“Affection is the kind of love that leaves you feeling close, safe and cared for.” (Dr Randy Carlson) So MISGUIDED affection could make a spouse feel the opposite. You feel distant, unsafe, and not cared about. It’s important to note that affections can be misguided in many different ways.
One of those ways is that some spouses devote so much of their time, energy and affection to their children, they don’t leave enough for their spouse. Their marriages become child-centered to such a degree that the marriage suffers a type of starvation for affection.
Be careful that you don’t allow that to happen and if it IS happening, ask God to show you how to change that. Your children will benefit all the more if your marriage is healthy. (You can read more to help you with this in the Children’s Effect on Marriage topic of this web site.)
Another type of misguided affection can go into caring about the needs and wants of other family members. This can happen to such a degree that you forget that the Bible tells those who marry to “leave” their family of origin to “cleave” to their spouse. They are to form a new family. You are joining forces with a new partner. Therefore, caring for the needs of your spouse is supposed to be your first human priority as soon as you marry.
It’s not that you abandon your family of origin. But:
“when you married, you vowed to depart from your old ways. You didn’t leave your first home in terms of love. But you did leave in terms of authority and priority. The most important human relationship now is the one you have with your husband or wife. More than that, your marriage is a living, breathing institution with a life of its own. It’s a covenant that is a symbol of God’s love for the church, His body of believers in Jesus Christ” (Dr Randy Carlson).
To help your spouse feel “close, safe and cared for” you need to put your attention in the right place. Do not allow your affections to be misguided. (You can read more on this issue in the Dealing with Parents and InLaws topic of this web site.)
Additional Misguided Affections
You can also spend so much time with hobbies, work, careers, substances, other distractions, and friends. For that reason you don’t have enough left of yourself to help your spouse to feel “close, safe and cared for.” Again, that is another way in which your affections can be misguided. You married to “join together” —not to live separate lives. If your spouse is willing, make it happen.
If you have a spouse that is “guilty” of misguided affection, we hope you won’t give up, but rather will be all the more determined to pray and act upon what the Lord tells you to do, until your spouse wakes up to realize the blessing that he or she is missing out on with his or her wrong priorities. Persevere (in a respectful way) with the same determination that Christ has persevered for you.
In the meantime, live out the scripture that says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth. Keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left. Keep your foot from evil.“ (Proverbs 4:23-27)
Here’s what the New Life Application Bible says about these verses:
“Our heart —our feelings of love and desire —dictates to a great extent how we live because we always find time to do what we enjoy. Solomon tells us to guard our heart above all else, making sure we concentrate on those desires that will keep us on the right path. Make sure your affections push you in the right direction. Put boundaries on your desires; don’t go after everything you see. Look straight ahead, keep your eyes fixed on your goal, and don’t get sidetracked on detours that lead to sin.”
When we are starved for affection from our spouse, it is tempting when we can find it elsewhere. But beware. The enemy of our faith would love to get you to look for affection in a place that will hurt your Heavenly Father’s heart. To prevent that from happening, there are a series of questions that Dr William Cutrer and Sandra Glahn provide in the book, Sexual Intimacy in Marriage (published by Kregel Publications) that we hope you will honestly ask yourself as far as your relationship with someone of the opposite sex. In their book, they write,
“Here are some questions to help us identify misguided affections:
- Do you make special trips past her desk or his house?
- Do you manipulate situations so you can be alone in a secluded, private setting?
- Have you started taking special care of your dress, your physique, and overall appearance? Are you wearing an alluring scent?
- When you are around him or her, do you feel like you’re sixteen again?
- Do you find yourself thinking of this person frequently outside of the usual context of your contact?
- Do you purposely withhold some conversations, letters, or events from your spouse?
- Are you dreading accountability times? Do you not even have a person to whom you are accountable for your thoughts and actions?
- Do you find yourself thinking of this person instead of your spouse when you watch romantic movies?
- And do you think of this person during romantic activities with your spouse?
- Do you talk about him or her more than about your spouse?
- Is the love you feel for this person infatuation that wants to possess or is it true love? Real love wants the other to be all he or she can be in Christ. It’s a love that would never lead the loved one down a treacherous path away from God. Are you acting with his or her best interest at heart?
“Let an application of the Golden Rule help determine the state of your relationship. Ask yourself: ‘Would I want someone else to treat me as I’m treating this person’s spouse, even if only in my heart?'”
Steer your affections into the direction of living a life that is pleasing to the Lord. No matter what, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man“ (Proverbs 3:3-4).
May you diligently guard your heart, so you’re fully devoted to your spouse,
Cindy and Steve Wright
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