It’s an epidemic – marital infidelity. Studies show that as many as 65 percent of men and 55 percent of women will have an extramarital affair. These are alarming statistics. Why do so many people betray their spouse? Obviously, the spouse who had the affair was not forced into such a grievous sin but many times there is a background reason why this spouse was susceptible to begin with. Something was missing from the marriage and they were weak. Most people that become involved in an affair are malnourished in their marriage. I’m not defending the offending spouse as a victim but I am hoping that by looking at the other side of affairs – we can do some preventative maintenance on these vulnerable marriages. Prevention is so much better than attempting to pick up the pieces after an affair – don’t you think?
Many especially in the Church believe that affairs can be prevented by simply keeping your spouse away from members of the opposite sex. This is unrealistic and doesn’t deal with the root cause of affairs which is usually a starving spouse. Your spouse will always be exposed to other people through work, ministry, friendships and even in-laws. Some of them will be of the opposite sex and many of them will be more gifted, talented, attractive, successful or interesting than you. This may bring out insecure feelings in you. The other person is not the issue – the reason for your insecurities is the issue. Take an honest look at yourself. Are you actively working on your marriage or have you left it open to attack?
If your spouse is vulnerable – you probably already know it. Are you ignoring your spouse by investing all of your energies into work or the children? Have you stopped taking care of your physical appearance? Do you neglect your health and therefore are unable to be active and fun? Do you not share in the emotional and physical burdens of your life together? Do you not encourage your spouse and their efforts? Do you treat your spouse unkindly? Are you spoiled, demanding and difficult? Do you attempt to manipulate and control your spouse? Do you manipulate using passive aggressive methods? Are you emotionally unavailable? Are you sexually unavailable? Are you unsupportive of your spouse’s parenting and their desires for your children?
If you are the spouse that has been left vulnerable, have you given up? Maybe you have been honest and have discussed your unmet needs all along but they just don’t seem to listen and take action. Please, I’m begging you – don’t give up. Level with your spouse and tell them that you are ripe for the pickin’. Communicate this in a non-threatening way by stressing that you are committed to the marriage but that you are in desperate need of nourishment from them. Get counseling even if your spouse won’t go with you. Acknowledge your own vulnerability and be on guard. Accept that you will not be able to change your spouse but that you can make a commitment to always remain faithful – no matter what. You may be deeply unhappy in your marriage right now but having an affair will only add more unhappiness to your life and to all involved. Try focusing your thoughts and energies on serving your spouse – it is very possible that they will respond by serving you.
If you have become accustom to chasing people away or forcing your spouse to choose between others and you, it is essential that you understand that this isn’t a solution and that you are misusing your energies. There will always be new people to chase away – instead pour those energies into your marriage. If you are feeding your spouse and your spouse has taken steps to reassure you, relax because your spouse having other people in their life is not a negative mark against you. When we hold on too tight, we suffocate our relationships. Your spouse having other people in their life does not mean that they don’t love or value you or that they will betray you. It simply means that they have a need for connections with other people. Some people are more social than others and need meaningful relationships with others outside of their immediate family.
My hope is that you will begin to take steps in the right direction to protect your marriage. Feed your husband or wife and be free of your insecurities. Be free to enjoy your spouse and let them enjoy you and the rest of their life too.