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Should I confess my secret sin to my wife—and how?

Openness and brokenness in marriage

5 min

The Importance of Confession

The enemy will do all he can to keep us from being open with our spouse about our sexual failures. Satan will convince us that confessing them will only bring hurt and confusion, that God has already forgiven us, and that they are sins of the past that have been dealt with. However, until we are open with our marriage partner regarding all failures—past and present—we will remain in bondage.

When we marry, we enter into a covenant before the Lord with our husband or wife. In I Corinthians 7:4 we read, “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” The word power in this verse means “to exercise authority.” Thus, by entering into marriage, we are yielding our right to our own bodies. Our body now belongs to God and to our spouse.

All sexual sin is against the body. (See I Corinthians 6:18.) Since marriage partners have authority over each other’s bodies, all hidden sins should be confessed. A wife has the right to know and ask questions regarding her husband’s failures. Her husband’s sexual behavior is her business. The same concept holds true for sexual failures in the wife’s life. Her husband has the right to know about them. The couple must humbly work together to confess, receive forgiveness, and walk in freedom.

The lie that a husband or wife doesn’t need to know about the other’s moral failures is one of Satan’s most powerful tools. As long as we keep any sin hidden in our heart, we are giving him a platform from which to work, and we will remain in bondage. However, bringing past failures to light by making a complete confession allows the Lord to bring freedom to our lives and breaks the bondage of the enemy.

Bringing past failures to light by making a complete confession allows the Lord to bring freedom to our lives.

Rebuilding a Marriage Damaged by Hidden Moral Failure

When you come clean with your wife by confessing moral failures, you will have a feeling of euphoria. It will seem as though hundreds of bricks have been taken off of your shoulders! You will even feel free physically, because hiding your sin affects your entire body, soul, and spirit.

However, in a sense, your wife will now be carrying this burden. It is now your job to take responsibility for your wife and nurture her through this difficult time. Galatians 5:13 says, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Your new liberty has a purpose: serving those you love.

This point is where you begin to take steps in freedom. Now is when you say, “God, thank You for setting me free. I now choose to do whatever it takes to see that my wife is set free and healed from the truckload of stuff I have dumped on her.” Next, the following are concepts to remember as you confess to your wife.

Commit to 100% Honesty

Telling the truth from this point forward is critical. You have been deceiving your wife up to this time; now it is time to be completely honest. Trust is the most damaged aspect of your relationship, and lying and other forms of deception during confession will result in greater hurt. Even small lies at this point will damage any future healing and reconciliation.

Be complete in your confession. Don’t leave it to your wife to ask the right question in order to get the “rest of the story.” Be honest and tell her everything.

Take Responsibility

Confession seems easier if we can shift blame elsewhere (e.g., to your past, to being rejected by others, to your wife’s failures). Take responsibility! It is not the time to discuss why you did what you did, but simply what you did. Acknowledge that it is your responsibility to rebuild the trust in your relationship; don’t demand forgiveness or understanding.

Don’t say, “Well, at least I didn’t (fill in the blank).” Don’t compare yourself to other men and say, “All men do it.” There is no excuse for sexual sin.

Answer Questions

You must allow your wife to ask questions. Remember, at marriage you forfeited your right to privacy. Ultimately, by God’s design, you two are “one flesh.” (See Genesis 2:24.) You committed sin against your (her) body, and now she must be free to ask whatever is on her heart. Be ready to respond humbly and honestly. 

If you fail to give your wife the answers to her questions, the enemy will answer them for you. As a result of your confession, your wife will be flooded with intrusive questions and thoughts from Satan. Your willingness to answer her questions will show her that you acknowledge and take responsibility for her pain. Recognize that this dialogue will be ongoing over a period of time. Discussing these issues is not a one-time thing. In the future, as your marriage partner, she will be someone who will better understand your needs and struggles and can help you through consistent prayer and loving accountability to overcome the temptations you face. 

Don’t Dump and Run

Pursue your wife! Now is the time to take responsibility and seek out her heart. We have spent most of our lives hiding our sin to protect ourselves and seeking our own pleasure and enjoyment. Your wife now needs to see you humbly take responsibility for the pain you have caused and esteem her and your children more than yourself. Now is your opportunity to lay down your life for them, as Christ did for the Church.

Your newfound freedom has a focus. Life is not about pleasing yourself anymore—it’s about sacrificing yourself for your family.

Be Willing to Do Whatever It Takes

When I went through the process of being open and achieving brokenness, we desperately wanted freedom and were willing to do whatever it took to gain it. “Whatever it takes” became our family motto. When conversations got tough, we would remember to do “whatever it takes.” Ask God for courage! You are responsible for the hurt and pain in your family’s life. It is now your responsibility to bring healing to your wife and family.

Coming clean is a difficult process for everyone involved, but God desires that we walk in truth. Only then will we experience the power to do His will. As you are faithful to follow God’s will and come to the light, He will be faithful to provide the grace you need to come completely clean, be broken, and restore your family. (See I John 1:7.) God will bless you in ways you never imagined! Coming clean is difficult—but the rewards are more than worth it.

This article was written by Paul Speed who, with his wife Jenny, started Whatever It Takes Ministries in 2006. After thirty-one years of marriage and almost fourteen years of ministry together, Jenny went Home to be with the Lord after a two-year battle with cancer. Paul has remarried, and he and his wife Niki continue to move forward in the vision God gave for WIT Ministries. Learn more at www.witministries.com.

Disclaimer: The views expressed and information given in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of IBLP.

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