How should I work through coming clean with my wife?
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.” Below 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 everything.
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 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 do… (fill in the blank).” Don’t compare yourself to other men and say, “All men do it.” There is no excuse for sexual sin.
You must allow your wife to ask questions. You forfeited your right to privacy by committing sexual sin, and now she must be free to ask whatever is on her heart.
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 questions and intruding thoughts from Satan. Your willingness and honesty in answering 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.
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 chance 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.) He will bless you in ways you never imagined. Coming clean is difficult—but the rewards are more than worth it.