Sin is deadly, and unrepentant sin will kill a marriage. Regardless of the sin, whether “big” or “small” (from a human point of view), a spouse’s refusal to repent marks the beginning of the end of the marriage. However, there is hope. Like a cancer, if detected, identified, and treated, the marriage can become stronger than anyone ever imagined. Unfortunately, the remedy may be horrifically unpleasant for everyone involved. Nevertheless, unrepentant sin must be confronted. In the words of Christian author and psychologist, Dr. James Dobson, “love must be tough.”
The Lord is relentlessly loving yet utterly uncompromising when it comes to behavior that undermines our relationship. Similarly, we must be willing to stand firmly against sin. However, as women especially have discovered, expressing anger or sorrow is not enough. No amount of arguing or tears will turn a sinner from his sin. It is a sad fact that when the Holy Spirit cracks the shell of a hardening heart, His tool of choice is usually the consequence of wrongdoing. Therefore, our response can be no different. For a tough-love confrontation to be truly effective, it must include no less than five essential steps. Moreover, each step must be thought out well in advance and then expressed with calm resolve at a single confrontation.
As we examine the inner workings of a tough-love conversation, bear in mind that our goal is two-fold. First, we want to encourage someone we love to escape the deadly trap of sin. Vengeance is not ours to give, so punishment is not our purpose. Second, we want to reconcile the broken relationship and eventually restore trust. While we cannot compel another person to join us in repairing the breech, we can invite him or her. And that begins by making repentance more attractive than continued sin.
Step 1: Name the sin.
First, tough love names the sin and holds the wayward partner solely responsible for his or her choices. No one should be surprised when this is met with resistance. Sinners always deny wrongdoing. And when that fails, they minimize the gravity of their behavior. And when that fails, they attempt to shift blame. It goes all the way back to the Garden, where Adam pointed the finger at his wife and she, in turn, charged the serpent.
The sinner will likely try to blame his or her partner’s shortcomings as the reason for the sin. Let’s acknowledge that no mere mortal can ever claim to be completely above reproach; nevertheless, the failures of one person—regardless of how serious or how chronic—can ever justify the sin of another. No one is compelled to pursue evil. The responsibility for wrongdoing belongs exclusively to the person choosing destructive behavior. While we must be willing to address our own shortcomings, this must never become a precondition to the sinning partner’s repentance. There will be time enough for addressing past wrongs after he or she has escaped the mind-warping influence of sin.
Denial, minimizing, and blame-shifting do not deserve a response. Instead, keep the focus on the real issue at hand: there is never an excuse for sin.
Step 2: Clarify the consequences of unrepentant sin.
Describe the negative, destructive impact caused by the sin, especially if the effects continue to the present. Describe how the sin has impacted the relationship. Then—and this is where courage frequently falters—set boundaries based on these responses. For example, in the case of pornography:
“David, I love you, but I have no desire to give my body to a man who willfully defiles his mind. In fact, I’m not comfortable sleeping in the same bed with you. Therefore, you should sleep in the guest room as long as you keep viewing porn. And if you refuse, then I will move in there.”
Or, in the case of alcoholism,
“Michael, your drinking is out of control. You frequently drink too much in public, embarrass me with your obnoxious behavior, and then expect me to take care of you as you vomit through the night. From now on, I refuse to help you in any way when you’re drunk, nor will I remain in your presence. Furthermore, I want to support your career, but your public intoxication embarrasses me. Therefore, you will have to attend company functions without me. I won’t be going until you get help for your drinking problem.”
While this might feel unkind or even manipulative, it is neither—as long as the boundaries reflect the upright spouse’s authentic feelings. And this is crucial. Our loving response to sin must come from a place of authenticity and strength, which begins with a clear understanding of who we are and what behavior we find acceptable.
Setting boundaries is nothing more than refusing to engage in any behavior that betrays one’s conscience or forces him or her to behave one way on the outside while thinking or feeling the opposite within. This is not about getting even; it’s a matter of integrity. Furthermore, the goal of tough love is to allow the wayward spouse to suffer the consequences of sin instead of bearing them on their behalf.
Step 3: Call for repentance.
Encourage the wayward spouse to repent—for his or her own good as much as anyone’s. However, beware of the temptation to beg if he or she fails to repent immediately. Dignity is far more compelling. Begging says, “Please turn from your sin; I can’t live without you!” Dignity, on the other hand, declares, “When you have rejected your sin, I will be there to love and support you.” This is crucial when communicating with a partner whose perception of right and wrong, good and bad, has been turned upside down by sin.
Step 4: Offer a plan for reconciliation and, ultimately, complete restoration.
Work with a counselor or a wise Christian friend to form a specific plan for reconciliation and the rebuilding of trust. (My friend and colleague, Dr. Bryce Klabunde, has written an outstanding article explaining how to recognize genuine repentance, titled “I’ll Change, I Promise” Six Signs of Genuine Repentance.” Good intentions are not enough—for either person. The wayward partner likely feels powerless to stop his or her behavior while the wounded spouse has every reason to expect a repeat offense. Neither the sinner’s self-control nor the victim’s trust will be restored overnight. It’s a gradual process and it must be intentional.
In the case of alcoholism, a restoration process must include three essential elements: individual treatment (rehab, individual counseling, or whatever is deemed appropriate by a qualified professional), ongoing accountability (such as AA or Celebrate Recovery), and eventually couple’s counseling. Meanwhile, the spouse of the alcoholic must seek his or her own counseling. For every dysfunctional person in a marriage, there is a person who picked him or her as a partner. He or she needs to understand why. (There’s a whole article by itself.)
Step #4 is perhaps the most crucial element of a loving confrontation of sin. It is what turns vengeful condemnation into hopeful redemption. Offering a specific plan for reconciling the breach and for restoring a broken relationship is quintessentially God-like. That is what He does for us.
Step #5: Follow through with dependable action.
Tough love says what it means and means what it says. Tough love consistently follows through with dependable action, which is absolutely essential to success. Tough talk without tough action only compounds the problem. Furthermore, any discrepancy between words and deeds undermines dignity, which a sinning partner must see in order to offer respect. The wayward spouse must become convinced that the negative consequences for continued sin are real. He or she must also know that repentance will be met with complete support. In the case of alcoholism, this includes taking an active role in the addict’s recovery as directed by his or her sponsor or case manager. Eventually, this will also require the upright partner’s availability for intimacy as the sinner works to regain trust.
Put simply, the upright partner must follow through on promises.
The key word is response, not reaction or retaliation. We aren’t declaring war; we’re establishing boundaries. We aren’t trying to dominate; we’re trying to redeem. Ultimately, the purpose for tough-love confrontation is not to coerce or control the sinning partner; it is merely to clarify three important facts. First, the wayward spouse needs to know that he or she has the power to decide the future of the marriage. Second, the upright spouse needs to communicate that he or she wants the marriage to be restored. Third, a refusal to turn away from the sinful behavior will lead to greater unhappiness for both, while repentance will lead to complete restoration.
For a more extensive treatment of this tough-love approach to unrepentant sin—especially when the level of dysfunction places others in danger—see my book, Redemptive Divorce.
Luke, My husband says it’s amazing how really free he is of any temtpation to doany Porn.He was addicted to Porn for 25 yrs. I caught him 2009. I found CE. He finally joined wks later, he had to think about it. I found a Shoulder to Shoulder Men’s group, solely for sexual addiction. They contacted him, and he joined. He has been faithful in going once a week. He is working the 12 steps, he is on Step 5. Times are hard, we have no savings, our credit is bad, we have tax liens. My husband, without one word to me, put down nearly 2000K on a Harley, and outfit. He financed it. In a mo. he has put 2000K miles on it. I told him, he has not changed, this is acting out. I gave him consequences, he doesnt care. I’m at a loss? Days later my washer broke, no $ to replace, but he is having a ball.Isn’t this showing/telling me something is wrong? He absolutely doesn’t care about consequences,he shows it off.
It doesn’t work. I am just a BITCH. In his way for 24 years. It sucks and hurts. You give bad advice. It will never help until I AM DEAD. So keep writing books.
I hope you do know that you’re not a bitch for expecting your husband to love and respect you. Another option besides death is good boundaries, including separation and divorce when your partner is not able to be respectful of you and the marriage.
Here, here, and here are some articles that might help with that.
I would also hope that you’re finding a therapist for yourself, maybe a group to support you, and there are great online resources for you at Bloom as well.
Whatever he chooses, you do get to choose a whole, healthy life for yourself.
Peace to you,
“Discouraging” is too small a word for what you must be feeing. Your husband’s porn addiction very likely comes from a deep-seated narcissism that manifests itself in many other ways. Not only in selfish irresponsibility, but inability to keep a job because of authority issues (it’s always someone else’s fault). And he very likely puts everything off on you. “If you didn’t ______, then I wouldn’t ______.”
It’s unlikely this will change without something drastically life-altering to shock him into humility. For you more than most, I would highly recommend pursuing a “redemptive divorce.”
Begin by reading the first chapter online , or through Google books. That will give you some idea of what the process is about. There is a way out of this horrible situation. It won’t be easy. It’s not a quick fix. But it will help you move life in a more healthy, hopeful direction.
I have a question. My husband has had a sexual addiction for a very long time. He has done it all. Affairs, porn, quarter booths, etc. He has done the whole Im sorry act for 12 years. He (I think) has been clean for 3 years. He has done this before though. So there is no trust at all.
This article was very interesting. I am tired of living this way. We have 4 children. One who is special needs. I feel like a whimp. I put up with a lot.
What I am wondering is….Right now (like I said, as far as I know) my husbands biggest problem is in his mind. He doesnt ever think about what he is thinking. He will be remembering things from his past and not kicking the thought out and then he realizes it and says he kicks those thoughts out and thinks about “good” things. This is constantly. Intimate moments, fun times, work, family time, etc.
This is so hard for me because I hate knowing (or I guess not knowing) who he is thinking about. It is ruining my life and our family. How does this tough love apply to this situation?
I want to support him and work on this marriage but I dont know how I can. Can you please help me understand how to apply tough love to this situation?
Unfortunately, you are not alone. The details differ and the issues vary, but many people find themselves in a situation very much like yours. I find at least three primary reasons you and others struggle (as I once did.)
First, we have a poor understanding of what it means to “repent.” Saying “I’m Sorry” and feeling bad is a good beginning, but it’s not repentance. My friend and colleague, Dr. Bryce Klabunde, has written an excellent article that explains the true nature of repentance: “‘I’ll Change, I Promise’: Six Signs of Genuine Repentance.” I have also prepared a worksheet to help apply these principles.
Second, we have a poor understanding of what “forgiveness” requires (and does not require) of us, and the significant role “trust-building” plays in the restoration of a relationship. I have a few thoughts that might be helpful in the article, “I’ve Accepted the Apology, So Why Can’t I Forgive.”
Third, we (as the community of believers) have traditionally looked to the upright partner to restore a broken marriage when, in fact, the upright partner is quite powerless. Only the wayward partner can restore the marriage by repenting, by receiving forgiveness from God and his or her mate, by choosing to do anything necessary to walk uprightly, and by rebuilding lost trust.
This third perspective is what keeps you trapped in this futile cycle. You have correctly identified the root of the problem: your husband’s thinking. Unfortunately, the unwitting message of the church is that you are responsible for the restoration of your marriage, which inappropriately hands you the responsibility for changing your husband’s thinking. Obviously, you cannot. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to change brains, and only your husband can choose to let Him.
So what’s a better way to respond? First is a radical change of perspective for you. You called yourself a “wimp,” but I would like to reframe that notion to say, “You did the best you could with the knowledge you had, and you extended extraordinary grace to a very broken mate.” You have done well to stand by your man this long. However, you have arrived today at a different place. Now you see the need for change. Good. The past is done, so let me offer a new perspective that may take some time and repeated effort to adopt.
Because of your husband’s affairs, compounded by other sexual indiscretions, he deserves nothing more, and you owe him nothing more. Every day you spend with him from this day forward is a gift that you are free to offer or withhold at your discretion. His sin has freed you from all obligation except to treat him kindly. Moreover, your broken marriage is his to restore. While you must remain willing, he must restore the trust. After all, only he can. (Another article that may prove helpful is “Learning to Forgive by Learning How to Be Offended.”)
It seems to me that your self-worth has taken a real beating these last twelve years. Infidelity will do that. And, without knowing the details, it doesn’t appear his last three years of remaining clean has done much to restore trust or to help you feel honored or cherished by him. I suspect it’s still “all about him” in your marriage.
Without sounding harsh, I will state what you probably know already. You have allowed this to continue probably because you don’t think you’re worth anything better. If you do not change this, you will continue teaching your sons how to treat women and your daughters what kind of man to choose. Your decision to value yourself as a child of God, worthy of dignified treatment by others—including your husband—is your first priority now. If not for yourself, then make the change for your children.
As you do this, start listing the specific behaviors that cause you and/or the children the most pain. Decide how you will respond to those behaviors in the future. This exercise is good to do with a healthy, mature Christian counselor or mentor (female, of course). Communicate these to your husband, just as I outlined in the article, and then follow through. If the behaviors involve any sexual indiscretions, immediately take it to the next level: Redemptive Divorce.
Mary, what you’re asking to receive is normal and reasonable. You are neither crazy nor wrong to want this dignity. Your taking strong measures to receive the dignity God has ordained for all people will cause many in your life to feel upset. Let them. Be kind, but stand strong. Extend grace, but be wise. And remember, this damage is HIS to repair. You can only respond to behavior you find credible.
Thank you so much for writing your book “Redemptive Divorce.”
I have always been well grounded in Jesus. I have strong morals, convictions, and character. I have a solid belief system. I love Him, and He is my Saviour.
When my husband and I enter into therapy, after a few sessions, I am written off. It seems my great sorrow, betrayal, loss of all assumptions that have been in place for nearly all my life, goes under the carpet…with therapists (I guess) thinking, oh, she’s strong, she’ll FIGURE it out on her own, she will handle it.
They drift all their concern, expertise, attention, sympathy, empathy, toward, my spouse, WHO MUST REALLY BE IN “MORE” NEED, than I. It is amazing how it happens a lot. Then I have no advocate, no one to care about the harm done to me, nor the betrayal. As if, sessions, are just for the offenders, not the injured parties. I am accused of believing that my husband had MORE than an “emotional affair,” so all of a sudden then, it is I in the chair to be judged for MY WRONG.
My husband lied to me, had me rent him a car, an expensive (coupe) car, that was to be used to pick up a rich business man, have an all day meeting, then I was to pick him up late that night, at the car rental. What he did, was slowly steal cash from our account, until he had 1000K. He got in the rental car, picked up his “emotional” affair girlfriend, wined and dined her, tell her he had been in love with her since he first laid eyes on her (She is 5 yrs older than our oldest daughter) took her to a bike shop, and bought her everything she wanted, from a new bike, clothing, gear, and bike rack. Then supposedly took her back to her apt. held her in his arms, and kissed her on the lips.
I’m the crazy one here, I guess, because I call this a full blown affair. The Christian therapist asked Jack, if he was upset, that I was making it more than “what” it really was, just an “emotional” affair. My husband said he was. I believe he stole our money, as we have serious tax and income problems. Last week, my husband, said in therapy, he didn’t steal from US, he made the money, he earned it, and he could spend it as he wished. Sorry, I walked out of the room. I refuse to be treated that way, when I have done nothing to deserve to hear such painful things.
We have been married 44 years, even pastored a church. He has a career in Religious ministries. But, no one seems to think, he is a bad guy, just weak, and full of “poor” judgments.
Your book is the first time I feel, someone cares about …………ME.
Loyalty, truth, openness, and trusting and believing in Christ has always been a part of MY ROOTS. I am steadfast. Now, his emotional affair, is with his new Harley, which again,we cannot afford, and has nothing to do with me.
I was asked by my husband, if I would drive alone, in our car, follow him on his bike, way up into the mountains, that is nothing more than hair-pin curves all the way, have a lunch up there, then drive alone back home. That is his idea, of “trying” to connect and have an outing together, NOW.
Thank you again, for showing me, that ….somewhere……out there…….someone………cares for me.
Thank you SO much for your encouraging words. It is truly gratifying to know that you were helped and that you felt like someone became your advocate in the depths of your pain. Unfortunately, there are many struggling to be heard, people suffering in the shadows of the church who desperately want to be understood.
Honestly, I decided to wait before responding to your comment. I literally shook with anger at the callous disregard for you in the process of addressing the sin that has torn your marriage apart. I felt it best to write when I could speak from a place of calm rather than outrage. My hope is to educate our fellow believers rather than shame them. But this is difficult sometimes.
When pastors and counselors encounter a marriage in crisis, they often go into crisis mode. They seek out the problem and then direct all of their energies to solving it. When the problem is sin, the guilty party becomes the center of attention, often leaving the upright partner to tend to his or her own wounds.
This is inexcusable! And it must change.
Stand strong, Annette. Trust your instincts concerning your husband’s activities. (Emotional affair? Not so much!) You cannot be guided by wishful thinking and your husband has not earned the benefit of doubt. Despite the naive advice you have received, you have the Word of God on your side. You also have in your hands a plan of action to bring the truth of your husband’s sin in the full light of day. It is firm, yet compassionate. Tough, yet infused with grace.
Put your team together (accountability partner, counselor [for YOU], and Christian attorney] and begin formulating the plan. Do this for yourself, and for the sake of what is right and true.
In your corner,
It was an eye-opener and heart-touching to read the replies from Annette and Mark back and forth.
The one thing I would comment on from the last reply is yes, how our Christian helpers seem to just go into Crisis Mode as you put it.
My family has been suffering for 3 years, it finally got bad enough for me to seek help in desperation. To which a friend of ours decided to get our church involved. I was ok with that, I love my church and my church family.
I was looking back to our first meeting that we had with the church to discuss how they might be able to help us and I remember how shocked I was that they had put so much time and effort into thinking things thru fully.
There was not just one person, but 6 in that room. They did not want to just address the one need we were crying out for but wanted to help us get on a well-rounded plan to address every angle of our lives and help all ways that might be contributing to our issues.
You see, I was the one stuck in Crisis Mode. I was unable to look at anything except day to day. I am SO grateful to their insight and truly well-rounded help. I feel, finally, like we can get our lives heading in good directions – even thru the tough times that we are dealing with.
As for our addiction problem, well you can see my other posts and trust me I will be reading the articles and books you have recommended Mark.
While many churches don’t know what to do, many others have wise, realistic leaders guiding the flock. Praise God for your pastoral staff! They clearly understand that life’s most difficult issues are never solved in a single stroke. Addictions and dysfunctions neither appear overnight, nor vanish in a single day. A pattern of choices established them, and only consistent obedience in the right direction will overcome them.
I have confidence that the Lord’s church is the very best place to rescue and restore marriages when the shepherds are wise and adequately trained.
I have something to tell you.
I was so encouraged, as I skipped through your book, that I laid it down, and sent you my 2nd response. I had yet to learn the true meaning of the title. I was just so grateful, and I still am, to your understanding words of validation,
to the cry of my soul.
This will make you sick at heart, really sick.
As I remember the moment……..thinking back now……
when I read a certain part of your book………..I feel myself……..getting sick,
shocked, stunned……it was when…. it hit me, what you meant by “Redemptive
Two years ago: ( FYI: I did not even know of my husband’s addiction, until 10 months ago,when he was caught, he did not confess to me because he was under the conviction of his sin(s).
My husband, of many decades, enticed I am sure, by the whisperings, of Satan, filed a “Redemptive Divorce” against me.
Fear, griped him, as he and The Deceiver
tried to stifle me, literally. I didn’t realize back then, what it REALLY MEANT
when I found by total accident, (as I had not one clue about The Truth), an
inappropriate site (not porn) he had opened.
He had such great fear of being found out, that he was completely under the oppression of the father of all lies, Satan.
Stunned, shocked, I approached him, in disbelief.
Why would my beloved husband, and a Christian, and working on behalf of non-profit “persons”
ever……….even “think” of opening up such a site.
He jumped up, screamed he wasn’t doing porn, or porn chat rooms………..
What……..I was not thinking THAT…….. never……….would………I ever think………..that of him !
………..and porn chat rooms…………what was that……….I’d never even heard
of that…………how could I think of such things, when I didn’t even know they
He took care of………his close call, swiftly, without any hesitation.
Not only did he file for divorce, he also obtained a TRO (temporary restraining
order) against me. ( At the 1st hearing, the judge did not continue it. In our state, you can immediately get one, without any proof at the time. Then at the hearing, the Judge decides if it is warranted or not).
My crime: I got too close to finding out his secret addiction!!!!!
He immediately went to our ex-pastor AND his wife. He met with them for 2 hrs. He told them, I was a very delusional jealous wife, who was mentally ill, and refusing to go on medicine………to “get better.”
“My God, how can we help you get this remedied ???” They said, ” Do you know the name of a Christian Lawyer, I need some advice?” My husband asked, pitifully, looking like the victim, to them.
Yes, they did know one. He assured them, he was promising, that his deepest
desire……..was to heal his marriage……….but he needed to fix……..what was
They agreed to meet once a month, to give him, support, during
his difficult and heartbreaking time of trying to help such a “sick” wife.
They called me, wanted to meet, I obliged. I had no fear, I did nothing wrong.
Surely, they would pray with me, and see for themselves……..I had done
nothing to deserve such devastating circumstances, without any advanced
knowledge or warning.
I was wrong, Satan, closed their hearts, their minds.
They thought. How could this man of God, come to us, with such fear, in his eyes, such emotion, such feelings of grief, and tell us such a thing. Truth was on his side. To me, they just simply dismissed, the site my spouse had gone to. That’s when I knew, I wasn’t dealing with Man anymore, I was in the middle
of a deadly, serious, Spiritual War.
I told them, sadly, as I left, one day the truth, will be known, and I will be found innocent of such accusations.
My husband, never met with them, ever again. He had accomplished what he had set out to do, justify his sins, known (divorce, the TRO) and unknown ( sexual addiction,and being an obsessive love addict, to come in the near future).
The TRO was for this sole reason: To make sure I did not tell all his clients
his sin. His was “acting” out on what he knew (about his own sin) not on what he had made up about me……..as I knew nothing about his sin, except for this one inappropriate site.
Five and a half months later, he called me, he was thinking of ending his life.
I ran back to him. He was a mess, physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally.
He was put on medicines, diagnosed with serious mood disorders. He has since been hospitalized and had ECTs done, but it has not yet freed his soul
(as you have read in past posts). It’s God’s work now, as all else has failed.
Its another book to tell you all that has happened in the nearly 2 yrs since I have been back. I can tell you, he never cleared my name, with anyone.
The ex-pastor was never told………the truth. After, they gave my husband a
lawyers name, they emailed me with this.
“We are praying for you, believe this, and are assured, by your husband, he wants complete healing of this marriage, but at this time, we feel, that outside
of prayer, we cannot offer you, anything else. ”
So, now I still, 2 years later, have a $7,000K leftover, lawyer’s bill, and a nearly $3,000. bill for many, many hours of therapy. They were both to be paid by my husband. The therapy, was to get rid of MY delusional illness, as everyone was told. The therapist never confirmed my husband’s accusations……..those evidently came from Hell
itself. He was a gentle and kind therapist, who helped me deal, with unexplainable circumstances back then. The therapist saw me as often as I
needed, and billed my husband, but after a few small payments, he refused to pay. God, helped me, and the therapist continued to see me, even though
he knew payments had stopped. God bless him for that.
Mark, I understand, if you never post a response. Really, I do. I must tell
you however, I literally burst into tears, sobbing my heart out, as I read your response. I was betrayed by so many, but the deepest betrayal, came from
my so beloved husband. Here I was, being validated by a stranger, who doesn’t have to care about me, but did, through God. Thank you, you’ll never know what your kindness has meant to me.
So, I have no redemptive option open to me………..but………do believe……..
that used by the right spouse and for the right reason, as my situation
was completely done…for the wrong(evil) reasons and by the one who was living a lie……..a Redemptive Divorce can restore and can heal, and redeem
a marriage that might otherwise be lost. I do believe that.
In closing this, my sincere regards go out to all those who have the courage……..to make things right and follow the plan in Mark’s book. God has given Mark insight and a deep understanding to help more souls than can be counted in a day, or in a lifetime, to find their way back home, back to their soul, and restore God’s grace and mercy.
In no way, does my story, reflect, that I am NOT endorsing your book, as I am.
It is just an irony…………..what happened to me.
Thanks again, Mark. Mark I’m okay. We are all in a place, where God is so desperately wanting us all to know, which side of the fence are we on, who will we serve, man (flesh) or Him. He wants us to be so steadfast and sure
about this, as He knows, the Times are about to change for the whole World.
Our choice, will be known to all. I am praying for my husband, all the World, to know………HIM, as I do. He IS the reason I have come this far, and I love Him with all my heart. I lost so much, the devil took more than I can tell, but what always kept me back then, and even now, was my Christ. I knew (still do) that Satan could steal everything from me, even my husband, but he could not steal from me, my Salvation……what peace that gives me.
I’m terribly sorry to hear about the sorrow you have suffered. What you have described, however, bears NO resemblance to redemptive divorce. People have been using lawyers and divorce papers to threaten and coerce their spouses for decades. Redemptive divorce does nothing of the kind.
While I do anticipate some will abuse this grace-oriented process and have described my fear in the final chapter, nothing you have described comes close. On the contrary, redemptive divorce establishes clear boundaries and allows the offending partner to decide the future of the marriage.
Any plan that attempts to coerce or control the other is not redemptive.
Again, I’m very sorry to hear about the ordeal you have endured. It is truly tragic.
How do I cope with and how much do I have to put up with before I just have to say no more? I moved out away from my husband three years ago, but could never fully stop talking to him. I wanted to believe that he could change and wanted him to be happy with himself if we were not able to reconcile our conflicts. Every time he said he was done with porn; Magazines, dvd’s, internet I would believe him but a small voice would say “no he is not” and sure enough EVERY time it was true. Why?? If he really loved me would he ask me back into a hurtfull situation OVER and OVER again? Knowing full well what the lies and the porn has done to my well-being??? He has even tried to pursuade me to go his way and said”If you weren’t so insecure it wouldn’t be a problem and that this women he has meet recently in the past year is ok with it. I have told him many times then perhaps that is a person you need because you do not want to change. You see nothing wrong with it. I want someone in my life that makes me feel emotionaly safe and adored. I have my own place and live with my 16 year old son, we both need stability.
Diane, your response to your husband’s addiction is a very clear case of what Patrick Carnes calls “the betrayal bond.” You knew this about him before you married, yet you chose him to be your mate. And the repeated “second chances” further indicate your desire to be with someone who betrays and hurts you.
I don’t say this to condemn you, or to suggest in any way that his behavior is your fault, but to point you in a direction that will provide answers. I, too, struggled with the betrayal bond, which kept me in a cycle of destructive relationships until I broke the pattern. Based on personal experience, I highly recommend Carnes’ book, The Betrayal Bond, and that you discuss it in one-on-one therapy with a qualified Christian counselor.
There is a reason you make these choices and there is hope for a better future.
In the meantime, my other article “My Husband Is Having an Affair with Pornography, What Should I Do?” may be helpful.
I have been married to my husband a little over a year now and found out shortly after we got married that my husband has a porn addiction. I did not know before we were married that he struggled with this addiction and this has and continues to effects our sex life, as well as myself. I am 24 years old; I’m a Christian and have been raised in church and have heard all my life from my parents and leaders constantly telling me that divorce is not an option. I have heard it all.. that I need to pray for my marriage and seek guidance and help. I have talked to my husband on how this affects me and it’s like in one ear and out the other. I know that I should try to get more help with counseling or at least talk to my husband MORE about how I really feel, but I almost don’t want too, I resent him so much now. My family has realized that my husband is not the spiritual leader in our marriage and they can sense we are having problems, but I have not told them the real issues that I’m dealing with. It’s almost like am I really supposed to feel like this in my first year of marriage? Sex or intimacy with my husband is not supposed to be an issue this early on? I can’t satisfy my husband, because he is constantly being satisfied by porn. We will go several weeks without having sex because he is pleasuring himself, and when we do have sex he is never satisfied. Along with the porn addiction, he struggles with anger issues. So when I try to talk to him about how I feel, he gets really angry. Where do I start? Because my heart is hard against my husband and right now before I plan more of my future with him and TRY to start a family, something has to change, or I want out.
You have a really good grasp of both this situation and your own heart, and I urge you to follow your own advice. It good that you aren’t rushing to the divorce route (this is very common today). It would be a very good idea to seek guidance about this, such as a counselor or pastor. Here are some places to get you started:
– 7 Questions Wives of Porn Addicts Often Ask – This series will walk you through some common questions wives have.
– Setting Boundaries with Your Porn Addict Husband – This is part of my interview with Vicki Tiede, author of When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography. She has some great advice for wives.
– Find a Counselor – This is a good database of Biblical counselors. See if there’s one near you.