The Challenge and Importance of Disclosure – Part 1

One of the most difficult issues a man has to face is disclosing his sexual sin to his wife. The issue is loaded with both honest and resistant questions:

Why bring up something that is only going to hurt my wife? What good is there in bringing up the past? Where does the Bible say I have to disclose this to my wife?

While there is no clear biblical mandate, and no two situations are alike, there are some principles that apply.

1) Your sexual sin has broken your marital covenant. Hiding it from your wife continues to break the covenant, while bringing it to the light gives opportunity for true repentance, healing, and restoration.

2) Your wife is entitled to know that the covenant has been broken. In almost every case a wife would want to know, so you should not be making this decision for her.

3) What you don’t disclose you give yourself permission to do again. Be honest with yourself here. Not telling your wife makes it easier to continue in your behavior.

4) Disclosure is an essential step towards restoring a trustworthy relationship with God and, therefore, your wife. See 1 John 1:5-7.

5) There are real advantages in disclosing. First, it is usually better than having your wife find out another way. Second, it increases your chances of becoming sexually pure because it puts her on guard to any further cheating. Third, it re-establishes the primacy of your marriage by ending the conspiracy of silence that created distance between you and her. In doing this you realign yourself more closely with your wife and your right to control critical information that matters greatly to her. And fourth, your disclosure may awaken your wife to issues that need to be addressed in order to achieve true intimacy with her.

6) There is also a disadvantage or dangerous reality in disclosing your sexual sin to your wife. In some cases the wife will leave the marriage. This is true in a great minority of the cases.

Once you are ready and willing to disclose to your wife, how do you do it? Here are some things to consider.

1) Prepare yourself by doing an inventory of your past sexual behaviors. You can’t be totally honest with your wife if you’re not being honest with yourself.

2) Check your motive. First of all, it is important that you be fully convinced in your own mind about the importance of disclosing (Romans 14:5). Second, what is your real motive – to respect your wife and her right to know how you have broken your covenant with her, or for you to be absolved from guilt so you can move on?

3) Make provision for your wife before disclosing. Take her into the structured safety of being with a counselor or pastor. Be ready to pay for her to see a counselor on her own afterwards. Set time aside to stay with her if she wants you to. Have a place to go if she wants you to leave the house for awhile. And allow and encourage her to discuss this with a close friend.
4) Decide what you will disclose. Begin by sharing your rationale for disclosure ‘ e.g., I want our marriage to be based on honesty and truth. Then share the nature of the transgression (pornography, affair, strip club, cybersex). If was adultery, tell her who other person is and for how long. Do not give her the graphic details because this usually causes more harm than good. If she demands details, try to connect with her and find out what she needs to feel safe. Tell her if she needs to be tested for STDs. Also, give all the details about your m.o. ‘ your excuses and lies, the times and places you are most vulnerable, and what you did to orchestrate your behaviors.

5) Make it a full disclosure. Women want to know the truth, so don’t qualify it. Believe in the truth as the only path to healing.

There are several other important issues to consider in disclosure that we will consider in Part 2 of this article, such as, possible exceptions to full disclosure, dealing with your wife’s emotional roller coaster, responding to her anger, demands and boundaries, on-going disclosure with her, and minimizing the damage of your wife’s broadcast to kids, family, and friends.

For help in the battle for sexual integrity see Every Man’s Battle.

A Peculiarly Male Problem

Steve Arterburn

Although pornographic consumption is on the rise among females, it’s still considered’and has historically been’a male problem. But because consumption of pornography is recognized as largely a male issue, and because it usually begins in adolescence, many adults have become increasingly inclined to tell boys that what they’re doing is normal. That satisfying their curiosity with pornography, and gratifying their hormonal urges, is a natural right of passage to manhood. This is exceedingly dangerous counsel.

 

Based upon my counseling experience, I believe the pornography has trapped more young men, and haunted them throughout their adult lives, than any other problem.

 

Don’t misunderstand me. Not all men who struggle with pornography are sexual addicts. However, that’s no cause whatsoever to minimize the issue. If you become accustomed to the world of pornographic fantasy you’re at great risk to do great damage.

 

Eventually it will ruin your relationship with God, your feeling of self-worth, your ability to relate to women, and it can potentially destroy your marriage. But even if your marriage does stay intact, pornography steadily and surely steals the potential for true intimacy with your wife. True, you’re present in body, but your mind is somewhere else’entertaining thoughts and fantasies of other women who, in their own tragic way, have also been victimized by the pornographic industry. Wake up, men: fantasizing over pornographic images is neither natural nor trivial.  

Recovery as Spiritual Warfare, Part 1

The opening scene of Saving Private Ryan was riveting. I had never before seen such a realistic portrayal of men going into battle. The vomiting and praying, tangible expressions of the upset the men were going through, were believable.

As He prepared for the battle of Calvary, the Bible tells us that Jesus sweat blood. He poured out His heart in prayer to His Father. He was prepared for the battle and did not flinch in the face of it.

Examining Paul’s second letter to Corinth can help us better understand how we can prepare for and win the battle before us.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

WE ARE CITIZENS OF TWO KINGDOMS THAT ARE AT WAR

Paul says we are waging war. We live in the world. The majority of you who are reading this are US citizens. But Paul makes clear that we are fighting an otherworldly battle while we are here. By faith we are citizens of God’s kingdom. The battle lines are drawn.

God’s objective is to show His glory by redeeming His fallen creation and fallen creatures. At the same time, Satan’s objective is to obscure the glory of God. Because Christian marriage is a part of God’s creative design, God’s enemies attack husbands and wives in order to divide them and rob them of the joy that results from true intimacy.

Sexual sin is one aspect of the disciple’s struggle. When Christian men are sexually impure, God’s love and grace are obscured and Satan gains a victory in the battle for God’s kingdom. The battle for sexual purity is a battle for recovery from the effects of the sin nature. Recovery is discipleship. Recovery is putting off and putting on.

WE ARE SOLDIERS IN GOD’S KINGDOM ARMY¬†

All who know Christ by faith are soldiers of the King’s army. There are no deferments. There are no conscientious objectors. There is no Switzerland, no neutrality in this war. I am a warrior for God’s kingdom.

Over 2,000 years ago, Sun Tzu wrote the timeless military classic, The Art of War. In it, he challenged: ‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.’

In gathering intelligence about the enemy, we immediately consider the devil and the world. What we often fail to consider is that while I am a soldier, I am also fighting on the enemy side’my flesh is at war with the Spirit’s work in my life. While I am still vulnerable to the evil desires of my flesh, the temptations that this world offers, and the attacks of Satan and his legions, I am not vulnerable as I once was. By faith, I benefit from the indwelling Holy Spirit and the promises of God’s Word.

Further, I can’t win the war by myself. Paul didn’t write, ‘I do not wage war as the world does.’

The Rambo movies were very popular, but not a true reflection of genuine war. My addiction predisposes me to isolate myself from others and attempt to fight the war alone. Wars are a fought on an overwhelming scale and require armies to vanquish the enemy. By faith, I have been placed in a company of those who aspire to do God’s will and do it, though not perfectly.

Just as an individual soldier is trained to fight as a part of a squad, a platoon, a company, etc., so we need training to begin fighting our addiction alongside others. Many of the men who attend the Every Man’s Battle workshop find sharing their stories with others to be freeing. They feel like they have unburdened themselves. However, they often struggle after they return home to unburden themselves with the men they work or worship with. In order to win the battle for purity, I must become we. For the soldier, his training doesn’t end with Basic Training. And so we need training that continues beyond Every Man’s Battle.

See the article Recovery As Spiritual Warfare part 2, where we will consider the objectives and tactics that Paul urges us to adopt in fighting this spiritual war.

Jim Phillis