For the person caught in adultery, one of the most harrowing thoughts is in regards to making a full disclosure to their spouse. Some rush to spill the beans, but still withhold information. And others struggle with why it’s even important. After all, she vowed, “Til death do us part.”, right?
Those who have never had a fleshly affair, but have chosen to satisfy their sensuous desires through pornography, often have an even harder time discerning why a full disclosure is necessary. After all, the world tells us that viewing porn is okay, won’t hurt anyone, and every man does it. But understand this, the world lies. It is governed by Satan, who thought he could obtain more power and authority than was given to him. Ultimately, he ended up getting himself completely cast out of heaven. And the Bible tells us that Satan is the father of lies.
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:44
Reclaiming What’s Been Stolen
The enemy will keep you in bondage to your sexual sin as long as you give him permission to do so. He wants you to believe that all hope is lost. And he’ll tell you that your spouse will never understand. Satan offers a constant flow of accusation, and will deploy any method to keep you trapped in his web of destruction. But be encouraged; Broken marriages can be restored, if both husband and wife are invested in that outcome.
For the one struggling with pornography, he/she will have to enter into a healing process. It will require stepping out of your isolation cell and yielding to the Holy Spirit to show you the areas of life that have been broken and need a healing touch. This journey will require vulnerability with yourself, your spouse, and with others. Complete honesty will be crucial because trust can never be restored without it.
A Word of Caution About Full Disclosure
Before you make a full disclosure, make sure that you’re involved in a group. You should be at a place in your journey where you’re not actively relapsing. Understand that your spouse’s reaction is going to be one of shock, disbelief, anger and heartache. If you fail to have a support system for yourself, this turmoil could cause you to fall back into the pattern of sexual sin. This will mean that you’ll later have to make another disclosure, which is like continual aftershocks following a major earthquake. Dust won’t settle until the ground quits quaking, and the damage cannot fully be assessed until the threat is gone.
Realize that you don’t get to control the disclosure process. You need to be prepared to share as much as your spouse wants to hear. This cannot be determined by yourself, your pastor, a friend, or a counselor. Someone cannot fully forgive if they are clueless as to what they are being asked to forgive. However, you may want to consider having a counselor or some type of mediator present during disclosure. This can help ensure that your spouse gets the support that they will need following this confession to begin their healing.
Do I Have to Disclose Everything?
In her book, Hope After Betrayal: Healing When Sexual Addiction Invades Your Marriage, Meg Wilson shares,
“Husbands must confess everything in order for real healing to begin. Lies of omission are still dishonest even if well intentioned. Anything left in the darkness leaves a noose the Enemy can tighten at the opportune moment.”
When done properly, a full disclosure can help the spouse realize that they are not the only one who is hurting. Often, the addict has years of pain that they have been trying to medicate. The addict is broken, and God had to bring them to the place of hitting rock bottom so that they can begin to experience full healing and restoration.
By the time you offer a full disclosure, you’re well on your way to healing. But understand that this will merely begin the process for your spouse. They will need time and space to heal. The relationship is not going to immediately return to normal because nothing is normal anymore.
As one man shared with us, “Sexual trauma poured out on my wife was similar to being burned physically. But it was her heart and soul that were burned. Burn victims are re-traumatized every time their wounds are cleaned and dressed. Healing can be very painful, and even the sounds of care providers coming down the hall to change bandages can be traumatizing.”
“When I attempt to draw closer to my wife – to offer a sincere heart of love, support, and renewal – it can be painful. Grieving and loss, awakening betrayal, and asking her to be vulnerable and intimate with me takes time.”
Grieving the Loss
Your spouse will need room to grieve the loss of all of their hopes and dreams based on the life they thought they had. Be supportive during this time, and continue to do your work even if it feels pointless at the moment. This will show your spouse that you are serious about healing and that you truly are repentant for the sin of your past.
During this time, encourage your spouse to participate in a group with others who have been betrayed. They will need connection, ongoing support, and prayer just as much as you do to navigate the road that lies ahead. Be willing to listen, without interjecting excuses or additional accusations. And seek the Holy Spirit to give you the words to speak and the wisdom to discern the opportune time.
The Road Less Traveled
Remember, choosing to pursue healing and restoration is not easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it, and there wouldn’t be as many broken hearts and divided families. No diamond was ever formed without first being subjected to intense heat and pressure. If you seek Godly redemption, restoration, and healing, you will find it. You will be required to allow God to empty you of yourself, but it will be worth it in the end.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter t hrough it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” -Matthew 7:13:14
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