The last thing any married person wants to hear is that their spouse has been unfaithful. But, the truth is, you’ve probably been unfaithful and didn’t even realize it.
Typically when we think of cheating, we think of having a physical affair, which can be a reality for both men and women. However, being unfaithful to one another goes deeper than a physical relationship. Most married couples will agree that being unfaithful can include emotional affairs and viewing pornography, but let’s consider the less obvious ways we’re unfaithful to our spouses.
Did you know you could be unfaithful to your spouse with yourself? Anytime you choose self-gratification over spouse-gratification, you’re being unfaithful.
Self-gratification can take on many forms through physical, mental and emotional outlets. There’s certainly nothing wrong with having hobbies, enjoying time with your friends or taking time alone for yourself. There is, however a problem with all these things if you intentionally choose these things over spending time with your spouse.
Philippians 2:3 tell us, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
If we truly counted our spouses more significant than ourselves, our marriages would look vastly different. We wouldn’t selfishly choose “me time” over “us time”.
2. Our friends
Women were created to be nurturing, affectionate and emotionally intimate. These are wonderful attributes that allow women to love on others with not only the closeness of a friend, but that of a sister or mother. The danger for women is that we can sometimes allow ourselves, or our gal pals, to become husband-replacements.
There have been many times throughout my marriage when I have gone to my husband for advice, and after hearing my problem, he humbly encouraged me to seek out a trusted female to confide in. My husband is man enough to recognize that women talk to each other and love on one another in a very unique way, in a way that he simply is not capable of. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this scenario. However, if I purposely bypass my husband and seek counsel from a girlfriend because I long for the comfort she brings me over the comfort I should be receiving from my husband, I am letting the friendship turn into a “mini-marriage.” I have allowed my girlfriend to replace my husband.
God intended for women to seek wisdom and counsel from their husbands (1 Cor.14:35). That doesn’t mean other women aren’t a great source of encouragement and wisdom, in fact, Titus 2:3-5 directly instructs women to teach and support one another. However, we must keep our hearts in check and make sure we aren’t replacing the valuable counsel of our husbands for the emotional connection with other women.
Daydreaming can seem harmless, especially if it doesn’t involve sexual lust, but if you find yourself daydreaming about someone of the opposite sex (that isn’t your spouse) it’s wrong. For instance, let’s say your husband isn’t a chivalrous man, but while out to dinner, you notice another man opening the door for his wife, pulling out her chair at the table and then holding her hand across the table. You may not find yourself lusting after this man’s physical appearance, but you find yourself daydreaming about this man sitting across from you, treating you like his queen. You’ve allowed another man to replace your husband in your thoughts; you’ve been unfaithful.
Most all infidelity starts in the mind. A seemingly innocent daydream can cause great strain in a marriage when reality doesn’t live up to the storyline playing in your head. The more time you spend in a perfectly controlled daydream, the more your reality seems out of control. The more faultless the man in your daydreams become, the more faults you find in your real life partner.
Ultimately this boils down to covetousness, desiring something other than what you have. Luke 12:15 says, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
When we read this verse, we often think of possessions like a house, car, career, perhaps even children…but the truth is, not only does life not consist in the abundance of possessions, life also doesn’t consist in the abundance of a perfect spouse. Our lives consist in the abundance of the love, grace and mercy poured out by our Heavenly Father. Daydreams will never fulfill the longing we have to be perfectly loved; only the Father who loves us perfectly can fill that void.
We live in a time when couples go to dinner and spend the evening looking down at their phones rather than gazing into one another’s eyes from across the table. We spend more time texting than talking. You could argue that if both the husband and wife are doing this, then what’s the problem?
The problem is, while most couples would agree that good communication is vital to a healthy marriage, they still opt to have important conversations via text. Texting certainly has its place, but there are a few problems with texting that deserve consideration.
Many couples use text as a means to resolve conflict. While there are merits to having an opportunity to think through your words before saying them, texting allows for rapid fire responses and incomplete sentences that leave room for confusion and false interpretation. This typically has one of two results: the conflict is left unresolved and allowed to fester, or the resolution is misunderstood and creates new conflict.
Texting also allows you to keep your emotions to yourself rather than allowing your spouse to see the pain in your eyes and the strain in your voice. In reverse, texting protects you from having to personally deal with these same emotions from your spouse. Recognizing and owning the pain you’ve caused someone is vital in any relationship. Allowing your spouse to adequately express their pain is vital to their healing.
If you’re one of those couples who go to dinner and you both immediately pull out your phones, you should ask yourself these questions: Are you avoiding one another? Are you more comfortable sitting in silence than engaging in actual conversation? Are you possibly being unfaithful? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you both need to put down your phones and talk before it’s too late.
5. The Church
I had never thought about the church being a potential problem in my marriage until I heard about an interview with actor Kirk Cameron. In this interview he explains how, when he and his wife were dating, she was all he thought about, but nineteen years into their marriage, he found himself thinking about another…the church. It may sound silly, but ministry work can most certainly become a stumbling block in a marriage, particularly if the ministry work is done separately and not side by side.
For those who have a real zeal for pouring into other people, it’s easy to give more of yourself to your ministry and less of yourself to your spouse. Are you coming home emotionally drained, unable to meet the emotional needs of your spouse? Are you coming home physically drained, leaving your spouse physically disappointed? If you’re consistently coming home, having poured so much of yourself into ministry work that there is nothing left for your spouse, you are neglecting the ministry opportunities in your own home and you are being unfaithful.
We must guard our hearts even under the best of circumstances and purest intentions. We must ask ourselves: Does my loyalty to the church body trump my loyalty to my marriage?
Neglecting your spouse for the sake of doing the Lord’s work is ever so easy, but we must remind ourselves that neglect is never spiritual, under any circumstance. Neglecting your spouse, even for ministry, is directly opposed to the work of God.
Good communication is vital to a healthy marriage. Talk to your spouse and ask them what you’re currently doing, or what you could potentially do that would make them feel threatened, left out or cheated on. You might be surprised to learn that you’ve been unfaithful and didn’t even know it.
Beth Ann Baus is a wife and homeschooling mom of two boys. She is a writer and blogger who pulls from her own experiences of abuse, anxiety, depression and Tourettic OCD. Beth is an advocate for women struggling with sexual sin and strives to encourage young wives and mothers by pointing them to the grace offered only by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You can read more about her www.bethannbaus.com.
For another interesting read, check out this one about finding the right pastor!