstownchurch.com. If you have questions concerning any aspect of this process contact me as well. Some marital situations are very volatile after betrayal, so be sure to use wisdom as to when to implement.

For more help see Every Man’s Battle.