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
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