There has been a lot said over the years about “accountability partners.” Perhaps one of the most common questions asked by married men about this relationship is, “Should my wife be my accountability partner?” To answer the question regarding who should be your accountability partner, let’s start by going over a few general words of caution and direction.
(Note: Since this topic is typically more applicable to men, I’ve written it from the male perspective. If you are a wife wondering if your husband should be your accountability partner, simply switch the words around and this article will apply to you as well.)
You Are Ultimately Accountable to God, Not Your Accountability Partner
The person every Christian is ultimately accountable to is God (Psalm 51:4). God, however, often uses his Church to discipline Christians (1 Corinthians 5). So there is a place to be disciplined by others such as an accountability partner.
However, church discipline is for those Christians who are living in unrepentant sins. Accountability partners do more harm than good when Christians build a relationship revolving around “sin checking.” The relationships that help us the most are the partnerships that help us focus more and more on Christ, not our sin. Most accountability partners don’t last long because God did not design us to be each others’ prison wardens.
Accountability partners, therefore, should keep each other accountable not so much about what they are avoiding but on what they are pursuing. It’s far more helpful to encourage each other in your love for Christ and your desire to seek sexual purity compared to checking how bad or good you both did at avoiding sexual temptation that week.
Additionally, the fear of embarrassing yourself to another person, even to your wife, is not great enough to keep you from committing sexual sin. The only thing a relationship centered on sin checking will do is ruin the friendship or cause the two of you to lie.
There certainly comes a time when a good friend (or spouse) should confront another friend (or spouse) about sin. Confronting a brother or sister in Christ about their sin, however, is the overflow of a good friendship or marriage, not the foundation of a good friendship or marriage. Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend . . . .” If you’re not friends first, the wounds you receive won’t be received as faithful and helpful. If you want an accountability partner, you first need a good friend. Good, godly friends are produced through seeking and serving Jesus Christ together, not through calling someone once week you barely know to ask about their sexual sin.
Knowing you are going to have to tell someone, like your wife, you committed sexual sin sounds like a healthy safeguard, but sexual temptation is way more powerful than your fear of other people. Only a love and healthy fear of God is powerful enough to be a successful weapon against sexual sin.
You Should Be Accountable to Your Wife and Confess Your Sexual Sins to Your Wife in General
When deciding if your wife should be your accountability partner, there’s no canned answer in the Bible. Each situation regarding confessing sexual sin will need a different approach, so I encourage each of you to walk with God on this, consult the Scriptures, and appeal to common sense. With that said, here are a few pointers when seeking to decide if your wife should be your regular accountability partner.
If you are a man who struggles with addiction to porn or masturbation, you absolutely need to confess your sins directly to your wife. She should know about this struggle since your body belongs to her as well (1 Corinthians 7:4). Husbands and wives are accountable to each other when it comes to sexual sins because their bodies belong to one another. With that said, I personally don’t believe your spouse should be your daily, weekly, or monthly accountability partner. Men and women’s sexual struggles are often so different, it’s hard for your spouse to understand and be helpful to you. Often making your wife your accountability partner does more harm than good.
Rather than helping you with sexual temptation, making your wife your accountability partner might just hurt your marriage. In the long run, this may actually hinder your effectiveness in resisting sins like porn and masturbation. The healthier your marriage and sex life is with your wife, the easier it is to resist sexual temptation. Your marriage will most likely be strengthened if your wife knows about your struggles. Your marriage will most likely be weakened if you tell her every single little thought and struggle you have with lust.
If you’ve committed adultery against your wife, you must confess but without going into graphic detail. Seek the help of a good, Christian counselor to help you and your spouse begin the healing process.
While You Are Accountable to Your Wife, You Should Not Confess Your Sexual Sins to Your Wife in Detail
Again, if you are a man who regularly struggles with porn, lust, or masturbation, your wife should know of your struggle. If you’ve never confessed these types of sexual sins to your wife, you should. I don’t believe, however, it is healthy to confess these types of sins in great detail and every single time you struggle.
For example: If you are a husband, your wife needs to know you struggle with lust. She doesn’t need to know that when you were at the grocery store and you saw the cover of a magazine with a famous actress on it, you played out a fantasy in your head. Every time she sees that actress on TV does not need to be a reminder to her of your mental sins. Your wife needs to know you struggle late at night with internet porn. She doesn’t need to know what specific types of pictures and videos you have looked at.
Wisdom Says Your Wife Should Not Be Your Regular (daily, weekly, est. ) Accountability Partner
You need to confess every sin you are aware of to God. Your wife is not God. She was not designed to handle the combined pressures of being your spouse, your pastor, your counselor, your best friend, your accountability partner, and let alone your God.
If you feel a conviction by the Holy Spirit to act otherwise and share more with your spouse, certainly do not let anyone get in the way of that conviction. My warning is that you should be wise and prayerful about how you share the details of your sexual sin.
You need to repent to your spouse, confess to your spouse, and let your spouse know about your struggles. But giving lots of details and making this a daily conversation is not healthy. Don’t use my words as an excuse to ignore what you feel the Holy Spirit is leading you to do. When it comes to deciding if your wife should be your regular accountability partner, pray about what God is leading you to do and obey.
Even if She’s Not Your Accountability Partner, Your Wife Should Have the Opportunity to Forgive and Support Her Husband
In conclusion, some of you may think if you told your wife how you’ve struggle with porn, masturbation, and other sexual sins, she would never forgive you. That may be true, but that’s not your concern.
Nothing binds a husband and wife together like forgiveness. Marriage is a reflection of Christ and his Bride, the Church. The Church’s relationship with God is founded on the cross, love, and forgiveness; our marriages with our spouse should be no different if we desire to reflect Christ and his Bride. Odds are, your wife really loves you. She will be hurt at first, but in the long run she will be grateful that she had the opportunity to forgive you and support you.
We can’t force people to forgive us. We can’t guarantee someone will choose to allow God’s healing to take place. We are only responsible for doing what we can.
Although I don’t believe it is wise for your wife to be your regular accountability partner, the Bible says you should seek to help one another (Galatians 6:1-2). Perhaps the best way to accomplish this with your wife is to let her know about your sexual struggles, but to protect her from graphic, specific details.
The Bible does not specifically say if your wife should or should not be your accountability partner. You will need to make this decision through prayer, consulting the Scriptures, and being as loving and wise as possible.