In her blog, Sheila Wray Gregoire is answering the question “Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?”
The post is in response to emails she’s received from women struggling with temptation (struggling with desire to view pornography and attempting to stop all contact with a co-worker because of an inappropriate attraction) wondering if they should confess these difficulties to their husbands.
Difficult questions which Sheila addresses with great care.
She stresses the importance of seeking God when dealing with temptation or sin. This is the first response any of us should have, no matter what we are facing in life. God promises to provide a way of escape during temptation and to forgive us if we falter.
Additionally, Sheila suggests finding an accountability partner when dealing with temptation (rather than trying to go it alone) which is a very good thing to do. This could be a trusted woman friend (or if a husband is the person struggling then a man who they can confide in) who will listen, pray, and encourage you to stand firm in your faith and for your marriage.
But there is one bit of advice offered which I’ve been wrestling in my thoughts all afternoon.
Sheila proposed that perhaps it’s best not to tell a spouse (this excludes situations which affect the relationship or family directly such as money or debt issues, etc) of these types of personal struggles (especially if the telling is done with wrong motives). To confess the temptation could cause unnecessary hurt or difficulties in the marriage. Sheila suggests working on overcoming the temptation and building/strengthening the marriage relationship through focusing on your spouse.
While I understand the point, I don’t know if I agree with seeking a friend’s help but not telling your spouse.
Is it better to hold one’s silence when facing temptation? If you can find a trusted Christian friend (or counselor) who can keep your confidence–someone to hold you accountable–that is very appropriate. I think it’s great if that is an option which if open for you.
But what of the men and women who do not have those relationships within the church?
Yes, we are instructed through James 5:16 to “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”...but what if that is difficult? One of the hardest things in my life has been finding Christian women friends. It can be very challenging to break into firmly established circles in some faith communities. What if a woman does not have someone they can trust with such sensitive information about their life or marriage?
When I asked my husband his opinion on this topic, he said he would prefer I tell him when I’m struggling with temptation or sin which could affect our relationship. He would rather we deal with an issue together than separately. And he knows I desire the same honesty from him as well.
Through marriage, a man and woman are meant to be life-long partners– trusting, helping, and praying for one another. It’s kind of hard to do so when we are not willing to confess the difficult (or embarrassing) things we deal with from time to time.
And what of the men or women who believe their relationships are solid, only to be blind-sided by a spouse who suddenly announces one day they are unhappy in the marriage and are leaving? Is it possible, had their spouse been upfront with dissatisfaction or temptation from the beginning (rather than keeping confidence with a friend alone), the couple could have dealt with issues before drastic action was taken?
There really isn’t an easy answer, but I definitely believe honesty is the better route—at least as far as my own marriage is concerned. I’d be interested to know your thoughts. Do you believe honesty is always the best policy in marriage or is silence sometimes the better option?