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 see and what the mind fantasizes. A woman is more likely to be tempted into adultery on the emotional level. There is certainly a physical attraction, but it is usually the accompanying emotional attachment that leads a woman into an adulterous affair. She is lured away by a man’s tenderness, openness, warmth, personality, 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 act out your fascination, it is time to confront the threat of adultery. It’s not too late, but it’s late enough.
Put a stop to any of these common lies and partial truths—or others like them—that you may be entertaining:
His/her attention makes me feel good, and it’s not hurting anyone.
There’s a connection. He/she really understands me.
I can talk to him/her about everything. He/she always makes time for me.
I can tell he/she is attracted to me. I can see myself ending up with him/her.
You must establish an attitude of 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. Don’t allow any unwholesome thoughts to make a home in your mind. Don’t gaze too long into the windows of the soul; that is, eye contact in a conversation is good, but if you catch a look that is too intense, too engaging, or makes you uncomfortable, avert your eyes and resist that gaze. Don’t go out of your way to see or meet someone. Be careful with physical touch. Keep conversation general. When all else fails, run for your moral life.
Look at what this husband had to share:
“I wish I could talk to all men who are considering the terrible choice of an affair. I did that many, many years ago. I left my wife for somebody else. I allowed the affair to come into my life at a time when I should have and could have stopped it. But I did not. The pain I’ve faced was not worth the few moments of pleasure I had. I ended up with a failed relationship (the affair ended—the grass is not greener on the other side), and I ended up with a failed marriage. In my case, there was a son involved. After a short period of time, this devastating decision ruined at least three lives. And it goes on. Even long after this affair ended and I was on my own, I realized that my son and I could never have a good relationship because there was animosity there . . . and rightfully so. He saw firsthand the pain I caused my wife. I wish I could tell any man who’s toying with this thought—you’re playing with fire. Don’t do it. Stay the course. Hang on to your wife. Hang on to your husband. Stop what you’re doing. Go to the Lord in prayer and he’ll give you the strength to go on. And you will find goodness eventually. You will find a rebuilding. He’ll do that for you.”
You can sense the pain this man has experienced. He learned the hard way about the devastation of sexual sin.
The other side of temptation is to be satisfied at home. Solomon’s words in Proverbs 5:18-19 are slanted to a husband, but wives can make an appropriate translation: “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, head for your own well, the well God has provided for you. Quench your thirst at your own fountain instead of roaming around looking for another. When you are full and satisfied sexually in your relationship with your spouse, neither of you will need to look elsewhere for satisfaction
Besides just your physical needs, bring 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. Grieve with each other. Enjoy each other. Challenge 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.
*Our book, Guard Your Heart, can help equip you and your spouse with the tools to protect your marriage. It’s available in our online bookstore!