James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to each other so we can be healed.

In order to confess, though, you have to admit that you’re wrong—and according to me, I’m never wrong. At least, that’s what my family thinks I believe. I’m stubborn, and admitting I’m wrong taps into a place inside me where I think I’m an unlovable failure. So they’re right—I’m never wrong.

In our marriage, Big Guy has been the major apologizer. On rare occasions, I might admit that I’d been a little bit wrong, too—but only after he’s apologized first.

Working on admitting that I’m not always right is a painful process for me. See that? I can’t even bring myself to write “admitting that I’m wrong.”


When I began my efforts to stop sexual refusing and gate-keeping, I didn’t even tell my husband about it. I was afraid that doing so would give him expectations that I wouldn’t be able to live up to. I wasn’t even sure what I was doing or where it was headed.

Eventually, Big Guy noticed that something was different and asked me about it. I told him that I’d decided to try to work on sex since things hadn’t been so good before. I didn’t acknowledge that I’d been wrong, and I didn’t apologize. He seemed happy, so I thought that was enough.

Our relationship continued to improve—outside the bedroom as well as inside—and I went on my merry way, feeling bad about how much I’d hurt my husband over the years but content in the fact that it was all behind me.

It didn’t occur to me to apologize to my husband. What he’d really wanted was change, and I’d given it to him. I figured that was enough.

Part of my recovery has included learning about a biblical view of sexual intimacy. I read a lot of blog posts by Christian women, and I paid attention to men’s comments on these blogs and on marriage forums about the pain of their wives’ sexual refusal.

Two years after I began my journey, the words finally entered my mind and heart:

“I was wrong.”

My realization of the truth of these words was accompanied by a recognition that I had sinned against my husband.

That place inside me where I feel like an unlovable failure if I’m wrong was hurting. I didn’t know what to do. The more I learned about the pain I had caused my husband, the more I realized I could never truly make it up to him.

I felt completely unworthy of his love—yet I knew he loved me deeply. After all, he’d stayed with me, despite the lessening frequency and quality of our sexual intimacy and the increasing tension in our marriage. I had avoided true intimacy and abandoned him in our marriage—yet he had stayed.

The fact that he had stayed despite my sin modeled Christ’s sacrifice for me in a personal and real way.

This realization shook me to the core, and I knew what I had to do.

I had to tell him I had been wrong. I needed to confess my sin to him. Yikes.

When I Confessed

He was sitting in his favorite chair as I approached him. I was visibly shaking. Tears poured down my face.

Dropping to my knees, I humbled myself in front of my husband, sobbing all over his jeans.

I can’t remember all the words I said, but I remember the emotions that poured out of me. Even now, as I write this, I re-experience the physical sensations that accompanied that moment. My gut is tight. My heart is racing. I have tears in my eyes. I can’t catch my breath.

I apologized. I confessed my sin to Big Guy. I said the words he thought he would never hear me say: “I was wrong.” I asked him to forgive me

His response was to forgive me and to wrap me in his arms until I’d cried myself out. I felt God’s arms around us both. A prayer was in there somewhere, too, although I remember it only vaguely.

My husband’s forgiveness demonstrated God’s love more than any other single thing in my life. I saw Christ through my husband in that moment I will never forget.

Even as I re-experience the physical sensations of my confession and apology, I am also filled with the warmth of my husband’s love for me.


I still regret what I did to my husband all those years ago, but it is no longer a burden that I carry with me into our marriage bed. It is gone. Big Guy’s forgiveness of me banished it. My sin of refusing and gate-keeping is done.

With my confession, my husband knew that my refusal and gate-keeping were truly over. It was what assured him that my heart had transformed and not just our sex life. Until that moment, he wasn’t sure it would last.

Something else happened, too. That place inside me where I think I’m an unlovable failure if I’m wrong began to fade. My husband’s forgiveness in that moment, when that place was so raw, was a balm that continues to heal my heart.

Even if my husband had not been ready to forgive me, confessing would have been good for me. God’s arms were right there, just as His forgiveness was.

James was right. Confession is healing. Forgiveness is healing.

If you have been a gate-keeping or refusing wife, have you apologized to your husband? Have you confessed your sin and asked him for his forgiveness?

It doesn’t matter whether you are ten days or ten years into your journey away from gate-keeping and refusing. If you haven’t confessed your sin to your husband, search your heart to see whether it is time.

“I’m sorry and I was wrong” goes a long way toward healing—and maybe your husband needs to hear the words as much as you need to say them.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16a

 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /


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18 Thoughts on “Confession

  1. Erin on July 10, 2014 at 3:21 pm said:

    This is such an encouraging post. There is tremendous power in the act of humbling one’s self, although it seems contradictory, doesn’t it? (Power in humility?) Thank you for sharing this part of your journey.

  2. IntimacySeeker on July 10, 2014 at 3:46 pm said:

    Thank you, Chris. I have said I was wrong and I have said I am sorry. But I need to hear my husband say, “I forgive you.” More work to do. I appreciate the nudge, sister!

  3. For me it’s not hard to admit that I’m wrong about something, but it kills me to admit that I’ve hurt someone. The word hurt is like a dagger to my heart… makes me feel awful!

    Have you ever heard of the Apology Languages? Interestingly, my own apology language (the way in which I receive an apology as most sincere) is “Expressing Regret” — which involves the offending party sincerely expressing regret for causing pain or hurt. I wonder if yours is “Accepting Responsibility” — which involves the offending party to admit they were wrong?? It would certainly make sense if it’s hardest to apologize in the manner which is most meaningful to our own heart.

    (If you’re interested, you can take a short quiz to find out what yours is here:

    p.s. What a sweet, sweet picture of forgiveness! Thanks for sharing.

    • Mine is Expressing Regret. Given my tendency to live emotionally, I’m not surprised. I think the whole bit about being wrong is really about self-esteem.

      It never even occurred to me that there are Apology Languages. I may have to try to become fluent in the other ones, now that I’m getting better at admitting I’m wrong.

      • My husband I both read the 5 languages of Apology and found it extremely helpful. We found out I need to hear both remorse and acceptance of responsibility or I don’t recognize the apology. That really helped because we used to sometimes argue because he said he apologized and I wouldn’t remember it at all. I have no problem with accepting responsibility or expressing true remorse, but it sticks in my throat to ask for forgiveness. What do you suppose that indicates?

  4. “The more I learned about the pain I had caused my husband, the more I realized I could never truly make it up to him.” — And add to that — I feel perpetually wrong about everything.

    I joke that it is my more than healthy dose of guilt as a practicing Catholic, but the reality of your statement is truly a constant and troubling thought for me always. And I wonder if I will ever redeem myself or just be perpetually troubled by my skewd thinking.

    And it would be easy to lay the blame partially on the shoulders of my husband b/c he has always been apt to always bring up “but remember when you did …….?” has been his typical response so its always left me with a sense of “why bother? Things will never change.” I did have a sort of deep change during his first deployment when it was the lowest of the lows in my marriage and I began counseling. I worked very very hard those 13 months to change my thinking, reactions and could see a difference with relationships all around me benefit from my hard work. But nothing really changed when my husband returned. He continued to view me through those same glasses of ” but remember when you did…..” And slowly and not really intentionally, things have reverted much to the same as they were before I began counseling. Some things are different now but its difficult to see my hard work changing the dynamic I tried so hard to upend.

    As I read your blog from start to finish, I have wondered if I have the wherewithal to begin again and dig as deep as I did the first time to methodically make the changes again. To read your story and know that none of this happened overnight and there were days when you went backwards, I can see much of my first try in your words. But always I hear in my mind “remember when you ……?”.

    And my husband is a good man. A little of a emotional mute, but a good man. He is honest to a fault and well respected and a good provider. He puts his family before anything else. He just cannot forget the well-worn rut that we have carved out of our lives.

    • That feeling of perpetual wrongness is one I know, too. As I have grown in my relationship with God, I have found that this feeling isn’t as strong as it once was–so it doesn’t always have to be like that.

      You know, your husband bringing things up from the past may be nothing more than part of his healing process. He is trying to reconcile changes he thinks he sees with the experiences that hurt him in the past. How have you responded to these comments from him? It takes time for a husband to believe our changes, and it takes great courage for him to learn to trust that change is real.

      I believe you do have the wherewithal to work on this again. This time, you have the benefit of knowing what kinds of things caused you to stumble. If you know that your husband reminding you of the past triggers “why even bother?” Kinds of feelings, then prepare for them and plan ahead for how you will respond to them. To prepare, remind yourself daily of truths about being a new creation in Christ and that your husband has a right to his own feelings and concerns. Plan ahead (and practice!) to respond with a calm, “Yes, I remember. I know that hurt you. I am sorry.” instead of “Why do you have to keep bringing up the past?” Remind yourself not to let your husband’s words make you question your efforts.

      It may be harder in that your husband might find it more difficult to believe the change is real (“don’t you remember that you tried this before and it didn’t work?”), but if you did it before you can do it again and guard yourself against the things you know will be challenging for you.

  5. Janna A on July 11, 2014 at 1:32 pm said:

    Wow. That apology language survey was very interesting, I had no clue that it existed. It explains a lot with me and I believe that it is influenced heavily by others. I scored 0 on request forgiveness because that’s what my husband did a lot throughout our marriage and nothing seemed to change. It became a very empty apology.

    When I confessed to my husband that I was wrong and that I was sorry. It was very simple and not real emotional, but it had a HUGE impact on him.

    • When I apologized to my husband, I included elements of all the apology languages in there.

      I’ve taken the love languages test several times, and each time it’s a little different, depending on how things are going in our marriage. My results on these things always reflect what I’m not getting or what has been shown to be meaningless.

  6. Former Refuser on July 11, 2014 at 2:17 pm said:

    As a former refuser, I wanted to throw something out there that helped profoundly with my confessions and seeking forgiveness, and that is the concept of making amends. That is, going beyond words to actions, actions which help me deal with any ongoing guilt and help remind him of my ongoing commitment.

    By making amends, I mean…stepping forward, sexually, and making oneself available. For us, while we make love often now, once a month, we set a time for a “reminder”, which usually involves positioning myself in his favorite way, which is from behind.

    Then, he gets to have at me, no questions asked. Very powerful, and it’s how I will always make amends for the time I was a refuser.

    • I have mixed feelings about this. Forgiveness, to me, is a letting go of the sin. What you describe would seem like a regular re-visitation of those sins.

      In fact, when I expressed my guilt to my husband after my apology to him, he asked me to stop. He said that feeling guilty was a sign that I hadn’t accepted forgiveness, and he asked me to not let my guilt be part of how I approached our relationship anymore.

      Still, I’m glad you have found something that works in your marriage. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Janna A on July 11, 2014 at 3:42 pm said:

      @Former Refuser- This seems like you feel like you deserve a punishment, and this “position” is it… I hope I’m reading it wrong.

      For me, I do things that aren’t my preference, which happens to be the same position you’ve mentioned, but it’s one of my husbands favorites. I now do it out of love by putting my “self” aside. There’s not “amends” to make, no penance to pay., just love to give.

      Something I have become aware of more and more is that our sexual and marriage issues were not all on my shoulders. Yes, I have taken responsibility for my part, but my husband needs to also take responsibility of his part that lead to our sexlessness….which for us was related to his time management and busyness.

      Does your husband recognize anything he did that contributed to the issue? If so, is he doing something specific to make amends to you?

    • I found this troubling on multiple levels. The idea that you’re going to make up for past refusal by allowing him to “have at me, no questions asked” is very disturbing to me. I’m guessing this is not a position that you enjoy or feel comfortable with if you feel like you’re atoning in this way. The symbolism makes me a bit squeamish for you. I used to feel degraded by this position and wouldn’t do it, for that reason, so maybe I’m reading too much here.

      I think it’s time to stop trying to repay a debt that can’t be repaid and accept the forgiveness that Jesus offers and let your spouse choose forgiveness or not.

      If you want to bless your spouse with his favorite position, do it out of the desire to bless, not false guilt.

      That’s my .02 cents for what its worth. 🙂

  7. Former Refuser on July 13, 2014 at 12:36 pm said:

    I apologize if my comment came across as something other than it was intended. I hope to clear it up, now.

    First, I do enjoy the position a great deal, so I am so sorry if it came across I was doing something I didn’t like. That isn’t at all!

    Second, it was my idea! He actually made it clear we didn’t have to do anything, he’s not that way — after all, he put up with my refusing for a long while. It is just a way I/we remember the time when i was refusing and celebrate the time I’m now NOT refusing by doing something he loves. It’s actually awesome and brings us quite close!

    Third, the reason we chose that particular position is because it’s something we both love (yes, he adores it) and yet is also a bit submissive. It is just a reinforcement for me.

    Fourth, as far as the past refusing, it was basically on my shoulders. I think sometimes we try to search for “mutual blame” when it really wasn’t mutual at all. Yes, he actually did try to say at several points “If I did anything to cause your refusing, let me know”, but I couldn’t come up with anything.

    Finally, the point of my post was the “making amends”. I do think that’s important, and it was a way of demonstrating I was serious about my “change” by doing something he adores that I also like. It wasn’t about punishment or anything like that. It was about signaling to him that it wasn’t just talk, it was action – and it begins and ends with this awesome way to make love.

    Perhaps the difference here is that we actually continue it beyond that first moment as a bit of a “monthly reminder” of just how far we’ve/I have come.

    Thank you for letting me clarify!

    • Thanks for giving a bit more background. That does sound different from what I was seeing in the first comment. 🙂

      Finding a way for both of you to celebrate, together, that refusal is over is important, and I’m glad you have done that and that it brings you closer.

      • Former Refuser on July 13, 2014 at 12:46 pm said:

        Thank you. I think perhaps the fact we do it monthly as a reminder threw off my point, as it conveyed something I didn’t intend. I almost left that out so as not to confuse.

        I do encourage the action versus just words mentality (otherwise, you’d still be refusing, right!?) and my way was doing that particular position and telling him to have at it as a way to begin a new chapter and to say, “This is for you.”. I would still recommend something similar for others. It meant a lot to my husband and a lot to me.

        Making amends wasn’t about punishment, it was about starting a new chapter. The monthly renewal/reminder is more our way of keeping on track and wow, it’s powerful!

        Thank you!

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