When it comes to sexual temptation, there isn’t just one reality that sets in but a series of them, creating a crises of truth. As a man moves down the path from small-scale flirtation with sexual temptation to sexual addiction, these realities get more difficult to face; the consequences become less controllable.
So what do you do when you’re finally serious about working on your sexual integrity but discover that the consequences of your past actions aren’t easily erased? Maybe you’ve done all the right things: surrendered, disclosed, gotten into a program, taken actions to make amends, and gotten an accountability partner. You’ve felt the freedom that comes from finally seeing the burden of your secrets lifted. You’ve reached the darkness at the bottom and are on your way up and out. Unlike previous failed attempts consisting of willpower alone, this time you’re more serious and you’re finding success. It’s a great feeling.
But at the point when the battle’s momentum seems to finally be turning your way, you may face one of the most difficult realities of all: the consequences of your past behavior. Sexual sin damages relationships most of all. So it is not surprising that relationship repair is one of the most difficult steps on the road to recovery. How do you face this reality and repair the damage to your relationships? Here are some ideas on how to start with the two most affected relationships: with God, and with your wife.
Relationship with God: Fortunately, God has a long history of restoring broken relationships. After interacting with man over a human history filled with human failings, man’s failures, no matter how serious, do not shock God. He is committed to relationship restoration—David, who committed adultery and murder, was restored by God and became a man after God’s own heart. The apostle Paul shares his failures and his pain with the believers in Rome (Romans 7:15-25). “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do; but what I hate, I do. I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
And ultimately God sent His son Jesus to the cross for our redemption! God wants restoration and provided a way for each of us to experience a new life!
In your desire to restore your relationship with God, you have the benefit of God doing much of the work. You have a guarantee from God that if you want to restore your relationship with Him, and if you take the necessary steps toward restoration, restoration is yours. No exceptions and no concerns that God will reject your repentance and heartfelt commitment to change!
Relationship with Your Wife: What do you do if you’ve been on a steady path of recovery; you’ve been working your plan; you’ve been reassured that God still loves you and forgives you despite your failings—but your wife isn’t sure she loves or forgives you? Worse yet, what if she’s convinced she is no longer capable of either. What do you do?
First, it’s important to understand that your wife is not obligated to simply put the past behind her—and isn’t likely to do so, at least not quickly. Worse yet, she may never be able to get over this completely, or at all. Talk about reality setting in. You realize you can only control your recovery, not how someone else responds to it. This small circle of control can make you feel a bit claustrophobic, especially if you’re the controlling type—a common characteristic of the sex addict.
What you do with your recovery will be highly influential in how your wife responds. If she is listening to good counsel, she’ll be giving little attention to your words and a lot of attention to your actions. She needs to see with her own eyes, over time, a man who is living a life of sexual integrity and godly character. Very slowly, depending on what she sees in your life, the trust may begin to return.
This slower approach may be difficult to accept, and you may be tempted to pressure her to come along at your pace rather than her own. Professional counselors tell us, however, that if she is too quick to forgive and forget, without resolving her feelings of betrayal, her anger will find its way back into the relationship in less obvious ways.
The challenge, if you have failed but now strive for sexual integrity, is to demonstrate over time, with consistency, that you are a changed man. If you do that, the reality is that everything else is in God’s hands—not such a bad place to be for a believer, regardless of whatever other consequences may come your way. You are called to be a man of godly character and have sexual integrity—not just so that your wife will accept you.
If you’ve not attended Every Man’s Battle, if you want to be connected to a Sustained Victory group for men who have, or if you’d like to find a Christian counselor in your area, call us today at 800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433). We’re here to help, and we want to be a source of encouragement and hope for you.