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Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective

Stop an Affair Before it Starts

  • Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg America's Family Coaches
  • 2008 7 Jul
  • COMMENTS
Stop an Affair Before it Starts

Most of us say, “It will never happen to me,” or “My marriage isn’t at risk.” But listen to the cold, hard facts: It’s estimated that roughly 30 to 60% of all married individuals (in the United States) will engage in infidelity at some point during their marriage.

If you think your marriage isn’t at risk, or that you’ll never be tempted in your marriage, think again. The fact is, we’re all at risk – if we don’t take steps to stop an affair before it starts. So just who is susceptible to an affair? Someone who is experiencing:

• Boredom in marriage
• Lack of sexual activity in marriage
• Lack of compliments, validation, and appreciation from your spouse
• Lack of attention from your spouse
• Lack of intimate time in prayer and God’s Word

For men and women, adultery begins in the heart. And for men particularly, it begins when the heart is not guarded against what the eyes sees and what the mind fantasizes. A woman is more likely to be tempted sexually on an emotional level. There is certainly a physical attraction, but it’s usually the accompanying emotional bonding and attachment that leads a woman into an adulterous affair. She is enticed by a man’s tenderness, openness, warmth, personality, affection, and attentiveness.

When you sense that someone else is captivating your heart in some way, when this attraction results in increased disappointment or frustration toward your spouse or when you begin to dwell on or flirt with your fascination, it’s time to confront the threat. It’s not too late, but it’s late enough.

Are you entertaining any of these common lies and partial truths – or others like them?

• His/her flirting and attention makes me feel good or young again, and it’s not hurting anyone.
• We have a connection. He/she really understands me.
• I can talk easily to him/her about everything. He/she focuses on me and gives me time to talk.
• There’s chemistry between us. I can tell he/she is attracted to me. I can see myself ending up with him/her.

Stop! You must set a boundary now! You must establish a respectful relational distance between yourself and the man or woman who captures your attention. We’re not talking about cutting off all contact with the opposite sex. We’re talking about being cautious and alert for temptation in these relationships and maintaining a margin of distance that will help you resist those temptations.

If you find yourself attracted to another person, or entertaining some of the lies and partial truths we listed, you need to set up those boundaries now. Don’t allow any unwholesome thought to take hold in your mind. Don’t gaze into the other person’s eyes, the windows of the soul; eye contact in a conversation is good, but if you catch a look that’s too intense or too engaging and that makes you uncomfortable, avert your eyes and resist that gaze. Don’t meet alone with members of the opposite sex behind closed doors or in private settings. Be careful with physical touch. Keep conversation general. When all else fails, run for your life. Literally.

The other side of temptation is to be satisfied at home. Solomon’s words in Proverbs 5:18-19 are slated to a husband, but you wives can make an appropriate relation: “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love.”

In other words, if you are emotionally or sexually thirsty, quench your thirst at your own fountain instead of looking for another. When you are full and satisfied in your relationship with your spouse, neither of you will need to look elsewhere for satisfaction.

Besides taking your physical needs to your spouse, be sure you also take your emotional and relational needs to no one else but your spouse. Talk about your struggles, your dreams, your needs, your frustrations, and your joys from all levels of your life. Pray with each other. Laugh with each other. Cry with each other. Enjoy each other. Challenge each other. Get honest with each other. This is what intimacy is all about – sharing your innermost thoughts, feelings, desires, and drives with one another. Intimacy with your spouse will help keep you in the center of the road, even when other guardrails are missing.

To help you establish guardrails around your marriage, here are five keys to fighting off affairs:

1. Communicate! Couples lose touch with each other when they stop talking. To stay connected and satisfied with each other, spend time together daily.

2. Forgive past grievances. Don’t let any resentment reside in your heart. Confess it promptly; otherwise it will seek to destroy you. Forgiving graciously means releasing the offense and receiving your spouse back into your heart.

3. Serve each other daily. Do you know your spouse’s needs? (Ask!) Are you inattentive? (Be a student of your spouse!) Don’t put it off. Remember what worked before. Breakfast in bed? A phone call during the day? Ask God to open your heart so you can serve freely with the attitude of Jesus.

4. Celebrate who you are individually and who you are together. Pleasing your spouse defeats selfishness and promotes self-denial, which is the root of a great marriage. It builds intimacy and provides encouragement during tough times.

5. Guard your marriage. Be keenly aware of how easily distracted you can become. Be vigilant against distractions. Spend time daily in God’s Word. Stay connected to Christ through prayer and getting to know him more intimately. Avoid falling into temptation traps.

Ask God to overwhelm you with love for your spouse and help you rejoice in your marriage. Remember, love is not always a feeling. Much of the time, love is a choice. You must choose to love, whether you feel like it or not. That’s the way to guard your heart.

Originally posted July 25, 2008.


Portions of this article were adapted from "Guard Your Heart," Copyright 2003 by Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg, all rights reserved.  Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., www.tyndale.com.  To order this resource or to find our more about Dr. Gary and Barb – Your Marriage Coaches, visit www.drgaryandbarb.com or call 1-888-608-COACH. 

Married over 30 years, the parents of two adult daughters and five grandchildren, Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg, your marriage coaches, have a unique blend of insight and wisdom that touch people of all ages. Together with Gary's 25,000 hours of counseling experience and Barbara's gift of encouragement and biblical teaching, they are equipping thousands of families across the nation through their interactive daily radio program, conferences, and marriage and family.

[1] “What are Some Facts and Statistics about Infidelity?” TruthAboutDeception.com, http://www.truthaboutdeception.com/quizzes/public/infidelity_statistics.html