If you have ever been in a marriage where there has been infidelity present you probably have asked yourself, “Should I stick around or not?”
It’s a fair question.
It’s also a difficult one.
Craig Gross wrote about this question in his post “Should I stay or should I go?” Check it out.
But what if you aren’t the one asking that question? What if you’re the spouse who cheated and brought the question into your marriage?
That, unfortunately, is my story.
I hid my porn addiction from my wife for the majority of our marriage. When I finally did confess it to her, it was like a bomb went off in her heart. She felt hurt, betrayed, blindsided, and angry.
We began going to counseling and attempting to find ways to repair the damage I had caused. I played the part of the victim, saying how I’d come clean, was all better, and my wife just needed to forgive me so we could move on and live happily ever after. She would respond that she couldn’t trust me, didn’t see any changes in me, and felt trapped because she didn’t know whether she should stay with me or not.
The truth is: she was right about not trusting me. I hadn’t built up the courage to face the full extent of my addiction yet and was still hiding the worst details from her. I had actually cheated on her (not just with porn, but with another woman), but was too much of a coward to admit it, so I continued to lie. I told her over and over I had confessed everything… even though I hadn’t.
I still believed I could lie or bluff my way out of any situation and, with enough time, it would all be swept under the rug. I figured if I held out long enough, things would finally blow over and get better.
That notion was completely shattered when my wife asked me to move out.
All this time, I had been wrestling with God about making a full confession to my wife. I continued to lie even though I knew I needed to tell her everything. I argued with God—If I tell her everything, she will leave me. I would never have said it out loud, but I believed I knew how to manage this situation better than He did.
The breaking point for me was when God showed me how my wife would never be free from the spiritual bondage in her life unless I confessed my adultery to her. Even if it meant she would leave me, I knew I had to tell her everything for her own good. For the first time in our marriage, I started to put her wellbeing above my own desires.
I wrote her a letter outlining everything I had held back. I told her how much I loved her, how sorry I was for all the pain I had caused her, and how I knew this would likely be the end of our marriage. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
But in that moment, God became real to me for the first time in my life. All the signs of change my wife had been looking for in me—repentance, humility, empathy, compassion—suddenly became undeniably evident in my life. Not because I was creating them, but because I finally released control of my life to God and allowed Him to create them in me.
I was convinced that handing that letter to my wife would be the end of all happiness for me. Instead, it became the act of submission that opened the floodgates of God’s freedom and mercy in my life.
I had reached the end of my rope, only to find that God was waiting there to catch me.
I often wonder how things would have been different if I had been honest with my wife from the start. I do know one thing though: If I’d stopped trying to control everything and submitted myself to God earlier on, she would have seen the changes He was making in me. By waiting as long as I did, I was already out of her life when those changes took place. There’s still no way she would have trusted me at that point, but perhaps she would have been able to trust God working in me.
In the same way, if you’re desperately trying to fix the damage you’ve done to your marriage, I’d encourage you to consider whether it’s even possible for you to fix it. Perhaps the best thing right now is for you to reach out to God and trust Him to fix the things you can’t.
After all, some of the stuff we mess up in our lives can’t simply be fixed—they can, however, be redeemed.
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” – Matthew 5:3 MSG