When you're embarrassed of your spouse's sin...

I think it's no secret that as sinners living side-by-side in a fallen world, there are going to be occasions when we embarrass one another or are embarrassed of one another.

It starts fairly young. I distinctly remember instances of being embarrassed of my siblings or parents, be it the way they dressed or something they said, but I felt embarrassed. I had expectations of how they were supposed to speak or act that best benefited me and, to my dismay, they did not get the memo.
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Fast forward a couple of decades and I find myself married, much to my surprise, another sinner.
I think, maybe, in the secular world the spousal standards are a little lower. Enter the church world? The bar is raised. It's not enough to stay faithful physically, now husbands are called to stay faithful mentally and wives to stay faithful emotionally. It's not enough to avoid physical violence, now both are called to use words that encourage and build up. While I thoroughly agree with the biblical standards for relationships, I am just defending my position that the church requires more of our spouses.

In saying that, once you add children to the mix, there's another bar, another set of expectations. We are discipling little souls and laziness or reactivity are not acceptable.

When viewed as simply that- another checklist of unattainable standards, family life within the church can feel overwhelming. And this allows significantly more opportunities for spouses to begin to feel embarrassed or ashamed when their spouse isn't measuring up.

On our family outing my wife snapped at our children multiple times.

My husband spent our son's entire soccer game on his phone.

My wife was a total glutton at the church potluck.

My husband didn't engage at ALL during the discussion at small group.

My wife never seems to enjoy singing during Sunday morning service.

We find ourselves looking over our shoulders, curious who else is watching, assuming everyone else has a more godly spouse than we do. We start to carry the burden and shame of our spouse's sin... feeling that, now that two have become one, we share sin struggles as well.

But when this happens, I can assure you, it's not because we hate the sin.

It's because we think their sin reflects on me.

In an air of self-righteousness and judgment, we assume that our association with our spouse and their sin, casts a shadow on our own holiness. We stop seeing the long process of sanctification in our spouse and wish it was an one-time event. We stop praying for their hearts and our own, and start attempting to control the situation, perhaps by picking fights or making passive-aggressive comments. We do this because we are by no means concerned for their hearts, but for our own image and reputation.

If this is you and you find yourself embarrassed of your spouse in the context of the body of Christ, might I make a few suggestions?

1. Pray for your OWN heart. Search your motives and do a little introspective digging. Why does this particular sin embarrass you? What do you think it says about your spouse? What do you think it says about you?

2. Don't miss the flowers for the weeds. Chances are, if your spouse really loves Jesus and is pursuing a relationship with Him, s/he IS becoming more like Christ. Sanctification is slow... but inevitable. No one drifts toward holiness, as D.A. Carson says, and the same is true for your spouse. It is a battle upstream that requires lots of prayer from those closest to you.

3. Pray. I canNOT stress this enough. Pray for your spouse. I have a note card with a verse for each of my family members (spouse and children) that I am praying. God's word does NOT return empty (Isaiah 55). Believe it and pray it. Trust your spouse to the Lord.

4. Passive aggressive comments or attempts to control external behavior will never work. You might get your spouse (or child for that matter) to stop the behavior for a short while, but without a heart change, they will absolutely return to their sin. You are not the Holy Spirit.

5. Don't talk about heavy things in the heat of the moment or when you're feeling particularly emotional. It's a lot more difficult to be level-headed and you're likely to result to passive-aggressive comments, manipulation or sarcasm.

I'll conclude with this... you'll never regret kindness. Your relationship with your spouse is the most important earthly relationship you will have. Pursue reconciliation at all costs. It is always worth it.


  1. This might not be the right place to post this but I am going through the same situation as you the shock, horror, pain and anger of discovering my husband's temptation with porn. It has made me so disgusted and disappointed. I guess I'm mostly angry. I have no respect for men that lack self control of their sexual fantasies and I'm beginning to think every man has that issue. It's depressing. I'm raising a boy, I pray he does not hurt his future wife like this. Do you have any hopeful advice for me?

    1. I totally understand your hurt and pain. I also agree that it starts to feel like this is a struggle for every man, but not every man has to give in to the temptation, though that is extremely difficult! I am also raising two boys, so I understand your concern. We are trying to be very direct with our children by reading certain books. We are reading the "God's Design for Sex" book series with them by Stan and Brenna Jones and, when they are a little older, we plan to read, "Good Pictures, Bad Pictures" by Kristen Jenson. I think it will involve a lot of conversation and a lot of prayer. I hope this was helpful! I am praying for you and for your marriage.

  2. My husband's secret (no one knew) porn addiction turned into affairs with several women over our 16 years together. I just found out about it a year ago and thought I would die...my entire adult life and marriage was a lie. We have 4 young children under 11 yrs old and lead ministries at our church. Ladies, it is a gateway drug and I highly recommend looking into sexual addictions counselling. It IS an addiction as new pathways are formed in the brain - just looking eventually - at some point - is not enough if continued. Reconciliation ministries saved his life (literally) and our marriage. He will always be an addict and therefore he has put in place strict boundaries of holiness...no smart phone, internet restrictions etc etc. I know God will use even this for His glory though. My husband has helped so many men already...the struggle is real and the devil has given them easy access. It has NOTHING to do with us, our body or how much we provide for him intimately...it is not YOU. Oddly enough, reading other blogs about your differences with him, he sounds so much like my husband. T.V - addiction. Fast Food - addiction. Porn - addiction. They all release dopamine in the brain and I can guarantee there is a genetic tendency. My husband is now aware that they were all related for him, learned the science etc and gave them all up. He is redeemed and free from the desire of all the things that only take withdrawals from his life - not deposits. p.s. Lust and desire is a beautiful thing when exercised under the guidelines of the Word. We pray before, after and sometimes during sex -- BEST ever!

    1. p.s. There are more men IN THE CHURCH that are looking at porn than those who are not. Trust me. In my husbands support groups, it was solely made up of pastors, deacons, church leaders etc who at the minimum struggled with porn and masturbation. Does that mean all of their wives were not good enough? NO. This simply means that we have to step back and look at what has changed with this generation...it all comes down to easy access and over stimulation of something that was meant to be sacred and GOOD -- His eyes were meant to only see my breasts in a bra, not Victoria Secret or The Hooter's Ad. Why? That way he is always chasing me - yearning and desiring after me and my body, alone. They do not see our imperfections like we do. Now is there a heart issue? Absolutely. Until they realize that a lustful thought or act outside of marriage, dishonors the creator of the universe (yes, He sees it all), that it really is not about me - but Christ...only then can they be healed. In HIS power and not their own. The flesh is just simply too weak...this really is a topic that needs to be talked about more. It truly is an epidemic not only in marriages, but with young people/children with cell phones as well. Satan is winning with this one as their young minds are being literally rewired by porn....

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  3. Per my 2 comments above....a must:




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