Affairs: Prevention and Recovery
You may stop reading right here thinking, “This does not apply to me.” Don’t be so naive. Many couples come to our workshops or call our offices in crisis saying, “My spouse had an affair and this is our last ditch effort at saving our marriage. We are at the end of our rope so we hope you can help.” How do affairs happen? Who is most vulnerable?
How does a couple get here? Maybe you’re reading this and those could be your exact words. You just got the news of your spouse’s affair. Perhaps you are newly married and can’t imagine ever saying those words. In the next month we are going to think about:
1. What constitutes an affair?
2. Who is vulnerable?
3. How do couple’s get to this point?
4. Is divorce the best option since the Bible allows it?
5. How does a couple recover?
6. How can you affair proof your marriage?
In order to what exactly constitutes an affair, we need to consider the words we now use to describe marital unfaithfulness. Synonyms for the word affair are: matter, issue, concern, situation, and event. Very innocuous. In our Western Culture and even in the church we have made something very serious very benign. The Bible uses the word adultery. Synonyms for this word are infidelity, disloyalty, betrayal, deceitfulness, falseness, and faithlessness. These are serious words with serious implications.
Technically, we think of sexual intercourse with someone other than our spouse as the workable definition of an affair or committing adultery. While this is true, we may need to take a close look at these words to see if we are headed down a path that makes an affair far more likely. Let’s key in on the word deceitful.
Deceit in a marriage means there are secrets. Secrets always move a couple away from connection and plant seeds of destruction which damages the relationship. A good marriage is built on trust and commitment. Trust and commitment are what holds a relationship together when rocky times hit. Secrets break down trust. The longer the secret continues and the way the truth comes to light all determine the level of betrayal and ensuing damage.
This is why the bible says in Psalm 51:6, “God desires truth in the innermost being.” God desires we are truthful in the deepest secret part of ourselves. All lies begin with deceiving ourselves. First we lie to ourselves, then to others. We rationalize, we justify we blame, we deserve to be happy.
The Bible also tell us to “Confess our sins to one another ,” James 5:16. It is better to confess than to be “found out”. Of course it is the most damaging to lie upon questioning until the truth is revealed in a more concrete way.
Deceit does not always start with an affair. Perhaps you lie about taxes and have your spouse sign forms that they do not know are dishonest. Perhaps you lie about money or how you spend your time. Maybe you lie about an addictive behavior. Perhaps you are dishonest about what you view or participate in on the internet. Whenever you lie it’s that much easier to lie again. And again. And again. So ask yourself, “How am I dishonest with my spouse?” That dishonesty is planting seeds of destruction that make an affair easier to justify if the opportunity presents itself.
An affair begins when one begins to turn to someone other than their spouse for emotional and or physical connection. Or, sex is used in an addictive way to meet needs for relief, stress reduction or diversion because a couple does not know how to comfort and help each other process in this way. While the technical definition of adultery is having sex with someone other than your spouse, any time you use addictive behavior or another person to meet the needs God intended to be met in a marriage, you are on a dangerous path and far more vulnerable to an adultery.
This week take an inventory of your willingness to be honest in your marriage. Honesty is always the starting point of growth. Be honest; first with yourself and then with your mate. Confess your areas of dishonesty to your mate WITHOUT BLAMING THEM FOR YOUR BEHAVIOR. Read through Psalm 51 and make it your own.
Thanks and blessings,
Milan & Kay
Next week: Who is vulnerable to an affair.