A First Step in Helping Your Struggling Husband
It was May 4, 1991. The early spring foliage was a rich green, and even the air seemed fresh and clean in New York City that morning. It was the beautiful, pristine kind of day couples dream about for their marriage ceremony. Jeff and I stood hand in hand at the altar. As we expressed our wedding vows to one another, I looked into his eyes and was filled with hope, hope anchored in the belief that he would love and cherish me and meet my needs, that he would provide and care for me, and that we would share a life filled with blessings and happiness.
Isn’t that what we all expect from our marriages? Isn’t our mate supposed to complete and fulfill us and make all of our dreams come true? Isn’t that how all of the storybook romances end, and shouldn’t we, too, expect to live happily ever after? How much more should this be true in marrying a man who was a professing Christian?
It only took a few weeks before our fairy tale crumbled as my husband’s twelve-year history of sexual sin and drug abuse re-surfaced.
I can still remember what it was like when my husband’s sin finally came out into the light. I felt like my whole world had come crashing down in an instant. I had never felt such devastation.
The shock of Jeff’s sexual sin brought much confusion and so many questions that I was not equipped to deal with. How could he do this to me? Wasn’t he serious about his marriage vows when he said them? Could this possibly be God’s will for my life? Why was the Lord allowing me to go through this? What do I do now? Who do I tell? Where do we go from here? Is there any hope for us?
As you might imagine, many of the wives who come to us are in this exact same situation. And most of them were utterly lost when they came face to face with their husband’s sexual sin.
Seek Counsel Immediately
After assuring the wife that there is always hope, we determine if she has concrete evidence and whether she has confronted her husband with it. If she does and her husband denies that anything is going on, we advise her to get a spiritual leader involved, immediately. That can be a pastor, elder, deacon, or small group leader. An appropriate leader should be willing to meet with her and her husband, and he should appreciate the potential gravity of her situation.
I say this because the best thing for the husband may be that he is dealt with severely, and appropriate action can often involve mandatory counseling and church discipline. If a leader does not have that mindset, the wife may need to involve another leader or even consider a different church home.
Thankfully, God used my pastor to intervene in our lives. When we met with him, Jeff was confronted with two options. He could go away into a residential program, or he would be excommunicated from the church. We were fortunate that my pastor knew of Pure Life Ministries because he had just recently sent another church member into the Residential program.
As I look back, it has been over 20 years since my husband was faced with that decision. How thankful I am that my pastor was so concerned about his spiritual condition that he was willing to implement biblical church discipline as a wakeup call for both of us. Something was terribly wrong in his life that necessitated this drastic disciplinary action. This wasn’t a little problem that would just go away on its own. He needed help.
Jesus told us in Matthew 18:15-17, “Moreover, if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” We see in this passage of Scripture the biblical mandate of a professing Christian to confront the sin of a believer that has sinned against him in hopes that the individual will come into true godly repentance.
Wives are often hesitant to take this stand because of the implications it may have on the family or the husband’s job. They can be more concerned about other church members or the church board finding out about her husband’s sin especially if he is in a church leadership position.
If you find yourself in any one of these categories this, I would ask you to consider James chapter 5:19-20, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” What a mercy it is to your husband when you are willing to do what God’s Word instructs you to in dealing with your spouse’s sin. And once your husband sees his sin and becomes truly repentant, he will be willing to do whatever he needs to in order to get the help that he needs.
On whatever path the Lord leads you, be encouraged, Beloved, there is hope. “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” Matthew 19:26
Rose Colon is the former Director of Women’s Counseling at Pure Life Ministries, a position she held from 1996 to 2015. Rose has a Masters of Ministry in Biblical Counseling from Master’s Graduate School of Divinity in Evansville, IN and holds certification from the International Association of Biblical Counselors (IABC) in Denver, CO.
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