Al—Because of our transparency about infidelity early in our marriage, Lisa and I have had many opportunities to try and help other couples overcome this devastating relationship killer. Sadly, many marriages do not survive this intimacy invasion and the saddest part is that the causes and triggers carry over into future relationships as well. Virtually no person enters into marriage with the idea that one day he or she will become emotionally and/or physically involved with another person. All of the young couples that have stood before me vowing to me, their friends and family and the Almighty God that they will ALWAYS be faithful never thought it possible that they could or would look outside their relationship for intimacy….and yet here we sit, devastated and asking over and over again, “How could this happen?”
By carefully looking at our own background and patterns, Lisa and I have realized that there are not always rational or logical reasons for why people stray from their spouse. Satan and sin aren’t always reasonable, but they are always devastating in their aftermath and consequences. The first mistake made by believers is not being vigilant when it comes to protecting yourself and your spouse from infidelity. You see phrases in the bible like “the devil’s schemes” (Eph. 5:11); “just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray” (2 Cor. 11:3); “Satan who leads the whole world astray” (Rev. 12:9); “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers” (2 Cor. 4:4) and you realize that there are active unseen and seen forces at work 24/7 against your faithfulness to God and to your spouse! At this point, one might say, “Al, you seem paranoid,” to which I would reply, “What some would call paranoia, I would call spiritual awareness!” Anybody is capable of anything if they aren’t spiritually aware of what the evil one and his blinded followers are capable of. Peter spoke of men with “eyes full of adultery” in 2 Peter 2:14 that preyed on unwitting and unaware women in his day. Satan sets traps and then we step into them. Today it’s a Facebook direct message or a chance encounter that can start the process of what was once thought unimaginable, betraying my commitment to my God, my spouse, and my children.
Another mistake made by couples is not being aware of unmet needs by their spouse. William Harley wrote two great books called His Needs, Her Needs and Lovebusters about his counseling experiences of couple’s unmet needs and harmful habits that helped set the trap for someone else to move into the relationship. In Philippians 2:3-5, the apostle Paul would frame it this way, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not to your own interest, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” If I wake up everyday thinking of how I can be Christ like to Lisa in every single way and she does the same for me, I can guarantee you that we are very unlikely to start looking outside our relationship for anything! We will find daily contentment and a fulfilling intimacy and we will be so much more prepared for the devil’s scheming against us. Lisa and I communicate regularly about making sure we are always aware of when the devil tries to pull one over on us and also if we are ever feeling that one of us is not where we need to be. The early years of our marriage when we fell prey and stepped into the snares, we just held our tongues and wondered in fear and doubt. No wonder we were so easily duped and we almost lost it all and would have lost everything and then went into another relationship blaming the other and ready to fall again.
As an imperfect man who is clothed by a perfect Savior named Jesus Christ, I try to do what the ancient “upright and blameless” believer Job said he did in Job 31. He said he “made a covenant with his eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” and in his days that would have only been her eyes and her ankles! Today there are many, many places to violate this principle, but it’s the covenant with yourself and with the Almighty that makes it possible to not start down the road of poisoning your eyes and heart and opening that door of possibility that so many men and women go through. He would say later in that chapter that he doesn’t “lurk at my neighbor’s door” where his “heart might be enticed by a woman.” I think about office settings where one might lurk daily at a desk or in a break room and begin the all too common workplace affair that “just came out of nowhere!” Oh, it came from somewhere and it was molded and made by Satan’s power and a willingness to think about all of the possibilities.
Obviously, Lisa and I survived infidelity through forgiveness, life change and a commitment to God and each other to work for the rest of our lives to learn from our tragedy and to help others learn by our experience. Wise counsel by a wonderful Christian lady named Dianne Phillips and other close spiritual friends helped us be honest about how the devil was able to keep luring us into his snares and traps. We would encourage you to seek that same counsel if you haven’t already and allow the Holy Spirit to be your daily guide to awareness and affirmation in your marriage.
Lisa—As Al stated, we know this from experience. We have been lured into the traps and snares of the Devil. I think “being alert & aware” of your surroundings, your weaknesses, your vulnerability is a great place to start. You must understand that Satan is “prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” or someone to trick. He would like nothing more than to split apart a family. When he splits a family, the husband, the wife, the children are never the same. They are easier prey for him down the road. If you are in a “less than satisfying marriage, you are vulnerable. If you work with non-Christians mostly, be alert and aware. If you have been abused in any way in your past, you need to know that is a weakness. Satan has already fed you a lie and most of us feed on that lie and the many he continues to build upon. If you have a relationship with the opposite sex, then it needs to include your spouse. Satan can use even the most innocent relationships to trap you and deceive you. If you hear someone say that they think God wants them to be happy so they are divorcing their spouse, please tell them that’s not true. That is another lie that the Devil uses to misguide us and we end up with heartache and pain and sometimes shame. God cares about your holiness. If you are holy and happy, then it’s a win, win. We aren’t promised happiness; it’s quite the opposite. If we live for Jesus, we are told we will be persecuted just as He was. When we are weak, we are made strong through Him. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. But if we live a holy life, a God-honoring life, we will be filled to the brim with His blessings, His fruit and His Holy Spirit will guide us on a path that leads to Heaven. Galatians 5:22-25.
Don’t let Satan set a trap for you. I promise it is not fun. Oh, we think the sin is fun at the time, but when we remove the blinders, we see the destruction that sin causes. If you are in a place of weakness and vulnerability, find wise counsel to talk to. If you were taken advantage of as a young person, get Christian counseling. You have some warped ideas about yourself and the opposite sex. Don’t share this with coworkers, (who are weaker than you or of the opposite sex), on Facebook, or well-meaning friends who will tell you to “just do what makes you happy.” Maybe there is something to learn in our “unhappiness.” Maybe God says Joy (which comes from Him) is what you need to seek. Happiness is only based on what is “happening” in your life. Joy is from our Father! If you live each day to honor your father, you will find yourself honoring those around you; mainly your spouse. James said in James 1:3-4, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. A marriage that has that foundation would look like a marriage that sticks out the hard times and sees the big picture!