I am absolutely floored by the number of affairs that take place among Christian couples. For some reason, I have become privy to information I’d just rather not know in several instances. Past affairs and present affairs have made their way to my ears. My naivete in this area is pretty much gone. I am now aware that this problem is absolutely rampant in the church today. But it really isn’t talked about very much, is it?
Of course, as I have become aware of this, the first question that comes to mind is “What about my marriage?” How healthy is it, really? For, of course, when you see couples whom you assumed were very healthy struggling in this way, it can be extremely frightening.
And the thing is– my husband and I are both sinners. We struggle with being selfish and unkind and busy and thoughtless. So how do you keep a marriage of two sinners affair-proof?
As I have pondered this over the past several months, the following things came to mind as ways to keep our marriage on a healthy path–
1. Both husband and wife need to be solidly committed to God. This is priority number one. Committed to following Him with their whole heart. Committed to obeying His Word. When this is not in place, a multitude of problems arise.
2. Both husband and wife need to be, unconditionally, committed to one another. When marriage vows are disregarded and divorce is viewed as an option, suddenly the marriage seems less sacred and, therefore, more disposable.
3. Humility is key. I have been struck over and over again in my reading of the Old Testament this year just how important humility is before God. Pride wreaks great destruction, not only personally, but also relationally. It rears its ugly head in countless ways — an unforgiving heart, an unwillingness to apologize, an insatiable desire to always prove “I” am right, and a desire to always have my own way. When one party lacks humility, a relationship cannot function as a unified unit, but instead it is fractured. It may just be a crack in the foundation, but it weakens the relationship substantially.
4. No secrets. My husband and I developed this practice long ago. We do not keep secrets from one another. In fact, I tell others not to share anything with me that they want kept from my husband. He, in turn, shares with me what he learns at board meetings, business meetings, and in conversations. While we know others disagree with this and find it unnecessary, we have found that, instead of it weakening our relationship, it has kept us unified, has helped us find perspective outside of our own narrow view, and has strengthened us to face personal problems. Of course, this will not work if the other party is not trustworthy. No secrets is only possible if the other person knows how to keep their mouth closed around other people. You can not have a no secrets relationship with a gossip.
5. Make couple time a priority. You hear this often, I’m sure. Plan a weekly or monthly date. Get away for a weekend. Okay, so let’s be honest. This is NOT possible for many of us. We hardly have time to breathe, much less find time for a weekly or monthly date, so then we throw our hands up in despair and give up! DON’T DO THAT. Think outside the box. When we were in our busiest years raising kids, we found time by just sitting quietly in the evening talking about our days. We’d spend at least 30 minutes in the evening just talking to one another. It kept us glued together in the craziness of owning a business and raising kids. And, honestly, we still do this. It isn’t ever planned. It just happens. I may saunter over to our business office next door, where my husband is working overtime and we will just fall into easy conversation for awhile. We are still best friends after all these years and it is mostly because we have made time to continue to really know and understand one another.
6. Continue to show small kindnesses and express love, even when you do not feel like it, out of obedience to the Lord. Let’s face it, sometimes our feelings are just not in cooperation with what we know we should do. So we need to plow ahead, recognizing that sometimes feelings come later. We need to be 100% committed to doing what we know is right, no matter how we feel.
Aahhh, I read the list above and I know how we have failed in our marriage. But it seems as if you really have a heart to serve and submit to God in humility, He steps up and provides so much grace and mercy in this area. I know that writing this makes us even more susceptible to problems in our relationship, as Satan seems to like nothing better than to see a Christian look like a hypocrite. I can’t stand before you here and promise it will never happen to me because I really don’t know. What I do know is that God is faithful and whatever happens, He can turn it into something for His Glory.
To those of you who have been through (or are going through) an affair, my heart bleeds for you. I cannot imagine the pain and suffering you have endured (or continue to endure). I pray that God heals your marriage, but, most importantly, that He continues to draw you to Himself.
You may be married to a spouse who isn’t committed to the Lord at all. In these instances, we have to keep praying. God, in His grace and mercy, has the power to draw that person to Himself. Be the best marriage partner you can be (I Peter 3:3) and let the rest up to God.
Life is so complicated, isn’t it? It is not cut and dried and marriages go through stages. Some are like a pleasant ride in the country and some stages feel like we are traveling through a typhoon of grief, busyness, or difficulties. Let’s hang on through it all, so that we Christians can show that God really does make a difference in this area of marriage. He will work in and through us and we will bring honor and glory to His name by having a healthy marriage.
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