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.

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.

Every Man’s Battle Weekend Reviews

Every Man’s Battle Weekend Review
By Justin

At the beginning of the weekend I felt nervous and apprehensive. I was excited to learn the tools that would solve my problem.

What I learned was that the perfect tool was inside me all along – Jesus Christ. I just needed to use it to reach into the root cause of my sexual sin. When I left on Sunday, I can happily say that I felt closer to God than I have in a very long time. I have made true friends and feel more in love with my wife. I am ready to make this work and would recommend this weekend to anyone.

Every Man’s Battle Weekend Review
By David

My sexual sin had grown and progressed so such a degree that it destroyed my career and threatened to destroy my marriage. My thoughts and even my prayers were muddled and clouded by the enemy so much so that I couldn’t even recognize the lies that were guiding my life.

God used men who knew Christ and who had been through similar struggles to show me the hope of God’s redemptive plan for me.

After five years of “clean and sober” time from drugs and alcohol I am now coming to terms with how my lack of sexual integrity had hijacked my relationship with God and others. Struggling alone I could not stand and find victory in my walk.

I am no longer alone! This weekend Intensive restored my awareness of God’s amazing grace. It has given me a restored faith that God has much much more planned for my life than I could ever find on my own.

With the community of others helping me, I am ready now to let go of my old pursuits which were cheap substitutes for God.

I have made a new goal – to be the man God created me to be…a lover of God and other people with all my heart, all my soul and all my strength. An intimate walk with God along side the allies I have found at Every Man’s Battle is now my focus.

Thank you to Jason -the main speaker- you gave me courage because I identified with so much of your personal story – thank you for genuinely caring and seeking to be used by God.

Every Man’s Battle Weekend Review
By Warren

The Every Man’s Battle Weekend Workshop is an awesome and life changing experience.

The ability to be made so comfortable with the establishment of the “No Shame Zone” makes for a very helpful and safe environment in which I was more than willing to share. To be instructed by people who had overcome the same issues that I am currently dealing with is an added plus.

The closeness of the bond that I felt within the breakout sections aided in helping me to share. Just knowing that everyone was dealing with some variation of the same issue helped me to not feel abnormal or like some sort of cast off.

God used this conference and these leaders to help me see my individual problem and to plot out the necessary course of action – though hard it will be. He also used this conference to break me and do something I have not done since 1979 and that was cry. The overwhelming hurt I felt when I was made to realize what I have put my wife through – and the awesome symbolism displayed as we placed the blood of Jesus (paint) over our placecards to cover our sins, hurts and pains – took me over the top. I praise God for these men and the work they put into this, to help us all.

My hope and prayers are not just for me but for each and every one of my brothers in Christ and for those who have not accepted Him as their savior. May we have the victory – though the power of Jesus – and may we continue to follow it through the years to come.

For more information call 1-800-639-5433 or visit http://everymansbattle.com

Lost in the Wake of Lust

I remember, as a boy, constructing a model boat and setting it sail in a bay lagoon. I was thrilled that it remained afloat and was so hopeful that it would reach the other shore. But its journey was cut short when a ski boat, more concerned about staying on plane then obeying the posted no wake zone, sped through and capsized the model. My anger turned to sadness as hope was dashed on the rocks of selfishness that summer afternoon.

Few things can turn a marriage and family upside down more quickly than adultery. The Lord Jesus, in the fifth chapter of Matthew, makes it very clear that adultery is more than jumping into bed with another person. It begins with the imaginations and intentions of the heart. The apostle James affords us a word picture of a fisherman luring his prey from its place of safety when he writes, ‘But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.’ (James 1:14) He continues to record the results of this self-centered pursuit: ‘Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.’ (James 1:15)

Sexual sin causes significant hurt in the lives of wives and children. Laurie Hall honestly expressed her pain in a letter to her husband, who was addicted to pornography. In An Affair of the Mind she writes, ‘Later you called ‘ and you wanted to talk with the kids. Why? You never had time for them before. Sandy collapsed. Talking with you brought all her angers and fears to the fore. She was crying so hard, she couldn’t catch her breath, and I had to catch her as she fell. Ian spent three hours on the phone (with someone else) ‘ he couldn’t tell me how he was feeling ‘ Dear God, it’s already started. My babies are dying, and I can’t do anything to save them. I don’t even have the strength to save myself.’ (p. 46)

Exhaustion, confusion, embarrassment, disgust, anxiety, depression, shame, shock, anger, loneliness–all these and more represent the thoughts and emotions of those lost in the wake of lust. Coming to grips with the separations that one’s sexual acting out has perpetrated is a necessary and healthy aspect of the healing journey.
Let me suggest an action item if you are tracking with these thoughts. If you’re ready, this exercise will shift your sobriety into a higher gear of recovery.

  1. List the names of the people you hurt with your behaviors and words.
  2. Think of how you hurt each one.
  3. Reflect on how each person must have felt.
  4. Write each one a letter (you may want to write only one or two a week) expressing their feelings and hurts, along with anything else you may want to say. Do not, at this point, mail the letters or share their content with those you have offended.
  5. Read the letters out loud, one at a time, imagining you are talking with each individual.
  6. Share the import of this exercise with your therapist, sponsor and/or accountability partners.
  7. Make appropriate amends, when ready.

This process could take some time depending on the number of people affected, but it will give you an open and honest platform for building relational health. However, let me share a word of caution: DO NOT CONTACT THE PEOPLE ON YOUR LIST UNTIL YOU HAVE EITHER WORKED THROUGH STEPS 8 & 9 OF AN APPROPRIATE 12-STEP PROGRAM WITH A SPONSOR, OR YOUR THERAPIST GIVES YOU THE OK.

That summer day long ago I determined to rescue my sinking boat. So, fully dressed, I jumped into the lagoon and swam hard before it was too late. I retrieved the model and rebuilt it, but I always looked in all directions before letting it set sail again. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to restore your marriage and family? I encourage you to take unusual measures to protect them, care for them, nurture them, and reorient your heart toward them. Chart your new course today.

To get some help, please join us at Every Man’s Battle or New Life Weekend.

What to do when your spouse is not open to your faith

Play
Play

How to get your marriage back on track after a seperation

Play
Play

Animals or Image Bearers?

And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.’ And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’ (Genesis 1:24-28).

Most Bible scholars and theologians do not equate the image of God with any one human attribute. To be sure, the image of God is evident in that humans are intelligent, rational beings, capable of complex thought and self-awareness, and of amazing ingenuity. We are also highly emotional creatures, at our best capable of great love, compassion, altruism, sympathy, and even empathy. Moreover, we are moral agents; again, at our best we know that right and wrong are realities, and that beauty is more desirable than ugliness. We are also the world’s only ‘language animals,’ able to communicate with each other with stunning precision and depth, but more importantly, able to understand and respond to God’s address (thus humans are ‘response-able’ creatures). All these attributes should be taken into consideration when pondering what it means that humans bear the image of God.

As this text from Genesis makes clear, however, the chief byproducts of being made in God’s image are dignity and dominion. That is to say, as God’s representatives, or vice-regents on earth, we are to exhibit responsible stewardship over his creation, cultivating and consuming the garden that is the world—including the animals within it—with a dignity that befits our exalted creaturely status, that reflects our Creator’s character, and that enhances his glory.

But as the biblical account of our origin fades from the collective memory, or at least from the collective worldview of Western civilization—having been replaced either explicitly or implicitly in the minds of many by Darwinian evolutionary theory—that civilization becomes increasingly
less civilized. That is because evolutionary theory denies both the human status of being responsible subjects under God, as well as the human status of being dignified stewards over animals. For the Bible acknowledges a ‘solidarity of the sixth day’ between humans and animals, whereas  evolutionary theory effectively removes any such distinction, equating rather than relating humans and animals. Is it any wonder, then, that the history of the twentieth-century Western world betrays the two-fold phenomenon of exalting animals and degrading humans? Can you not see such a process at work by considering radical animal-rights activists such as PETA, oppressive political systems such as those under Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, and popular agendas in American culture such as the sexual revolution, abortion on demand, and euthanasia?

My friends, the biblical worldview elevates humanity by affirming human responsibility, human dignity, and most of all, human life itself! Sadly, if you’ll look seriously and honestly at the recent history and present predicament of the Western world, I think you’ll find that alternatives to the biblical worldview have served to dehumanize humanity, and render civilization less civilized.

For more help on this subject see: Being Christian

A Person’s a Person

Excerpted from the book The God of Second Chances by Steve Arterburn.

In college I dated a woman for whom I really cared. She was a Christian—bright, gentle, beautiful, and energetic. I believed we had a lot in common. Because we loved each other, I had an easy time convincing her to sleep with me. I justified my sin—and hers—by believing that loved covered everything. Yet, I discovered it was less love for her and more love for myself that lead me to seek sexual gratification. How shameful that I didn’t see what I was doing until it was too late. She missed one period, and then another. She was pregnant.

Although I loved my girlfriend, I selfishly did not want to shatter my musical career. Never once did I consider any options. Never once did I drop down on my knees and seek God’s forgiveness and ask Him to show me a responsible way out of the problem. She had to have an abortion.

I was deeply immersed in the philosophy of the world. If something is inconvenient–say, a broken radio, a bad marriage, or a baby—just get rid of it. So there we were, my girlfriend and I and the baby growing in her womb. I carefully laid out my plan with all the details already put together: go here at such and such a time, they will do such and such to you, and then it will be over. We can go on with our lives. I’ll even pay half the cost of the procedure.

My heartless and unbending pragmatism overwhelmed her. I never really gave her an opportunity to respond. No unwanted baby was going to stand in the way of my career. So she went because I convinced her it was the best way out of a bad situation and because she thought I loved her.

The guilt, shame, and remorse had emotional, physical, and spiritual consequences that had such a devastating effect on me that I almost lost my life. I fell into a deep depression, went on antidepressants, and began to feel as old as a grandfather. Within six months of convincing my girlfriend to have an abortion, I was diagnosed with eighty-three ulcers. My doctor told me that I would have to make some serious life-style changes or have my intestines or my colon removed. Within a year I had dropped out of my music major and abandoned my dream. At the time I had no idea what was causing me such misery.

Fortunately I came to an end of myself. In my depression I was able to acknowledge that I had made a complete mess of my life and that I needed God’s forgiveness and strength. I turned back to the narrow path. I found God’s surprising grace there. We all have wounds that never seem to heal—from childhood, from our sinful behavior, from living in the world. But the answer is not to pretend that they don’t exist or believe the world’s lies that we can alleviate them with self-gratifying pleasures.

We must face our wounds honestly, repent before God, and let Him surprise us with His amazing and healing grace. It is only then that we can begin to experience what God has intended and desired for us all along.

If you have taken part in an abortion and have never healed from this pain, you are probably today living with frustration, sadness, or pain in your relationships. I hope you will find encouragement from someone like you:

After attending our New Life Weekend, Maryann wrote: This weekend has blessed me by helping me to explore some  painful hurts and feelings that have surfaced about post abortion that I never talked about. I discovered the anger and unforgiveness in me. I leave here surrendering this to God so I can live under his power now, and find a self worth to be free, to be me. Steve, you and your radio staff have been in my life for 12 years. You have given me laughter, tears, and hope. You gave me a message one day when I was listening. If anyone had ever had an abortion and doesn’t think that’s their ‘it’ it is. I’d like to thank  you for that, thank God for giving me ears to hear that, and thank the person who have the scholarship who thought I was worth it.

If you’ve had an abortion, that’s what I call your ‘it.’ And until you find healing, ‘it’ will keep you from the forgiveness and joy your heavenly Father wants you to receive. Join us at our next New Life Weekend. We’d be honored to help.

A Love Story

God used the prophet Hosea to communicate to his people that he loved them and desired a restored relationship with them.  How?  In a most unlikely way.  God commanded Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman named Gomer.  As soon as Hosea and his wife’s children were born, she prostituted herself and, in time, became enslaved.  In response to God’s command, Hosea then redeemed his wife from slavery and restored her to the family.  God intended this demonstration of unconditional love to symbolize his own love for the people of Israel.

God treated his people with mercy and compassion even though they rejected him and his will for them time and again.  But though God was angered by the unfaithfulness of his people he never rejected them completely.  Neither did he condone their sin by extending unqualified mercy.  He allowed the Israelites to suffer the consequences of their disobedience.  After this, however, he promised to restore them when they repented.

While the story of Hosea’s gracious love for Gomer is the story of God’s love for the wayward Israelites, it’s also the story of God’s love for you.  You, too, choose the way of disobedience that leads inevitably toward suffering and exile.  But as God did with Israel, he often uses the pain of exile to bring you to your senses and lead you back to him.  Then, through God’s unfailing love, you can be restored and enjoy an intimate relationship with him.

Caleb

Steve Arterburn

Do you seek the acceptance of others when you make decisions? You’re not alone. Many men seek approval by often siding with the majority viewpoint.  Unfortunately, in our world system, the majority viewpoint seldom gives God and his Word much consideration.

Caleb, however, was a man who saw things from God’s perspective and stood against the majority opinion.  Do you remember his story?  He was among the twelve spies who entered Canaan.  Ten of these spies–a clear majority–believed that the Promised Land couldn’t be conquered.  They came back with stories of impregnable walled cities defended by terrible giants.  They told the people the task was hopeless, letting their fears and the majority opinion decide the course of action.  But Caleb, along with Joshua, differed with the majority.  Caleb agreed that Canaan was well fortified and the task formidable.  But he also believed that even the greatest of enemies was no match for the mighty God of Israel.  He urged the people to believe in God’s promises.

Sadly the people followed the majority opinion and refused to enter the Promised Land.  It’s easy to focus on the obstacles in our own lives–all those things that make change seem impossible.  But you and I can learn from Caleb.  When the situation appeared hopeless, he knew that victory could come by seeking the God who promised victory.  Caleb knew that self-worth isn’t found in the approval of other people, but only in the loving eyes of God.

Tour Israel with Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries