She sat in my office crying. At first I thought the tears were only because she missed her husband who had been deployed to Afghanistan three months earlier, but as she began to open up to my wife, Ashley, and I, we quickly discovered that there was much to her pain than just the physical distance between her and her husband. She was about to tell us a secret that she had sworn to herself that she would never tell anyone.
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This young woman and her husband and started to drift apart in the months leading up to his deployment and now with thousands of miles between them, she found herself desperately lonely. She had reconnected with an old “friend” and he offered her support and encouragement. She felt safe confiding in him, because he was in a different city, so she knew that phone calls, text messages and some occasional “face time” would be the extent of their connection. That security caused her to let her guard down and one night and one flirtatious text message with this “friend” led to another which led to another and before she knew it, she was engaging in an exchange of sexually explicit pictures and words.
Once the sexting exchange ended, she came back to her senses and realized the magnitude of what had just happened. She texted her “friend” and said that they had crossed lines that never should have been crossed and needed to break off all contact with one another. She blocked him from her phone and facebook and tried to put the whole incident behind her as if it had never happened. The problem was the secret was eating away at her. She had to get it out. She had painfully discovered the principle that we don’t own our secrets; our secrets own us!
She made this tearful confession to Ashley and me and asked what she should do next. She didn’t want to tell her husband, because she was sure this confession would cause irreversible damage to the intimacy and trust in their marriage. We prayed with her and encouraged her to remember that God’s grace is bigger than our biggest mistake and His forgiveness is instant and comes with no expiration date. We also shared the difficult truth that the Bible also clearly teaches that we need to confess who whomever we sinned against, and in this case, she had sinned against her marriage and her husband.
We told her that ultimately, the choice was hers, but that for a relationship to thrive, there’s can’t be secrets. In a marriage, secrets are as dangerous as lies and until they come out into the open, they’ll create an invisible barrier blocking your growth as a couple. A painful truth is always better than a hidden lie.
She waited until her husband returned from Afghanistan so she could have this conversation face-to-face. She told him everything and he could see the remorse on her face. He was hurt, but her courage inspired him to share some secrets of his own. After clearing the air and seeking forgiveness, they were both able to eventually move forward to a new level of health and strength in their relationship.
If your marriage seems like it’s stuck in a rut, one reason may be there are secrets that need to come out into the open. You’ll be amazed at the power of honesty and Grace. Let truth and forgiveness flow freely in your marriage and you’ll be able to get through any challenge that comes your way! If trust has been broken in your marriage, please check out my recent post on How to rebuild trust.
“Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9
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