Affairs are happening everywhere. I hardly go a week without hearing about someone who has had an affair and now the marriage is in crisis. Couples can forgive a lot, but this breach of trust seems to be the one that draws a line in the sand and is the most difficult marriage violation to recover from. I know couples do recover, but if you can prevent your marriage from experiencing this horror, it is wise to think about how you might do that.
Years ago I heard a radio Christian personality say that the best insurance against an affair is “intimacy in the marriage”. When I heard that, I thought, “Right on. We should be emotionally close. Woohoo!” But what I didn’t realize then is that intimacy for women looks different than intimacy for men. What this radio speaker should have said was that the best insurance against an affair was that the needs of each spouse are met in the marriage. David and I read His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley, Jr. thirty years ago and then recently took an incredible course studying those needs (http://www.familydynamics.net/dynamic-marriage). The premise of this book is that if you can figure out your spouse’s top needs and then meet those top needs, they are satisfied in the relationship.
Additionally, in Wife School Online we have studied the needs that humans experience on a deep level, such as to be deeply listened to, to be affirmed, to have attention from, to be understood, to have kindness expressed toward us, and to have someone show they care about us with actions as well as words. These human relationship needs cross every culture and every generation and stand at the very foundation of close relationships. These gifts tie heart-strings around your spouse’s heart and yours, which helps guard against affairs.
Obviously, the temptation to have sex outside the marriage is easier to resist if those needs are met in the marriage. You are learning many relationship skills and I’m sure your marriage is better all the time. However, the temptation to have sex outside the marriage still exists, even with great marriages, because we are dust. So you have to be exceedingly wise here. There is no substitute for doing the work of “loving your husband with the 8 A’s”, but a little discussion with your husband about “affairs” doesn’t hurt either. Let me explain.
Many people who have had affairs and have seen their marriages blow up, will say, “If only I had known the consequences…” It’s sad to see how many people “fall” into an affair, without realizing what consequences would follow. To them at the time, it’s just a slip or an accident. So to help prevent this “accident” from “accidentally happening” (although there is no iron-clad guarantee), I have repeatedly talked to David about the subject of affairs during our marriage. If he or I “slip”, it will not be because we were not informed of the heartache or consequences. Let me explain what I mean.
The inevitable subject of affairs comes up regularly, as we hear about couples in which one spouse has cheated. I say to David something like, “How that would break my heart if you had an affair. I would be paralyzed with such a hurt. I don’t know how I would get over it. Can you imagine if I had an affair? Can you imagine how much that would break your heart if I did that to you?” I can picture my sweet husband right now, sadly shaking his head, as he pictures me having an affair, and how that most horrendous breach of trust would undo him.
I don’t stop there. I continue with things like, “I heard he came home and his wife was in the bed with his best friend. Can you imagine how hurtful that would be if you came home and your spouse was in your own bed with a friend? How do you navigate that kind of hurt? How do you recover?” I leave these word pictures in his mind, making him think about how devastating an affair would be to him…or to me.
Friends, I want him to see how devastated he would feel if I had an affair, so he would get in his heart how devastated I would be if he had one. We probably have had some version of this conversation fifty or more times in the last 30 years. I don’t want an affair to creep up on us. That’s why early in the marriage, we agreed that David would never hire or work closely with a woman that was in the “temptation” category. That’s like trying to be on a diet and being surrounded by key lime pie and brownies all day long. Zig Ziglar used to say that kids did drugs exactly proportionately to how often they were offered drugs. Multiple exposures to temptation predict a fall. Keep the brownies out of the house if you are dieting and try to keep the hot mamas out of your husband’s daily work life. It’s a temptation your husband doesn’t need to battle, if it can be avoided (and this is not always possible, of course).
Men who have tanks full of the 8 A’s and who are understood, cared for, and respected at home have much more concrete in their “Just Say No” boxes. Fill him with the 8 A’s, talk to him about what it would feel like if either of you had an affair, and discuss his situation concerning working alone with hot mamas. If your husband travels with an attractive woman, and has multiple opportunities to be alone with her, that is a volcanic explosion waiting to happen. Head that one off, friends. In any situation where a man and woman are alone (unless she is thirty years older than him), chemistry will occur and sparks will fly. That is how the human body reacts to a person of the opposite sex. We are engineered to have chemistry. A wedding ring does not change that chemistry. So you have to be wise and take precaution that you or your husband are not repeatedly and extensively alone with members of the opposite sex.
Dr. Adrian Rogers used to say don’t give a woman a ride unless she is over 80 or under 8. He understood the nature of a man. No one is immune to this temptation. Don’t be offended that your husband is sexually attracted to other women. This is how God made men. Of course he is called to keep himself pure, but it is helpful if wives understand what is going on below the surface in your husband’s body. To be honest, you have to admit that you are still attracted to men who make you feel wanted and beautiful. So let’s wise up. Let’s make some decisions so we don’t accidentally get led “like an ox going to slaughter” (Proverbs 7:22).
Affairs wreck a marriage. Affairs break hearts. Attempt to protect your marriage from this awful occurrence.
We all have regrets. We all make mistakes. And if you or your husband have already failed in this area, there is beauty for ashes with the Lord. I am thinking of a beautiful woman I know right now that experienced this horror years ago and has one of the most lovely and giving hearts I know. Even though her marriage took a hard hit when this happened, God is restoring her marriage after this land-mine explosion. Don’t give up if this has happened to you. You can recover, too.
The book of Proverbs is a gift to humans from God to tell us how to receive blessings (the path of the righteous) and how to avoid curses (the path of wicked). God didn’t leave us without instructions on how to live. You’ve got to go after the wisdom though. It doesn’t come knock on your door. A very basic tenet in Wife School is, “God feeds the birds, but doesn’t put the worms in the nest.” Prov. 2:1-5 can be summed up as, “Look for (wisdom) as for silver”. Wise up on this whole situation with your husband and his huge sexual desire. He is a M.A.N. and you need to strongly consider the temptation he faces daily.
I heard a lost, secular person say, “Men need many women for one need, and women need one man for many needs.” As sinful as that thought may be, there is some truth in that sentence because in their flesh, men do desire multiple partners. The fact that your husband is sexually faithful is enormous!! Gigantic!! Stupendous!! Write it down, circle it, and star it. Sometimes women don’t appreciate the huge gift that faithfulness is from a man.
We were at an event recently and an “up front” Christian man was checking out a woman’s legs. Okay, he’s a man. I’ll give him a pass. Then, at the next event, he was checking out some other women who were dressed immodestly. (He would die if he knew I was watching his eyes.) If your husband makes an effort to guard his eyes, you might say to him, “I know how men long to look at women’s bodies. And it so honors me the way you try to guard your eyes. I know how difficult this is for men, and I appreciate it so much that you try to fight the battle. Thank you.” Try to acknowledge and appreciate the effort he makes to fight this normal temptation that men face. You need to know that if your husband is in the 80%, he’s eaten up with sexual desire a lot of the time. Thank him for his sexual faithfulness. Thank him for guarding his eyes. Thank him for fighting the good fight. Don’t take his faithfulness for granted. Appreciate it!! Applaud it! Reward it!!
Do not think you are immune to this problem and that your precious husband would never do this. When I was in my twenties, one of Memphis’ finest female Bible teachers said this about a young preacher, “He’s the catch of the century.” Knowing this young man, I agreed. He was godly, handsome, winsome, and an inspired teacher of the Word. Guess what happened to him? He married and went into the ministry. And as a pastor, he started counseling. And then…he had an affair with one of the women from his church that he counseled. Friends, this is as common as March winds and April showers. Don’t take your husband for granted in this area.
All through the Scripture, God seems to have a special problem with the sin of sexual immorality, in which category, of course, adultery falls. I mean, why does this sin rip apart the hearts of spouses? I have thought about this a lot, and if I may, I’d like to go out on a limb and tell you my opinion of why God hates sexual immorality so much.
If marriage is a picture of Christ and His bride, the Church, then sex inside the marriage is a picture of something very wonderful. I’m not sure what, but that kind of fusing, that kind of “oneness” is a picture of something very spiritual. Is it being born again? Is sex in marriage a picture of how we are to constantly unite with the Lord and walk with Him, being grafted into the Vine? Is it a picture of when we will be one with the Lord in heaven? Again, this is only my opinion and my speculations. But I think adultery or sex outside the marriage is a picture of apostasy. It is a picture of us leaving our supreme Lover, and going off to other “lower-case” gods. It is a picture of us turning our backs on God and becoming disloyal to Him. I know there are scholars who have better educated opinions than I, but I offer this to you to see the severity of adultery. It is not a “spill” or an “accident” than you can get a mop and bucket and just clean up. It is lifetime devastation to many marriages, unless the Lord brings monumental healing (which of course, He can and does). Do your best to make sure it doesn’t happen in your marriage.
Hebrews 3:14 says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”