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.

Confession (Part 1): By God’s Design

David Speicher

Confession is an integral part of recovery. Did you know that a restored relationship comes only through confession? You might think that having a changed life is enough, well it is not. Your changed life is a good thing for you, but what about the carnage you have left in the lives of other people?

I wonder what God thinks about all of this? I wonder what God sees as He looks into these things? He sees you, a changed man, blessed by Him and on your way to purity and holiness. He sees her, wounded, broken from all the sexual transgressions. I believe God would ask of you, ‘What are we going to do about all of this?’

You see, the scripture is replete with verses that would encourage you to look at another’s hurt, especially if you were the source of the hurt.

I hope that when you read this, you have already experienced God’s grace and mercy and that you know that you are truly forgiven. I hope that you can see beyond yourself to what has happened in others as a result of you.

One of those verses in the Bible that speaks to the issue of a man looking into another person’s life is II Corinthians 7:10. This is a powerful verse that will help you to understand God’s point of view in relation to others. Listen to this, ‘Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.’

The reason why confession is instrumental in restoring your relationship is that confession works in your heart, as well as in the hearts of those who have been hurt by you to produce God’s view of the situation. If you can get God’s perspective on the situation, you are so much closer to where you need to be.

Here is what often happens. When you do something wrong you say ‘I am sorry’ or you may venture out into those difficult words, ‘would you forgive me?’ The result of this is that you have fulfilled the legal requirements for asking for forgiveness and believing you are all done, you move away from the situation on to bigger and better things in your life. You have just engaged in a legal transaction, that is what I would call worldly sorrow. It is precisely this worldly sorrow that leads to death, because you are relieved of the guilt for what you have done, yet the other person still carries the hurt.

If nothing is done to address the hurt and you feel legally you are absolved of the situation, then you will experience death, death of the relationship.

You see, as unresolved hurts mount in the other person and you continue to say ‘I am sorry,’ or even ‘would you forgive me,’ that person will grow to resent you. That person will grow bitter. You will see no reason to change what you are doing, and you will assume the other person has not gotten over the hurt. You might even assume that this is her problem not yours. You believe you have done what is necessary by asking for forgiveness.
Listen men; do not fall into this trap by missing the true needs of that person. This is most likely not your heart, yet you can end up doing this time and time again.

Let’s look deeper into this verse. Use your imagination with me for just a moment. Can you imagine if God was watching the person that you hurt the moment when that person heard the news, maybe the moment that she found out about the betrayal? What do you think God was feeling for her? Maybe God was feeling compassion, a broken heart, sadness and sorrow. This is Godly sorrow.

Have you ever felt that sorrow? Don’t read by this too quickly, God’s sorrow, not yours. Not you sorrowing over what you have done, something different than that. You overwhelmed with the look on God’s face as He sees His precious child, His little girl hurting, have you ever felt that?

There is a big difference between these two. One is about you and the other is about God, and the only means of true restoration. One prompts you to say ‘there that is enough, I am I am done. I am no longer responsible for what I have done to her.’ The other prompts you to see things as God sees them. Then you feel things as God feels them and then you do things that God would have you do as His hands, feet and lips.

This kind of attitude would prompt conversation that might sound like this: ‘As I look into your soul (the way God does) I see hurt and brokenness. I am here as God’s agent of reconciliation. I am here to be what you need me to be.’

You see men, this is how Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and worldly sorrow leads to death. Worldly sorrow prompts you to do everything you can to restore you. Godly sorrow, because you see that you have hurt God and because you see that you have hurt others, prompts you to do everything you can to restore others. In the next article I would like to offer to you a template of what Godly confession looks like. A confession that is born from the foundation of a Godly sorrow that comes directly from the throne of God.

For more help, see Every Man’s Battle.