"Dear Wife, ..."
Notes from the Doghouse: “Honey, It Really Wasn’t About You”
Dear Wife,I’m in the doghouse, where you’ve sent me, and I can’t really complain because I know it’s my own actions that put me here. I did some stupid, irresponsible things that brought me a little pleasure, followed by a lot of misery, like the sick feeling you get after you deliberately sin; the shame of knowing I’ve let everyone down; and, worst of all, the knowledge that your heart is broken because of me. So I’ll stay put in this cramped, lonely doghouse out back while you heal, and hopefully we’ll be able to renew, by God’s grace, our marriage and life together.
Meantime, can I at least let you know what I’m learning and feeling? Because I really hate it out here, but I have to admit it’s not just a place of shame. It’s a classroom, a place of instruction. And boy, do I need some instruction! Well, when you’re here, you have time to think long and hard about what you’ve done, and there are hard lessons to be learned along the way.
Lesson One: It Wasn’t An Accident
I know when I first told you about my sin, I used phrases like “I slipped”, or “I got caught up” or “I suddenly found myself doing this.” But those weren’t very honest phrases to use, because the fact is, I very willfully, deliberately chose to do what I did. The lust in my life didn’t mug me while I was innocently walking down the street. Rather, it enticed me, and I made a conscious choice to give in to it.
That’s hard to face, because I like to think of myself as a man who loves God, his wife and family so much that he’d never deliberately choose to endanger his relationship with them. But I did, in fact, make that choice, and there’s nothing real mysterious about it. Pleasure presented itself; I decided to go for it; and I blocked out the seriousness of what I was doing. No accident; no mystery. It was simple, childish rebellion.
Lesson Two: It Could (But Won’t) Happen Again
I’d love to tell you I could never want to sin against you like this again, and that the very thought of doing so turns me off. And truthfully, right now that’s the case! I feel like a guy who’s been on a weekend bender, getting drunk and wasted, who’s now in his hangover. The last thing a guy like that wants is another drink. But the sad truth is, at some point, fairly soon, the cravings will kick in and he will, indeed, want the very thing that’s been killing him.
So will I. Once I discovered sexual sin, it’s like my brain recorded it for future reference. So when I’m lonely, or bored, or frustrated, or whatever, my brain will remind me of the activity that brought me temporary relief in the past. And who am I to say that I’ve come so far that I would never again say “yes” to that activity? That’s why I’m getting myself into a good accountability relationship, where I’ll know I’m being challenged once a week to give an account of how I’m handling temptation. Because left on my own, to my shame, I admit I will be inclined to repeat this ridiculous sin. And that’s a repetition I’m committed to avoiding.
Lesson Three: It Wasn’t About You
When I finally came clean about my sin, you asked me “Why wasn’t I enough?” Wrong question. You’ve always been enough. You’ve got your flaws like we all do, but they had nothing to do with my decision to indulge. A lot of women make the mistake of thinking that if they were only more like this and less like that, their husbands would never stray. But that’s just not true. A man’s use of porn, or adulterous behavior, isn’t a statement of dissatisfaction with his wife; rather, it’s a statement about himself. He wants the security of wife and family, who he invests in with his body and soul. But at times he may also want the excitement of gratification without investment. That’s what lust is, you know. It’s a selfish, one sided way of relating, in which you get what you want without having to give. And sometimes that’s a very appealing option.
But look where it got me! It’s cold, dark, and isolated here in the doghouse, and whatever quick thrill I got out of my behavior is hardly worth the long term consequences. So while you’re healing up from the pain I caused you, please know that I am learning, being humbled, and even growing as a result of all this. Because although my sin wasn’t about you, my life really is. I have a treasure in you that I’m determined never to risk again, and I trust and pray you’ll reach a point where you’ll see the changes in me are real and lasting.
Come out here to visit me sometime and see for yourself.