Transparency in Marriage (James 5:16)

I remember being at a meeting for inner healing and when time came for my husband to receive ministry, the person directing instructed that I was not to come. I was puzzled and hurt, I felt a separation in that moment. As I sought the Father for what I was sensing He showed me it was that Allen and I intentionally keep no secrets from each other, but this person was unintentionally putting a wedge where none existed. (Let me clarify and say if my husband had asked me to wait I would not have objected, but someone else telling me I couldn’t be with him during a deeply personal moment…?  Yeah that didn’t fly with me.)

I went and interrupted the process briefly to explain to my husband my concerns and to ask if he preferred me to not be there or if he wanted me with him.  He said he wanted me with him. The minister was surprised and explained that after years of doing this, spouses always prefer to go through the process separately because there are things they’ve chosen to keep secret.

This aligns with what we’ve experienced as well. On more occasions than I can count, my husband comes home and tells me of how flabbergasted some husband is about the level of transparency we have in our marriage.  They’ll say to him, “You told your WIFE that?!?!”  And the fact is yes, he did… and there’s a reason why.

Primarily, the reason is rooted in a desire for a high level of relational intimacy in marriage.  Having spoken with and counseled many a wife, I know  many tend to operate in the 3 monkeys style (see pic) – if they don’t hear about it, don’t talk about it, don’t see it… it isn’t real.

There’s a principle here: the fact is what you don’t see, know or talk about still VERY much impacts your relationship and the spiritual atmosphere of your home.  Ignorance truly isn’t bliss. As my Nana used to say, “It’s fun to be fooled, but it’s more fun to know!”

Intimacy through Confession

You may remember in yesterday’s post I talked about how we can leave our husbands exposed for the enemy to mess with. The same is true in this situation. Let’s start by peeking at James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

I understand the bible isn’t saying that the husband and wife HAVE to confess to each other, but I would challenge that we GET to.  If we want to truly be more like Yeshua (Jesus), we must become experts at forgiveness. After all, according to Matthew 18:21-35 reminds us we are wicked if we withhold forgiveness when Christ has so freely forgiven us.

Can you remember a time when you received forgiveness – especially when you knew you were undeniably in the wrong?  Forgiveness is powerful and can break barriers that the enemy would try to erect.  When a husband confesses and you forgive him, you can help break off shame and guilt, which helps facilitate him walking in freedom.

Personal Example

As Allen rededicated his life to the Lord 7.5 years ago, the Father convicted him he had to confess his infidelity to me.  He’d done things intentionally trying to destroy the marriage he didn’t want and now that he did want it, he was terrified to tell me. But per the principle mentioned above, the secret hovering there was very much affecting our marriage and causing separation; even though I was completely clueless.

To quote from our marriage testimony:

Allen told me he needed to talk to me, he said his “soul was being tortured” – the minute he spoke the words – a tidal wave of peace came down over me. I told him I forgave him – I knew he wasn’t the same man he’d been three days earlier and that no matter what it was – I forgave him. He needed to tell me and so I let him. I listened as he spoke and then told him again – “I forgive you and I love you.” He told me later that it was like I represented Jesus to him at that moment – it was unthinkable to him that I could forgive him.

This was a pivotal point in our marriage.  I’d prayed for years to see breakthrough and it was now here, but it came at a cost… my forgiveness.  I could have chosen to pull the “biblical cause” card and divorced him (and more people than I expected encouraged me to do just that), but why throw away everything I’d prayed to see?  Breakthrough. Repentance (Hebrew word is Teshuvah, which involves repentance and new beginnings).  In an instance, the wedge was ripped out.  It took time to heal from that, but we were able to heal.

What is Forgiveness

It’s helpful to remember that forgiveness does not condone the sin, but rather it releases your right for retaliation or to harbor offense.  When you release the right, you step aside and defer to God’s perfect judgment over the situation – for He is the ONLY one qualified to judge, He sees the heart and understand if the behavior came from a place of wounding that needs healing or wickedness that needs chastising.  Regardless, it is out of your hands and into the Father’s.

Forgiveness gives us an opportunity to walk in LOVE (and God is love – 1 John 4:8) and of course loving is the heart behind the two great commandments (Matthew 22:37-40).  So let’s remember what love looks like. First of all, “God so loved the world He sent His only begotten Son…” – from this we see that love is sacrifice.  Let’s see the definition in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (AMP) and I’ve bolded a few things that are especially pertinent to this line of thought:

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

Giving No Place to Bitterness

I’ve had many women tell me that “they just wouldn’t be able to forgive _____” – to which I have to wonder what God they serve, because MY God is fully able to heal and restore any of His children’s hearts.  Refusing to forgive not only puts us in opposition to God (because we’re being the wicked servant of Matthew 18), but it opens the door to bitterness and anger. In essence, we block our own healing by refusing to forgive!

I realize in the example I gave above some might say it was easier to forgive because he was ready to change, but how do you forgive when the same sin comes up again and again. As Matthew 18:21-22 reminds us we forgive seventy times seven times.  I concede it is more challenging in repeated situations, but with God ALL things are possible, so let me give another example.

Personal Example

For anyone who has visited my husband’s website, it doesn’t take long to see he’s been very open with his struggles with pornography (here are a couple of his posts about it: Slay the Dragon, Looking at Porn, and I See a Trend I Don’t Like).  And he is not alone!  The statistics are staggering, especially among Christian men because this is a sin that can be done easily in privacy where “no one will know” – but God that is 😉

Anyhow, this is an area Allen has struggled with for years.  Having personally broken a porn addiction pretty much cold turkey, one could say that I have reason to say there’s no excuse and withhold forgiveness. But the Father wouldn’t agree with them.

Has it been difficult for us both as he’s had to humble himself and confess he’s stumbled again? Absolutely!  But what we’ve discovered over time is that the Father has used our united front in this battle to strengthen our marriage even as the enemy is trying to destroy it. Hmmm that sounds like Genesis 50:20 (NLT), “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”

When women choose the monkey approach – either by withholding forgiveness, punishing their spouse when they do repent, or by blatantly telling their hubby they don’t want to know – they allow a wedge in their marriage.  They’ve now limited the level of intimacy they can walk in together.

Some wives will try to place the blame on the husbands for having sinned in the first place, but in the end we will ALL sin, it’s a matter of whether we will allow our hearts to be pricked and turn and repent.  If your husband is repenting, will YOU now sin by refusing to forgive?  The breach in your marriage is now on your shoulders.

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, what kind of a marriage do you want?  Are you ready for the blessing of complete transparency coupled with complete forgiveness?  If you don’t feel like you have this, I encourage you to talk with your spouse and ask them what they want. You might be surprised. Perhaps you all – like us – will decide to open the door for a deep level of relational intimacy. 🙂

I know I’ve hit some weighty matters in here today – these can be difficult truths to walk out, but the blessing when you do FAR outweighs the difficulties.  I look at my own marriage, a testimony of exactly what we’ve talked about here – I can’t tell you how many people who know us are blessed by the relationship the Father has forged through our fires.

Father promised me as I forgave all Allen had done to destroy our union that if I would forgive him and work it through He would give me a double blessing.  I believe that hold true for ALL Father would call to walk this path (and understand I know sometimes He does tell others to walk a different one).

Father help our hearts be like Yours. May we walk in love and forgiveness.  Please strengthen us as we work to align with who You are and seek to look more like You everyday. Show us Your will. Please bless our marriages and may they be a testimony to Your sovereignty!


One Reply to “Transparency in Marriage (James 5:16)”

  1. Amen! That is beautiful! I am so loving your blogs on marriage. Thank our Heavenly Father for giving you insight and wisdom into subjects that we all need to pay attention to! I’ve enjoyed each post and have much to pray about and meditate on. Bless you, Meghan!!!

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