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 Restore–for wives of men struggling with sexual purity and Intimacy in Marriage–for couples.

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

Male Friendships

Steve Arterburn

Roscoe and Arnie were friends for forty-five years.  They met at work, played golf together every Saturday, and played poker with a few other guys on Tuesday nights.  When they retired, they started playing golf together three times a week.

When Roscoe was diagnosed with colon cancer, he bravely endured chemotherapy and two surgeries before he passed away at age sixty-eight.  After the funeral, the minister, who knew both men only casually, said to Arnie, ‘You men have been close friends for two-thirds of your lives.  Roscoe must have confided in you about his hope for recovery, his fear of dying, and his remorse at leaving his wife behind.’  ‘Nope, Reverend,’ Arnie replied, wiping the tears from his eyes. ‘We talked about golf, fishing, poker, and work.  We didn’t talk about what we were afraid of. We were good friends, Reverend, but we weren’t brothers.’  

Unfortunately, many men view their friendships with other men the way Roscoe and Arnie viewed theirs.  For them, a friend is someone who enjoys working, fishing, playing golf or racing stock cars with.  But the relationship rarely gets much deeper than what they do together.  The macho code of mythical masculinity prevents them from revealing their fears, dreams, weaknesses, mistakes, or hurts to each other.  

Today’s man would do much better at handling the stresses of life if he had some friends who were more like brothers:  men to whom he could bare his soul and still be completely accepted.  Do you have a friend like that?