All posts tagged Affair

Book Review: Unfaithful: Hope and Healing After Infidelity by Gary and Mona Shriver

When I counsel couples who are experiencing the affects of infidelity one of the most common things I hear them ask for is an example of a couple who has been where they are and restored their marriage. Usually the only time we hear of infidelity is when a couple gets divorced. Hence when a couple is facing this challenge, the only examples they know of are failed marriages. This compounds pain and betrayal with hopelessness.

Gary and Mona Shriver show great courage by allowing their testimony to speak into that void. Telling the story of Gary’s unfaithfulness and their marital recovery, they write a book about what restoration looks like. However, the book is more than their story. It is a book  about the process of recovery which is effectively illustrated with Gary and Mona’s experience of that process.

Strengths of the Book

There is great deal to like about Unfaithful, so for space considerations I will highlight those in a bulleted format which mixes my thoughts with excerpts from the book.

  • Honest and Real: The greatest strength of this book is how it allows a couple to see and hear their experience from an outside perspective. It gives them something they can say, “Yes! That sounds like us. That’s what we’re going through,” when it is hard for them to believe anyone could comprehend the magnitude of their experience. The vividness and honesty with which the Shrivers tell their story (without unnecessary details) is what I have seen God use repeatedly to give couples a first taste of hope after adultery comes to light.

“I heard Gary come in, and I heard the boys greet their father. Normal sounds. But this wasn’t a normal household. Nothing was normal anymore. I wasn’t normal. All I could do was cry and ask questions. I was obsessed. Everyone would be fine if I could just move on. They could all just live their normal little lives with all the other normal people (p. 41)… Nothing surprised me anymore. Except me—I surprised me all the time (p. 177).” Gary & Mona Shriver in Unfaithful

  •  Sequential: While acknowledging that recovering from an adultery is not neat and does not follow systematic “steps,” the Shrivers do organize the book around principles or themes that have a general order. They buffer from making this a “uniform process” by telling snippets of their story at the beginning of each chapter, and the vignettes vary in the time period of their recovery addressed. Within this principled lay out, I appreciated that they put forgiveness after disclosure, learning about the marriage, and mourning. Too often I find couples focus on forgiveness to early in the restoration process and it harms their ability to maintain hope that they “have what it takes.”

“Gary was not the man I had thought he was, but I was no longer sure who I was either. For that matter, who were we as a couple? Were we a couple (p. 24)?… That night my life took on a new timetable: before the affair, during the affair, and after the affair. Everything during was now marred and distorted: our family trip to Disneyland, Gary and I going to Hawaii. I recalled snippets of conversation with both Gary and my friend and suddenly heard and saw completely different things (p. 26)… You each will process at your own pace. Remember, the infidel began this process before the affair even began. The spouse typically begins at revelation (p. 54).” Gary & Mona Shriver in Unfaithful

  •  Sensitively Biblical: While Gary and Mona make it clear that overcoming the affects of adultery is a God-sized task and they frequently teach from Scripture, they do not lead with the Bible. They walk towards their reader in compassion, identifying with their pain and confusion, and then walk the reader towards the hope of Scripture. In that sense, Unfaithful reads a bit theologically light, but I found their approach to be very effective and theologically powerful for their audience.

“We found that not recognizing the loss, not mourning, only made it worse (p. 131)… It took us a while to identify the things we had lost, and even when we did, accepting that they were really gone was more difficult that we expected it would be. However, once we were able to name them, it seemed we had taken another step on the path of healing. We didn’t feel so stuck (p. 132)… We had to mourn the time of Gary’s unfaithfulness, but that did not mean his faithfulness to Mona or to God could not be resumed (p. 135).” Gary & Mona Shriver in Unfaithful

  •  Lay Written But Well Informed: Gary and Mona are not trained counselors; nor do they have any formal theological education. They are “regular lay people” who experienced a tragedy, saw a void in the church’s care, and studied hard in their area of need to be equipped to serve the church by serving others in the area of adultery recovery. I found them to be well read and well thought out in their subject matter. Their lack of training gave them an extra dose of humility that made them more readable than some “experts.”

“How many people knew about the affair? I didn’t know and would never know… I felt as if I were wearing a sign that read, “NOT GOOD ENOUGH!’ (p. 61)…. God, I need a miracle here. You’re the great Healer. Heal us! Let me wake up from this nightmare. We’re sitting here breathing, and yet as surely as there is air moving in and out of my lungs, I know we’re dying. But I want to know why I have to die when the sin is not mine! I didn’t do this (p. 75)… In my weary brain there were only three alternatives: lying to myself, being lied to, or pain. If there was no pain, then someone must be lying (p. 98).” Gary & Mona Shriver in Unfaithful

  • Experienced as Helpee and Helper: After their marriage was restored, Gary and Mona started Hope & Healing Ministries and have walked with many couples through the aftermath of adultery in a support group setting. As you read their book, you hear the voices of other couples and other experiences. This adds to the richness of a book that otherwise could become too anecdotal and based upon what worked for one couple, with one set of personalities, in one set of circumstances. With this experience the book reads like a musical with two soloists singing a song of redemption backed by a large choir of voices agreeing and filling out the redemptive song.

“She suddenly realized she had lost not only her marriage and her husband but also part of herself. There was absolutely nothing left to hang on to. She found herself completely insufficient for the first time in her life, and terror gripped her… She came to understand that she had put Gary above God. It was not that she thought Gary was God—especially now—but she looked to Gary to be her source of strength, comfort, and love (p. 66)… Our faith grew because we found we were not enough and God was (p. 67).” Gary & Mona Shriver in Unfaithful

Gary and Mona Shriver’s book will be a featured resource in our upcoming  “True Betrayal: Overcoming the Betrayal of Your Spouse’s Sexual Sin” (video recording of previous presentation at this link) seminar. Of all the books I read on the subject it did the best job of capturing the gospel-centered, Bible-based redemptive tone that we want to promote in all our ministries.

Effects of an Affair

We know that the betrayal of an affair hurts, but the intensity of the pain, awkwardness of the subject, and crisis-nature of the disclosure often cause us to neglect asking, “What does an affair do that causes it to hurt so badly?” In this post, we will look at three things that an affair does which account for the level of pain it creates.

Shuffles Our Story

Affairs hide and lie. We live in ignorance. While we may not think things are “great,” we have no idea what is actually occurring in our life story. Innocently, we can live a lie for weeks, months, or years. When the facts come to light we look back on our life and don’t know what parts of our memories are true and what parts are fiction.

Before the facts came to light if someone asked you to tell your life story, you could (although it might be a time consuming request). Now you can’t. That is incredibly painful and disorienting. It makes you feel mentally, emotionally, and narratively naked. We make so many decisions based upon where our life going (tracing the direction of our story). When your story gets shuffled, the ability to make decision can feel paralyzed.

Confuses Our Vocabulary

I love you. I’m going to the gym. Every compliment. Every criticism. Every apology. Any reference to the future. Any reference to the past. What do they mean? What did they mean? Do they mean anything? Obviously I missed the message before and I don’t want to miss it again. Every word becomes a riddle.

It is painful to feel forced to live as a constant skeptic in one’s own house for the purpose of self-protection. This is the marital equivalent of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9). When language is stripped of meaning, then the currency of relationships has its value removed. We can exchange words, but it doesn’t feel like any transaction is occurring.

Makes Trust Seem Naïve

Home is no longer “safe” for the reasons discussed above, and when home is not safe (a place of rest and replenishing) then the whole world feel more threatening. We begin to believe that only pain and bad news can be true. If I get good news and believe it, I am just being naïve like I was before.

This is the pain of lies. We don’t lie to make things sound worse than they are. So when lies have jolted our world, we begin to believe that everything is worse than we have been told. Common sense is something we gain on the other side of innocence. Now that we are “wordly wise” innocence (expressed partly as trust) it is hard to regain and often feared more than desired.

Where Do We Begin?

This picture sounds pretty bleak. It is. Hope enters a dark place when it returns after an affair. Anything that minimizes this fact gives false hope to the offender and places unwarranted pressure upon the betrayed. There is hope, but hope should not be used to minimize the damage.

So what should the offender do? These points are meant to correspond with the relational damage described above. They both assume that repentance towards God has already occurred and examining the lies and deceitful desires you bought into during the affair.

First, join your spouse where they are. You know what happened; they don’t. Do not speak with a confidence that assumes their world is as certain as yours.

Second, seek to understand their experience. Words will begin to have meaning from you understanding them not them understanding you. You should answer your spouse’s questions (with complete honesty), but trust will build from you understanding them not you giving facts to them.

Third, recognize and honor the faith and risk of trust. This honor will be expressed dispositionally through patience, refraining from self-pity, and not getting defensive. Your spouse will likely be repetitive as they put their story back together (like someone who is grieving). This process is the building of trust and you honor it by not making them walk it alone. You are receiving grace from one who bleeds as they give it. Honor the Jesus you see in them.

For more help and guidance walking through the aftermath of infidelity the True Betrayal videos are available at www.bradhambrick.com/truebetrayal.

 

But My Spouse Won’t Be Honest About His/Her Sexual Sin

Question: After I learned of my husband’s infidelity, I began your nine step study called “True Betrayal.” I found it helpful and started to get some hope back until my husband would not cooperate with the full disclosure exercise in step two. Actually, he will barely answer any of my questions now because he says, “It will only upset me.” I think he’s still lying and hiding his sin. Can your materials still help me? If so, how?

*This question is equally relevant when a wife will not be honest to husband our her sexual sin. Neither sexual sin nor the answer to this question is gender-specific.

Resources: Here are several resources that can be useful in preparing for of following up with the conversation discussed in this VLOG post.

  • True Betrayal: This is a video based nine step resource for those whose spouse is caught in sexual sin (from pornography to adultery).
  • False Love: This is a video based nine step resource for those, single or married, who are caught in sexual sin (from pornography to adultery).
  • How Specific Should a Spouse be Confessing Sexual Sin?: This is a blog that offers a 5 minute video by David Powlison and specific guidance on this question.
  • Self-Centered Spouse: This is blog series that seeks to answer the question, “What do I do when my spouse is so aggressively or passively self-centered that it is hard to have a normal relationship?”
  • To Speak or Not to Speak: This a section from chapter three of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication” seminar that looks at how Scripture calls us to respond to various levels of offenses.
  • Unfaithful: This is an excellent book by Gary and Mona Shriver which tells their story of overcoming the pain and relational damage of infidelity.

To review the other questions addressed in this VLOG series click here.

Note: The VLOG (video-blog) Q&A is a regular series on my blog. If you would like to submit a question, it can be e-mailed to Summit’s admin over counseling at counseling@summitrdu.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail). Please limit your questions to 3-7 sentences. This is not a forum for to request or receive counseling. No responses will be sent to questions other than those selected for a video response.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Pornography” post which address other facets of this subject.

Book Review: Unfaithful: Hope and Healing After Infidelity by Gary and Mona Shriver

When I counsel couples who are experiencing the affects of infidelity one of the most common things I hear them ask for is an example of a couple who has been where they are and restored their marriage. Usually the only time we hear of infidelity is when a couple gets divorced. Hence when a couple is facing this challenge, the only examples they know of are failed marriages. This compounds pain and betrayal with hopelessness.

Gary and Mona Shriver show great courage by allowing their testimony to speak into that void. Telling the story of Gary’s unfaithfulness and their marital recovery, they write a book about what restoration looks like. However, the book is more than their story. It is a book  about the process of recovery which is effectively illustrated with Gary and Mona’s experience of that process.

Strengths of the Book

There is great deal to like about Unfaithful, so for space considerations I will highlight those in a bulleted format which mixes my thoughts with excerpts from the book.

  • Honest and Real: The greatest strength of this book is how it allows a couple to see and hear their experience from an outside perspective. It gives them something they can say, “Yes! That sounds like us. That’s what we’re going through,” when it is hard for them to believe anyone could comprehend the magnitude of their experience. The vividness and honesty with which the Shrivers tell their story (without unnecessary details) is what I have seen God use repeatedly to give couples a first taste of hope after adultery comes to light.
  • “I heard Gary come in, and I heard the boys greet their father. Normal sounds. But this wasn’t a normal household. Nothing was normal anymore. I wasn’t normal. All I could do was cry and ask questions. I was obsessed. Everyone would be fine if I could just move on. They could all just live their normal little lives with all the other normal people (p. 41)… Nothing surprised me anymore. Except me—I surprised me all the time (p. 177).” Gary & Mona Shriver in Unfaithful

 

  • Sequential: While acknowledging that recovering from an adultery is not neat and does not follow systematic “steps,” the Shrivers do organize the book around principles or themes that have a general order. They buffer from making this a “uniform process” by telling snippets of their story at the beginning of each chapter, and the vignettes vary in the time period of their recovery addressed. Within this principled lay out, I appreciated that they put forgiveness after disclosure, learning about the marriage, and mourning. Too often I find couples focus on forgiveness to early in the restoration process and it harms their ability to maintain hope that they “have what it takes.”
  • “Gary was not the man I had thought he was, but I was no longer sure who I was either. For that matter, who were we as a couple? Were we a couple (p. 24)?… That night my life took on a new timetable: before the affair, during the affair, and after the affair. Everything during was now marred and distorted: our family trip to Disneyland, Gary and I going to Hawaii. I recalled snippets of conversation with both Gary and my friend and suddenly heard and saw completely different things (p. 26)… You each will process at your own pace. Remember, the infidel began this process before the affair even began. The spouse typically begins at revelation (p. 54).” Gary & Mona Shriver in Unfaithful

 

  • Sensitively Biblical: While Gary and Mona make it clear that overcoming the affects of adultery is a God-sized task and they frequently teach from Scripture, they do not lead with the Bible. They walk towards their reader in compassion, identifying with their pain and confusion, and then walk the reader towards the hope of Scripture. In that sense, Unfaithful reads a bit theologically light, but I found their approach to be very effective and theologically powerful for their audience.
  • “We found that not recognizing the loss, not mourning, only made it worse (p. 131)… It took us a while to identify the things we had lost, and even when we did, accepting that they were really gone was more difficult that we expected it would be. However, once we were able to name them, it seemed we had taken another step on the path of healing. We didn’t feel so stuck (p. 132)… We had to mourn the time of Gary’s unfaithfulness, but that did not mean his faithfulness to Mona or to God could not be resumed (p. 135).” Gary & Mona Shriver in Unfaithful

 

  • Lay Written But Well Informed: Gary and Mona are not trained counselors; nor do they have any formal theological education. They are “regular lay people” who experienced a tragedy, saw a void in the church’s care, and studied hard in their area of need to be equipped to serve the church by serving others in the area of adultery recovery. I found them to be well read and well thought out in their subject matter. Their lack of training gave them an extra dose of humility that made them more readable than some “experts.”
  • “How many people knew about the affair? I didn’t know and would never know… I felt as if I were wearing a sign that read, “NOT GOOD ENOUGH!’ (p. 61)…. God, I need a miracle here. You’re the great Healer. Heal us! Let me wake up from this nightmare. We’re sitting here breathing, and yet as surely as there is air moving in and out of my lungs, I know we’re dying. But I want to know why I have to die when the sin is not mine! I didn’t do this (p. 75)… In my weary brain there were only three alternatives: lying to myself, being lied to, or pain. If there was no pain, then someone must be lying (p. 98).” Gary & Mona Shriver in Unfaithful

 

  • Experienced as Helpee and Helper: After their marriage was restored, Gary and Mona started Hope & Healing Ministries and have walked with many couples through the aftermath of adultery in a support group setting. As you read their book, you hear the voices of other couples and other experiences. This adds to the richness of a book that otherwise could become too anecdotal and based upon what worked for one couple, with one set of personalities, in one set of circumstances. With this experience the book reads like a musical with two soloists singing a song of redemption backed by a large choir of voices agreeing and filling out the redemptive song.
  • “She suddenly realized she had lost not only her marriage and her husband but also part of herself. There was absolutely nothing left to hang on to. She found herself completely insufficient for the first time in her life, and terror gripped her… She came to understand that she had put Gary above God. It was not that she thought Gary was God—especially now—but she looked to Gary to be her source of strength, comfort, and love (p. 66)… Our faith grew because we found we were not enough and God was (p. 67).” Gary & Mona Shriver in Unfaithful

 

Ministry Usage at Summit

As Summit launches our recovery ministry for spouses processing the affects of marital infidelity, Gary and Mona Shriver’s book will be a core resource that we use. Of all the books I read on the subject it did the best job of capturing the gospel-centered, Bible-based redemptive tone that we want to promote in all our ministries. If you are interested in learning more about our men’s and women’s purity ministries, I would encourage you to attend our upcoming seminar.

True Betrayal: Overcoming the Betrayal of Your Spouse’s Sexual Sin
February 19, 2012 // 5:00 to 8:00 pm
The Summit Church; Brier Creek South Venue
2415 Presidential Drive, Suite 107; Durham, NC 27703
Free – No RSVP Needed

10 Ways Your Spouse’s Sexual Sin Effects You

This resource is taken from the “True Betrayal: Overcoming the Betrayal of Your Spouse’s Sexual Sinseminar notebook.

As you seek to understand the impact of your spouse’s sexual sin upon you, it is important to recognize that these impacts will come in two varieties: (1) impacts for which understanding, time, and removing the destructive elements of the suffering story are the remedy; and (2) impacts which call for actions from you or your spouse in order to counter the effects of the suffering. For the first variety, the corrective elements will be defined in chapters four through six. For the second variety, the corrective elements will be defined in chapters seven and eight. Your goal in this chapter is merely to “understand.” If reflecting on these aspects of impact on you is overwhelming, remember you can take your time – recovery is not a race.

There is the obvious emotional impact of your spouse’s sexual sin: numbness, anger, despair, fear, jealousy, regret, embarrassment, shame, depression, and other emotions. These emotions are assumed in each of the impacts discussed below. But the ten changes below focus more on the relational or dispositional affects than the emotional expressions. Most of them have to do with influences that began before the discovery of your spouse’s sin or common unhealthy ways of responding to a spouse’s sexual sin.

1. Tolerating an Unhealthy Lifestyle: Unhealthy does not always mean unfaithful, but unfaithful requires increasing doses of unhealthy in order to grow. The types of unhealthy marital habits can small or large: keeping the computer in a low traffic area of home, not communicating schedules and having blocks of unaccounted for time, separate budgets and unmonitored spending, recreating in mixed gender settings without your spouse, allowing personal hobbies or work to crowd out time for marriage, crude or demanding language about sex, responding in anger to questions about time or money, or growing disinterest and infrequency in sex. When sexual sin is a part of your spouse’s life and you do not know it, then these unhealthy lifestyle changes become the “normal” of your household.

Read Ephesians 4:3-13. Paul says that the lifestyle associated with sexual sin “must not even be named among you (v. 3).” The lifestyle characteristics described above should be changed; not just because they make you uncomfortable, but because they create an atmosphere where sexual sin (and many other sins) are easy. When Paul talks of major changes to language that are “out of place” (v. 4) he says that this should be done with thanksgiving (both in content of speech and attitude of heart). It is not in response to your preferences that these changes should be made (insinuating when you are “less sensitive” things can return to “normal”) but in response to God’s design for a healthy marriage.

2. Changing Role or Identity: It is hard to live in sin and live responsibly. As the offending spouse becomes less responsible, the offended spouse takes on the role of parent, nag, stiff, or rescuer. If the offending spouse is generally irresponsible, these relational roles can become an identity. After the sin has been discovered the roles can become even more pronounced. After discovery, the offended spouse can feel a sense of identity confusion (i.e., “I feel lost. I don’t know who you are or I am anymore.”) or escape into other roles (i.e., devoting yourself fully the kids or work to avoid the pain and confusion that comes with being a spouse).

 “[Case Study and testimony] Lorie, 34, is a nurse and mother of two young children. She believed that her 10-year marriage to Todd, an engineer, was good. True, their sex life had decreased recently, but Todd told her it was because he was involved in an important and demanding project at work, and he was usually exhausted by evening… Lorie’s life began to fall apart when she accidentally discovered Todd’s secret sexual life on the computer… She later said, ‘I felt total distrust in myself, my spouse, and the relationship. I felt betrayed, confused, afraid, and stunned. The person I loved and trusted most in the world had lied about who he was. I felt I had lived through a vast and sinister cover-up (p. 24).” Stephanie Carnes in Mending a Shattered Heart

Read Ephesians 5:22-33. At this time it is better to read this passage for a refresher on marriage functioning. Your marriage is strained and away from what God designed it to be. But it is important to notice that in each case the spouse role (husband and wife) is secondary to and an example of the relationship with God (“as to the Lord” and “as Christ”). Whenever we face trials we have tendency to define ourselves by our struggle. In times like these it is easy to be defined by your marriage more than your God. When that is the case how you see yourself and how you relate to your spouse will be negatively affected..

3. Acquiring Controlling Tendencies: “I don’t want to be hurt again.” The controlling tendency has a very understandable origin. “Healthy” (discussed in impact variable one) becomes controlling when it doesn’t allow the other person to voluntarily choose “healthy.” Controlling claims to know what you’re thinking, feels threatened to be wrong, must have “say” not just awareness of money and time, or demands proof of subjective realities. After the betrayal of sexual sin, these responses are usually done more from self-protection than vengeful punishment. But regardless of motive they eat away at the betrayed, now controlling spouse and withers efforts at marital restoration. Control promises safety but provides a counterfeit version of safety at the cost of creating an environment for healthy restoration.

“What you will have to face, Kelly, is that you cannot make your husband do the right thing. You cannot talk him into it; you can’t shame him into it; you can’t police him into it; and you can’t threaten him into it. However, what you can do is begin learning the secret of how to entrust him into the hands of the Lord. After all, only God can change his heart (p. 94-95).” Kathy Gallagher in When His Secret Sin Breaks Your Heart

4. Becoming Inconsistent: This is the other side of the controlling tendency. Inconsistency can come into your life in several ways. First, before discovery, you may find that nothing you do makes a difference in the marriage and begin to give up on things that are important. Second, after discovery, you may make so many declarations about changes that “should be made” that not all of them can be done consistently or find that some of them were not as relevant as they seemed in your initial fear. You begin to feel weak or hypocritical for not following through on what you said. Third, after discovery, you become emotionally overwhelmed and quit in areas of life or marriage that you know to be important. Regardless of its cause a lifestyle of inconsistency establishes itself and eats away at the good intentions of a healthy marriage.

5. Growing Gullible or Cynical: The lies of a spouse’s sexual sin can push the offended spouse in one of two unhealthy directions: gullible or cynical. You feel torn. “At some point I have to give the benefit of the doubt, right?” But on the other hand, “So much that sounded plausible was a lie, why believe anything but my doubts now?” It feels like the only choice is to believe everything or believe nothing. “Truth” begins to feel like a cruel joke. You want it to know the truth, but each time you have thought you did, it changes (i.e., more of the story comes out or another hurtful choice is made).

“One of the terrible and frightening aspects of sin is the unbelief it fosters (p. 141).” Steve Gallagher in At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry

Read Hebrews 2:10-18. This passage raises the question of trust in the midst of suffering. That is the difficult battle you are facing as you seek to resist being either gullible or cynical – learning how to trust wisely in the midst of suffering. Notice the passage ends with Jesus compassion for your predicament (v. 18). Jesus to was betrayed by one he committed His life to (Matt 10:1-4), whom he trusted enough to manage His earthly money (John 13:29), and had the power to destroy Him with affection (Luke 22:47-48). You may feel like this skepticism and uncertainty is a “lifelong slavery” (v. 15) know that Jesus is able to deliver. He is with you in the midst of this uncertainty (Heb. 13:20-21) and will ultimately let the truth be known (Heb. 4:12-13). The True Betrayal and False Love studies are designed to allow truth to be known by confession, which is best for your spouse’s restoration and the benefit of your family.

6. Growing Passive Toward Life: “It doesn’t matter what I do.” These are painful words. Whenever we speak them it reveals that we have lost the exclusive ability to do, protect, or create what is most important to us. They are the words of a parent whose child has a terminal disease, the business owner facing bankruptcy, and the spouse whose partner has been unfaithful. Nothing feels permanent, solid, or dependable anymore. Emotional or relational investment no longer guarantee the desired result like they once seemed to. It is easy in this environment to become passive in such a way that depression becomes a cocoon protecting you from the unpleasant realities of your marriage and family.

Read Philippians 3:7-16. Paul knew he did not have what it took to continue (v. 12a) and that what he had been building his life upon was not capable sustaining him through his current situation (v. 7). He had to remind himself and his readers to “press on” and not allow this sense of being overwhelmed to paralyze them (v. 12b). Paul did not literally forget his past (v. 13). He frequently referenced it (2 Cor. 11:21-33; 1 Tim. 1:12-17). But Paul is talking about not allowing our past to define us more than God’s ability to work in our present and future. This is the mark of maturity (v. 15) to which he was striving and calls on us to strive for.

7. Growing Insecurity: This insecurity may be expressed through fear or anger, but regardless of its expression you begin to live with a constant barrage of questions about yourself, your spouse, and your marriage. Everything is being evaluated and there seem to be no certain answers to any of the questions. The net effect of living in this kind of questioning is that everything begins to feel personal, as if it is a commentary on your actions and worth. It is from this self-referential way of thinking that each action, word, or even silence in you day begins to illicit fear, doubt, anger, quick hope, deep disappointment, and other intense emotions.

“We wives need to know that when we allow fear and doubt to consume our minds we become just as self-centered as the man who is controlled by lust. Why? Because when we do, we are only thinking about ourselves, and everything centers around us (p. 65).” Kathy Gallagher in When His Secret Sin Breaks Your Heart

Read 2 Corinthians 10:1-18. Paul is in the midst of an intense and personal conflict. He is struggling with how he comes across (weak in person; strong in his letters). He wants to maintain the humility of Christ while boldly answering his critics who question his ministry. Notice how Paul struggles to avoid making an intensely personal conflict self-referential. From the tone of his public letter, it is safe to say that Paul also struggled to maintain this distinction in his personal thought/emotional life. Be encouraged by his vulnerability while learning from his example.

8. Living a One Variable Life: Living a one variable life can happen in several ways after a spouse’s sexual sin. First, as your marriage becomes the most intense issue in your life, it is easy to allow the condition of your marriage to define your life. Second, you can focus on the “one thing” your spouse should do next as if it would make everything better. Third, you can use your fluctuating response to your spouse’s sin as the measure of your faith in or walk with God. However we reduce our life to a single variable it has two effects: (a) it makes our world smaller, and (b) it makes every problem in our now small world seem bigger. The result is that we create a mental environment that is inhospitable for hope or encouragement.

9. Relating as a Codependent: Codependency can be defined as a relational style built upon the false assumption that sin plays by consistent rules. The “game” in codependency is to learn the “rules of sin” (at least the particular sin of the particular person that is affecting you) so that you can prevent the sin from occurring. The “advantage” to the game is that it gives the façade of control over another person. The problem with codependency is that these rules do not exist, it makes you responsible for your spouse’s sin, and it results in the preferences of your spouse becoming your functional god. As you resist the urge to relate codependently, you will experience the fear of realizing that your spouse’s sexual sin is outside your ability to control. But you will also be laying the foundation for a marriage that can be a relationship of mutually responsible, mutually honoring people.

10. Post-Traumatic Stress: After the discovery of your spouse’s sexual sin, it is common to live with a high degree of emotional and situational intensity for a period of time. This can be “traumatic” in both the descriptive and clinical sense of the word.

“The deception and the secret life of the sex addict bring unprecedented turmoil, fear, and pain to the partner (p. 11).” Stephanie Carnes in Mending a Shattered Heart

In some cases, this trauma can create the experience of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD). PTSD is when an individual faces an event he/she is unprepared to handle and the impact of that event has a lingering impact on life functioning. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms six months after the discovery of your spouse’s sin, then you are likely experiencing the affects of PTSD. As you create a safe and transparent home environment, these symptoms should subside. If not, then seeking personal counseling for these affects is advisable.

  • Intrusive recollections of the events surrounding your spouse’s sexual sin or your discovery.
  • Recurrent dreams associated with your spouse’s sexual sin.
  • Flashbacks where you feel like you are re-experiencing your spouse’s sin or the discovery of it.
  • Intense distress when you experience things that remind you of your spouse’s sexual sin.
  • Feelings of detachment from others.
  • Difficulty concentrating at your normal levels.
  • Hypervigilance – always looking for what is about to go wrong.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Adultery” post which address other facets of this subject.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Pornography” post which address other facets of this subject.

Seminar — True Betrayal: Overcoming the Betrayal of Your Spouse’s Sexual Sin

Below are the videos from the presentation of “True Betrayal: Overcoming the Betrayal of Your Spouse’s Sexual Sin. For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.

The complementing study “False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Pornography to Adultery” is also available in a video format.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at counseling@summitrdu.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

STEP 1.
PREPARE yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually to face your suffering.

True Betrayal: Step 1 from Equip on Vimeo.

Blog: “How to Talk to Children When Sexual Sin Affects the Family

Blog: “How to End an Extra-Marital Relationship

STEP 2.
ACKNOWLEDGE the specific history and realness of my suffering.

True Betrayal: Step 2 from Equip on Vimeo.

For the “Evaluation – Condition of Marriage Before Sexual Sin” assessment click here.

STEP 3.
UNDERSTAND the impact of my suffering.

True Betrayal: Step 3 from Equip on Vimeo.

 

STEP 4.
LEARN MY SUFFERING STORY which I used to make sense of my experience.

True Betrayal: Step 4 from Equip on Vimeo.

 

STEP 5.
MOURN the wrongness of what happened and receive God’s comfort.

True Betrayal: Step 5 from Equip on Vimeo.

STEP 6.
LEARN MY GOSPEL STORY by which God gives meaning to my experience.

True Betrayal: Step 6 from Equip on Vimeo.

STEP 7.
IDENTIFY GOALS that allow me to combat the impact of my suffering.

True Betrayal: Step 7 from Equip on Vimeo.

STEP 8.
PERSEVERE in the new life and identity to which God has called me.

True Betrayal: Step 8 from Equip on Vimeo.

STEP 9.
STEWARD all of my life for God’s glory.

True Betrayal: Step 9 from Equip on Vimeo.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Adultery” post which address other facets of this subject.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Pornography” post which address other facets of this subject.

How to End an Extra-Marital Relationship

This resource is taken from the “False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Pornography to Adultery” seminar notebook.

If you’re question is, “What is the easy way to end a relationship that should have never started, but has become emotionally connected and/or sexually active?” The simple answer is, “There is not an easy way.”

The rebuttal would probably be, “But I really care about this person and don’t want to hurt them. I am more to blame for what has happened as they are. I couldn’t bring myself to hurt them.” The reality is that when a sinful relationship gets started someone, usually multiple people, are going to get hurt and hurt badly. The choice you have is not “if” someone is going to get hurt, but “who.”

Stop and think about it. How are you going to get out of the situation you’re in, where you have committed to love two people with a love that can only belong to one person, without hurting someone? You can’t. You will not make any wise, or even sane, decisions as long as you are holding out hope that an impossible reality is possible.

It is likely that a big reason why things have gotten to where they are is that you have been looking for an option that doesn’t exist. Several things are true at this moment and you will have to accept them all. Even if you choose to ignore them now, you will have to acknowledge them as reality at some point, and the longer you wait the more intense the consequences will be for everyone involved.

1. You are going to hurt one or more people that you care about.

2. You are going to have to be more honest with more people than you want to be.

3. An “easy” answer is not going to present itself that makes this situation “just go away.”

4. The rest of your life is going to radically change based upon what you do with what you’re reading.

5. Not just your life, but generations of your family, will be affected based upon what you do.

Three Steps to Freedom

 

Step One: Cut Off All Contact

Willingly cut off, disclose, and surrender all contact with your adultery partner in an open communication in which your spouse is overtly present and aware of all that is said. All five pieces of this step are vital and defined below.

1. Cut Off All Contact: It should be clearly stated that you are requesting no future contact for any reason, because you realize a romantic relationship outside of your marriage covenant is evil. It is appropriate to apologize for the harm you have caused this person, but you should equally affirm that any genuineness to your apology requires ending all contact. What Arterburn and Stoeker say about pornography is equally true of adultery, tapering down only increases the appetite for something that is still not being treated as evil and powerfully destructive.

“What works best with sexual impurity? Cold turkey. You cannot just taper down… With tapering, whatever impurity you do allow seems to multiply in its impact, and the habit won’t break (p. 109).” Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker in Everyman’s Battle

2. Disclose All Forms of Contact: Any form of contact should be disclosed to your spouse (i.e., secret cell phone, secret e-mail address, rendezvous times in your schedule, etc…). When you end the relationship you should tell your adultery partner that all of these forms of contact have been disclosed to your spouse as a way to reinforce that you are serious that no future contact is desired.

3. Willingly Surrender All Contact: You should hand over every form of contact to your spouse like a suicidal person needs to hand over their gun. You are not giving up something good, but something intended for self-inflicted destruction. Like a suicidal person looks at their gun as a friendly thing that is there to give them relief, you likely still look at these modes of contact through distorted lenses. You won’t feel like doing it until after you’ve done it.

 4. Open Communication: Secrets have been part of the excitement of the illicit relationship. “Open” should mean that (a) you do not meet privately or in person to talk, (b) what you say is e-mailed to your adultery partner with your spouse carbon-copied, and (c) if married, you encourage your adultery partner to confess to their spouse.

Documenting the request for no future contact is advised in case a restraining order is needed should your adultery partner not comply with your request. In this kind of situation obtaining a restraining order requires proving that a clear request to cease communication has occurred (documented by your e-mail) and that continued “harassment” is occurring (documented by continued phone call, showing up at work, coming to your home, etc…). Taking these two pieces of evidence to your local law enforcement should be sufficient to obtain a restraining order if needed.

This step may have legal, safety, or employment consequences. The consequences of sin are part of the trap Satan sets to keep us in our sin. Forsaking sin is always an act of faith in God. In this case, it may not only be faith in God’s superiority to sin, but also faith in God’s ability to provide or protect when the consequences of sin are realized. You must realize and remember that prolonging a sinful relationship does nothing to make the situation “better” for anyone involved. Delayed consequences only grow and make obedience to God harder.

5. Spouse Overtly Present: One way we communicate who we love most is by who we talk to about another. When you talked about your spouse to your adultery partner that revealed your primary allegiance. By now talking about your adultery partner to your spouse and refusing any communication with your adultery partner, you are reversing this allegiance. If you communicate the termination of the relationship by phone, your spouse should at least be in the room while you talk, or if by e-mail, your spouse should be carbon-copied on the e-mail.

Step Two: Avoid the “Closure Trap”

There is no such thing as closure after adultery. Closure is a word that gives the impression of a settled, happy ending. One of the two romantic relationships in your life will die an awkward painful death. More uncomfortable still, you are going to decide which relationship (marriage or adultery) dies and then stand over it; watching it die. This will either happen in divorce court or now. But in either option you choose, there will be no “closure” for the dying relationship.

You might ask, “Why are you being so graphic and harsh?” The reason is simple—“closure” is the lie most people follow back into adultery multiple times while trying to restore their marriage. Closure is an innocent word that masks its devastating consequences. Naively following the closure lie will make the already difficult road ahead of you longer, steeper, and rockier. When you hear the lie, plug your ears and run!

Step Three: Disclose All Attempted Contact

Ending an adultery relationship requires more than doing the right thing one time after you’ve been caught. If your adultery occurred in an ongoing relationship, the other person will likely not want the relationship to end. Your sin will not stay away while you pursue godly character. Your adultery partner is very likely to fight for the relationship they thought was theirs to have.

It is absolutely vital that you disclose any contact, attempted contact, or potential attempted contact by your adultery partner to your spouse. Even if you get a phone call from an unknown number, choose not to answer it, and no voice mail is left tell your spouse. If a friend of the adultery partner gives you a note refuse to read, tell your spouse and (if necessary) take the note as the second piece of evidence needed to get a restraining order.

This relationship should be treated like a poisonous snake in the house with your children. Even if the snake is in another room, you would take every measure possible to destroy the snake because you know the snake is a predator and its presence, even in another room, puts them in mortal danger. Any undisclosed contact from your adultery partner is just as deadly to your relationship with God, your marriage, and the future of any children you have.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Adultery” post which address other facets of this subject.

12 Ways to Lie About Sexual Sin

This resource is taken from the “False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Pornography to Adultery seminar notebook.

Lust and lying go together, almost as if they are two sides of the same coin. Both involve living in a fantasy world (artificial reality) or our own making; created to suit our own self-interest and tailored to our specific desires. If lust is ever to be broken, then the inevitable companion sin of lying must also be admitted and overcome.

“I was beginning to realize that my problems were not just sexual but revolved around a lifestyle of lying and deceit. Up until this time, had I been asked if I was a liar, I would have been offended and would have answered with an emphatic ‘No!’ Sadly, I would have believed I was telling the truth (p. 29).” Earl & Sandy Wilson, et al in Restoring the Fallen

Read Numbers 32:23, Proverbs 15:3, Job 34:21, Luke 8:17, and Hebrews 4:13. Chances are you have already experienced the truth of these verses. We lie because we believe we can contain and control the truth within the stories we tell and the information we do or don’t give. We believe we are larger than the truth rather than believing that truth in the reality in which we live and we can no more control it than we can the wind. As you read this section on lying, remind yourself regularly that honesty is not optional, only the timing and willfulness of honesty can be chosen. Truth will be known. The only question is whether your character will grow as you disclose it or whether you will live in fear and darkness until light invades your life against your will and to your shame. Pause and pray again for the courage to be honest, because truth-speaking and sexual purity are also two sides of the same coin.

Types of Lies

We begin the process of deceit by so limiting our definition of lying that none of our deceptive behavior is “technically a lie.” As long as there was some element of truth in what we said and the answer contained some relevance to the question asked, then we try to convince our conscience it can “plead the fifth” and we portray those who are dissatisfied our evasive or incomplete responses as being “unreasonable.” That way of thinking will leave you forever trapped in your sin and loneliness.

What is truth-telling? Honesty is living without secrets. Honesty is taking the risk of being known rather than the risk of getting away with it. Honesty is being able to look into the eyes of someone who loves you and being able to say, “You know me.” Honesty is being one person all the time with all people. Honesty is the freedom that freedom we are trying to find in our sin.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Mark Twain as quoted by Lou Priolo in Deception

We are going to define twelve different types of lying (modified and expanded from Lou Priolo’s booklet Deception: Letting Go of Lying; bold text only).  As you read through the list, reflect instead of debating technicalities. For the time being refuse to give yourself the benefit of the doubt. If it’s questionable, it’s deceitful. Begin now loving God and loving others more than you love yourself through self-protection.

“Often the one who has fallen is a powerful person who is able to intimidate those around him or her and convincingly present a distorted view of reality, seeking to impose it on others (p. 36)… Secret-keeping allows the person to perpetuate sinful patterns. It also facilitates the sinner’s denial about the full extent of the sin and its impact (p. 75).” Earl & Sandy Wilson, et al in Restoring the Fallen

If as you read through the list you begin to feel “I can’t say anything without it being considered a lie,” then allow that thought to sober you and prepare you for the next step – Acknowledge the Breadth and Impact of My Sin (chapter two).

1. Changing Facts: This is the heading under which all “active lying” falls. Here the story is true, but key pieces of the story are changed. Example – Saying you were working on the taxes when you were looking at pornography or saying you were talking to your boss on the phone when you were talking to your adultery partner. The fact that your lies are within a true story and hard to verify gives the false impression that you will be able to control the lying process.

2. Omitting Facts: This is the heading under which all “passive lying” falls. Here the story is true, but there are “dark spots” in the story. Example – Telling what you did all day except for the 45 minutes you met up with your adultery partner, or telling about the work you accomplished on the computer except for the time looking at pornography. Often people who “omit facts” get defensive when they are called liars. But omission of known, important facts is lying.

4. False “Facts”: This is a step beyond changing facts. It involves making up an entire scenario and is a step away from a double life (lying type #5). Example – While explaining why you were not home when expected, you make up a traffic accident that delayed you by an hour. In order to explain the virus or pop ups on the computer, you make up a story about letting your co-worker borrow your laptop. Lying of this type is hard to pull off and requires the more elaborate efforts below in order to support these false “facts.”

5. False Emotion: Now you have to play the part. If your lies are true, then they would require certain emotions. If you are going to remain “free,” then you must become an actor (the role itself implies lying when the “audience” does not know its watching a “show”). Tim Chester and Steve Gallagher give common examples of what this type of lying looks like.

 “The secret that you hide from your wife will create a barrier in your relationship. You may criticize her in order to feel better about your own shortcomings. You will distance yourself from her to avoid any chance of exposure… In some cases you may even pick a fight or find fault with your wife, to justify your porn use (p.24).” Tim Chester in Closing the Window

“The man who is being controlled by sin will often be overly sensitive to criticism, blowing every imagined slight out of proportion (p. 26).” Steve Gallagher in At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry

 6. False “Story”: False facts produce false emotions. Together they require a false story. Your lies are starting to create their own world in which they could be true. You are forced to try to live between these two worlds; reality won’t bend and your lies can’t break without you being found out. You and those that know you (those that are left anyway) are forced to live stretched between these two worlds. Example – What you say about the nature of your job, daily routine, spending habits, and computer activity begin to be more and more fiction.

7. Minimizing: Maybe you are “smart enough” not to take the false route. Everyone can see how that would inevitably blow up in your face. The “better” route is to not change the facts but the significance of those facts. Example – You talk about “just porn” or being “just friends.” Or, you talk about your sexual sin in coded language such as a “slip” or having a “bad day.”

Minimizing is one of the more popular methods of lying (to others and to yourself) about sexual sin. The following list of minimizing statements are modified and adapted from the works Joshua Harris in Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is), Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker in Everyman’s Battle, Steve Gallagher in At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry, and Earl & Sandy Wilson, et al in Restoring the Fallen. Mark the ones that you are prone to use to minimize or justify your sexual sin.

  • Lust is no big deal (Job 31:11-12)
  • A little sinful fantasizing won’t hurt (Rom 8:6, 13:14; Gal 6:7-8)
  • Taking radical action against sin isn’t necessary (Matt 5:29-30; 2 Tim 2:22)
  • God won’t mind a little compromise (Col 3:5-6; Eph 5:3)
  • It’s my body and I can do what I want with it (1 Cor 6:18-20)
  • I can’t control my sex drive (I Thes 4:3-6)
  • Looking at a few pornographic pictures won’t affect me (Prov 6:25-27; Psalm 101:3)
  • I won’t experience any consequences for indulging in my lust (Rom 14:12; Heb 12:6; James 1:15)
  • People get away with adultery (Prov 5:3-11)
  • God is keeping something good from me (Psalm 84:10-12)
  • The pleasure lust promises is better and more real that God’s pleasure (Psalm 16:11)
  • Fulfilling my lust will satisfy me (Lam 3:24-26; Prov 19:23)
  • Too much purity will keep me from seeing and enjoying beauty (Matt 5:8; Psalm 11:7; Isa 33:17)
  • If anyone finds out you’ll be a laughingstock.
  • Lust is impossible to conquer.
  • You’re being to legalistic.
  • I’m walking with God. I just have this one little problem.
  • I’m going through a difficult period in my life right now. I’ll come out of it.
  • God understands that I am a man and that I have natural passions.
  • I deserve to have some fun.
  • I’m tired of dealing with all this pain.
  • I just want to get on with my life.
  • I’m not in love anymore so why honor the marriage?

8. Blame-Shifting: Maybe you accept the facts and admit how serious the problem is, but you lie by shifting the responsibility. It’s true and it’s bad, but it’s not my fault. Appendix A is an assessment developed by Nancy Leigh DeMoss which helps you see the difference between brokenness over sin and emotion of prideful people caught in their sin.

“The truth is, before a person can ever hope to overcome habitual sin, he must first be willing to take responsibility for his own actions (p. 102).” Steve Gallagher in At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry

There are several strategies for lying by blame-shifting that are common. Mark the ones that you are prone to use in order to explain your sexual sin in a way that makes you less responsible.

  • My gender / anatomy / needs – This is the common pop-psychology blame-shifting method that is even endorsed by many popular Christian authors. Example – That’s just how men / women are. I had to find a release. I had to fill my “love tank” somewhere.

 “Sex addicts typically justify their actions and believe their needs must be met (p. 26).” Harry Schaumburg in False Intimacy

  •  My spouse – This is often paired with the “needs” blame-shifting method above. The summary of this method is: If my spouse treated me the way I wanted to be treated, then I would not sin. The responsibility for honoring God is shifted from self to spouse.

 “The offending spouse sometimes blames the mate or a deteriorating marriage for the affair. Poor companionship and a lack of lovemaking make a couple more vulnerable, but there is still a choice. If you leave the keys in your car and someone steals it, it is still the thief’s fault. The adulterer chose to have the affair (p. 348).” Doug Rosenau in A Celebration of Sex

“If God is not enough for you, then you are creating hopes for a spouse that no one could possibly ever deliver (p. 136)… But a life without porn is not the true alternative to a life with porn. We should instead be weighing a life with porn against a life lived for God’s glory (p. 137).” Tim Chester in Closing the Window

  • My history / personality – Sexual sin may be influenced by a history sexual abuse, early sexualization, or personality factors such as compulsivity (such factors will be discussed in chapter three). But to blame these factors for one’s sexual sin is a deceptive form of blame-shifting.
  •  Manipulation, Guilt, and Criticizing Others – Blame-shifting is a form of manipulation. Few people want to admit this, but until you do attempts to reconcile your marriage (if married) will be severely hampered. Blame-shifting is the attempt to transfer guilt from self to another person. Within a marriage this is almost always done by criticism, condemnation, or implying your spouse thinks they are better than you.
  •  “It Just Happened” – No it didn’t. Sin requires a sinner, just as fishing requires a fisherman. For many this is an appealing form of blame-shifting because it allows everyone to be innocent (no manipulation, guilt, or criticizing). This form of blame-shifting will eliminate any possibility of overcoming your sexual in.
  •  “I Was Seduced” – We are seduced because we want to be seduced. People fall for “get rich quick” schemes because they want to be rich. The salesman may be good, but people buy the product because they want the end result more than they believe the principles of God’s Word for how to attain it. In a marriage this blame-shifting tactic can be appealing because it allows you and your spouse to be “on the same team” against the other person. The adultery partner was equally to blame, but if healthy restoration is to occur they cannot be exclusively blamed.

 “There are always many turning points before the point of no return (p. 89)!” Tim Chester in Closing the Window

8. “I Don’t Know”: It is legal to “plead the fifth” in a court room, but it is deceitful to do so in life. Laziness in response is not an exception clause for omitting important information. “I don’t know” if often used as a way to buy time while preparing to do a “better” job at one of the other forms of lying. “I don’t know” is also used to force the questioner to nag or badger so their action can become the focal point of the conversation.

9. Hidden Agenda: This is deception by set up. Example — You do something nice for your spouse so that you feel less guilty (without having to repent or change) and (intentionally or not) your spouse feels guilty for addressing the sin in your life. Self-pity is another common form of deception by hidden agenda. The essence of self-pity is beating yourself up over your sin in place of repentance and change. The effect is that your sorrow becomes a guilt-shield (for you and them) against the hard work of change being engaged or words of timely truth being spoken.

10. Verbalizing Suspicion: This is the mild form of deception by counter attack. When you confront me in my sin, I attack you for your sins (real or fabricated). If I can’t prove my case, then I will try to change who is on trial. Example – Asking questions like, “Can you tell me you’ve never been attracted to somebody else?” or “I don’t ask you about your credit card, why are you asking me about mine? Can I have the password to your e-mail accounts too?”

11. Slandering: This is the bold form deception by counter attack. With slandering, the counter attacks are known to be untrue and are said not just to change the subject but to emotionally injure the person who raised the question. The goal is to intimidate the questioner out of asking any more questions and to solidify the role of the slanderer as the only one who “really knows” the truth about things – strengthening all other lies told.

12. Exaggeration: This is deception by magnification. Unlike other forms of lying which seek to shrink or hide the truth, exaggeration makes truth larger than it really is. Truth moves from being an enemy to being a weapon; when it should always be a friend (even when it hurts; Prov 27:6). Example – use of words like: always, never, only, just one time, a million times, etc…

Read Ecclesiastes 2:1-11. The book of Ecclesiastes might be called “The Big Book of Step One.” In this book Solomon admits that he tried everything under the sun to find satisfaction and that it was all ultimately unfulfilling. One of the biggest hindrances to admitting our sin is that we believe we are going to “miss out” on the good life if we do, or that our sin has made the good life unattainable so sin is the best option we have left. These too are lies. But not lies you tell anyone else. Lies you tell yourself. And lies you must put away if you are ever going to put away your sin. God has promised that He came to give us a full life (John 10:10) and that nothing we have done can separate us from that good life because of what Christ did on our behalf (Rom 8:34-39). Doubting one or both of these truths is the ultimate reason people remain in their sin.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Adultery” post which address other facets of this subject.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Pornography” post which address other facets of this subject.

Sexual Sin Assessment Tool

This resource is taken from the “False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Pornography to Adultery seminar notebook.

Instructions: Read the following descriptive statements. As you read them, think of your total experience of sexual sin; not just where you think you are “now” after committing to change. The purpose of this evaluation is to give a complete picture of what needs to be changed. Any dishonesty on this evaluation will severely impair your ability to overcome sexual sin and live in healthy, real relationships. Mark the answer that best fits how you respond:

(N) almost never, (R) rarely, (S) sometimes,
(F) frequently, or (A) almost always.

When completing this evaluation, it is important to note that “sexual” or “attractive” do not have to mean visual. They are meant to carry the broader connotation of the word “intimate.” This involves both closeness and excitement.

Click here for 67 question assessment tool and scoring key: Sexual Sin Evalution

The progression of this evaluation goes from objectifying people, public visual lust, private narrative lust, soft pornography, hard pornography, interaction with a real anonymous person, emotional affair without touch, sexual touching without sex, one time affair, affair in an ongoing relationship, pseudo-marriage affair, illegal sexual activity, and same sex attraction. However, this progression is not meant to imply that this is the developmental cycle of sexual sin.

There is adultery that did not begin with pornography. Pornography does not necessarily lead to adultery. The purpose of the progression is to provide the rational for why Jesus would teach that to look at someone with “lustful intent” is a form of or seed for adultery. While the progression is not an inevitable slippery slope, reading the descriptions of the full journey into lustful depravity should sober you towards your sin. Figure 1 provides a visual of the “small steps” between lust and adultery.

 1. Objectifying A Person: Reducing people to a certain set of appealing features and measuring people’s value by how much they please you.

2. Public Visual Lust: Using the objectification above as a scoring system and savoring actual people.

3. Private Narrative Lust: Allowing the scoring system to develop into a story in which you interact with someone in your imagination.

4. “Soft” Porn: Using television or catalogs to provide more “choice” but non-nude objects of lust and imagination.

5. Full Porn: Pursuing nude images and videos on the internet or other media forms and having the imagination expanded by professional “story tellers.”  The frequency, duration, and perversion of this activity can vary.

6. Interaction With a Real, Anonymous Person: The other participant in the story becomes a real person with a real voice and a free will.  This can be 1 (900) numbers, provocative chat rooms, strip club, or “sexting.”

7. Emotional Relationship with a Known Person Without Touch: No longer is the other real person unknown.  They have a real name, face, and history. They know your real name, face, and history.

8. Emotional Affair with Touch, Without Sex: This is probably the rarest item on the list, although it is frequently said to exist.  This is a relationship with a real person with kissing, massage, and other non-intercourse affections.

9. One Time Sexual Affair:  Now the intercourse barrier has been crossed, but (as in the case of a prostitute or drunken business trip fling) the relational connection may be low.

10. Affair in Connected Relationship: In terms of marital threat, the sexual affair is now secondary to the deepening “love” between the spouse and adultery partner.  Sex is no longer a mere expression of passion, but also devotion.

11. Affair as Pseudo-Spouse / Leaving: No longer is the faithful spouse making the decision regarding divorce.  The unfaithful spouse is the active party seeking to dissolve the marriage in order to pursue their adultery partner.

Read Matthew 5:21-30. In this passage Jesus deals with two subjects—anger and lust—in the same way: identify the heart issue, warn against the full grown sin, and call for radical action even at great personal cost. If your instinct is to rebuttal that people should not face prison time or execution for common anger, you are both right and completely missing the point. Jesus is warning you not instructing your spouse. If you focus on what Jesus did not mean (even if you are correct), you will neglect what He is saying to you… personally… right now… in this passage. Jesus is saying, “Take whatever steps are necessary to remove lust from your life. Unless your excuse is of greater consequence than losing an eye or hand, it is just that—an excuse.” The question before you now and throughout this study is, “Am I wanting to hear from God to receive words of life or am I distracting myself by arguing with the words of others?” With that question in mind, score your evaluation.

Question: Am I a sex addict? Is “sexual addiction” even a real thing? Would that make my sexual activity not sinful? The relational dynamic of sexual sin complicates the traditional view of addiction, even if you adhere to a disease model. Many of the books referenced in this study use the language of addiction (we reference these books because they have valuable insight into the description and assessment of sexual sin struggles). The False Love materials use the term addiction to refer to a life-dominating sin struggle, but do not believe that all sexual sin addressed in this study are necessarily mean you are an addict. If you wonder if your sexual sin has an addictive quality, answer the ten questions below. The more items you mark “yes” the more life-dominating your sexual sin has become.

“This is the way sin always is. It will always demand more of you. And meanwhile, as you have been more or less certain that you’ve been controlling your sin, it has actually been controlling you. Subtly, unrelentingly, it has reshaped your mind and your heart in very real ways (p. 21).” Tim Challies in Sexual Detox

  • Repeated failure to resist sexual impulses
  • The amount of time and degree of offensiveness of your sexual sin is increasing
  • Unsuccessful efforts to stop, reduce, or control your sexual sin
  • Spend a significant amount of time obtaining sex or arousal
  •  Preoccupied with sex, sexual behavior, sexual humor, or planning for next arousal episode
  • Engaging in sexual behavior when it interferes with job, school, home, or social expectations
  • Continue sexual behavior when it negatively impacts marriage, social, emotional, or spiritual life
  • Increasing in intensity, frequency, depravity, or risk is necessary to obtain the desired effect
  • Sacrificing social, recreational, or other healthy outlets for sexual release or relationship
  • Experience distress, anxiety, restlessness, or irritability if unable to engage in the behavior

Effects of an Affair

We know that the betrayal of an affair hurts, but the intensity of the pain, awkwardness of the subject, and crisis-nature of the disclosure often cause us to neglect asking, “What does an affair do that causes it to hurt so badly?” In this post, we will look at three things that an affair does which account for the level of pain it creates.

Shuffles Our Story

Affairs hide and lie. We live in ignorance. While we may not think things are “great,” we have no idea what is actually occurring in our life story. Innocently, we can live a lie for weeks, months, or years. When the facts come to light we look back on our life and don’t know what parts of our memories are true and what parts are fiction.

Before the facts came to light if someone asked you to tell your life story, you could (although it might be a time consuming request). Now you can’t. That is incredibly painful and disorienting. It makes you feel mentally, emotionally, and narratively naked. We make so many decisions based upon where our life going (tracing the direction of our story). When your story gets shuffled, the ability to make decision can feel paralyzed.

Confuses Our Vocabulary

I love you. I’m going to the gym. Every compliment. Every criticism. Every apology. Any reference to the future. Any reference to the past. What do they mean? What did they mean? Do they mean anything? Obviously I missed the message before and I don’t want to miss it again. Every word becomes a riddle.

It is painful to feel forced to live as a constant skeptic in one’s own house for the purpose of self-protection. This is the marital equivalent of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9). When language is stripped of meaning, then the currency of relationships has its value removed. We can exchange words, but it doesn’t feel like any transaction is occurring.

Makes Trust Seem Naïve

Home is no longer “safe” for the reasons discussed above, and when home is not safe (a place of rest and replenishing) then the whole world feel more threatening. We begin to believe that only pain and bad news can be true. If I get good news and believe it, I am just being naïve like I was before.

This is the pain of lies. We don’t lie to make things sound worse than they are. So when lies have jolted our world, we begin to believe that everything is worse than we have been told. Common sense is something we gain on the other side of innocence. Now that we are “wordly wise” innocence (expressed partly as trust) it is hard to regain and often feared more than desired.

Where Do We Begin?

This picture sounds pretty bleak. It is. Hope enters a dark place when it returns after an affair. Anything that minimizes this fact gives false hope to the offender and places unwarranted pressure upon the betrayed. There is hope, but hope should not be used to minimize the damage.

So what should the offender do? These points are meant to correspond with the relational damage described above. They both assume that repentance towards God has already occurred and examining the lies and deceitful desires you bought into during the affair.

First, join your spouse where they are. You know what happened; they don’t. Do not speak with a confidence that assumes their world is as certain as yours.

Second, seek to understand their experience. Words will begin to have meaning from you understanding them not them understanding you. You should answer your spouse’s questions (with complete honesty), but trust will build from you understanding them not you giving facts to them.

Third, recognize and honor the faith and risk of trust. This honor will be expressed dispositionally through patience, refraining from self-pity, and not getting defensive. Your spouse will likely be repetitive as they put their story back together (like someone who is grieving). This process is the building of trust and you honor it by not making them walk it alone. You are receiving grace from one who bleeds as they give it. Honor the Jesus you see in them.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Adultery” post which address other facets of this subject.