Very few people who marry think their marriage will end up with infidelity involved someday. That is why they are failing in protecting marriage —particularly, protecting their marriage from infidelity. But tragically, that’s what happens in more marriages than even the experts can count. If even ONE marriage involves unfaithfulness to a spouse, then that’s one too many! And sadly, from the emails we receive, it’s apparent that Christians are just as susceptible to infidelity as non-believers.
That’s one reason why we’re addressing this issue.
Please don’t think it could never happen in your marriage. We can’t even begin to tell you how many times we’ve heard the statement, “We never thought it would happen to us” … “We never meant for it to happen” and other such statements. But it did happen. We feel it’s better to be cautious and put up protective barriers ahead of time. It doesn’t matter how safe you feel right now. It’s better to be safe, than to be tragically sorry later.
For those of you who are presently suffering from the horrors of infidelity, you have our deepest sympathy. We pray the Lord will minister to your heart. We pray God will help you to work through the issues you’re dealing with in the healthiest manner possible. Please know that we have many articles dedicated to the issue of infidelity on our web site. We hope you will read through what we have posted. Take advantage of the resources we have listed. They are there to minister to your situation. We pray they help in some way.
For this Marriage Message, we’d like to focus on a portion of the “Four Ways to Affair-Proof Your Marriage,” which came from the Smalley Relationship Center. (It is used with permission.) Here’s what they say:
1. Make a Commitment towards Growth.
First, it’s extremely important to make a commitment to keep growing in your relationship with your mate. The lower the relational happiness, there’s greater the temptation to medicate through some kind of addictive behavior (e.g., sex, alcohol, work, etc.). In order to find out what your relationship needs, ask your mate “What is something that I could do that would cause our relationship to grow?” I encourage you to begin making a list of the specific things. And then pick one of them to do on a weekly basis.
2. Becoming Aware of Your Choices.
A damaging force working against marital fidelity is rationalization. Today’s test for honesty seems to be, “It’s okay as long as you don’t get caught.” Or it’s stated, “It’s not that bad; everyone’s doing it.” A major battle is won when we stop asking what’s wrong with certain choices. Instead, we should ask what’s right with them.
Every day I read a small poem above my computer. This poem has become the key for affair-proofing my own marriage.
The choices we make every day,
Dictate the life we lead.
To thine own self be true!
Basically, this is same message that Luke talks about in the Scriptures. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.“ (Luke 16:10) In other words, how we handle the small things dictates how we react to the bigger ones. I now start each day out by thinking about the choices I’ll make and how they can dictate my life. For example, if I spend too much time talking to a female co-worker, I need to be aware of how this can weaken my defenses. They make me susceptible for an affair (emotional as well as physical). Becoming aware of our choices, leads us right into the third way to affair-proof our marriages.
3. Draw a Line and Then Stay a Safe Distance behind It!
While doing a seminar in Hawaii, my family and I were caught in a major storm. At one point, 30 foot waves were crashing against the hotel. It felt like we were being shelled by artillery. Wanting to get close to the monstrous waves, my father and I snuck past a sign that read: Dangerous Beyond This Point! Standing near the water’s edge, a gigantic wave suddenly broke. It knocked us down.
As we laughed and “high-fived” each other, we were confronted by hotel security. They quickly explained that it wasn’t the waves that were the only danger. Instead, the real problem was the rocks that were jarred loose each time the waves struck the shoreline. We had difficulty believing this. That is until we saw some of the “pebbles” that were embedded into the side of the hotel. The reason that the hotel placed the danger signs away from the water’s edge was to create a buffer zone. In other words, they wanted to leave room for error. This way if someone crossed the line, hopefully, they wouldn’t be killed.
If you want to affair-proof your marriage, it’s important to draw a line. And then stay a safe distance behind it. For each person the safety line will be different. Some people will not be able to take business trips or work late with a co-worker of the opposite sex. Others may not be able to meet a certain person for lunch or to work-out at the gym. Whatever the situation, determine where you need to draw the line. Since everyone makes mistakes, having room before you fall over the edge can be the difference between a compromising situation and losing your marriage.
4. Become Accountable to Someone.
The final piece for maintaining marital fidelity is through accountability. Accountability is simply being responsible to another person or persons for the commitments you’ve made. If you desire to affair-proof your marriage, I encourage you to ask a good friend, pastor, Bible study group, or co-worker for accountability.
The important ingredient is having someone to ask the difficult questions. Ask, for example, “Did you compromise your standards last week?” Or ask, “Have you been getting your emotional needs met from someone other than your mate?” Ideally, these questions force us to carefully and prayerfully consider our choices. That is because we know that someone will be checking.
If your desire is to build a protective hedge around your marriage, or if you are recovering from the damaging effects of an affair, by making the above four things a part of your life, you can melt the ice-covered sidewalks of your relationship. It’s one where trust and security are sure to follow.
We hope the above statements from the ministry of Dr Gary Smalley will be helpful. Please know that by applying these principles, you can protect your marriage from the destruction of infidelity. That is our prayer for you and for us. None of us should be so sure of ourselves that we let our defenses down. When we do, we invite the enemy of our faith to have a clear shot at us.
“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)
Cindy and Steve Wright
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