Marriage is a gift given to us by God. As James says in his letter, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Like all gifts, it is meant to be enjoyed, but unfortunately, it can also be taken for granted and not appreciated for its worth.
Marriage is the joining of two people into one flesh. “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). This union is something that Paul called a “profound mystery” (Ephesians 5:32).
The sad reality is that there is such a thing as adultery, which ruptures relationships and causes pain for everyone involved, and it’s the one thing that’s an exception to the prohibition on getting divorced (Matthew 5:32).
Adultery violates the exclusivity of the marriage relationship and breaks the covenant between the two spouses and God. There is a variety of superficial reasons for marital unfaithfulness, including dissatisfaction, a lack of sex, or coldness, to name a few, and both men and women can commit adultery against their partners. How then can men, for their part, nurture their marriages and shore them up against adultery?
Relationship Advice for Men
Love and enjoy your wife
Throughout the Bible, many passages speak to husbands, telling them to love their wives. The most well-known of these is in Ephesians: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself…” (Ephesians 5:25, 33).
If the husband and his wife are now “one flesh,” as we pointed out earlier, it makes sense then, that for the man to love his wife is to love someone who has become part of himself. The letter to the Colossians says, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:19).
Presumably, husbands being told to love their wives is something that needed to be said a few times. Loving your spouse means listening to them (really listening), being considerate of their needs, not keeping records of wrong, not being rude or self-seeking, seeking to protect and trust your spouse (1 Corinthians 13).
The Scriptures talk about enjoying one’s spouse. The Book of Proverbs puts it this way – “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.” (Proverbs 5:18-19). This short passage talks about rejoicing and being captivated by your wife.
This is something one must actively do. It doesn’t happen accidentally; it is a choice one must make daily. The “lover” in Song of Songs waxes lyrical, celebrating his beloved: “How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mount Gilead” (Song of Songs 4:1). And he goes on to talk about her teeth, her lips, her temples, her neck, and breasts. This is a man completely intoxicated by and besotted with his beloved. His attention is fixed on her, and no other.
Be wise – don’t look elsewhere
The flip side of this is when a husband’s attention and affections aren’t solely focused on his wife. In our internet age, this is all too common with porn and illicit chat rooms.
The verse we quoted earlier from Proverbs goes on: “Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers…Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife?” (Proverbs 5:15-17, 20).
Another passage warns “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife” (Proverbs 6:27-29). Entering an intimate relationship with someone other than your wife can lead to tremendous pain for everyone involved; as alluring as it may seem, it’s just not worth it.
Infidelity isn’t just about sex, it can be about emotional connection too. Sometimes it may seem like someone at work is a better listener than your spouse, and you unburden your problems to her. That likely is crossing a boundary. It doesn’t have to become sexual before it becomes a problem.
How do you know your relationship with another woman is a problem? When you begin to hang out where you know you shouldn’t or send texts and messages you then proceed to hide from your wife or delete because you know the content is salacious or suggestive, there’s a problem. Deep emotional and physical bonds are meant to be forged with your spouse. Confide in a therapist, your pastor, or a relative, if speaking to your spouse about an issue is difficult.
In the book of wisdom called Proverbs, Wisdom is pictured as a woman who calls out in the street, urging people to heed her voice so they may live rich, full lives. Heed Wisdom’s call, and don’t be fooled – you’ll get burned if you seek emotional or physical succor elsewhere then your spouse.
“For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end, she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword” (Proverbs 5:3-4). Stolen kisses seem sweet, but there’s a price to pay. The detritus of such liaisons is often broken marriages, and children caught in the mess.
Mind who you hang with
Some friends. Are. The. Worst. They don’t encourage right behavior and instead enable their friend’s worst impulses. “Do not be misled,” Paul tells a young church, “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Some friends won’t caution you when you’re going astray, nor will they invest in your marriage by encouraging you to be a better husband.
While such a move will likely be painful, for the sake of your marriage, the influence of such friends, which corrupts good morals, needs to dwindle. Rather, cultivate godly friendships that try to help you flourish in your marriage and other relationships.
The heart of the matter
The “lure” of other women starts in our own hearts and that’s where the issue of dissatisfaction must be addressed. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus says, “…anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). The hard truth to confront is that temptation is not merely something out there, it’s something in us.
James puts it this way: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:13-15).
The hope we have is that “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
By the grace of God, our mistakes are not etched in stone. Consulting with a Christian marriage counselor can help you open communication with your spouse, set boundaries with others, and nurture your marriage toward health. If you’re looking for additional relationship advice for men, feel free to contact me or one of the other counselors in the online counselor directory.
“Fight”, Courtesy of Alex Green, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Piggy Back”, Courtesy of Josh Willink, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Praying”, Courtesy of Paulo Márcio Dos, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Wedding Socks”, Courtesy of Rene Asmussen, Pexels.com, CC0 License