Fidelity, Recovery, and Intimacy... for husbands who have succumbed to the temptation of forbidden sex, these three words hold the key to marital redemption.
If a married man working toward recovery in 423 Men is experiencing marital disharmony, he accepts responsibility to do his part to fix his marriage, or will die trying. Does that sound overly dramatic? It shouldn’t, because that’s what the Bible teaches:
Visualize your woman whose “worth is far above jewels” (Proverbs 31.10 NAS) and quietly repeat the vows you made on the day you became husband and wife. Have you fulfilled your promises, entirely, partially, or not at all? If you have been in pursuit of porneia (any form of wrong sexual behavior) at any time since your wedding day, or even since the first day of your engagement, then you have not entirely fulfilled your intended vow to be a “loving and faithful husband.”
Your wife should expect, and certainly deserves, singular and exclusive sexual devotion of the kind described by Solomon:
If, instead, you have chosen to “embrace the bosom of a foreigner” (Proverbs 5.20 NAS), a demon bearing the name porneia, don’t you think she deserves to know?
Occasionally, a woman will cooperate with her mate’s misbehavior by choosing not to pry. Perhaps she is afraid to learn of the truth she suspects, but as she willingly closes her eyes to the facts, she involuntarily closes her heart to her “wedded husband.” His dirty little secret is, “I use porn.” Hers is, “I don’t want to know,” or worse, “I know and don’t care.” This unwholesome arrangement undermines their covenant of love to the detriment of both marriage partners.
Wouldn’t it be better to proactively inform your wife of improprieties than reactively defend yourself when she learns of them? Jesus said, “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8.17 NKJV). Of this you may be assured… the person you are on the inside and the things you do in secret will someday be known by anyone who cares to know, including your wife.
Some guys tell me, “My wife is my accountability partner.” Personally, I think that is a bad idea. Allow me to illustrate:
Let’s pretend your closest friend is a ‘violence addict’ with a particular affinity for stabbing people with a sharp knife. Periodically, he is overcome with blood-lust and thrusts a blade into your back. When you awake from surgery, your friend is at your bedside and ready to confess. “I’m so sorry I hurt you. Please forgive me. When you get out of the hospital, we will start all over and pretend this never happened. I know I have a problem, but I am trying to get help. I still love you. You are my best friend. Would you be my ‘accountability partner’? Every time I feel the desire to stab you, I will confess and you can hold me accountable. If I stab you when you are not looking, I promise to quickly admit my sin and you can help me not to do that again. Agreed?”
I think you can see the foolishness of such an offer. You may not intend to hurt your wife, but your pursuit of porneia does exactly that. Unlike the members of your 423 Men group, she cannot remain ‘arm’s length’ or objective. Your woman is bleeding emotionally because you betrayed her. She is not sure she can trust you. Her ears are deaf to your hollow assurances. She wants change, not promises. You must confess and fully disclose to your beloved if you intend to properly recover, but do not expect her to make you better. That’s your job, not hers. Find followers of Jesus who, like you, struggle with sexual sin and take the recovery plunge with them.
The goal of marriage is intimacy and ‘oneness’ beautifully expressed in many acts of love, including the act of lovemaking.
In the context of 423 Men, the true “one flesh” union begins with a man’s decision to become fully transparent, authentic, and honest with his wife. Honesty is not a game. It is a matter of life and death for the marital union. “Full disclosure,” you say, “will kill my marriage, if she doesn’t kill me first.” If that is true, then your marriage is already dead and it’s your job to bring it back to life. Start by telling her the truth about who you are: what you’ve done and why you did it. She may not take it well, so you need to stay closely connected to your 423 Men group. You will receive enough reinforcement from your brothers in recovery to make up for any emotional support shortage you may be forced to endure at home.
Show courage and humility. Trust Jesus, and trust your wife. I have personally witnessed more than one “wife of noble character” (Proverbs 31.10 NIV) stick by her wedding vows and her fallen man when everyone else advised her to “dump him” and say “goodbye for good.” The tenacity of these faithful wives was staggering to me. Your wife may be more resilient and ready to fight for your relationship than you expect (or than she initially led you to believe). While she may feel crushed by your sin, your spouse may also feel, for the first time, relief and validation. I have heard women say, after their husbands’ confession, “I always knew something was wrong. I thought I was going crazy. Now, at least, I know it’s not me. His sin is finally out in the open. We can get help and build up our marriage from here.” Tell your wife “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Honesty is the foundation of intimacy and should define your marriage from this point forward.
Like Jesus who called Lazarus from the tomb days after his death (John 11.43), O man of God and husband.. boldly cry out to God for the resurrection of your dying marriage. There is always hope.