Building a New Marriage – Part II
Your consistent, determined efforts to stop all sexual sin give your wife a reason to trust again. If you’re binging on porn and masturbation, or if you haven’t broken off contact with the person you had an affair with, there’s no reason she should stay with you; she has every right to ask for a separation until you get your priorities straight.
When she asks you for the details of “who, what, when and how often,” answer truthfully and carefully. Avoid being overly graphic; your words create the scenes of a video she can play over and over in her mind. (Wives, before you start hitting him up for every detail, please see my comments below in your section.) Although your answers will cut her deeply, remember that honesty and truth provide healing and hope. Do not lie to her.
You want your wife to express her anger and hurt with you so she can process it; don’t let her bottle up her feelings for a big explosion of rage. When she’s angry, be quiet and listen, no matter what she says (swearing and insults included); don’t attempt to defend what is your indefensible position. Remember, you hurt her. People who’ve been stabbed in the heart often scream in anguish; give her the freedom to express her pain. Love her and comfort her, when she lets you.
Respect her need for space, and don’t push her if she needs time alone. If she withdraws from you for an extended period of time, gently coax her to open up; ask how she’s feeling.
Give up your right to sex. This tells her that you care about her, and will help show her you’re not the “it’s all about me,” guy you used to be. Tell your wife you realize the damage you’ve done, and that you’ll back away from all expectation for sex until she’s ready. You’ve raped your wife emotionally, and it will take time before she feels secure enough in the relationship for sexual intimacy. Crushed flowers need time to heal before they can open up and blossom again.
As soon as possible, start praying with your wife once a day, every day. At a Focus on the Family conference I attended, one of the speakers shared the following results of a survey on prayer in marriage: one out of two marriages end in divorce when a husband and wife don’t pray together, of those who pray on a consistent basis, one out of 1,000 divorce. You need the Lord’s involvement in your marriage as quickly as possible so He can bind you together again. Confess your sins to Him with your wife; ask Him to heal her, and cleanse your marriage of all evil. She can pray for the Lord’s healing, protection, and guidance in your life. Ask for specific prayer requests from each other every night.
As the spiritual leader of your marriage, the responsibility of instigating prayer with your wife lies on your shoulders. Regardless of how you may feel after recent events, I encourage you to press forward in making daily prayer with your wife a permanent part of your marriage.
And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.
The old marriage is dead and you need to build a new one; get back to the basics, which is to be your wife’s best friend. Court her all over again; date her—with no expectation for sex. Open up your heart to her and let her get to know you; share your fears, hurts, and joys. Listen to her. Do the things she likes that you’ve probably neglected, such as opening the door, bringing her flowers, calling her from the office during the day, leaving her a card in the morning, or giving her a small gift. (Note: do not try to “buy her friendship” by giving her an expensive trinket—she’ll see through this immediately!) Pour the ointment of grace and love on her and let her see by your actions that she’s precious to you.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act
unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4–7
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…
Remember the Lord’s simple instruction on how to make a marriage work: “Husbands love your wives.” Not, “husbands preach to, manipulate, fix, or control.” Work at accepting and loving her as she is and letting the Lord take care of her defects. Marriages get messy when either spouse starts trying to fix the other; surrender her weaknesses into His hands.
If the two of you are having a hard time communicating without fighting, get marital counseling from an experienced Christian counselor or pastor ASAP. Ask them if they’ve had experience helping couples heal from adultery; if not, keep looking until you find one. Marital counseling can be a safe way to work through sensitive issues that may be too emotionally charged for the two of you to face alone.
When a marriage is cracked wide open by a traumatic event like adultery, unhealthy communication and relational patterns such as dependency, power and control issues, spousal worship, and inappropriate boundaries are often exposed. In the process of facing and dealing with these issues in a healthy way, you will rebuild a new, stronger marriage. Again, if you find yourselves getting overwhelmed in trying to juggle your wife’s pain, your recovery and rebuilding the marriage, seek help from a Christian marital counselor.
The Lord should be your first love and priority, not your wife. When He is the primary source of your life, love, and acceptance, you won’t try to make your wife (or sex) fill needs she wasn’t meant to. She’ll trust and respect a broken man of integrity who’s committed to following the Lord over all others far more than a guy who’s still trying to fake it and do everything by his strength.
Excerpted from Mike Genung’s book, The Road to Grace; Finding Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction, Appendix b
Photo: Copyright name: 28284118 Conflict between Man and Woman