Friday, July 24, 2015

Dear 'Addi', How Can I Help My Wife Heal? Step 6, Complete Transparency

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6. Complete Transparency

To say, ‘Be completely honest’, should be obvious. But making a mind shift to telling the truth when you have spent years of your life living lie to lie can be a difficult transition. I have found myself on several occasions avoiding the honest conversation that I know needs to be had. Or perhaps I will only share the minor parts of my day so as to not draw attention to the difficult moments. Lying still comes easy and in our guilt filled minds it can seem easier than facing the truth. I have even gone so far as to rationalize that, ‘ I know how much it hurts her when I slip up, and I feel like being less than honest is easier on her than telling her every time.’

Hog wash! I’m not protecting her… I’m protecting me. But I can understand why we as men resort to this position of defensiveness so quickly. The whole reason we started lying in the first place was because we either didn't want to hurt or disappoint our sweethearts or we were afraid she wouldn't understand the reality of the struggle it is to be an addict. We feared it might be the last straw or too much for her to take. But, this information is hers to have whether we want to share it or not.

I have even had the thought, “I have done so good for so long. My slip will mean another confession of my weakness. I can't tell her or she will lose faith in me”. The adversary would like nothing more than for us to latch on to these ideas, but who am I really kidding here? I have a weakness. This is no surprise to her. Your complete honesty will go a lot further to regaining her trust then constant half truths.

Men, we are in a new place now. We are not under the same rules that we lived by before this was known. Don't forget that you are in “Save My Marriage Mode” now. We must throw all our freedoms and rights of privacy out the window. Not to do so will only serve to drive a wedge between the 2 of you and cause ongoing mistrust and suspicion.

You have to think of yourself as the grounded rowdy teenager in the house. You have proven that you can't be trusted, by your own admission. And so, you have to offer up some assurances that you will no longer participate in the behaviors that got you grounded in the first place. This is where transparency comes in.

I am not suggesting that all of the following things are right for your relationship, But here are a few things we can do to prove, with transparency, that the bad behavior has ceased. I think most of these things have to do with phones and computers, but lets be honest… that is the easiest place to slip and where most of the bad behavior starts.

  1. Unlock your phone. Do not for any reason have a password on your phone. It is unnecessary. If you have nothing to hide, then there is no reason for it. If you want a worried, suspicious, wife, then leave it there. I promise you that your password protected phone makes her crazy. Even if she hasn't mentioned it to you. If your reason to have a locked phone is because of kids, then at the very least, share the password with your wife. If you use a fingerprint to unlock the phone, then add her prints to the unlock as well.
  2. Leave your phone lying around. Don't hide it in your pocket 24/7.  And let your wife hold it, use it, look through it, anytime she wants. Our wives have free reign on our phones now. That also means that at anytime she can call for a random and unexpected phone check. If she does, you don't get to be offended or pull the whole “I wish you just trusted me” guilt trip routine. Just smile and hand it over. She will gain a huge amount of trust if you take this approach instead of being defensive
  3. Periodically, walk your wife through your phone, showing her every app and every text. Let her sift through them and ask questions. Explain what each app is and what it does and why you need it on your phone at all. I am a news junky and I love the way I can get the news on my phone and have it send me articles that I might like. I recently showed my wife one of the apps I use for reading news and as we looked through it together, I began to notice the number of external links this app adds that lead to places I don't want to find myself in a weak moment. After this realization, we decided to uninstall the app and find one that is a bit safer. Making her a part of the process will give her confidence that you are sincere in your efforts.
  4. Link your email to her phone or at the very least make sure she has the passwords to your email, Facebook, and other accounts.  There is no privacy left in this new marriage. It is not needed because there should be nothing left to hide.
  5. Link your calendars. Her phone sees what you have on your calendar. I know not every couple uses smart phones, and honestly, if you have an addiction to pornography, maybe it's not such a good idea. However, if you and your spouse both have smart phones, then link your accounts, calendars, emails. Sync everything to both phones. It is easy to do by adding a second account to your phone (I'm an android user, but I've been told you can do it on Iphone as well). This of course goes back to having ‘nothing to hide’. She will feel in the loop and know what is coming up on your schedule. Sometimes our wives feel like they are living a separate life. Let her see everything you are working on, planning, and more. Not only will this make her feel a part of your life, but she will often remind you of things coming up that you simply overlooked.
  6. If your wife is nervous about how you spend your time away from home, download a family tracker app. We bought one for $5. It allows her at any time to ping your phone and find out exactly where you are (or were ) within 5 minutes or so. Again, If you feel that all of this is an invasion of privacy, then you are probably not serious about either your recovery or restoring her trust in you.
  7. You and I both know how to manipulate the computer and browsers to disguise our online activity. If you are being truly open, then you should take the time to show her how to check your browser history.  Go a step farther and show her the things you used to do to cover your trail such as, deleting, cookies, cache, and history or using incognito windows. Knowing that you are willing to share your past practices may help her to feel safe moving forward. If that is not enough, install a free software, like ‘K-9’, or  an accountability software like covenant eyes that will both act as a parental control and log every website for later review. I personally have covenant eyes installed on every one of my computers and devices. It is not a filter and will not keep you from going places online. Instead, it simply logs every place you go and emails it to whomever you like even on incognito windows. You may even find, as I have, that this a help or deterrent to you when temptation strikes.
  8. When plans change, call her. Our wives;' minds are already stretched to the limit. Satan is pouring every bit of concern, worry and confusion into them as they are trying to cope with our deception and addiction. The last thing she needs is an unexplained absence in the timeline of your day. (Especially if like me, you are trying to repair the damage done by an affair.) I'll use today as an example. I volunteered to work at our Bishops Storehouse this morning. I was to help unload a truck of food for the next couple weeks. I arrived promptly at 7AM for my shift only to find out I had arrived on the wrong day. “OK” I thought, “I'll just head into work early instead." I got into my car and started heading to my office when I decided to look at this through her eyes. ‘He said he was going to work at the storehouse and then last minute it canceled and he says he went into work for the next hour’. With trust already thin, I know I need to let her know on the spot that plans have changed. Telling her later will cause her to wonder ‘Why he delayed’, or  ‘What was he really doing?’. The last thing I want is for her to be suspicious of any of my activities. So I called her, and let her know I was heading into the office. That simple call gave her the confidence that I am being honest always. And I know you may think this is overkill, but call her when you leave the office for home. Call her when you're gonna be late. Call her! Call her! Call her! Her greatest fear is being left out of the loop and being lied to again. A simple call will remind her that you are putting her first.

I know it is difficult to make ourselves this transparent. I know it feels a little bit like we are exposing ourselves and losing a bit of our own freedoms. But just like that rowdy teenager, we must earn trust before we are given it. If you have nothing to hide, then there is no reason to push back on any of these suggestions. Your wife will feel much safer and more confident in you if you volunteer these things instead of her having to plead with you to put them in place.