This post of mine recently appeared on the Covenant Eyes blog. If you or someone you love has been affected by the lure of pornography, I highly recommend their ministry.
“I don’t trust you anymore.”
When you learned of your husband’s sexual immorality, you most likely experienced a flood of emotions. Wives who have learned of the pornography problem describe swinging from paralyzing shock to disbelief and overwhelming rage, crushing pain, grief, and sorrow that defy description.
Thus began a journey that you never intended to take.
You are in the midst of a trial that has broken the trust you once had in your husband. Regardless of what kind of sexual sin he was involved in, the faith and confidence you once had in him has been damaged, or, at the worst, destroyed.
You may wonder if anything he tells you is the truth and it may be that way for a long time. This breeds insecurity and causes you to be fearful and suspicious all the time.
Being the Wise Wife
The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands. (Proverbs 14:1)
Take seriously the message of this proverb. You can destroy what remains of your relationship through fear, anger, bitterness, and suspicion. Some women check up on their husbands constantly. They are afraid to leave him alone in the house; they check his phone and computer for downloads, search through his things looking for “evidence,” and live with a suspicious eye cast toward the man they once trusted implicitly.
Insecurity in the heart is revealed by these kinds of actions and can lead to feelings of anxiety and hopelessness. I want to gently remind you that your security is not to be in your husband, but in the Lord. Placing all your security in a changeable and fallible human is setting yourself up to be hurt all over again.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. (Psalm 46:1–3)
It is critical that you place your husband and your marriage into the hands of the Lord, and entrust yourself to Him as well.
What Repentance Looks Like
Does your husband claim to have repented of his sin? Repentance is not a one-time action, but a lifestyle. Living repentant is something he must do daily, hour after hour.
Biblically, true repentance is a threefold response to sin that is found in the use of three different words that each express a different aspect of repentance. There must be change of mind, change of heart, and change of life. All three components or aspects must be present for there to be fruit of true repentance in a person’s life.
Most wives find it difficult to accept that they have no control over whether he repents. Despite your fear and insecurity, you must give your repentant husband opportunities to regain your trust.
The Trust Bank
When our children were little and began to want a little freedom to go to a neighbor’s house to play or to be dropped off to see a movie with friends, we began to explain to them the idea of “The Trust Bank.”
We told them that their Trust Account with us was full, that they had all the trust we could have in them at that point, and the balance in the Trust Account after this outing was completely up to them. They could add to their account by being exactly where they told us they would be, by doing what they told us they would do, and by coming home on time. This would give them greater potential to receive approval for larger or “riskier” things like sleep overs and out of town events in the future.
If our children came home late, or we learned that they had been dishonest with us, the result was a withdrawal from their Trust Account. This meant that there would be more restrictive measures taken for a while until they regained our trust.
The key was that they were not sent to their room for three months, but that they had an opportunity to regain our trust again through small and structured steps that were designed to help them succeed. We also adopted the “trust but verify” method. Our kids knew that we would check up to see if they were really where they said they would be.
Now, of course some of this is not applicable in a marriage, but the idea can be utilized nonetheless. You, as the wounded and betrayed spouse, must allow your husband to regain your trust through testing in life situations.
Forgiveness is given, but trust is earned.
Some couples work together on ways for him to regain trust
such as giving her full access to his computer, phone, not erasing computer history logs, and installing special software
that will allow a remotely located accountability partner see where he has been browsing, and the searches that have been done on the Internet. Other men place a phone call when leaving work for the drive home and provide financial accountability for every dime spent.
The day will come when you will simply have to trust that your husband is being faithful and true to you. The more trust building opportunities that are behind you, the easier this will be. You will need to entrust your husband and your marriage to the Lord and remind yourself that if your husband proves not to be trustworthy, the greater violation is against God, not you.
Keeping the Godward perspective is imperative; therefore, I suggest routinely reading Psalms and Proverbs to gain wisdom, insight and understanding.
Trust but Verify
Because deception is such an integral aspect of sexual sin, the temptation is to disbelieve everything your husband tells you. It is easy for someone outside the situation to tell you to just believe him because they are not in your marriage and they don’t feel your heartbreak. They also don’t live with your fears regarding deception.
It is not biblical for you to continually disbelieve your husband if you have agreed to remain in the marriage and have determined to forgive him. You may not realize it, but each time you do not accept his words as truth you are accusing him of being a liar. You must understand that the more you tell yourself that he is untrustworthy, the more convinced you will be that it is still true.
This makes it very difficult to move forward and rebuild trust in the marriage. My encouragement to you is to accept what he tells you as the truth and pray that the Lord would confirm it for you as truth or a lie. God detests lying as much as all other sin, and He exposes the things done in the darkness.
Building trust will come with the passage of time. The more your husband is proven to be honest with you, the more you will find trust beginning to build. This will not be accomplished overnight but will come a little at a time.
Hopefully he will understand this process, and is patiently waiting for you to see the changes that are taking place in his heart.