One of the most difficult areas for husbands and wives in recovery is how to navigate the precarious landscape of talking about a struggle with sexual sin. Here are some helpful resources in navigating the healing process for couples.
Couples Restoration After Infidelity (show notes)
FAQ’s – Cultivating a Helpful Check-in
Recommended Resources for Couples
Listen to the Full Transcript Here.
Hello, and welcome to the regeneration ministries podcast. My name is Josh Glazer. I’m the executive director of regeneration. We’re here to help you and your loved ones grow sexual, relational and emotional wholeness. Each week. In this podcast, we’re going to tackle different topics that will help you do just that. Today, we wrap up a four part series on recovery or restoration, after there’s been infidelity in marriage, whether that infidelity has been physical, or emotional, or visual with pornography or some other sexual acting out. Huge, huge topic. And I after every time we’ve recorded, Jamie and I are looking each other going, like, wow, there’s just so much left unsaid. If you’ve heard one thing in the series so far, I hope that you can guess that I’m about to say the most important thing as you do this in recovery, you’re going to need a community of people around you, both the husband and the wife, or in the community of people around you, who serve some different different roles. Very likely, an experienced Christian therapist, or a very experienced spiritual coach or mentor, you’re need a band of brothers or sisters around you who can help hold you accountable, help hold you up when you’re struggling. And of course, you’re also going to need just people in your corner who are really rooting for your marriage, but who are doing so with their heads very much and what is real and what is true. So you need you need you need a recovery community for for each of you individually and for you guys together. And as you do that, you walk through these four stages, we’ve talked about them in the last three podcast triage, cleanup, and cleanup can take for forever. And then there’s a repairing Foundation, which also can take take forever. And then this last phase, we’re gonna dive into today. And again, just, you know, quick, quick run through it. But is it really about rebuilding? And I said, this, I think is one of the first two podcasts The aim is not to rebuild things the way they were. The aim is to rebuild them better than they’ve been. And so, Jamie, as we wrap up this this segment, like what are some of the things that maybe we can just kind of run through? What are some of the categories or the the activities, the things you need to work at in this rebuilding stage?
Yeah, great. So the some of the things would just be forgiveness, which can happen way earlier, but we’re going to talk about them today. Because that’s a big one huge restoring physical intimacy, continuing to reliance on God. We’re gonna talk about check ins today. But also just kind of reconnecting, I mean, if we’ve done so much work, and usually, the phases before this are the longest and most arduous, but we want to maintain that individual journey of you know, any of your history that’s played into this, any of the ways that your your own activities have gotten in the way of his healing, or your you know, any of the things that have gotten in the way up till now. You want to keep continuing to work on those things.
In some ways, what we’re talking about today really applies for every couple. Because if you even if you have been through an earthquake, every house, every home, every marriage has wear and tear on it, every marriage experiences tremors, sometimes it’s storm sometimes. And so something we’re gonna talk about today is really long term in the marriage. So as long as those first stages took, that we talked about in the last three weeks, this one is not cannot can help. It’s not necessarily as painful or as like, as steep a hill necessarily, if you’ve done the work before if you’ve done the work before, but it but it is, it is kind of a it’s it’s building muscle that’s going to go on and on in your marriage. So so let’s, let’s start by talking about check ins, I think there’s gonna be it’s a really hot topic for a lot of couples. Last week, we mentioned that we do not recommend that the that one spouse be the accountability partner for the other spouse when it comes to a breach in the marriage. We said that with the caveat that, that both the offending spouse does need to be speaking the truth and telling the truth to the their spouse. And so we like to encourage couples, we prescribe the couples do what we call a regular check in Jamie, what are some of the things that come to mind? What How would you define that? And what does that look like? Sure.
Well, I remember early on for us wanting trying to figure out how to not have my head in the sand about Joshua’s progress, but also not living it all the time. It wasn’t my experience, and it was only a portion of who he is. And so trying to figure out how do I carry both of those things at the same time. So we decided to have I think at that time, a weekly check in where we agreed upon a certain time a certain day of the week, a certain time. That provided safety for me. I knew we were going to have the conversation. And I also knew when it was going to be, I wasn’t gonna be surprised by it or thrown off. And I could also prepare for it. I could have people praying for me. And I could kind of know how I could leave.
Yeah. So. So let me let me jump in here, because you mentioned that, for us it was it was once a week. Yes. And that has looked different over the years, and we recommend it be a different thing for different couples. And really, you make those decisions, again, in the context of your recovery community. But But considering like, what’s the severity, what are the consequences of not knowing what’s what are the patterns of telling the truth or not telling the truth? A check in is not isn’t is not just the kind of a on the whim, I’m going to unload on my spouse right now, because I’m feeling so guilty, and I just can’t hold it in and I want to feel better. That actually can be just the opposite of what you want to do, because
or vice versa, that he’s driving home from work. And she said, Did you look important today? Did you talk to her today?
Right? Right? Because I mean, those kinds of just like, they can just, they just can throw you back into place you don’t want to be and the checking does allow both spouses to be ready. It doesn’t mean, it doesn’t mean that it’s ever easy to have the check in, right. So, but setting the time and setting the place can really help. So we also learned by trial and error, some some things that are really, really important about that time and place. So a couple things I just throw in there, like we I remember, we, we it was really important that whenever we had the check in, there was space and time afterwards, for you to have just some space. So you could reach out to some sisters in Christ if you needed to. So you could process that you could journal. It wasn’t on the run it it. We learned this the hard way, but not before. Like, you know, hey, we’re on a trip going to spend the weekend with my family and friends, medically speaking. But it’s it’s where you’ve got room in places that are safe for you to to process and work through what you’ve what you’ve heard me say. That was one example. No major holidays. Right, right.
Yeah, we actually have some resources we’re going to put, right because I know we went through it. Yeah, yeah. about forgiveness, too. But it’s intensity, frequency duration, it’s avoiding triggers. It’s
for the wife and I’m generally speaking for the wife,
or for the first spouse who’s who’s who’s not been the one guilty of the infidelity. Yes, go ahead.
Unknown Speaker 7:29
Have a succinct.
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We, you know, the
I usually recommend you say thanks for sharing as like, that’s all I need to say. I don’t have to have a good response. I don’t have to comfort. I don’t have to make it okay, I don’t have to yell and scream. I found wide ranges. Sometimes it’s fine. And other times it’s an emotional mess. Right? And it could be the same thing.
Yeah. So let’s, let’s just for the sake of time, just leave the check in for a little bit. Again, you find those resources on our website. Let’s talk about forgiveness. Because on the on the big scale, okay, I’ve you know, a spouse has found out that their husband or wife has had an affair has been looking at pornography for years. Also on the small, weekly check in or monthly check in whatever that ends up being. Not to mention the myriad other reasons that a spouse is going to need to forgive the other bullet, but thinking specific about recovery from an infidelity or some type of breach in this way, what are some categories important things that people need to know about forgiveness,
there’s so many, the, I think the biggest one that I run into a lot is that forgiveness and reconciliation are different. Forgiveness is between you and God, recognizing that he is our protector, and kind of offering that back to him as the one to make things right again. And versus reconciliation, which is more of a horizontal relationship with your spouse. And those can be different you can forgive without setting up the relationship in the same way.
So another another way, maybe of communicating that, that idea is this, that forgiveness is not the same as the relationship being restored in all ways. So one easy example of that, in this situation would be, you can forgive without necessarily trusting the other person with access to your computer, for example. And as a matter of fact, I mean, if you think about it, in light of, you know, somebody passing away or, God forbid, the, you know, the one spouse is not repentant and ends up leaving, that the initial spouse still needs to forgive or still hopefully is going to come to a place of forgiveness. So they’re not stuck with with the bitterness and the the pain of carrying around unforgiveness on top of all that all that rest has happened. But
one of the things that happens a lot Christian communities, maybe others is, again, I’m going to talk in generic, if the husband’s been the offending spouse, that the wife is left alone to do the journey by herself, sometimes even blamed in the process. And, and often, and I’m, it hurts me to say often, but that has been my experience that forgive him and move on. It’s been this kind of short response of God commands you to forgive and move forward. And that leaves the wife in this very precarious situation. Yes, I’m commanded to forgive. And there’s process right.
So as their their Christian community is coaching the wife, look, you just need to forgive them. That’s Yeah,
I’m hopeful that’s changing.
Yeah. If that’s not the case, if it’s not just just forgive them. What is it, Jamie? Like what? You know, so you’re talking again, to a small recovery community gathered around a spouse who’s been betrayed. And they want to know what, what how do we walk this road towards forgiveness? What some, what are some of the things that you’d share?
I find forgiveness to be a lot like salvation. There’s the initial act, and then there’s the walking it out. So with forgiveness, there’s the initial when you come to a place to say I forgive you for your betrayal. And then it can be as the reminders come up, as you’re at that same grocery store as your, it’s that same time of year, if it’s the same familiar outfit, and it’s the it’s the green to forgive again, again, that’s between you and the Lord. It’s not a passive act, this is a decision, that can be a difficult one that you have to make over and over again, a lot of wives will say, I thought I forgave him, but I’m so angry. And maybe I never forgave him. And so we walk through that difference. And that those can be that’s an emotion and forgiveness can is a choice we make over and over again.
Yeah, and hopefully, over time, it does, it does get easier. In the end, you experience the forgiveness, not just as an act of your will, but also emotionally, and relationally. I think some some, it’s helpful for some to know what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not forgetting. Scripture never commands us to forget. And actually, in some cases, we’re not going to be able to, although I will say that there have been times where somebody is forgiving, a really difficult thing, only to find that later, they have a harder time recalling it to mind. Because forgiveness has taken that mean, just guys done a miraculous work and really helped someone to move beyond it. But forgiveness is not denial. It’s not pretending like the situation isn’t what it is. And I think sometimes you mentioned earlier kind of a Christian community pushing people to forgive. I think sometimes the flesh like wants to do this kind of pseudo forgiveness, because it’s just so painful, to accept and to walk in the difficulty that this is still an ongoing issue that we need to walk in. It’s, and the flesh would like to say no, if you just forgive, you don’t have to feel this pain anymore. So I guess likewise, forgiveness does not mean that it’s not going to hurt, right. So anything else you’d add to, to how we forgive or walking through this path of forgiveness.
There’s also it’s not a response to an apology. You don’t have to wait for him to come and say, I’m really sorry. And really get it. Because that’s a process to sometimes the offending spouse will come and kind of understand a portion of what you’ve experienced. And it may be years later, and they’re like, I really understand more. Can you forgive me for more of that? And so, I mean, you as you stated, if somebody already passed on, like you, you don’t need the other person around to forgive them. That’s this is again, between you and God, trusting that he can handle this.
Yeah, I think that one of the things to think about so if you’re if you’re the one who has wronged your spouse, you it is a right and humble thing, I think to ask for forgiveness, but recognize that when you ask for forgiveness, the aim of that is not asking them for something so much as trying to give them something that you took
and so good. Yeah.
Like we’ve heard from some offending spouses who have said like, you know, they just won’t forgive me like I you know, I’ve asked for forgiveness, I’ve done what I need to do and they’re not forgiving. recognize it. Oftentimes it’s going to take it’s going to be a process and maybe you look at your your spouse’s ability, inability so far to forgive as them really working it out so that their their forgiveness can be authentic. Now if they’re just holding on to bitterness and not looking at the work you’re doing and not moving towards forgiveness, that’s on them. But your job and asking for forgiveness and and confessing and being humble is really to try to restore the dignity and and and kind of bring the truth to light and say this is the truth of what I did was wrong against you and against God and I am sorry, I asked you forgiveness.
Yeah. I mean, so we’re in the rebuilding stage, and we’re trying to build this house better than it was built before. Yeah. And that takes intentional acts, it takes humility and sacrifice, it takes having fun together and remembering why you got together in the first place, figuring out how to have physical intimacy in a way that’s, that’s helpful, depending on the severity of what you’ve been walking through. But this is, this is a important steps to do. Well,
yeah. And hopefully some of those things in this stage are really, and this can be with a foundation repair tool, and depending on what the breach was in the first place, like sometimes it’s a really important part of this whole journey, to remind yourself that this is not everything about your husband, or about your wife, right? This is not everything about your marriage, just because this exists, it doesn’t mean that everything about your marriage, everything about your spouse, was just awful to begin with. And so reclaiming some of those things and even seen them grow. And if you’ve been doing the work of recovery along the way, and growing in your own emotional intelligence and your own vulnerability and intimacy. At some point, especially in this rebuilding phase, you’re going to find that there are things in your marriage that you look at and go this is better than it’s ever been before. And I think that that is really some of the hope. And I’ve heard from countless couples. And I think, who would say something to the effect of not that what we walked through didn’t matter not that what was done wrong wasn’t really wrong, it was. But looking back, we can together see that what God has brought from this is better than than what we could have imagined. And and we wouldn’t ever want to go through it again. We also wouldn’t ever trade it for what God has done in our lives. Right? Well, let me I want to I want to close this out of this whole series by reading one of my favorite quotes from CS lewis’s book, Mere Christianity. And I think it applies to this whole concept of there’s been this breach, there’s been an earthquake, and everything that you once knew is just kind of been flipped upside down. you’ve walked through triage, you’ve built a recovery community. You’ve done a lot of cleanup, you’ve repaired foundations as best you can. And maybe you’re still finding some faults that you’re you’re cleaning up along the way, and you’re rebuilding. So listen to what CS Lewis writes, in Mere Christianity, I think it’s so applicable. Imagine yourself as a living house, God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps you can understand what he’s doing. He’s getting the drains, right, and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on. You knew that those jobs needed doing and so you’re not surprised. But presently, he starts knocking the House about in a way that hurts the bottom abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is he up to? The explanation is that he is building quite a different house from the one you thought of throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor, they’re running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage, but he is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it himself. Lord, we’ve said so much. And yet we’ve left so much uncovered. We pray, Lord, that through your very presence in the lives of our listeners right now that you would cover them, cover them with your blood, with your spirit with your love, with your favor, with your hope. lead them to recovery communities, people who can walk with the Lord, if we can be of help in that way would you lead them to region? Jesus, thank you, that you are no stranger to the earthquake effects of sin and our humanity. And Lord, thank you that there’s power in your cross, your resurrection and your ascension, to restore and make all things new. We pray for everyone listening, learn that you would do just that in their lives. And we pray for me and Jamie that you continue to do that nurse after these many years of marriage. Learn thank you so much that you’re with us and at all. We pray all these things, the name of the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit. Amen. Thanks so much for listening today. We hope what you heard will be helpful to you in your journey. If you or a friend or loved one want to go deeper into these topics. Please know that regeneration also offers spiritual coaching and intensive support group programs for men and women seeking sexual and relational wholeness, both in the Baltimore areas and in Northern Virginia. Also, none of this would be possible without the help of our donors. So if you feel like you’ve benefited and want to support the work that we’re doing, please go to regeneration ministries dot o RG slash donate or you can just go to our website and click the donate button. Thanks again and we look forward to talking again with you next week.