Rebuilding Trust in Marriage

by Bob Damrau

‘Our lives will never be the same,’ voiced my wife as we drove home from our respective 12-Step groups. Then, we looked at each other and smiled with the realization that we wouldn’t have it any other way. Repairing our marriage was not easy, yet the hard work was yielding a sense of connection that neither of us ever thought possible.

When trust is violated by sexual sin, our spouse’s emotions are damaged and those feelings will not heal overnight. Rebuilding trust in a marriage cracked by infidelity (in mind and/or body) requires our full surrender, intentionality, and persistence.

SURRENDER

Our personal relationship with God exemplifies the beginning of building trust. When we surrender our lives to the Lord Jesus we effectively give up control. This is a one-time decision with ongoing ramifications. So, too, surrendering our sexual wills over to God takes place at a particular time (usually when the realization of not being in control hits home), yet the battles are won and godly character is built on a daily basis ‘ sometimes moment by moment.

The defects that once defined me (liar, control freak, manipulator’) have been replaced with a spirit of openness and transparency. When once my wife doubted my sincerity, now she sees me as a changed man disciplined by our Abba Father. Recognizing this sacredness validates our efforts to love and respect one another. But rebuilding trust doesn’t end with simple sincerity because a spouse will also doubt her compulsive husband’s ability to change his long standing behaviors.

INTENTIONALITY

It is a paradox that by giving up our lives we get them back. The hidden blessing of purposefully working through our stuff is that we’ll never be the same, but better and healthier. The same is true of relationships. Have you ever agreed to something before you felt like doing it? When we seek to rebuild trust, we may not feel trust or that we are trustworthy, but we can stay committed to try. This will send a signal to our spouses that we may have what it takes to make the necessary changes.

The ability to make significant personal changes was demonstrated to my wife by following a structured plan of recovery. If you have attended the Every Man’s Battle Workshop you received an outline describing the elements needed for recovery. Put that plan into action then share it with her. Trust and honest communication work hand-in-hand, and as she watches you fulfill your plan she’ll know you have what it takes to get it right.

It is worth noting here that the shame identity at the core of an addict’s belief system can still speak to us. It says, ‘I must hide my true self because no one will accept who I really am.’ This can cause us to withhold information and continue to live the lie. Our wives interpret our isolating behavior to mean we really don’t love them, so keep talking and working the whole plan. Over time you’ll be seen as an able husband.

PERSISTENCE

Willing and able must be calendar tested. Many times when a sexually compulsive person repents of his sin, he expects his partner to trust him immediately. Don’t go there! Consistent behavior over the seasons of life rebuilds trust. In sexual addiction this is called maintaining sobriety.

Some marriages have involved lies for years. Restoring trust, when both partners work at it, can take between 18-30 months. My repentant spirit coupled with my consistent behaviors relegated trust to the back burner in just under two years ‘ a drop in the bucket for a lifelong partner.

One of my favorite bible verses is Joel 2:25, which promises, ‘God will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten.’ My wife and I are experiencing the import of that promise in terms of intimacy. Prior to my disclosure and work of rebuilding trust we had only a surface intimacy. Since then our level of connectedness is deeper and more fulfilling. So give it your full surrender, intentionality, and persistence. Never being the same can be a good thing.

In addition to the Every Man’s Battle Workshop we have two programs designed to help you and your spouse. See Every Heart Restored–for wives of men struggling with sexual purity and Rescue Your Love Life–for couples.

The Gift Of The Spirit

Steve Arterburn

If you’re a Christian, it means the Holy Spirit is living in you. Sounds great ‘ but what does it mean? What does the Spirit do within you? Listen to what the Holy Spirit promises to be up to at this moment in your life:

Ezekiel 36:26 promises that He’s changing your hearts.

John 14:26 promises that He’s reminding you of what the Father has asked you to do.

John 16:13 promises that He’s guiding you and teaching you the truth.

Romans 8:13 promises the Spirit will turn you away from evil.

Romans 8:26 promises that the Holy Spirit will help you in times of distress and intercede with God for you when you’re confused and wearied.

First Corinthians 12:11 promises that the Spirit has given you gifts to use for the glory of God and the good of others.

Galatians 5:16 promises that the Spirit will lead you to victory over the sinful cravings of your heart.

These are precious promises. Claim them by faith’even if you’re not sensing all them in your life. Rejoice in these promises, and ask God to create in you a heart ready to cooperate with the transformation going on in you even as we speak.

God’s Mercy vs. The band of bullies

Martin Fierro

Walking down the street you are heading towards home. It has been a delightful day with areas of victories and successes to be proud of. And then it happens before you can realize it: you are in danger. A bunch of guys come out, seemingly out of the blue, and surround you! This band of bullies begin the initial taunt and jeering of your character and personality. You stand there stunned asking yourself, how do they know my weaknesses like they do?

There is an obvious leader who decides to confront you by saying to you, ‘sissy, what are you going to do about it?’ Your heart races, and the fear for your life begins to take view asking yourself internally ‘What should I do? Where can I run to? Who is going to help me?’ So, the gang leader again approaches you and this time physically pushes you in the chest saying ‘loser, what are you going to do about it?’ And before you know it this bully has your arm twisted behind you back which causes an intense sharp pain in the arm as you crouch over facing the ground attempting to levy the pain away. Taking advantage of your position of weakness, the bully gets really close to your ear and whispers, ‘hey loser, what are you going to do now?’
This band of bullies are now in full force laughing and making belittling comments about who you are and your predicament. One of many probable thoughts running your head is how did I ever get into this? And more importantly, a thought that if I get out of this, I will never in my life time walk down this street again.

Feeling helpless, powerlessness, ambushed, overwhelmed, and fearful are common themes in recovery. Such experiences occur when sudden attacks corners us, like being surrounded by the band of bullies. Their main goal is to remind you of your past behavior and who you were when in the throngs of sexually acting out. This band of bullies knows nothing of edifying, encouraging, or mercy. For that is not their job. The band of bullies job is to remind you and distract you from the Truth that God has offered mercy for all your sins, even your sexual vices. And this band of bullies knows that if they can distract you enough from the Truth of mercy, emotionally you will spiral and not experience victory in your behavior, thoughts and feelings.

Mercy is a powerful word in that it is received, as it is accepted. God so desires you to grasp that His mercy is powerful and wants you to take it in to be part of you. When we sit in the shame and guilt of past behavior, tormenting thoughts and feelings feeds a defeated attitude. In that we then become polarized, stuck in the moment. U2, a famous rock band from Ireland, wrote a song entitled ‘Stuck in a moment’ which was written after a friend of the band completed suicide after a long battle with his ‘demons.’ Being ‘stuck in the moment’ is the twisting of the arm by the enemy–when we place our face to the ground in a powerless moment. But crying out for help and receiving that mercy from God empowers us to not be ‘stuck in the moment’ but moves us towards better and hopeful moments.

Being ‘stuck in the moment’ can be pure helplessness but not powerlessness. Your prayer life has a strong part in ushering the power of mercy into your life, and maybe more forgiveness towards yourself.

One can encourage people to take the mercy God offers, but it takes faith to accept that mercy in spite of life events and situations. God offers mercy to you irregardless of your situation brought on by you or by a band of bullies. Crying ‘uncle, UNCLE, UNCLE,’ will not release you from the enemies clutches. It is relying and believing on the mercy of God that you can say ‘Jesus help me’ or, ‘God help me,’ and/or ‘Holy Spirit, help me I am in danger’ –these prayers chase off the band of bullies.

God’s mercy is the element that will pick you up no matter what befalls you. It is the key to your accepting and receiving forgiveness from God. Even though He gives it, you have to receive it by faith.

Continuing with the introduction story: So you are facing the ground and the band of bullies are in full force, so you call out, ‘God help me.’ Then in a powerful quiet approach, three blurred figures come towards the band of bullies. This blurred three approaches with synchronized momentum as they come quickly from behind the leader of the band of bullies, who has no idea what is happening. But then he sees that his troupe is breaking apart and then running off, leaving him all by himself to deal with this blurred three which comes into focus as One. As He approaches, makes eye contact and states, ‘Flee, NOW.’ The leader releases your arm and struts off saying with a defiant attitude, ‘yeah, whatever, I’ll be back, you’ll see.’ As he walks away you fall to the ground narrowly miss hitting your face as your one un-injured arm supports the hard landing.

This Helper is now reaching out to you offering comfort and encouraging you to sit and recover because He will keep watch for you. You are too weak to get up now. ‘Rest with Me,’ He says. Then He reaches out and takes your arm over His shoulder and supports you to stand. He brushes you off, and walks with you home.

On the way home, you finally recognize who it is. It’s your Heavenly Father. ‘Dad’ you say, ‘I am so embarrassed, they made fun of me and all that I was.’ He responds, ‘First my child, I love you for who you are today and who you will become tomorrow and lastly I can assure you I will deal with that band of bullies in due time.’ He smiles and you both continue the walk home. ‘It is sure a long walk home,’ you say. He responds, ‘yes, but I am here right with you to support you if you let me, I wont force myself on you, please don’t do it alone.’

For help in the fight for sexual purity, see Every Man’s Battle.