Yes, you blew it. You messed up. And the worst thing is, your wife doesn’t know about it yet. So what do you do? Conceal it or reveal it? Suppress it or confess it? Well, as a man who ruined a 16-year marriage by trying to hide, hoping she never finds out (and they always do), let me tell you: God will only choose to heal what we reveal. So the only option is confession. But do you know how to confess in the best way?God will only choose to heal what we reveal.
Allow me to share 5 ways to confess to your wife without killing your marriage. Quick disclaimer: Given the offense and number of offenses, I can’t guarantee any confession from you will save your marriage. However, I suggest using these strategies to give your marriage a fighting chance.
1. Use wisdom when it comes to timing.
Even though there never seems to be a right time to give someone bad news, there are better times than others. Timing is always touchy, so consider your wife’s personality and preferences when you’re sharing bad news and confessing. Try to resist confessing during heightened emotions of anger, sadness, or fear in either one of you.
2. Accept full responsibility.
If the timing is right, and she’s ready to receive your confession, be ready to accept the consequences without blame or excuses. Because it’s difficult to sincerely express remorse if you’re not willing to accept responsibility for your actions. Don’t try to explain your actions away or minimize the damage or pain you’ve caused her by defending yourself. She needs to hear the pain in your voice, not excuses for your choice.
3. Confess your actions, not the details of your actions.
Be careful here. When you confess, you should be honest about everything, but you don’t have to tell your wife everything. Sometimes, to eliminate our own guilt, we feel the need to emotionally share all the details of our wrong actions. The truth is, everything you want to tell your wife isn’t everything she needs to know. If you’re not careful, you can give her more information than she ever wanted to know, inevitably delaying her healing. For instance, confessing your porn addiction is one thing, but describing the kind of women you most enjoy seeing naked or the sites you visited is unnecessary.
4. Honestly answer any questions your wife has about your actions.
I said earlier to be honest about everything, not to tell your wife everything. But after you confess, don’t ever withhold or hide any truth from your wife. What if your wife asks you for details about your actions? Simply tell her, “I will honestly answer any question you have, but please ask God if it’s a question you really need to know the answer to.” Remember: Everything your wife wants to know she doesn’t need to know and can potentially be a set-up for delayed healing and future failure.
5. Add full expression to your confession.
Don’t just confess what you did wrong. Express to your wife all the people you’ve wronged through your actions, and how you’ve impacted them. For instance, after my ex-wife discovered my adultery and porn addiction (remember, I chose to suppress, not confess), I finally had to come clean. I had to confess how my selfish actions not only negatively impacted her and devastated our marriage, but also how my actions negatively impacted our son, who was 9 at the time, plus both our moms, my siblings, and our closest friends. This was not easy.
Never forget that although your confession may help you ease your conscience, it can cause collateral damage to your wife and others. So, before you leave the scene of a confession, always initiate your wife’s healing by asking her what she needs from you right now. Then assure her that you’re willing to do whatever it takes for however long it takes to rebuild her trust and make amends.
Sound off: What was the hardest confession you ever had to make? What is the hardest you ever had to hear?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think it is important to confess when we have done something wrong?”