Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Interview with Ben Wilson, part 3  

This is the third and final installment in my interview with Ben Wilson. If you haven't read part one and part two, please do. I hope this has been as much of a blessing to those reading it as it was to me. Thanks, Ben.

What would you say to someone who holds the opinion that infidelity is man's natural state and that marriage is an antiquated institution ready to be dismantled?

I read a book by Zig Ziglar once. If he wasn't selling pans he was talking about "The Redhead.:)" He said, and I agree, that we all have excess sexual energy. Our culture certainly shows that. He said that what we do with that excess sexual energy determines many aspects of our marriage. There are plenty of women that on first glance I find attractive and would like to have sex with. In a bigger picture I take that energy and place it into areas of my life—like blog interviews—that produce a different kind of valuable fruit than sex does.

I like naked women and I'm glad God made me that way. But I also know that looking at any others besides my wife in the long run isn't good for my soul or hers. There is something about the exclusivity of monogamy that combined with time and focused energy on the relationship produces an intimacy and joy that goes beyond anything else on the planet.

As far as sex, people that have sex with lots of others generally are the most unhappy, self-hating people in the world. Sex addicts become sex addicts because they have a deep-seated belief they are a piece of crap, the underside of the piece of crap, and sex is a drug that masks that for a bit. When the sex is over their insides feel darker than before.

Also, every marriage will go through difficult times. During those difficult times our fallen nature is going to look at the options to take the discomfort away instead of really dealing with the stressors. Pretty persons of the opposite sex can seem like the answer. 'If only I'd married her life would have been easier and happier' is the lie. Sometimes we fall for it.
How do you help couples to recover from infidelity in their own marriages? What steps do they need to take?

First off is to cut the third party out of your marriage. One quick call and be done. It is a brutally painful time but the best in the long run. Every decision needs to go through the lens of how will this impact our marriage. If there is a chance it will hurt your marriage then don't do it. Sometimes that means changing jobs, changing churches, moving or driving out of the way an extra fifteen minutes to work to protect the relationship.

Make a decision to be brutally honest with one another. There really isn't anything to lose at this point. Don't hide or conceal any secrets. Get the whole explosion out in the beginning. Secrets coming out later throw a couple back months and inflict great damage to restoring trust. The infidel is in the habit of lying and it may take a bit to break that. If he can begin to catch himself and tell the truth that is a good sign.

Along with this, what does the betrayed spouse need to rebuild trust. At first that is accounting for all the time in the day 24/7. I can tell you that following the trauma of the revelation Ann being 5 minutes late could feel like two hours of torture. We are much more considerate of each other in this area even today. Ask the spouse what else he/she needs to restore trust?

Learn to do conflict in a way that promotes your relationship and doesn't tear it down. Most couples get plenty of practice in this situation. :)

Cloud and Townsend list four areas of growth in Changes That Heal. Learn to be apart (boundaries or saying no), learn to be close (true intimacy or saying yes), learn to deal with your dignity and depravity (we all are glorious and horrible), be an adult (take care of your responsibilities in life). Be on the grow. I know it is kind of a cheesy phrase but whether the marriage survives or not a person will be better off seeking to live an abundant life of depth in relationships of all kind.
Other areas we touch on are: godly design by gender, anger, shame and guilt, becoming best friends, sexuality and grieving your losses.

Why did you start blogging?

We started blogging to continue telling our story to provide hope for those in troubled marriages. My tech guy told me about blogging. It's great to be able to 'update our site' without me knowing html code.

I've 'met' many terrific people like you through this.

Blogging is a great avenue for others to hear our story. By linking and updating often my traffic has steadily increased.

We have shared our story around the Denver area in several churches. A few of those times we've had a second day leading couples through the beginnings of many important conversations. Imagine sitting knee to knee with your spouse and talking about important matters for 7 hours. We've also led several 12-week groups for couples recovering from infidelity.

We are open to going out of town and speaking. Just get us there, house and feed us. If you want to give us something on top, that's ok too. The principles to recovering from infidelity strengthen any marriage.