Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
As we addressed the concept of confession needing to be an adopted life style of the recovering sexual addict; let me lay out for you just one template of what thorough confession looks like. This will be a six step process that does not have to be followed exactly; this is designed to be a template for you. Several of the components are crucial; otherwise, you will fall back into worldly sorrow which is not the least bit productive. We know from our discussion last time that worldly sorrow leads to death, the death of your relationship. You do not want the death of your relationship, for that leads in most cases to the death of you. Here are a few principles to hang on to as you go through the process of healthy confession:
1. Stay out of your own stuff. Confession is about the other person, not about you, so do not make it about you. Do not defend yourself, do not rebut, do not offer excuses or reasons why you did what you did, focus intently on the person you are offering confessions to.
2. Do not apologize or seek forgiveness until later. This is vital to understand, if you offer “I’m sorry” or “please forgive me” early, you may leave the impression that you are done with the ordeal. Trust me, you are just beginning, and the man who would be willing to just begin again with his wife is a man on the road to recovery. Apologizing too early short circuits healthy confession and forgiveness. Remember, this is not about you. This is about God using you to bring healing to someone you have wounded. Let’s begin…
1. Describe to your partner what it is that you have done to hurt your partner. I suggest that you write it down and share it with your partner. Now, she knows full well what you did in most cases, however in order to have intelligent conversation, you two must talk about the same thing. Speaking what you have done will also begin the process of ownership. Yes, that is correct you have got to take ownership. Do not tell her what she did to cause this, tell her what you did wrong. This may be some of the hardest stuff you have ever done…do it anyway. The end result is Godly intimacy.
2. Ask your partner to share with you three feelings that came out of that experience. Feelings? I can not adequately convey to you the importance of addressing the issue of feelings with your wife. So often, when you apologize, feelings are left out of the equation. She has them, and you put them there. She truly needs to know that you realize that they are there. This is a travesty of your sexual sin, men. You are out doing your thing and she is paying for it. When you ask her how she feels about it, you get to look in and see the price tag for what you’ve done… step on in, be a man. As men sometimes we have to go places where we do not want to go, this is one of them. When she shares with you those three feelings, be sure to give her every opportunity to pick the words she wants. Do not change them to absolve your guilt, listen to the words that she chooses. Make sure that you ask her why she chose those words over the thousands of other feeling words that are in her arsenal. This is not to make her defensive, this is to create conversation so that you can move to step number three.
3. Reflect back to you partner EXACTLY what has been shared with you. Be a tape recorder; push the rewind button and then the play button. Share with her exactly what you heard her say. Do not put your spin on this, do not point blame at her, and do not become frustrated with her. All of these things are about you; remember this is not about you. This is a very necessary segment of this process. Believe it or not, she needs to know that you heard her. She needs to know that you are willing to listen to what she has to say without telling her what she is supposed to feel or say. Give to your wife the opportunity to clarify her message to you. After hearing you say what she just said, she might think of something different and want to share that with you. The more she has the opportunity to share and clarify now, the less she will do that with growing levels of intensity later.
4. Share with your wife whether or not you are responsible for the hurt she is feeling. Look at it this way, consider your wife as a hit and run victim. Were you an innocent bystander that is touched and grieved by the carnage left by the truck that ran her over? Or, are you the guy behind the wheel? This is important men. Later when the time comes, you can apologize for this thing happening to her or you can apologize for doing this to her. Which ever one of these that you choose will make all the difference in the world as to whether or not you experience Godly sorrow or worldly sorrow. Tell her you were driving the truck. Now, one thing to remember to help you through this process, you are not taking responsibility for everything ever gone wrong in the relationship, only that one thing that you stated at the beginning of this process.
5. Share with your wife how you feel for her hurt. Men, follow me on this one for just a moment. Picture in your mind the throne of God. However that looks to you is fine. Seated next to God is you. It is take your kid to work day, and there you are for the day watching Dad (God) do what he does. Interesting thing is that He has His arm around you, holding you close to Himself. He is very happy that you are there with Him. What is it that God is doing at this moment in time? He is not looking at you, He is looking at your wife, the moment she found out what you did. He is looking at her heart. Men, my question to you is, what is the look on the God’s face? What do you see? Do you think anger is the correct response, is God angry with you? No, in the most grace filled way let me say, that this is not about you, this is about her. God is not looking at you; He is looking at your wife. He is very glad that you are there with Him. Why, because He wants to invite you into a deeper sense of what He feels for your wife when you hurt her with sexual sin. God has you close so that you know that He is not rejecting you (Isaiah 41:9). There is another reason why God has you close, He wants you to see what He truly feels for your wife. What is the look on God’s face? Maybe it is compassion, sorrow, a broken heart, maybe sadness. Do you think it would be all right if some of what God is feeling for your wife began to move into you? Do you think it would be OK for you to begin to hurt the way God hurts for your wife?
Now you are getting a deeper picture of 2 Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow leads to repentance…” Imagine if you will that God asks you a question, “What are we going to do about this?” I believe that God would want to use you as a tool in His hand to bring healing to your wife even though you are the one who brought the hurt to her in the first place. Men, do your best to communicate to her what you are feeling for her, not for you. This is not the time for “I am sorry,” or “would you forgive me.” Think about looking into the soul of your mate, tell her what you see. Here are some ideas for your use: “It saddens me that you are hurting so much,” “it breaks my heart that you are left with this,” “I can see that you are in a lot of pain.” Some of the most powerful exchanges between a husband and a wife that I have ever witnessed have come out of this time. Those times were not because of the husband’s eloquence, it was because of the struggle for words. Men the words are not nearly as important as your heart attempting to communicate the heart of God. You at this point are God’s messenger.
6. Seek forgiveness and pray for you wife. Now is the time to say that you are sorry for hurting her for just the one thing mentioned at the beginning of this process. Seeking forgiveness before this would be premature. Men, ask her for forgiveness in a humble way. After you have done this, pray for her. You may not be a man who prays out loud much…learn to, your wife needs you to. Listen, when you pray, do so in such a way that your wife hears you ask for God’s forgiveness as well. She needs to know that you place yourself under His authority. This will allow her to trust you sooner in most cases. Be sure to pray specifically for the three emotions that she mentioned, ask God to specifically heal those through the power of the Holy Spirit. If appropriate, hold her at the end of this process.
by David Speicher