His Last Best Hope To Come Clean

About a year ago we did a survey on sex secrets and found two-thirds of men and half of women are keeping some sort of post-marriage sexual secret from their spouse. The secrets vary from adultery and porn use to faking orgasm and lying about liking a sex act they don’t enjoy.

Secrets aren’t a good thing for a married couple, and sexual secrets are bad for a couple’s sex life as well as their relationship. If you have any sexual secrets you need to come clean with your husband. Even if it’s “just” faking an orgasm on occasion, please tell him the truth.

Beyond that, why don’t you offer him a chance to come clean on any sexual secrets he might have? Be aware he has two problems if he has such a secret: the secret, and the fact he’s been dishonest with you for however long. He probably fears telling you the truth will end very badly for him and might cost him a great deal. I’ve had men tell me their one-night affair 20 years ago will go to the grave with them because it would end their marriage if they shared it. I never know if they are right or not, but I’ve seen women leave or go nuclear over less, so I understand the fear. 

If you want him to come clean, you must give him a safe place to do it and you must convince him you won’t file for divorce in the morning. I am NOT suggesting you give him a free pass. He needs to deal with whatever he did and also needs to give you time to work through it. What you might want to give him is a pass on is keeping it from you. Even if you have never given him reason to think you would make it your goal to punish him for the rest of his life, he has a friend who is living in that hell. Tell him you understand why he was fearful of telling you, and that you want to take that off the table so the two of you can become fully open.

Of course making this offer is tricky. It can come across as an accusation, or an expectation there’s a secret to be told. My suggestion is you reference this post – or send it to him with a note telling him you want to give him a chance to share IF there is anything to share. Tell him he has a week or so, and if nothing is said you will assume he has nothing to share. 

Finally, don’t do this if you are not going to be able to be relatively calm and reasonable about it. If you offer him a safe place you have an obligation to follow through. If you can’t do that, he may actually have a valid reason for any secrets he may have.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and Lori knows everything

Want to hear what I sound like? In May I was one of several men who got to share about sex with the ladies of Sex Chat for Christian Wives. Check out Episode 12: Guy Talk – The Importance of Sex

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21 Comments on “His Last Best Hope To Come Clean

  1. Great post, Paul. Personally, I think that it depends very much upon what the secret is, whether it will ‘come out’ through the course of life, and what the effect can be – worst case.

    There may be a couple of caveats worth considering –

    1) It can set up a spouse-as-counselor paradigm, which can be tough when both parties are emotionally invested. In this area, a professional wife-and-husband counseling team might be better brought in.

    2) If there is a suspicion (say, of infidelity), it can only be confirmed, and never set to rest. There may be no real ‘win’ here, and the best outcome may be a complete reassessment of how one views one’s spouse. The rose-coloured glasses may be shattered; we need to think long and hard before saying that’s what we really want.

    I’d also suggest not putting a time limit on the offer to come clean; it sounds like an amnesty period for a criminal. Making it open-ended might be better.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 327:- What’s Heaven Like? {FMF}My Profile

  2. As you mentioned, this might not be the best idea for everyone. Certainly not for more sensitive people like myself.
    For example, a couple years ago, in an effort to spice up our sex life, I asked my husband “what is your favorite sex position?”
    He replied, “I don’t know, I guess the one where you…(and he mentions a position)”
    I then tell him, “Well that’s just great. We’ve never had sex in that position. You’re thinking of your ex-girlfriend.”
    He tries to recover and is like, “What? What are you talking about?” (Now keep in mind we’ve been married over 20 years, so the last time he had sex with another woman, to my knowledge, was over 20 years ago.)
    I reminded him, “when we were dating, you told me once how you and she would have sex in this position. You and I have never done that position. I’ve always wanted to, but you’ve never tried that with me.”
    He stares at me blankly.
    I did tell him, “well, at least the truth is out. Kinda painful for me to hear your best sex ever was with another woman, but, whatever. I asked. Guess I should’ve been willing to hear the truth.”
    He tries to act like he really didn’t remember. But let’s face it. Nobody forgets something that special. Nobody ever forgets something that important to them. Nobody forgets their favorite sex position or the special person they shared it with.
    He was upset that he gave the “wrong” answer. I was upset that I ever asked the stupid question. I was doubly upset, knowing that his happiest sex memories were with another woman.
    I guess I should be happy he told the truth. To this day he still tries to act like he really thought we had done that. But you know what? To this day, even after the conversation, we have never had sex in that position. I’ve been waiting, but his unwillingness to try this with me is proof that he doesn’t find me good enough, or maybe sexy enough, for his absolute favorite position.
    In fact, I told him, that after he’d told me the story about him and his ex (many years ago) I had been hopeful that he would try that position with me. But he never did. Then to tell me it was his favorite position??? A smack in the face with a bat would have hurt less. Then he does this thing where he acts sad and like he cares that he hurt my feelings. But he has yet to try the position with me.
    I think he’s afraid I’m too big. I’m 5’9″ and 150 pounds in a good day. Probably closer to 155. I can see how that can be terrifying for a guy who is only 6′ and maybe 210, to think about having such a large woman sit on your lap. He’s probably afraid I’ll crush him, and just doesn’t want to say so. I have no idea how big his ex was, but I’m sure she was petite since that is his preference. So my size probably terrifies him.
    Otherwise, why be so reluctant to try your “favorite” position with your wife? Unless it would involve seeing too much of me, which could also terrify him. Who knows.

    The point of my long-winded rambling is, if you ask, be sure you’re ready to hear the answer. I asked what I thought was a fun and innocent question. He gave the worst answer possible. Now we both have to live with the truth.

    • I have an elephant memory about a lot of stuff, and it surprises me no end how my hubby doesn’t remember so many things and how easily he muddles up memories. My brain could play an exact recording of what happened. His is more like a satire or parody or remake. His mom is like that, too, though worse. She imagines scenarios and then it sticks in her brain as reality.

      However, I agree with you that coming clean can do more harm than good, especially if it is ancient history water under the bridge or the spouse will flip their lid. As it stands my husband refuses to tell me about his past. He says it would do more harm than good and doesn’t pertain to who he is now in our marriage. He did some wild stuff, but to him now, it is like another dimension. Another person. It isn’t him anymore. All I asked was if he had any STDs or children or arrest records.

      He never confessed about his porn stash. Didn’t have to. I found it. He threw it out, but whatever I found that he kept or was given after marriage, I just threw away. He confessed to hitting up a strip club during our marriage, but said he only did so to get into the cronyism club at his old job because being out of the clique made his life at work a living hell, and he left as soon as possible. He eventually did quit that job because it compromised so many morals and safety.

      I tried confessing my past porn use, but he didn’t believe me and laughed at me.

      • He didn’t believe you? He LAUGHED at you?! Wow, rude. I mean, what were you supposed to do, prove it somehow? Produce a porn stash of your own as evidence? Why didn’t he believe you? That was most discourteous of him.

        • Because I am rabidly against porn and hate it and refuse to watch r-rated movies and went ballistic when he bought and watched a graphic TV series. I started watching it out of curiosity and ignorance, thinking I could get some answers as to why he didn’t seem very sexually interested. Any Christian source I couldn’t find or was way too watered down or coded with flowery terms to be of any help. As it happens, I kind of got hooked. I wouldn’t look at men because I felt it made it more wrong. Eventually, I watched it because it was like cutting myself. I beat myself up for not being as hot as the girls in it and unable to pull that kind of desire out of my husband, and I lived vicariously through the acts my husband refused to do with me, namely oral sex.

          But, the humanity of the girls in the porn broke me. I found myself praying for them rather than masturbating to the acts. And I just couldn’t do it anymore.

          I don’t think hubby meant to be rude. It is just something he couldn’t comprehend. And I am fine with that.

          • Huh, OK. I don’t think much of his reaction, still seems kinda rude, whether he meant it to be or not. But I suppose I can understand it, given your normally vehement hatred of porn. I definitely know people that I would be surprised (shocked, even), to learn that they used porn. Even so, I think I would try to contain my surprised reaction to an arched eyebrow and a “really? I wouldn’t have thought it of you, just goes to show how little I know. This is unexpected.” And I certainly wouldn’t laugh right in their face! No siree, I don’t think much of that, not much at all.

            • To be honest, most of my husband’s reactions to things are rather rude. If I am sick or injured and tell him so, I usually get back, “well, now you know how I feel.” Or some other version of how he has it worse.

              He gets defensive really quickly and easily.

              I know why. It stems from his insecurities about himself, his parents’ behaviors and dysfunctions, and the culture of where he grew up.

              He is not a safe place for me to dig deep into myself with. I have a mentor girlfriend for that. Hubby believes in,a level of personal privacy within a marriage. The idea that we can and should be completely open and bare with each other seems scary and unattainable.

              • Oh man, I hate it when people do that. Like, do they think they’re gonna win a prize or something if they can one up you, prove that they’re somehow worse off? It’s so stupid. Why can’t they just say, “aw, that’s rough. I’m sorry that happened to you. Are you gonna be alright?” That’s really all that is required in most cases when someone shares their troubles with you, and yet so many people fail at it. I don’t know if anyone has ever been much comforted by being told that their problems aren’t important, or less important than someone else’s. So I don’t know why people keep doing that. A lack of empathy, perhaps.

      • @libl – Women do have much better memories for relational things.

        Yes, there are couples where full disclosure is a bad plan. IMHO this is an indication one or both spouses needs to do some work on themselves.
        Paul Byerly recently posted…Two Ears, One MouthMy Profile

    • B, I wish you wouldn’t think that being 5’9″ and 155# is like being some kind of Amazon. Far from it.

    • @B – So there are many assumptions in your comment. Perhaps your husband is afraid you will react badly if he suggests the position. Perhaps something said or done in the past gave him the impression you were against the position.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Two Ears, One MouthMy Profile

  3. I am a man with a porn addiction secret. I have confessed before to my wife and both times I really thought I would make it but I can’t. I thought that by confessing it would be out and I wouldn’t want Iit anymore but I was wrong. I felt too ashamed to tell her when I fell again and now it’s been more than a year since I confessed it to her. I hate what I have become but I don’t know what to do? If I tell her it won’t solve anything. She will get angry and threat with divorce and I wouldn’t blame her. If it wasn’t for my daughter I wouldn’t even ask her to stay because she has the right to leave me. If she wouldn’t leave me it would be as it has been before she would care for some weeks and then just not talk about it. She never asks me if I still fall in this sin. She once saw that u had erased all apps that gives you the possibility to search the web and she asked me very disappointed if I still struggled with this and I said yes. I would like to tell her the truth,how I struggle with it every night. That I recently have started to fight it more actively and the most I have been without it is a week in almost three years! But I was to afraid and still am. I’m afraid of the consequences but also about me failing her again. I really am trying to work on my relationship with God by fasting and praying because that’s the only hope I have to be free. I want counseling but there are no counselors where I live especially not Christian counselors. So if I would tell her what would we do? If she stops asking and I fall again what do I do? Tell he and hurt her ove and over again? Then it’s better that I divorce her and again i would if we hadn’t had a child and one coming. I just want to be free but can’t and don’t know how to tell her. How do I tell her that I can’t resist not searching it. I know I have to be strong but I can’t. How do I tell her that I believe one great reason to this problem is that I married her even if I didn’t think she wa God plan for me and I didn’t really feel in “love” but got into the relationship because she wa lonely and needed me? How do I tell her I felt she was pushing me into get married and I was to afraid to say no because I was immature and anxious? And how do I tell her that all the months before we got married my porn addiction got worse because I was so stressed and regretful about getting married that I wanted to die? And how do I tell her that the day before we got married I took a rope and put it around my neck and thought about taking my life in my fathers garage? And how do I tell her that now that we are married she is not my motivation to stop because those feelings weren’t there in the first place? How do you tell someone that? I hate all this but I don’t know how to get out. I will continue fasting and praying and confessing my sin to on of leader in church that I have told I to(but he just says he is going to pray for me). It’s awful to have a secret

    • @Regrets – I’m so sorry you didn’t get any help from your church.
      It sounds like the porn is part of a bigger problem. My suggestion is you seek help from a trained counsellor and deal with all of it.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Two Ears, One MouthMy Profile

      • Thanks! That’s my goal. There aren’t any many Christian counselours where I live so I don’t really know where to turn but I pray and hope that God will help me to change.

        • Prayerfully consider a secular counselor or sex addiction service. Just because someone is secular doesn’t mean God can’t use them. But, as I said, playfully consider. He will guide you.

          Also, what is preventing you from living without a computer, smart phone, tv, video player?

          I can feel in your post that you are desperate and desire freedom. Never stop seeking. My best to you.

          • Well the problem I have with secular therapists is that I don’t feel free to tell them about my relationship with God. I used to be a burning Christian who wanted to conquer the world for Christ. My wife says that was what she fell for in me. Sadly she wasn’t and isn’t like that. She is Christian but doesn’t have the same passion I had, and sadly that’s the way it is, I had that passion. After being married for some months and the addiction started to come back I tried to pray and fast and somewhere along the way everything collapsed for me. I used to be able to pray for hours and fast several times a week but suddenly I couldn’t pray anymore. To read the Bible felt so heavy. I tried to fast but couldn’t. I was so tired of everything that had something to do with God. In this I fell deeper and deeper into pornography. It’s not until now three years after that I am starting to get back but it’s still heavy. My wife who sadly isn’t that spiritual hasn’t cared so much. Why would she? Not being so involved in church has made it more possible to be at home and help out at home. Sadly I have become a regular person who lives for his job and church is just a hobby. I have sadly become everything I didn’t want to become when I was burning for Christ. She has sometimes asked me if it’s her fault that I lost my passion and I have many times wanted to say yes but I can’t. It would hurt her to much. She is a good women and a good wife and if it wasn’t for all this regret and all this constant fault that I failed God then it would be a good marriage. The more I lose my passion for God the more I get used to my situation and feel ok being married with her but it just shows that I am becoming a regular person. Not that burning man I was before. I hate myself and all I have become and wish I could just end it all. Telling all this to a secular therapist in Sweden could lead to him either think I’m crazy for being a Christian and believing all this or he would just not understand and maybe want me to leave my Christian faith all along and I don’t want that. So that’s why.

            The phone and computer thing is complex. My job is a 100 % work based and I still study and need to be online often. I got a filter but all filters have defects. I’m working on putting time limits for me internet use so when the “temptations hours” come it will shut of everything. I hope it will help me.

            Thank you for your prayers. I really want to come back to God. I want to be like I was before I met my wife. I want to burn for Jesus. I don’t mean to hurt her. I love her , maybe not with that burning passion others love theire wife’s with (I wish it was so but I don’t) but I have learned to love her and don’t want to hurt her but almost everyday I just think about what if I just would have said no and the constant longing for this to be a dream and that I would wake up before I met her and never answered when she said hi.

  4. Regarding the Christian counselor preference, it has been my experience that a faith-neutral counselor provided the best guidance. I was free to express my faith without judgment and perhaps less judgment than if I had been with a counselor whose Christian beliefs differed from mine. When my husband and I went for counseling late last year, we chose a Christian counselor whose sexist views were a problem. So don’t rule out a faith-neutral counselor.

    • @StandingTall – It depends on if the counsellor can really respect one’s faith. Far to many couples have been told a bit of porn will help their marriage by non-Christian counsellors, and I know one couple who was (years ago) handed a copy of “Open Marriage” by a counsellor.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Under Promise, Over Deliver?My Profile

      • I agree. It’s really hard if you get a counselours who doesn’t respect or understands your faith. Specially here in Sweden where it’s like a trend in society that a person that believes in God or is really devoted to a faith is uneducated, dumb or a fanatic. So that’s why I prefer Christian counselours.

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