Aug 262015 0 Responses

Ashley Madison: What To Do If Your Name Is On the List

I’ve avoided the Ashley Madison story. When it originally broke, most attention was on Josh Duggar, the self-proclaimed “biggest hypocrite ever” who sought affairs even while condemning others for immoral behavior. When the list went public, I made sure no one from our church staff was on the list and then ignored the story.

But then the local rumor mill began. The large database was made searchable by location and every name was outed. (To see who is on the list from your hometown Click Here)

Suddenly a national story had very local ramifications. The list included some friends, church members, and community leaders.

What do you do if your name (or spouse’s name) is on the list?

You embrace it. (See: You Won’t Change Until…)

I don’t mean that you embrace adultery and refuse to blush about the situation. Adultery is a painful act which cannot be diminished. Just making yourself available for adultery is an action which requires remorse. Your spouse’s name being on the list cannot be ignored.

Yet, if your name is on the list you must embrace it. Everyone knows, or will know you were on the list, so accept it. Admit it. Don’t deny it or hide it or try to explain it away. Don’t blame it on a bad day or a rocky marriage. Own it: as wrong, your decision, and something which you are working to make right.

If your name is on the list, something is (or was, since the list goes back to 2008) wrong. If you have worked through the issues with your spouse (and with a counselor) tell your story. Allow your struggles to be used to speak to others. They know your shame, but let them see your success as well.

If you haven’t worked through the issues, get to work. Call your wife (even if she doesn’t know yet) and tell her what happened. Call a counselor and commit to doing whatever it takes to make the marriage work. Call a friend and ask for their help through this difficult time. (See: The Greatest Threat to Your Marriage)

When people ask, tell them, “Yes, I did it. I shouldn’t have and we are working through my issues.”

If you are the spouse, embrace it. Don’t excuse his behavior. Don’t cover for him. Don’t make an excuse about work stress or some other scenario. Tell people it was very stupid, but the two of you are working through the issues.

While embracing it is not fun, what other choice does a person have?

  1. They can pretend as though it isn’t a big deal. But it is a big deal. Try as some may to normalize adultery, it is too hurtful to individuals and families to be normalized. It is a destructive behavior which has little to do about sex and much to do about an inability to properly deal with the brokenness in our lives.
  2. They can pretend as though it didn’t happen. But in this case, everyone knows it happened. To deny it would only cause more pain. (See: Three Myths About Adultery)

The only choice is to embrace it. No need for hiding. No need to move. Hold your head up and face what you need to face.

  1. Look your spouse in the eye and apologize. Don’t look down. Don’t do it over the phone. Own what you have done.
  2. Call a counselor. You make the call. Don’t ask your spouse to call. (If you need a referral, let me know)
  3. Invite your spouse to counseling with you. If they do not want to go, you go anyway.
  4. Find a loving community where you can receive support. For me, this is church. Not every church is a loving community of broken people, but many are. Find one that is. Find a community where people admit their brokenness, but they desire change. (If you live in the Greater Fort Smith Region, you can find this tonight at Celebrate Recovery.)

For some, having their name linked to the Ashley Madison list will be the worst experience of their lives. They will be devastated by it and may never recover.

For others, having their name listed by Ashley Madison will be the best moment of their lives. While tragic, it will be the wake-up call which will create true life change.

If your name is on the list, you get to choose which outcome defines your story. If you embrace what has happened, you are well on your way to healing from it.

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