For the married man, there can be a real helplessness that goes along with repentance. You know you’ve messed up, you’ve apologized every which way you can, and you’ve taken some concrete steps to get help. You’ve joined an accountability group, you’ve gotten yourself an accountability partner, you’re in counseling, and you make sure that on a daily basis you’re in the Word and praying.
But you’re still in the dog house. She says she forgives you, then she rips into you with a fresh round of questions. (“How could you do that? Tell me again, what were you thinking? What else haven’t you told me?”) Other days she’s snowman cold; yet other days, she’s so depressed you seriously fear for her safety. You can’t blame her, and you don’t – after all, your actions made it all happen. But your frustration grows. You want to make it right, but you’re running out of ideas. Now what?
You might try something I call the State of the Union Address. It’s a simple weekly practice you can implement now, and it can hugely relieve the hurt and tension you’re experiencing at home. Many of my clients practice it, and have found it to be helpful. I hope it will be for you, as well. Here’s how it works:
- Set aside a minimum of 30 minutes per week, preferably the same day and time each week. Make sure the two of you have privacy during this time, and that it will stay uninterrupted. This insures her that you’re taking it seriously, and gives her a sense of weekly continuity.
- Start by telling her about your own process. Tell her how you’ve been doing with purity (as in, whether or not you’ve stayed clean, how you’re handling temptations, etc.) Then tell her what you’ve been learning this week through your counseling, or your group, or your own personal reflections. Finally, tell her how you’re feeling about her: how you appreciate her, how you feel about the sin you committed against her, how you feel about her as your partner, and whatever else comes to mind. Be specific, and don’t hold back.
- Then tell her she’s got the floor. Tell her you’d like to know how she’s feeling about your marriage, about you, about the communication between you, and about the progress the two of you are making. And be sure to ask her if she has any questions at this point about anything, and I mean anything. This reassures her that you’re open and willing to talk about her feelings, her concerns, and any unanswered questions she may still have.
- Remind her of how much you appreciate her forgiveness and patience, then finish the time in prayer, asking God to continue healing your marriage and preserving the two of you in Him.
Now, you and I both know there’s no quick fix for repairing a damaged marriage, but this weekly effort usually helps it along nicely. She needs to see that you have a zeal for her, and for the life and health of your union together. I know of no better way of showing that than through consistent, regular efforts at communication and cooperative effort. So try this out – I think you’ll find it a plus. (And let me know, by the way, how it’s coming along.) God bless.
(If you’re wanting to read more about this topic, check my book The Game Plan, available here)