All good marriages are characterized by emotional intimacy. You can’t have intimacy without honesty. It takes courage to honestly confess your sexual past with an angry and hurt wife or fiancée, but the woman you promised to “cherish… as long as we both shall live” deserves to know who she married or who she plans to marry. This is one way a husband with integrity shows love to his wife... total honesty.
Many men with sexually addictive behavior patterns try to keep their wives in the dark. “I can’t tell my wife about my porn use because I don’t want to hurt her,” which more likely means, “I can’t tell my wife about my porn use because I don’t want her to hurt me!” You may have good reason to fear. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” As a husband, you have probably learned that your wife has the power to inflict pain, and your failure to disclose may be driven as much by your need for comfort and self-preservation than by a sincere desire to keep from causing grief to your “wedded wife.” The charade will not last. Wives will eventually learn the truth for one simple reason… secrets don’t work.
At intake interviews, each prospective 423 Men member is instructed, “If married or engaged, we fully and honestly confess our history of sexual sin to our wives or fiancées. Initial disclosure of this kind should be made early in our recovery process after prayer, careful preparation, and wise counsel from our group leaders.”
423 Men recommends that each member disclose to his wife or fiancée after becoming stabilized in his recovery so she may witness her man's progress and have reason for hope in his continued sexual sobriety. However, we do not support the idea that a man may delay his confession for fear of “hurting” his wife or fiancée. He must not dawdle on this critical step. Avoidance behavior kills significant relationships because it undermines trust. Procrastination is not consistent with a legitimate recovery plan because it will invariably provide an excuse for the addict to keep sinning sexually. Integrity and love demand that he confess to his wife soon after joining 423 Men, and if engaged, share his sexual history with his fiancée well before the wedding day.
It’s easy to avoid honest confession with a wife, fiancée, or serious girlfriend and run instead into the arms (tentacles) of porneia. Your woman will expect change from you. She may not seem as gracious or understanding as the men in your recovery group. Your wife may even threaten divorce (and, unfortunately, sometimes carry through with it). Perhaps she will withhold sex after hearing of your past exploits with pornography or other women, not as a manipulative tool to force change in you, but simply because she’s hurt. If you are not willing or able to protect her from the entry of this destructive sin into your relationship, then she must take action to keep herself emotionally and physically safe.
After disclosure, it continues to be your job to love, nurture, and cherish the woman God gave you. Your job description may include:
- Demonstrate actions which back up your words.
- Offer her patient and consistent reassurance.
- Don’t allow yourself to become defensive.
- Listen quietly and don’t try to “fix” or correct her.
- Remain active in your sexual recovery plan and group.
- Honestly share with her your progress in recovery.
- Quickly confess when you fall below your sobriety line.
- Implement a mutually agreed upon relapse prevention plan.
- Regularly share your victories with her.
- Always remind her of your undying devotion and love.
- Be a devoted follower of Jesus.
- Encourage her to join a women’s support group.
There is hope for intimacy in your marriage. It starts with honesty.
 Paraphrase of line by Zara in Act III, Scene VIII of “The Mourning Bride” (1697) by 17th century English playwright, William Congreve. The actual quotation is “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell as fury like a woman scorned.”
 Item 16 on "Typical 423 Meeting," 423 Communities International Intake form.
 Your beloved needs help too. It is crucial that your wife, girlfriend, or fiancée find support and get real answers from other women who have similarly suffered. Recovery programs like 423 Betrayal & Beyond are highly effective in helping a woman rebuild trust and find hope in the aftermath of the betrayal and brokenness caused by her man’s pursuit of porneia.