By this point, you’ve worked to understand your own emotions in light of your spouse’s sexual sin, and you’ve learned the importance of self-care. Now you’re ready to take loving, firm action. But you’ll want to prepare before confronting your spouse. Here are some important things to consider.
Understand the severity of your situation
In some cases, the addictive and destructive nature of sexual sin carries severe complications and causes extensive damage to both partners and the marriage. To assess and treat root issues, couples need a specialized type of counseling: intensive marriage counseling.
This happens with the help of a marriage specialist who has expertise in treating complex relationship symptoms. Over several hours, or blocks of time over three to five days in a row, the specialist diagnoses and treats surface behaviors as well as hidden problems. (One week of therapy isn’t a magic fix, but it can change the direction of a marriage.)
Decide to confront your spouse
When you’re ready, you’ll need to ask your spouse to admit that they need help and agree to appropriate treatment. If they refuse to get help, you’ll let them experience natural, logical consequences. (Don’t worry; we’ll walk you through these steps in our next devotional.)
Anticipate your spouse’s response
Your spouse’s response to your requests will determine what you do next. The purpose of anticipating their response is to help you avoid being shocked and losing your composure. There are three possible ways your spouse will respond when you confront them:
- They’ll show interest in understanding your concerns, express sorrow for their actions, and demonstrate a desire or willingness to get help.
- They’ll waver, make excuses, or back away from any definite action.
- They’ll deny that they have a problem and will refuse to cooperate.
Weigh concerns of domestic violence
If physical harm or retaliation is part of your marital dynamic, don’t confront your spouse until you have full support of a counselor. Then, only confront your spouse in a place and way that doesn’t put you in danger. Don’t ignore clear risks or concerns about your physical safety.
Know the difference between worldly and godly sorrow
Worldly sorrow is primarily self-centered and exclusively consequence driven. (It’s grief from being caught or because someone’s own sin has caused them pain.) But godly sorrow produces positive results. (It involves true repentance, an eagerness to mend their ways, and readiness to cooperate and seek treatment.)
Create a list of non-negotiables
Three bottom-line measures will help you clarify what you require your spouse to do if they want to show that they’re truly repentant and serious about getting help:
- They must immediately put in place boundaries that prevent easy access to sexual sin.
- They must share their struggle with others of the same sex who will hold them accountable.
- They must begin specialized counseling.
These principles are drawn from the book Aftershock: Overcoming His Secret Life with Pornography—A Plan for Recovery by Joann Condie and Geremy Keeton.