Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Many elements are included in the process of restoration, but the absolute most important element is that of rebuilding of trust.
My wife has said on many occasions that being cheated on is the worst kind of pain anyone can experience. She has articulated it like this,
My heart felt like it had been ripped out. I gave you all of me - my heart, my commitment, my
love, my devotion, and my full trust. I was betrayed on so many levels. I felt sick to my stomach.
I couldn't eat for days. I questioned my own worth and value as a person. I prayed and asked
God to allow me to die, so that you could have exactly what you wanted.
When I hear those words, I am not only ashamed and filled with remorse, but also completely disgusted with myself. Self-loathing is something I have to fight against. I am no longer in the midst of my sin. I have fully repented, and need to constantly remember, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).
Sometimes I wish I was her new man. Someone who could hold her and listen to the stories of that other jerk-idiot-fool who had done those terrible things to her. I wish I could run into him in a dark alley, and pound his face in. The biggest burden I have to carry, is that I do run into him everyday- every time I look into the mirror.
Learning to see ourselves in a new light, as forgiven and blameless, with our identity and value anchored in Christ Jesus is another post for another day. I just needed to get that out.
The following ideas are not flawless and perfect. They are simply based on the ones that we've implemented in our restoration process. I would highly encourage you (those of you who are rebuilding and restoring your own relationships) to consider implementing these into your process. Also, please share any other ideas that you might have.
No secrets. Period. In a marriage, you are two individual people who have come together as one (Mark 10:8, Ephesians 5:31, Genesis 2:24). No secret bank accounts, separate bank accounts, separate vacations, separate plans for the future, goals and visions for your life that directly conflict with those of your spouse...and feel free to add any other number of things to this list.
All emails, phones, online accounts, anything requiring a password should be accessible by your spouse. Your spouse is your intimate ally, not an enemy from whom you are withholding information. This isn't some kind of prison warden all-access pass that requires constant monitoring. This is an opportunity for you to say to your spouse, "Every conversation, every account, every activity that I choose to partake in will honor you and our relationship. I have nothing to hide from you. Feel free to look and see whenever you like. You'll never find anything that hurts you, or compromises our relationship."
Leave your phone out in the open. Hand it to your spouse when you walk in the door. Don't ever take it into the bathroom with you. Keep it in a different room - other than your bedroom. Have limits as to when you access your phone. Keep work hours as work hours. Be present with your spouse when you are home. Limit your phone & internet usage when at home - and especially when you are out with your spouse at dinner, or on a date night.
Smartphones have location services. iPhones have a great app called "Find my iPhone." ENABLE IT. Allow your spouse to ALWAYS know where you are, and be able to verify it. Send your location via text. Be where you say you're going to be. Have integrity. Again, this isn't about giving your spouse unnecessary police-esque kinds of duties over you. This is about rebuilding their trust and confidence in you. This is about rebuilding the validity and trustworthiness of your word.
First thing - right off the bat - DELETE ANY AND ALL Facebook "friends" who are "exes" of yours, or people that you've had a past relationship with. Even if it's that cute girl who was your first crush in 1st Grade. It will not benefit your marriage in any way whatsoever. Remember the marriage vows you took, "Forsaking all others"? Cut off all contact with all of the people who fit into that category. You do not owe them an explanation. You do not need to worry about their feelings. Your only mission is to fight for and to protect your spouse.
Another idea is to eliminate individuality: Mike Smith's profile and Jane Smith's profile - eliminate one and combine the two. I know you've seen them every once in a while: MikeandJane Smith. One profile, one union, one intent.
All relationships with members of the opposite gender should be either cut off completely, or reduced to the level of acquaintance only. I'm not talking about close family members, but anyone outside of the family. If you are friends with another couple, it's fine for you to have a friendly conversation with both people, but never outside of that setting. Meaning, under no circumstances ever, should you have a private conversation that can't be monitored by your spouse with a member of the opposite gender (email, text, phone call, in-person...etc).
After that, you need to sit down with your spouse and talk about any other relationships that bring about a concern. If your spouse has concerns with any of your friends of the same gender, you need to discuss that in a civil manner. Listen to the concerns your spouse has about each person. Try and see it from their perspective.
There are apps for your computer and smartphone that can not only filter sexually explicit content, but also provide accountability. XXXChurch is a site that provides tools to help with porn/sex addiction, as well as a free app that can be added to your computer or mobile devices.
There are other filters and apps that provide some accountability, but XXXChurch is Christ-centered. I encourage you to check them out and see which ones will work for your situation.
These are some ideas to help get you started. I don't know your personal situation, but I do know that at the heart of the issue trust and integrity are key.