In The Counselor's Office - Part 6 - My Husband's Reaction

I began to well up with regret as I put down the list of boundaries and expectations. The consequences for my actions were not something I wanted to do.

“How could she be so strict”, I thought to myself.

I am not the kind of guy who likes rules and boundaries, but despite my irritation and frustration with my wife as she laid them before me, I knew I had no other option. This was not her fault.

Abusing my freedom to betray her, was most definitely my fault.

I wasn’t even sure that I could live up to these newly enforced standards, but worse than the doubt, was the anger I felt.

Everything was being stripped from me! She cut off my personal phone line and it felt like a limb was being torn from my body. All of my social media accounts were deleted, contacts were lost, and I now had zero privacy in my marriage. Surely she was on a mission to punish me and get her revenge! 

It only got worse.

I sat there listening to her read the phone records aloud, each one revealing all the minutes I had spoken to the other woman in totality (24,615 to be exact). Everything that I was hiding was being dragged into the light, and the “casual conversations” I told myself I was having, proved to be much more severe than I realized. 

Here she stood, exposing me for the man I was. 

Those beginning days after receiving the list were intensely hard for me.

She kept my phone and restored many texts and emails that I am ashamed of. It wasn’t pretty.

But there was also this other part of me that felt, hope. As nervous as I was about her having access to everything, I knew that safety laid in the boundaries. I sensed that true freedom would be had by being completely open and honest with her from here on forward. I wanted that opportunity, and she deserved that from me.

Looking back, I can see how enslaved I was to the things that were being taken away from me.

I was addicted to social media and addicted to privacy in my marriage (social media is not bad in and of itself). These boundaries exposed so much hurt within me, and today I am thankful I get to address it. 

Who knows how long these “rules” may be enforced, but as someone who has had a taste of what our marriage could be like someday, I’d be fine having them in place for the rest of our lives. 

”they are no longer two but one flesh.” (Mark 10:8)

From One Love to Another: Just Say NO to Smileys/Emojis!

In our most recent post I shared my list of boundaries and expectations for my husband in light of his affair, but forgot to mention one; No using smiley faces/emojis when texting/emailing other women. 


Yeah. No. Not allowed.

Sure, we have access to one another's devices at all times, but aren't able to get away from communicating with people altogether. Especially when it comes to being in the workforce. Therefore this one had to be discussed;

Is using a smiley face or emoji with the opposite sex cultivating grounds for secrecy and shame or love and safety in our marriage?

For us, it creates the former, so we are stearing clear from it entirely. This may feel extreme, because it is. But I cannot deny the truth;  I don't feel safe or cherished when my husband uses smiley faces or emojis with any other woman but me. 

Our culture celebrates being fun/flirty/kind with one another (myself included), but have we crossed the line by choosing the thrill of being flirty/friendly rather than creating safety and loyalty with our significant other? 

These are the kind of conversations we are having these days. We decided that individually we are too easily tempted to reach out for affirmation to/from others (especially in a difficult marital season) rather than going Jesus and one another in candid discussion.  

While this boundary has no power to change our heart, it provides a type of security for our marriage and healing.

Also, it just plain ol' feels good to invest in one another. 

 What says you? How do you feel about your spouse using  :) ;) 😏😉☺️😍😊😇 with the opposite sex via text or email? 





In the Counselor's Office - Part 4 - Writing the Full Disclosure

Burris shares what it was like to write his full disclosure letter:

“Randy, this week I would like you to write out your entire sexual history from as far back as you can remember. When you come in with your wife next week, I will ask that you read it aloud to us and we will discuss what comes next. The more truthful you are with yourself and us, the better.”

I felt overwhelmed because I knew I had an extensive sexual history.

I felt skeptical about writing it, wondering if it would even help. But I was convinced I had nothing to lose, so on that fourth day I came home from work and plopped down on the couch to get busy writing. 

When I first began to write, the history poured out onto the computer screen quite easily. But something happened when I came to a particularly bad season in my life where I gained a ton of sexual knowledge. It started around the time I was nineteen years old and I couldn’t help but wonder, had those explorative years not happened, what might have I been spared?

I felt guilty for giving away all of my sexual curiosity when I could have saved it for my wife. Something I hadn’t thought about before.

Because I work full time, and wanted a chance to really sit and ponder every detail of my history, the letter took me three days to write. I felt thankful once I finished because I had this sense of being at rock bottom and hoped for a chance to start over. Of course, that feeling changed the day I was scheduled to read it aloud in the counselor’s office. 

As I sat down in the chair I felt scared as I began to read the letter aloud.

I was nervous, wondering if I was going to get an opportunity to make things right with my wife. In one aspect I reasoned that losing my marriage might be an easy out. But I couldn’t shake that losing her would not be easy because my wife and kids make up so much of who I am; losing them would mean losing half of myself. 

Despite the tears of sadness, shame, guilt and inferiority, I finished reading the letter. I glanced to see the look on my wife’s face, instinctively wanting to distance myself from the pain I caused. Instead, I leaned into the truth of who I really was. 

I hadn’t done that before.

It seems that in this moment (and possibly at the cost of my marriage) I was freed from living an exhausting double life. Everything was out in the open. Although this pain was not going to rewrite my history, it was going to drive me to repentance, and give me the choice to walk in the light of truth from here on forward. Now the scary question; would my wife decide to stay married to me? Could she ever forgive me for betraying her so badly? 

Could anyone possibly love me after knowing everything I had locked away?

The counselor turned to my wife, and declared;

“You have the right to know everything your husband is doing. The ball is in your court and I would like you to come up with a list of boundaries and expectations for your husband that will help you feel safe. Anything goes. Here is a list of ideas and you can add anything you want.” 

As we walked out the office that day with a homework assignment out of my control, I had this sense that walking in the light from here on forward was about to test me in ways I never knew possible.

And this is where I step back and let her share the list she came up with. 

”But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

In the Counselor's Office - Part 3 - Receiving the Full Disclosure

It took all of my strength to get out of the van and into the counselor’s office that day. I knew that my husband had just spent three days sitting at his computer writing out his full disclosure letter. Much like the fear/wonder of getting on a rollercoaster for the first time, I wanted to hear it, but I felt so scared that I could have vomited. A thrill ride was going to pale in comparison to sitting in one of those office chairs, listening to my husband read aloud the details of his affair and then some. 

A full disclosure letter is more than a detailed summary of an affair.

It is a written timeline of a person’s entire sexual history as far back as they can remember. I couldn’t escape the wonder of why it took him three days to write it. Were there details he hadn’t told me about? Was there more than one woman? Were things about to get worse than I imagined? 

There was nothing I could do in that moment to ease my fear so I unbuckled and made my way into the office.

I sat in that chair, opposite corner from my husband, watching tears fall from his face and hearing his voice shake as he began to read the letter aloud. I am certain I held my breath the entire time.

Listening to a sobbing man is probably one of my least favorite things on this planet. This moment confirmed that for me. I will never in my life forget the war that raged in that office when he finished reading it. On one hand, I could see my heart laying on the floor quivering with a dagger stabbed through it. Hearing him explain all the encounters via phone/text/photo/email forced a pain in me that words cannot describe. On the other hand, hearing his entire sexual history from such a young age, I could sense a deep pain in his heart that made me swell with compassion.

He was incredibly brave in that office and I found myself liking the man who came forward. 

The counselor was tender with us and able to give us a big picture idea of what our marriage could look like in the future.  Both of us feeling simultaneously relieved and hopeless, that day God worked through our counselor in ways that (now looking back) seemed angelic.

My husband and I spent years in God’s word together learning scripture, but this catastrophe would provide a rubber-meets-the-road experience in the gospel.

From that day forward things would not be easier for us, but one thing was sure; I knew Jesus was for us our entire marriage up to that point and beyond. And for the first time…

I actually believed it.

”All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-21

In the Counselor's Office - Part 2 - Meet My Husband

Since my (brave) wife will be spending a few weeks talking about our time “In the Counselor’s Office”, I too, have decided to join the conversation in hopes to encourage folks who are also walking through the devastation of adultery.

So - Um - Hi. I’m Burris. (awkward pause) The husband you read about each week. Nice to meet you, if I don’t already know you.

First, I want to take a moment to thank all the wives who are choosing to do the painful hard work of forgiving their husband.

I am a man who is watching this undeserving pardon unfold in my own life and it is the kind of grace I wish for all my brothers who are coming forward (or being caught) in their secret sexual sin. Thank you for not looking away from your husband while he shows you the ugly side of himself. Believe me, it makes more sense to me for a wife to walk away from her husband than it does to walk toward him. You are brave. You are lovely. You are worthy of praise. You are exuding the gospel in a tangible way!

Second, I want to turn toward my brother who has betrayed his wife in sexual sin. You are not alone.

Whether you are the one who has came forward or was caught, man, I feel so many things on your behalf. I too, have broken my wife’s heart, destroyed any trust that once stood, and am standing nakedly exposed in the counselor’s office right along with you. It is very uncomfortable, but I choose to own it. It takes courage to sit in the office with your wife. It is the breeding ground to be changed into be the man you and I long to be. I have learned so many helpful things and admit that while being vulnerable is hard, it is much harder to live in secret, never being known by my wife or myself. I am looking in the mirror and this is the most free I have been in thirty years. I want that for you. You are brave. You are worthy of healing. And if you are repentant, you are exuding the gospel in a tangible way.

So in the words of our counselor; let’s get to work.

Why did I commit adultery?

Why did I decide to engage in an emotional affair? As a believer in Christ, why did I spend eighteen months in secret, living a double life? These questions are valid and essential in taking the first step toward recovery. Without addressing the truth about what I did and why I did it, I will never be the man I want to be.

I want to be noble. I want to walk in the light. I want to know God’s mercy. I want to be a loving husband. I want to live a life above reproach. I want to raise my son as a man who handles his feelings in a healthy way. While I want to be many things, unless I acknowledge what is really happening in my heart, I will never be the man I want to be.

I want to feel powerful, but instead I feel impotent. I want to feel important, but I feel insignificant. I want to feel I am equipped to do what God has called me to be as a husband, but I feel incompetent. (Our counselor refers to these as “The Three I’s” and I will revisit them again and often.) All of these feelings are normal and how I deal with them matters.

I am committed to not passing the blame onto my wife for the affair.

There is nothing she did to deserve what I have done. She is worth all of the uncomfortable moments in that office and I am poised to listen to the advice our counselor gives us. I have decided that while I haven’t dealt with my feelings in a healthy way before, I want to try. And the first thing I did was write her a full disclosure letter - of my entire sexual history.

But before I share how that impacted our lives, I am going to let my girl share first.

In the Counselor's Office - Part 1 - The Tour

Hey there. Welcome to the counselor’s office, come on in. 

The office has this hipster sort of feel to it. The coffee colored walls are cement in texture, there are 1950’s art deco pieces hanging, a black and white chevron rug and of course your typical cushy leather chairs that are positioned at an angle facing the counselor’s desk. I have to admit that the set up is quite nice and I suppose atmosphere matters when you choose to wade through a mess of this magnitude.

Our counselor is tall with reddish hair, most often wearing a collared sweater with denim pants, glasses, black dress shoes and sometimes sporting a beard.

His most important assets being that he is a Christ-centered believer, has walked through this process with his own wife.

We really appreciate him and his wife (who provides a bi-weekly support group for all the wives) for all their hard work and commitment to helping folks like us.

Once a week we walk in, greet one another with a smile and words of kindness, then get straight to work. Our counselor prays for us and our time together, wasting no time with filler words. His prayer usually goes something like this, “Dear God. This is so messy. But we know you are good and love us in our mess. Please help us. Amen”. It’s short, sweet, and to the point.

From there things get pretty intense and honest.

We usually identify our current feelings and discuss what is (or isn’t) happening at home. We are given a homework assignment almost weekly and pretty well fail each week. In all the raw emotions on display I sometimes feel God’s presence in that room more than I have in the past at church. I am finding that being “naked” and full of shame is a pivotal change from where we have been in the past. It’s terrifying, yet utterly liberating.

In this office, admittedly, the gloves come off. We check our “I’m doing just fine” mask at the door and one of us usually leaves in tears. We talk about addictive behaviors, past sexual abuse and the gospel. It’s. Heavy.

For the next few weeks I am going to share with you some of our homework assignments. I will reflect on how Jesus interacts with us in them as well, in hopes that anyone who is going through this or (God forbid) will through this in the future will have something to refer back to when looking for help. It’s going to feel uncomfortable, because it is uncomfortable. But you know something? I wish I would have had this point of reference when my world came crashing down.

Thanks for checking out the office! See you next week with homework assignment #1 : The Full Disclosure Letter…