“Can we have lunch?” My friend had just called me without notice. “It’s been too long,” he added.

A few days later we met at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Lunch with this guy was always fun. But sadly, not this time.

“Patrick” had a hugely successful computer software business. And he had recently opened a men’s clothing store in our town (“just for kicks”). I was eager to hear how it was going—especially his new venture.

But Patrick didn’t want to talk about suits and ties and dress shirts. Something was clearly heavy on his mind.

“I don’t want to talk clothing,” he said. And after a few silent moments, he cut to the chase. “I’m having an affair,” he said, his eyes glazing with tear.

“Does ‘Sandra’ know?” I asked.

“She has no idea,” he replied.

Slowly Patrick unpacked the story. The woman was a colleague at work. Bright, articulate, beautiful, and in an unhappy marriage. But Patrick still loved his wife and his kids. And, in his heart, he really wanted to do the right thing.

Patrick knew he had no choice but to tell his wife. I encouraged him in this decision to confess the affair to Sandra. And I offered to go with him. He agreed.

Guarding your heart

The core issue here regarding sexual temptation is the condition of our hearts.

“Guard your heart above all else,” a concerned dad warned his young adult son, “for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23 NLT).

Many years ago, I had a close friend who made a bad decision to hang out in a hotel bar and stay there until late into the night. This man had never been unfaithful to his wife. But after a few extra drinks, he began a conversation with a woman that continued into the early hours of the next morning.

Before going to their separate rooms, they exchanged cell numbers. When he returned home from the trip, my friend told me all about the woman. “Nothing bad happened,” he said, cautiously defending himself, “But we did share phone numbers,” he added.

I remember this conversation as though it happened last week. My friend and I were in his office. He was behind his desk; I was standing in front of him. And I spoke to him as lovingly and directly as I could.

“Guard your heart,” I pleaded with him. “Guard your heart.”

For better or for worse

You and your wife may have written your own wedding vows. Or you may have taken them from a contemporary source. But you’ll remember that the traditional wedding vows included “for better or for worse.”

When you are hiding a secret from your wife, this qualifies as “for worse.” You feel this in your gut. It keeps you awake at night. Or it impacts your eating—some guys overindulge, others starve themselves. Some buy a membership to a local health club and become obsessed with getting buff.

One guy I knew, with a body resembling a beached manatee, signed up for a triathlon while he was cheating on his wife. Crazy. What’s for certain, however, is that the situation you’re putting yourself in is going to have an impact on you. It’s inescapable.

Keeping secrets is like standing chest-deep in water, trying to hold a beach ball down. It takes both hands and lots of energy. But eventually, physics will win out. You’ll run out of energy and the ball will explode through the surface. You will be found out.

Jesus talked about hidden things in no uncertain terms:

Nothing is covered up that not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops. (Luke 12:2-3)

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Coming clean

In the context of hiding secrets from my wife, this passage sends chills down my back. What I am hiding will become common knowledge, not only to her but also to everyone. Eventually. One day these secret things will be headlines for all to read. My good choices are either to not push the beach ball in the first place—not to harbor the secret—or if I do have something to tell her, let it gently surface under controlled conditions as soon as possible.

“Honey, can we talk tonight?” you can say to her. “There’s something really important that I need to share with you.”

And then you sit down and unpack what’s on your heart. You assure her that you have taken this up with the Lord. You’ve repented and He has granted forgiveness. And now you’d like to tell her about it and you’re willing to deal with the consequences, whatever they may be.

Restoring trust

The situation with Patrick and Sandra started with that tough conversation between them … the one I witnessed. In fact, Sandra was so crushed by the betrayal of trust that she asked Patrick to move out. He complied with her request, promising her that he would do everything in his power to restore her confidence in him. He promised to end any contact, even in business, with the woman.

After several weeks had passed, when Sandra saw Patrick’s resolve, she invited him to return home. The three of us met weekly for several months to talk about how to restore Patrick and Sandra’s marriage, especially her trust in him.

The last time I was with them was over dinner. I asked how they were doing. They joined hands on top of the table, looked lovingly toward each other, smiled, and said they were doing great. I believed them.

Taken from Lies Men Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free by Robert D. Wolgemuth, copyright © 2018.  Published by Moody Publishers. Used with permission.