The recent Ashley Madison leak nearly cost me my marriage when my wife discovered I was on this website. God’s Word is true when it says our sins will be found out — sooner or later. I wish it has been sooner for me. But ultimately being discovered was a good thing. Now I’m tasked with rebuilding my marriage. What’s the best way to do this?

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You and thousands of others have been publicly and privately humiliated by the breach in this adultery website. But you are certainly right about God’s Word — our sins will be found out. Only the fool believes he/she can hide from the past. Our sins catch up to us and when they do, there is usually a toll to pay.

Ashley Madison’s motto is,  “Life is short. Have an affair.” At first glance, this motto seems alluring. This website promises people can “hook up” with others for anonymous sexual encounters. It lures site visitors with the promise they can fulfill their desires and not pay any consequence.

However, Scripture says, “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin to death” (James 1:14-15).

We all know the feeling of being “dragged away” by temptation. There’s always something out there that’s more powerful than our will power. Whether it’s something shiny and new, or some food, drug or drink, or, in your case, the lust of the flesh, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

But after desire is conceived, warns Scripture, desire gives birth to sin. After we fantasize about the act, we experience the rush of illicit sin. Ultimately sin gives way to death — both emotional and relational — but more importantly, death to our relationship to God (though thankfully that relationship can be restored through forgiveness and faith). For some who participated in Ashley Madison, the emotional and relational fallout is far-reaching; some have lost trust that will never be restored.

How can you restore dignity and trust to your marriage after such a moral failure? Here are some steps to consider:

Tell the truth. Some who have experiencied embarrassment from being found on Ashley Madison (or other websites promising anonymous sexual encounters) hope beyond hope that they will not be found out. God will not be mocked — sin will be found out. When you are exposed, tell the truth. Discovering bits and pieces of truth is horrendously painful for your spouse. Tell the whole truth, once and for all.

Accept responsibility. Make no excuses or alibis for what you have done. Simply own it. Don’t rationalize it, blame it on others, or sanitize it. Own the fullness of it and the tremendous pain you’ve caused your mate.

Become fully transparent. Becoming fully transparent and accountable means your life must now be “an open book.” Your phone, computer, and other devices once used for immoral purposes must now be used on a limited basis and with full transparency and accountability.

Get individual and couples counseling. It is unlikely you can  talk about this devastation and fully recover without professional input. The perpetrator of the affair –you — cannot be the one who determines the prognosis and treatment plan.

Prepare for professional treatment. Your life cannot continue in the way that it has in the past. A professional can help you determine the proper course of action. This very well may involve participating in group therapy, guidance on limitations that must now be placed on technological devices, and recovery steps as a couple.

Set a hedge of protection around you and your marriage. In biblical times a hedge of protection was placed around livestock to safeguard for the family. How much more should we safeguard our marriage? Scripture suggests that we should put on the “full armor of God” to guard us against temptation (Ephesians 6:13-17).

Commit to a healthy lifestyle. Having come face-to-face with your sinful nature and the threat of losing everything near and dear to you, you need to humble yourself and follow healthy principles so you can enjoy all the blessings God has for you.

In summary, we are all vulnerable to sin. While we are sinful (Romans 3:23), we are told there is a way to escape the ravages of sin. We can cling to the Lord and to a godly way of life.

I’d like to hear your thoughts and welcome reactions. Contact me at drdavid@marriagerecoverycenter.com. I encourage you to read about our programs at www.marriagerecoverycenter.com.

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