Friday, June 21, 2013

Q&A: How to respond to a husband who is sinning and won't admit it!

Q: How am I, as a wife married to a man who claims to be a believer, expected to deal with lying and deception? I caught him lying to me recently in regards to pornographic movies he watched while I was on vacation. I am feeling like I am in a dream and our marriage is an illusion. How do I handle this problem? I am angry and I do not know how to process this in a godly manner.
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A: I’m sorry for your situation. I can certainly understand your anger and frustration. And I’m very glad you’re desiring to handle it in a godly way.

The first thing I want to make very clear is that you’re dealing with your husband and not your son. That may seem like a useless remark, but I find many times when wives are confronted with poor behavior by their husbands, they convert to “mom mode.”  That means they treat their husbands in the same manner in which they would address problem behavior with a child. It usually ends very badly for both husband and wife.

I mention that because you are called by God to show respect for your husband, and that calling is not set aside just because he husband is acting badly. In other words, the exhortation for wives to respect their husbands is not expected of you when your husband is deserving of respect. You are called to respect him at all times. That doesn’t mean you have to just be quiet and put up with his bad behavior. It means that how and when you address these matters with him, you need to do so with respect.

There are many people—including Christians—who believe that when a husband does the kinds of things yours has done, he is no longer deserving of respect. And when you look at it exclusively from the standpoint of his actions, that certainly seems to be the case. But as a Christian, you must also view this matter from the perspective of God’s Word, and rarely is obedience to God’s Word ever going to be convenient. Your situation is a perfect example.

I’m not at all surprised that when you confronted your husband that he lied to you. Individuals who engage in pornography live in a world of darkness and intense shame. Admitting that there is a problem is extremely hard, and even more so when admitting it to someone else. Deep down your husband knows what he’s doing is wrong, and because he’s a man, he wants to appear strong to you. When you confronted him you forced him to expose a very weak and ugly part of his life. His refusal to acknowledge it means he desperately wants to avoid appearing weak in your eyes.

So how should you respond? I would like to list ___ ways that I believe the Lord would have to respond to your husband:

1. Respectfully – as I’ve already pointed out, the calling of a wife is to respect her husband, even when he’s struggling. Ask the Lord to help you with this and to give you the words to say—and to remind you of the words you shouldn’t say.

2. Prayerfully – this is not a time to neglect the practice of prayer. You need to be praying for your husband, that the Lord would convict him of his sin and that he would reach out for support from other men. And pray for yourself and for your marriage. Ask the Lord to give you strength and discernment as to how best to act and respond. Pray for God’s peace in the midst of it all.

3. Biblically – Peter addressed the very situation you are going through in his first letter. Read 1 Peter 3:1-6 and ask the Lord to show you how that passage applies to your situation.

4. Confidently – It can be a very fearful thing when a woman gives herself to the leadership of a man, only to discover  that he is not leading as he should. The resulting fear can propel a woman to respond in many ways—some of which can be just as damaging to the marriage as her husband’s behavior.  So the need for caution is very real. Put your trust firmly in your Savior. Though people disappoint us, Jesus will never forsake you or let you down. Put your confidence in the Lord’s grace and power.

5. Confidentially – When you’re angry, the thought of protecting someone who has hurt you is hard to wrap your head around, but be cautious with whom you share this matter. Your husband does need help, but it’s not going to come about through the humiliation of public exposure. You want him to be restored—not crushed into defeat.

I want to end by reminding you—and anyone else reading this—that your main question centered around what you should do about this matter, NOT what your husband should do. So I have endeavored to be faithful to that focus. (It’s really kind of pointless to tell you what your husband needs to do.) And although you can’t control your husband, you can pray for him, and that is an option you can’t afford to neglect. God bless you!

4 comments:

  1. Dear Paul, I would be grateful if you would consider posting a response to this exact same scenario, yet with the gender roles reversed. Thank You!

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    1. I would be happy to, but I would need that request to come to me in the form of a specific question.

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  2. I read lots of things that say I still need to respect my husband even if he's looking at other girls, which he shouldn't be doing. But I just feel like I am rewarding bad behavior and treating him nicely as if I approve of what he is doing. How can I show respect, but at the same time show that I am not okay with what he's doing? Should I still be cooking all his meals and being all lovey dovey, giving him kisses and compliments when he has this problem and does it in the next room while I'm even cooking his dinner?

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    1. You asked: How can I show respect, but at the same time show that I am not okay with what he's doing?

      You're confusing respect with approval. They are NOT the same, and showing respect does not equate to showing approval for his behavior. In other words, I can disapprove of someone's actions without falling into name-calling and general disrespectful behavior.

      And no, I DON'T think you should be all lovey-dovey. Your husband is being unfaithful to you (even if it's in his mind) and I don't think there's anything wrong with a wife lovingly and respectfully communicating to her husband that she is not willing any longer to share his attention with other women, even if they exist on the Internet.

      You need to have a serious talk with your husband and explain to him that he's systematically destroying your relationship with his pornography habits. Be sure you've prayed before you talk to him, and make sure your words are respectful and kind. After all, you want him to be motivated to change.

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