I understand that many of my subscribers who struggle with sexual addiction are single and may not think this is something that concerns them…that concerns me. Whether one is married, engaged, involved in a committed relationship, or wanting to be…this will apply to everyone. However, if you are separated or divorced this will be helpful to you as well.
Depending on the amount of information you have been hiding…be it some porn use or if it has advanced to massage parlors, prostitutes, online affairs, or in-person affairs one spouse’s response can be quite different than another spouse’s reaction. It is difficult to predict but you never know the power of the explosion until after the fuse is lit.
I am going to break it down into three general categories which I will call Under Reaction… Average Reaction…Over Reaction. Many of you are experiencing your wife discovering your sexual sin on their own and their reaction is going to be based on what they have found. A credit charge, an explicit text or email, and in some cases…you lost your job…like I did.
One can never predict their response and to go into that time of disclosure with your own expectations of what she will think, do, or say is dangerous. Your predetermined expectations will only create confusion. I was married for 26 years, and I had no idea of what she would do. However, if along with the confession you have your expectation of what her reaction will be…or should be “based on Scripture” you will only be pouring gasoline on the fire. If you are hoping there will be instant forgiveness…well…that is dumb.
Now if you are a manipulator you might want to sort it all out in your head ahead of time. Do not do that. She has the right to react in whatever way she needs to react based on her personality, history, and the quality of what your marriage has been…which has probably not been the bed of roses that filled her mind on her wedding day…as she learns that her knight in shining armor is a jerk with rusted out equipment.
Before I disclosed to my wife I got on my knees and told the Lord that I did not want to try to manipulate the disclosure, not tell the whole truth, and somehow under my own abilities determine the outcome. I was broken, lost my ministry career, and did not know if she would divorce me. But that did not matter because the only thing I wanted was the Lord to walk with me and give me the ability to tell her the truth.
My marriage was about to be blown to bits and I knew there were going to be millions of pieces that I could never fix. She needed to feel that her reaction was for the Lord and her to work out in whatever way she could to survive herself and protect the family. So, I told her the truth. I answered every question she asked over a period of two weeks…three Friday nights in succession and she then believed I was honest with her, but she knew there could be more…but I knew there wasn’t.
Let’s consider the reaction of a wife who is Under Reacting. Again, it might be based on multiple factors. If your addiction is only looking at porn, you might be thinking that is better than having an affair so it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but it is a Big Deal, and here is why.
When you were married you made vows to one another that you would keep yourself only for her as long as you both shall live. If she is a believer, she might be holding onto the hope that you will keep that promise. Which includes not having sex with your computer and the images or videos it will give to you. She, at least in the beginning, wants to be the object of your affection. She probably has no idea that you blew past that boundary years ago.
So, when she learns that you have been looking at porn and masturbating to the images you are seeing or the videos you are watching she feels betrayed. An underreaction would be that it is no big deal. That is probably a reaction caused by the FEAR that you are going to leave her for someone else. This would be the reaction of someone who is co-dependent and believes that she cannot exist without you. This is neither healthy nor beneficial to everyone.
She does not think that she can ever survive without you and will do anything to keep the two of you together. This is an unhealthy response that will make her recovery and yours more difficult. She believes that she must do everything to keep you. You feel she is the ball and chain holding you down and do not know if what it takes to recover is worth it. This reaction will probably end in separation or divorce…but she knows God hates divorce and will try and cling to you forever.
However, deep down she has serious questions that she might never have the courage to ask…but she needs to know the answers. Question like…
Do you watch child porn? Do you watch same-sex attraction porn? Are you gay? Which of the LGBTQ people would you prefer? These and other questions will fill her mind with fear that she will not address, and they will shackle her and the love between you will die…if it hasn’t already.
Another reason for under reaction might be that she really does not care. If that is what she needs to do to keep things on an even keel then she seems willing to accept that. However, reacting with an I don’t care attitude will be revealing that she no longer loves you. Betrayal should result in anger and that anger needs to be addressed or she will be the one being damaged.
The husband feels as if a great weight has been lifted and feels good. The fear of exposure has gone as soon as the lights came on…and if an explosion has not happened one might think that all is good and the two of you can go on like nothing even happened. And though she may not be showing anger on the outside she will be feeling it on the inside and eventually she will have to let it out.
It was on the third time my wife and I discussed things that she exploded. I had never heard her scream and this screaming was off the charts. Standing over me, while I remain seated on the couch, she let me have it with both barrels…and I seriously thought what am I going to do if she hits me with her fists that were tightly clenched.
I did not know it at the time but my lack of response and not engaging back to her or yelling at her…or trying to excuse my sexual sin was a very important thing to do at that moment. In fact, an angry response to her anger…that I caused…would have been entirely inappropriate and created more problems for both of us.
An underreaction at the moment might be what you were hoping for, but it is not a sign that everything is good and the two of you can move on.
Tomorrow we will look at the Over Reaction…