I’ve been writing about preventative medicine for affairs – now on to the nitty gritty.
Affairs outside of marriage are usually a symptom of problems in the marriage. Someone’s needs are not being met. There are exceptions to this, of course. An addiction to sex can cause a person to stray with little cause, or if the person grew up in a household where it obviously occurred and was never addressed, it becomes the norm. For example – the Kennedys. If daddy did it and didn’t disturb the family, then it must be okay.
Finding out that your spouse has cheated on you tears at your core of trust towards them. A pain like no other you experience in a relationship, it afflicts a deep, intimately personal hurt that insults the soul. How could this person you thought you knew, whom you shared your life with and your intricate depths of emotion and love, have committed an act so vile to every part of your being?
It’s no wonder that the first reaction most people have to news of their spouse’s infidelity is to flee. The pain is so excruciating that you see no hope for recovery. You want to run from it. You don’t want to look at your spouse much less even think about talking to them and working it out. How could they violate the intimacy you once shared?
It probably began unintentionally. Maybe you and your spouse had been gradually drifting apart. Work, children, lack of time together and everyday problems slowly disintegrated the intimacy that once burned deeply between you. Maybe you both began to secretly question why you married and if you were still in love. Marriage became a chore.
Our desire for intimacy, when not fulfilled, can cause us to commit a heinous act we swore we would never do. Most of the time it starts as innocent conversation - maybe with someone at work, or at the grocery store, or even worse, someone in church. Yes, it happens. But when you are feeling disturbed about your marriage, you can’t help but notice the fresh air someone else might breathe into your life. It’s nice to feel good and to feel attractive to someone; you sure don’t with your spouse anymore. The devil bombards you with the negatives of your marriage and you listen, until you begin to justify your behavior. The “feel goods” soon outweigh the “shouldn’t do its”.
An affair is not limited to sex. According to the Bible, looking at someone lustfully is no different than acting on it. Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The same would, obviously, also apply to women looking at a man lustfully.
Inappropriate chatting online with a person you may or may have never met invades the intimacy between you and your spouse and will destroy it, quickly. If you start thinking about another person in a ‘more than friendly’ way, that becomes adultery. People try to justify their behavior because they never see the people they flirt with online. It doesn’t matter. Those thoughts are poisoning their relationship with their spouse. Looking at pornography falls under the same category in the eyes of God. Of course, the world has different ideas about pornography and internet intimacy, and so you need to be very careful of whom you choose as friends. Many view this as acceptable behavior.
How do people allow themselves to take that scandalous step? I believe it’s an act of insecurity - not knowing who you are and not feeling confident in your marriage. Without a commitment to God or to your spouse, it would be easy to stray from the values necessary for a successful marriage, especially if love and intimacy have been tainted by relationships in the past. We also live in a world where it's become much more acceptable.
Many couples choose to walk away from a cheating spouse because it seems much easier than trying to break down a wall that has taken years to build. The involvement of another person is usually the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The marriage was headed to disaster before the affair.
You can move on from infidelity and turn your marriage into the healthy, loving relationship that God desires you to have. It will take time to heal it, but it can be healed. A marriage can recover from the heartache of adultery and become a stronger, functional relationship.
Stay tuned as I look at how to do that.