References “Intimate Allies” by Dan B. Allender and Tremper Longman III and “The Meaning of Marriage” by Timothy Keller
Marriage is about integrity. As a covenant first and foremost with God, one should keep that promise despite their spouse’s shortcomings. Marriage should be a journey about the husband or wife that you would like to become with God’s help. This journey should not be disrupted just because of dissatisfaction with your spouse.
Three (Sinful) Excuses for Having an Affair
Here are the top three excuses people give for having an affair:
1. My spouse let him or herself go.
Some people believe that the person that they married should generally continue to be the same throughout married life. They rationalize that if they knew that their spouse would end up becoming a lazy slouch or balloon into somebody physically different then they would not have gotten married.
But why do people decide to “let themselves go” in the first place? For many husbands and wives, this occurs because they feel underappreciated and so they are no longer willing to make the effort to look and act the way they did when they were still dating.
In many cases, it is a passive-aggressive move to show that they are unhappy with their partner. The end result is that the other feels that they are being driven away or they believe that they have made the wrong choice, so they search for someone more “ideal,” leading to that person having an affair.
2. I haven’t felt this way in years.
Blame it on Hollywood or people’s obsession with romantic love, but many today wrongly believe that true love should always mean having butterflies in your stomach whenever you see your loved one.
Sadly, this feeling does not last and neither do the romantic dates as couples, particularly married couples, choose to prioritize practicality over needless spending to impress.
This is why when a disgruntled spouse meets somebody new and those romantic feelings are stirred up again, they believe that perhaps they have truly found the one meant for them. Happy fantasies of finding their “soul mate” are brought to the forefront and they drift further and further away from their spouse and into the arms of another.
3. I don’t love them anymore.
Emotions are fickle. One minute you are on cloud nine and another you are down in the dumps. This is particularly true in romantic relationships that are not centered on God.
Once the romantic feelings have ebbed away and the annoyances begin to pile up, it is very easy for people to feel that the love is gone. The spouse’s passive-aggressive behavior (or even outright aggressive behavior) simply reinforces the fact that the love has disappeared, making the person open to outside temptations.
And that is often how adultery begins as that “other person” sympathizes with the pain and disappointment that may be going on in the now fragmenting marriage. As the two become closer emotionally, then the adulterous relationship begins.
What should be done? Choose to love them still
The abovementioned reasons to cheat seem reasonable in the heat of the moment. But when looked at from afar, they are weak excuses. While physical appearances are part of attraction, a strong marital relationship is much more than that.
We will all age regardless of how much we try to take care of ourselves so a couple’s love should be based on a stronger foundation than that. Spouses, however, should still do their best to look good for one another as they did during their engagement period. But it should not be the final basis for love.
As for romantic infatuation, it is a short-lived feeling. In fact, researchers have proven that such a feeling can only last for around two years. After that, romantic feelings fade and all that is left is a broken marriage and a sinful and doomed adulterous one.
And while it would be great to always feel like you are in love, in marriage, what is most important is that we fulfill our covenant to God and choose to love our spouse through thick and thin. It is this commitment to God and to one’s spouse that strengthens the bonds of marriage until such time that the two truly become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
In his book, Timothy Keller shares, “You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must be tender, understanding, forgiving, and helpful. And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become more constant in your feelings. This is what can happen if you decide to love.” (Keller 104)
Christian Counseling after Having an Affair
Having an affair is a direct violation of God’s commands (Exodus 20:14, Ephesians 5:25). Aside from the damaging effects on the spouse, children and other people around, the adulterers hurt their relationship with God as they pretend that He is not watching or they wrongly imagine that He actually approves of such forbidden love.
As Allender and Longman III state, “Adultery is like the worship of false gods. It allows for the passion that God intended without bowing the knee to the one whom we were called to love. Adultery is not merely sex with the wrong person; it is union with someone who will never require us to face our sinfulness or draw forth out glory so that we are more and more in awe of God. It is intimacy without commitment, flight from the struggle of intimacy without ever facing our part in the loss.” (Allender, Longman III 308-309)
Should a spouse be tempted to find someone new or should a marriage be on the rocks, then Christian counseling can help to repair what is seemingly broken. A professional Christian counselor can help both spouses to air out their grievances in a safe, neutral environment where no one is judged. The goal is not to find out who is wrong but to figure out how to make things right.
If you or someone you know is currently having an affair or tempted to run from married life, seek help soon. As creations of God made in His image, we are all meant to glorify Him in all that we do, including how family life is handled here on Earth. It truly matters to Him that spouses are doing all that they can to make their marriage work.
“Faded Beauty”, Courtesy of Silvestri Matteo, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Ecstasy”, Courtesy of Allef Vinicius, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Indifference”, Courtesy of Jassir Jonis, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Loving”, Courtesy of Phuoc Le,
Unsplash.com; CC0 License