Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Don't Even Come Close To An Affair

This week I've run into two more marriages and families that are on the ropes because of affairs. And I'm sad every time as I see the tears and feel the despair the wounded spouse faces when they learn of the betrayal and accompanying deception. I pray for the children who are often involved, many of them old enough to understand and feel the sting of their parent's mistakes.

I wish I could take away their anger, confusion and bitterness over what has happened between the two people they loved the most. I wish I could shorten the road ahead of them. But I can't. Even when a couple is willing to do the hard work of restoration, forgiveness and repair, the journey must be a fairly long one. The scars do not heal quickly and trust is not easily returned.

The patterns that the affair brought to light are usually difficult to change. The underlying issues must be probed and the couple must face that there were significant weaknesses in their marriage as well. That's pretty hard, especially for the wounded spouse whose insides have just been torn out.

But this post is about prevention not the cure. I only mention the steep road that follows an affair to perhaps give us all pause so that we won't go there.

What does it take to keep an affair from injuring and perhaps destroying your marriage? Unfortunately there are no 1-2-3 step plans with guarantees but there are some basic attitudes and actions that marriages who stay strong enlist on a regular basis.

First of all, avoid one-on-one opposite sex relationships - period. I'm convinced that non-married men and women cannot have exclusive friendship, work or ministry relationships. I know I'll get heat on this one, but I'm pretty convinced it's true. The reason is that intimacy involves body, soul and spirit. And in a friendship the soul and spirit typically get very close. There is sharing, praying together, building up of one another and the like.

Those are all good things in and of themselves but they become dangerous when the friends are of the opposite sex. Sharing of soul and spirit invite more physical closeness. It's only natural. God wired us that way. So if at all possible (and it usually is) don't be working, eating, friending or ministering alone with someone of the opposite sex. Have others involved and that will help keep inappropriate attractions from happening.

Second, stay accountable to someone who you trust and who will ask you the hard questions. We're all human and can be attracted to someone else even in the best of circumstances. But if you have someone regularly asking you, "Are you attracted to anyone these days?" or "Are you going anywhere or looking at anything you shouldn't? you will not want to have to answer "yes" very often.

Third, build healthy intimacy at home. Don't let activities and kid demands crowd out your intimate time with your spouse. Put time together on the calendar if you have to. Leave some margin in every day to talk, deal with problems and enjoy each other physically. Spend special, uninterrupted time together. Make intimacy at home so attractive other forms of intimacy pale in comparison.

Finally, pray. Pray for yourself, your spouse and for those you will encounter that day. Jesus was of course wise in the Lord's Prayer when he told us to pray about temptation and being delivered of evil. If He could pray it, then we should as well.

Imagine yourself sitting in your living or family room telling your kids that you were unfaithful. That scene alone should scare us enough but it probably won't unless we're proactive in protecting ourselves and our marriage. Don't even come close, OK?
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.


  1. Great Advice Gary. Made me stop and think hmmm which area do we need to work on?

  2. I "may take heat" for this comment....but dont have an affair with God either. Too many passionate Christians put "God first" and neglect their families and spouses in the interest of "serving". Its almost impossible to see the error when its so closely tied with your walk with God...sacrifice seems like the norm for Christians in ministry, and its why so many Christians are divorced and unhappy. To put God first means to put your spouse and family first...those ARE HIS priorities for us. Its easy to be selfish in ministry and push yourself to succeed for God...its harder to put your spouse and family first because it involves more personal self sacrifice and my advise spoken from experience is Dont have an affair with God either...(ok let the heat begin...)

  3. Ruth,

    You make a great point. I've seen many people in the name of Christ mistreat and even abuse their families through neglect, legalism, and the like.

    I think I would use the terms, "making Christ the center," of our lives and families, not "first." First implies that everything else takes second place and that's simply not what Scripture teaches is it.

    When Christ is the center, then His love, guidance and perspective enhance rather than distract from all we do whether it's being married, parenting or working. Christ goes along with us in everything and gives us abundant life.

    Well said, Ruth!

  4. Anonymous,

    Thanks for your comments. I hope that your thinking will cause some important changes and help in your relationships.