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.

Honesty and Forgiveness

Steve Arterburn

Emotions are a funny thing. We all know what they are, but where do they come from? They seem to flow from the core of your being, from deep down inside. And if you’ve developed the pattern of denying or hiding your feelings, you’ll lose the very sense of who you really are—who God created you to be.  Don’t believe me?  Consider the prophet Jeremiah.

When you read the Old Testament book of Lamentations, which Jeremiah wrote, you’ll see that you have nothing to fear about bringing even your most raw or maybe what you think are embarrassing emotions to God.

Jeremiah was intensely honest in sharing his broken heart with God.  But what follows his grief?  When Jeremiah finished his grieving, he turned to God to seek forgiveness.  The book ends with a question of remorse: ‘Are you angry with us still?’ the prophet asks.  Have you ever asked that question?  Behind this question is Jeremiah’s humility, coupled with his hope that God will start the process toward reconciliation and forgiveness.  Jeremiah knew God’s heart, so he knew that God would forgive.  If you truly repent of your sin, you can be sure that God will forgive you too—no matter how great your sins and failures.  You need to come humbly before him and place your life in his strong, gentle hands.

Isaiah

Steve Arterburn

God called Isaiah to be a prophet.  His ministry extended for more than forty years.  
All we know about this prophet indicates that he was one of the greatest people of his time.  His name means, ‘The Lord is salvation.’ This meaning is especially appropriate since he speaks throughout his book of God’s gracious promises of comfort and deliverance for his people.  His book is a masterpiece, suggesting that Isaiah possessed considerable intelligence and education.  But that’s not all; Isaiah was also a husband and a father.  

So what can modern men learn from this prophet of old?  Although Isaiah had many gifts, his success was primarily a result of his humility and faithfulness to God’s will for his life.  When God called him, Isaiah had an overwhelming sense of his own sinfulness.  He started where all men need to start:  He admitted his sin and sought God for cleansing and renewal.  Then, when God revealed his will for Isaiah, the prophet pursued God’s plan with determination.  He spoke and lived out God’s will for him despite the opposition he faced.  As a result, God used him to confront his people with their sin and to comfort his people as they faced a painful future.  Through his words and life, Isaiah has blazed a trail for the spiritual growth of all men.  

If you’re a man, you’re called to lead well’to lead well you need to begin with humility and faith.