Very few people who marry think infidelity will ever enter their marriage. They can’t even fathom that it could happen because they’re so in love at the moment. That is why they fail 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. We need to protect our marriages and help others protect theirs from this heartbreaking situation. We must change our mindset into being pro-active in protecting marriage against adultery rather than just reactive. Too many spouses fall into this naive lifestyle pattern.
First off, 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 protective barriers up 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 in several topics posted on our web site. We hope you will take advantage of and read through what we make available. They are available to minister to your situation. We pray they help in some way.
Addressing Myths So We are Protecting Marriage
Before we get into the ways we can involve ourselves in protecting marriages, let’s look at two myths that we need to confront. Anne Bercht (from Beyondaffairs.com) points out the following about extramarital affairs, which are based on research done by Dr. Shirley Glass, Ph. D:
“MYTH: Affairs happen in unhappy or unloving marriages. FACT: Affairs can happen in good marriages. Affairs are less about love and more about sliding across boundaries.
“MYTH: Affairs occur mostly because of sexual attraction. FACT: The lure of an affair is how the unfaithful partner is mirrored back through the adoring eyes of the new love. Another appeal is that individuals experience new roles and opportunities for growth in new relationships.”
In other words, it’s about the “tingle” and the lure of feeling admired, plus the new excitement that the adulterer’s experience within this affair.
Please take these facts seriously. They will help to disarm the myths we give little thought to and help us to seriously address them.
In light of this information, for this Marriage Insight, we’re focusing on a portion of the article, “Four Ways to Affair-Proof Your Marriage,” which came from the Smalley Relationship Center. (It is used with permission.) Plus, we’re adding a few additional quotes, as well. Here’s what they say:
Steps to Protecting Marriage
To protect our marriages, we need to make a daily decision to have an affair-proof relationship. This protection builds trust and security—which in turn—melts the ice. Security from marital fidelity is built when we do four important things.
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.
Also, it’s important to know:
“The best way to grow your marriage is to work on your relationship with Jesus. Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9) and are you abiding with Him (John 15:5)? Are you spending time in the Word? The more you become like Christ, the better the spouse you’ll become. Even though Jesus did not marry a woman, He still epitomizes the characteristics of a godly spouse.” (Scott Kedersha)
“Pursue growth both individually and as a couple. Help each other live up to your fullest potential personally and in your marriage. Keep in mind that whenever God truly calls one of you to do something, His call includes your spouse and involves the two of you working together. Never try to move forward independently, excluding your spouse from your plans. Instead, figure out how you how can best work together on them.” (Whitney Hopler from her article, “How to Open Your Hearts in Marriage”)
Here’s another protecting marriage tip:
2. Become 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 the 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 (and others) 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
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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