Right now my mind is being flooded with a bunch of questions I’ve heard women ask along the way. Let me list some of them here and try to answer them briefly.
Whose responsibility is it to tell his parents about the problem?
Many times when a woman finds out about her husband’s sexual addiction, one of the first phone calls she makes is to her parents. Her husband, however, may struggle with telling his parents about the problem. Shame is working overtime in his heart, and facing the pain of disappointing his parents is a huge hurdle to overcome. In my opinion, it is his responsibility to tell his parents—not yours. It’s part of the hard work he must do—facing his sin and taking responsibility for it. Don’t rescue him from that work.
If he is blaming you for the marital problems instead of owning them with his parents, it is still not your responsibility to tell them. You can say, “Your son is not being completely honest with you. The marriage has been greatly damaged by _____’s choices. I am really hurting right now, but it is _____’s responsibility to be honest with you about what is going on.” If his parents really care for you and are interested in knowing the truth, they will confront their son. If they are unhealthy and deceived, then they won’t believe anything you tell them anyway.
Should my husband meet with my parents for a time of reconciliation?
If your parents are aware of the problem, are safe people (i.e. they won’t meet him at the door with a shotgun), and are willing to talk with your husband, I think it is a very wise and Scriptural thing to do. Your family needs to know that your husband is sorry for what he’s done to you and to them. Regardless of how your family members respond, it is a great exercise in obedience and faith for your husband. I would say, however, that a plan to meet with your parents and apologize should be initiated by your husband—not you. That’s his stuff. Let God work in his heart to bring him to that place of maturity and obedience.
What should I do if my husband doesn’t want me to tell anyone about his struggle?
Especially in situations where the husband is not working on his stuff, this is a very common response. If this is your situation, you will need great discernment and great courage. Tell your husband that you need a place to talk about how his sexual sin has impacted you. Assure him that you will use discretion. Then find a counselor, become involved in a confidential support group, and if you have a safe friend or two, tell your husband that you are going to tell them and let him know exactly what you will say about him. This is your stuff. His sin has impacted you, and you must walk in both grace and truth. You may need a lot of courage to stand by your word if your husband threatens to leave you. But covering up his sin in order to save the marriage won’t work. You’ll be miserable, and the marriage will eventually fall apart. Again, be honest with safe people, be truthful with your husband about what you are sharing and who you are sharing with, and trust God to be at work in your husband’s life.
What should I tell acquaintances who are really not close friends?
Tell them the truth without sharing any details. Things like, “Yes, we are really struggling right now. I really can’t share what’s going on, but please do pray for our marriage.” Or you could try being very real. “Thanks for your concern. I really don’t know you well enough to share details with you, but I appreciate your prayers for our marriage.” Lots of truth. Healthy boundaries.
I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone about this. Do I have to?
Well, that depends on two things: can you keep from telling without being dishonest and can you remain in relationships without telling? You have to have people, and you have to have truth. If the truth about your husband’s struggle causes you to isolate yourself from other people, you will never heal. Healing comes in relationship—and not just relationship, but intimate relationship. If you are lying about your situation, you will never heal—and neither will your husband. It was secrets that brought him this far, and it is secrets that will keep him bound. I can’t make you tell safe people about your struggles. But overcoming your fears and your shame will be necessary for you and your husband to continue on the journey.
–Melissa Haas, The Journey: Book One
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