One of the most depressing aspects of blogging is having a blog post ready, then checking Challies before you post, only to see him tackle the same subject earlier this morning. But if that post was how people fall into extra marital affairs, then this is how people who have remained faithfully married have, by grace, done so. Here are some practical ways to maintain faithfulness to your spouse. (I am writing from a woman’s perspective, but much of this would apply to husbands as well.)
Maybe you’ve noticed that someone has singled you out for conversation at church. Again. They’re active in your social media life, liking everything you post. Maybe they’ve sent you a text or two. You realize that there is certainly some attraction there. If you’re married, it could be the start of an affair.
What do you do when someone other than your spouse shows interest in you beyond the interest of platonic, Christian friendship? If someone is not treating you as a younger sister or a brother (1 Tim. 5:2), how can you think and act in a way that protects your marriage, the church, and the name of Christ?
1. Recognize the danger. If someone who is not your spouse is emotionally or physically attracted to you, it’s not innocent or harmless or funny. It’s dangerous. Satan is prowling about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). This is one of the ways he does that. It’s serious. And if you are naive and stupid like the youth in Proverbs (7:7ff), this could ruin your marriage.
2. Flee to Christ. Run to safety at the cross. Tell the Lord your fears and concerns and feelings. Ask for protection, for an increased hunger for righteousness, for a great love for the spouse He has provided for you. Plead His promise to not lead you into temptation but to deliver you from evil (Matt. 6:13). Thank Him for the Spirit’s preserving power and sin-mortifying strength.
3. Tell your spouse. If they have not picked up on it, tell them what you think is happening. There is safety simply in the act of informing another person who loves you and cares for your soul and marriage. Is it awkward to go to your husband and say, “This might sound weird, but I’m pretty sure _____ is hitting on me”? Maybe. Is it wise and right? Yep. And if the attentions continue, there might have to be the awkwardness of going to a pastor or elder with the situation. In our culture, we often take the risk of adultery to avoid social discomfort. When we recognize the seriousness of sin and where it could take us, we’ll stop making that trade.
4. Go on a date. Build your marriage. Of course, this should be a life-long process. But when a marriage has a specific threat – an intruder into the emotional or physical oneness of the covenant bond – then there is urgent need to cultivate emotional and physical intimacy with your spouse. Not only will it make an affair less appealing to you, but it will also send out a message: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song 6:3). There’s something about a wife who is actively in love with her husband and a husband who is actively in love with his wife that is off-putting to adulterous attentions.
5. Cut off all unnecessary interactions with this person who is expressing interest in you. If you must speak with them in order to function at work, keep it minimal. If they are trying to talk with you alone at the Christmas social, walk away. If they sit down near you at the fellowship meal at church, switch tables. This is not cruel or unchristian; it is wise. It is not giving the devil a foothold (Eph. 4:27). It is allowing no room for error. Again, it might cause some social discomfort, especially as you can come off looking like ice woman to people who are not aware of the situation. That’s a small price to pay for your marriage, isn’t it?
The problem is, we take sin lightly and we think we’re strong. We think we can take the attentions and still have a strong, faithful marriage. We can’t. Even if physical adultery never occurs, the emotional bond between husband and wife will weaken; the heart of a husband stops trusting fully (Prov. 31:11). Coldness and doubts creep in almost unnoticed and the marriage is damaged, even if we haven’t bedded down with anyone else.
God loves faithful marriages, and He loves to provide for them and protect them. Let’s not be above using biblical, sane means to obey Him and bless our spouse.