Preventing InfidelityQUESTION: Is preventing infidelity possible?ANSWER:
Preventing infidelity is possible, but healthy marriages don't just happen. Whether newlyweds or seasoned marital veterans, no relationship is automatically protected from the threat of infidelity. We rarely hesitate to insure our health and possessions. Yet spouses fail to take time to insure themselves against unfaithfulness that can be devastating to their marriage. Most men enter marriage with limited knowledge of how to build safeguards against being tempted. Women, desiring gentleness and understanding, unknowingly succumb to subtle temptations both at home and at work.
When first considering temptation,
spouses will quickly admit that neither is enticed by the prospects of an extramarital relationship. Perhaps their parents or grandparents were role models, celebrating their silver and golden anniversaries with enduring devotion. So it is shocking when a relative, close friend, or minister admits to having an intimate relationship with someone other than their spouse.
Is preventing infidelity possible when intimacy is guarded? Intimacy is more than the media's definition of a sexual encounter. Any closeness through association or familiarity with another individual of the opposite sex is intimacy. Intimacy is achieved when we share our deepest and most private nature with another. From the beginning, God established such a relationship between husband and wife. "The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called "woman," for she was taken out of man'" (Genesis 2:23). The first man and woman were designed to share an intimacy.
Misplaced intimacy or closeness is a precursor to infidelity. The marriage relationship can be weakened in the workplace. Friendships with co-workers which begin innocently often create problems if not monitored. When dreams, hurts, and vulnerabilities are shared with an attractive opposite, there is a risk of forming a deep, personal, emotional connection that crosses moral boundaries. This invites the other person to return and respond to your openness. When a door of intimacy opens to an attractive substitute, the door of intimacy with one's spouse begins to close.
Is preventing infidelity possible in the workplace? There are safeguards that will help a man or woman recognize the beginnings of misplaced intimacy. Suppose you experience a "buzz" when meeting with an attractive associate. Think ahead to the consequences of where your thoughts could lead you. David asked God to help him recognize the temptations in his life. "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts" (Psalm 139:23). Be aware of vulnerable situations and, if necessary, change or eliminate them. On overnight business trips, request that the television (or VCR) be removed from your room. One wise husband combines his love for photography with business. Plan in advance what you will do with your free time, particularly your evenings. By discussing this with your spouse, it helps keep both of you accountable while apart.
Wives are equally at risk when it comes to temptation. By being aware of vulnerable times - pre-menstrual, sleep deprived, seasonal mood swings - they can avoid the trap of misplaced intimacy. Women desire approval and a source that will provide reassurance. Refrain from service calls or visits by the opposite sex if you are home alone. Instead, invite a girlfriend to coffee while that washer is being repaired. Some women do not go on business trips with male co-workers. Refrain from becoming a close friend or confidant with male co-workers or a friend's husband. Stay away from television programs that portray marriage as anything less than honorable and established by God. "In the Lord, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman, for as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God" (1 Corinthians 11:11-12).
Is preventing infidelity possible in a God-centered marriage? Married couples are connected physically, emotionally, and socially -- but God intends to connect them spiritually. By sharing mutual values and beliefs, husbands and wives develop accountability, based on God's standards. Establishing relationship guidelines will guard against temptation and infidelity. "Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery" (Hebrews 13:4, NLT).