But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:7-9)
So what now? If your spouse has confessed and together you have committed to doing whatever it takes to heal the marriage then what does that look like? How do you go on? How do you ever trust again?
Initially, we were in survival mode. We received immediate Christian counseling from someone prepared to handle the depth of our problems. We signed my husband up to attend the "Every Man's Battle" workshop and within a month he had attended it. The conference was critical and was a sign to me that he was actively working to make necessary changes. I read A LOT of books in an attempt to understand what we were dealing with and deep down I desired to know that I was not alone. That there were others out there who understood my pain. Slowly we began to broaden our circle of support by sharing our troubles with trusted friends. We talked and cried a lot, too.
Early on we learned the importance of my husband having an accountability partner. They talk about having one in the "Every Man's Battle" book. We also found a book called "The Accountable Man: Pursuing Integrity Through Trust and Friendship" by Tom Eisenman. This is a great resource for understanding what an accountable relationship looks like and even has sample questions to help steer you in the right direction.
My husband and his friend have met once a week for five plus years. Their commitment to each other and to living lives of integrity are a beautiful model of what community and Christian brotherhood is all about. "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17). For us, there was an open dialogue between the three of us and I know that my husband's accountability partner and I are on the same page. I can trust him to challenge my husband to be the man God calls him to be and to ask hard questions.
In our situation, my husband also has accountability to me. We have a "no secrets" agreement so everything needs to be shared. If my husband has stumbled or struggled in the area of sexual sin, both his accountability partner and I are aware of it, primarily for the purpose of encouraging him, but also to hold him accountable to not fall deeper into sin.
For the most part, the above steps that I mentioned, coupled with action (not just words) are helping to rebuild the wall of trust that was shattered by sexual sin. My trust was in shambles. It took a commitment on both of our parts to rebuild one block at a time. It is still a struggle. But I know the man my husband is today is not the man that betrayed me. He shows me this by who he is (integrity), how he behaves (actions), his accountability to others (responsibility), through consistent effort, and being authentic (being the same man at work, at home, at church, etc.).
Every situation is different, but if your spouse is not taking the necessary steps to rebuild and heal your marriage, then your process will be "slower" then mine. It is God's timing. He knows the path we need to take to have a true, heart change. It may mean a trip to the "pit" and back again to ignite a brokenness about the sin and a deep desire for change. You need to do your part in the process, too. Above all else, trust God to do the work that must be done in your spouse's heart. This is not easy. You are in my prayers.
This is a prayer my husband and I have both used to ask God to reveal the things within us that need fixing or to be revealed:
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. (Psalm 139:23)
1. This Is My Solemn Vow