Brittni De La Mora and her husband, Pastor Richard De la Mora, shared tips on how to forgive a spouse who engaged in "sexting," warning that bitterness can destroy a marriage.
In an episode of the couple's “Let’s Talk Purity” podcast, the De La Moras addressed the issue within marriages and what parents need to know if their children are sexting, which often involves sending nude pictures of themselves via text message.
The De La Moras advised that if a spouse confesses that they sexted outside of their marriage covenant, their partner should create a “safe” environment for them to "open up" about their mistake.
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“We should be this safe place. If you know that your spouse battles with lust, or if you know they battle with, say, drug addiction, you're going to be there and you're not going to bash them every time they open up about a temptation or a mistake,” Brittni advised.
“You're going to try your best to be their accountability partner and should try to be a safe place for them. But it's normal for somebody to get upset.”
Citing an example, Richard added, “We know people who messed up, they sexted years ago, they confessed, but then they keep holding on to it.”
The De La Moras explained that when a spouse confesses and apologizes, and their partner remains bitter about what happened, this could potentially create harmful isolation.
“If it's something that happened years ago, if you're going to stay with this person, if you're going to stay with your spouse, you've got to let it go," Brittni added. "Otherwise, you're going to be bitter in your marriage and your bitterness is going to be the thing that's going to destroy the marriage. If your partner sexted five years ago, and you're still holding that against them, and you chose to walk this out with them, that's your bad, not theirs.”
The couple emphasized that restoring a marriage impacted by sexting is not just about one partner admitting what they did with sorrow and the other partner being willing to forgive.
It is equally important that the partner who "cheated” take appropriate steps toward “repentance” to prevent themselves from a repeat offense, they said, stressing that an unrepentant heart can create division in a marriage, which can make it even harder for their spouse to forgive them and heal.
“There's going to be different reactions. If this person is actively trying to get better, then give them grace. But if they're just stuck in their lust and not wanting to get better, then obviously, you're going to keep getting upset,” Brittni said.
If a person is sexting outside their marriage, the De La Moras said they must analyze “why” they feel the need to sext, because it's a “gateway to adultery” and usually rooted in a “deeper” problem.
“Is it worth your marriage? Is it worth creating insecurities in your marriage? Because the reality is, it’s not. And if we're sexting, we have to ask the deeper issue: Why?” Richard said.
“Why do you want to send nudes to that other person? Is it because you don't feel affirmed? Is it because you don't feel loved? Is it because you don't feel appreciated, so you want somebody to see your body? Or your partner isn't appreciating you so you're looking for validation?” he asked.
“But could I tell you here today, that validation will never fulfill that void in your heart. Only Jesus can. And I'm telling you, Jesus will, if you would just give that to Him.”
The De La Moras advised those who have fallen short in this area to not only “repent and turn from sin,” but also be open with their spouse every time they feel tempted again.
“A Scripture that's always very dear to my heart is: ‘Everything that we do, we should do it unto the Lord.’ And we know that in one of the commandments we shouldn't lie. So we should be open and we should be honest, regardless of the consequences,” Brittni said.
“I would encourage you to pray first. Pray over your spouse's heart because this is something that will hurt them. But you know, there is restoration in Jesus. I've seen some of the worst marriages be completely restored.”
Because forgiveness is a process and it takes time to rebuild trust, Brittni said patience is key.
“You have to be OK with — if you've sexted, and your spouse has found out or you've confessed to them — going through a healing process where their hearts are going to get healed,” she said. “You also have to earn your trust back and you have to be humble enough saying, ‘Hey, I did mess up and I'm willing to do whatever it takes. I'm willing to not have a password protection on my phone or letting my spouse know my password and checking my phone at any time that he or she wants to.’ You have to earn your trust back. And that's going to be a part of your restoration process.”
After someone confesses to sexting, they warned to expect anger and a long path to forgiveness.
“When they first find out, you should be prepared that your spouse is going to go off on you. Because they're just hearing this for the first time and it is going to strike every nerve, every chord in their body because you just broke their heart. That's what you did. You cheated on them. And so, you just crushed their heart,” Brittni explained.
“So be OK with them getting upset. But you know, once the calm after the storm, it’s important that you now work on that process.”