Protecting Your Marriage

Protecting Your Marriage

Today’s message is about protecting and healing your marriage from infidelity. I hope that you or someone you know can benefit from this information.

In Christ,

Pastora Covert

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We live in a time when all sorts of factors are entering into our lives to threaten our marriages and families.

Some of these threatening factors are outside our control, and can only be helped by prayer and right action. We may have a mate who is addicted to substances. We may have lost a child, or had a death in the family, or someone is being molested, physically battered or emotionally abused. These are all issues that can tear a marriage apart when the pressure is on, and it usually take the help of godly and mature counselors or mentors to get through them.

Other factors are entirely within our ability to control, with some simple yet effective ways to preserve or restore the unity and strength in a marriage.

My husband and I have a policy that we live by, and we work on it so that our marriage remains close and allows no room for intruders: we do not keep *secrets from each other, and we listen when our mate is uncomfortable with a relationship the other has.

Especially because we have our home in the Pacific Northwest and my husband commutes to work for two weeks at a time in Gulf of Mexico, I am careful not to give any signals to another man to indicate loneliness or sadness, which might indicate that I am open to inquiries or “help”. I have a husband whose job it is to see to my needs, just as it is my job to see to his.

Jealousy is usually defined as a bad thing, but the root of the word is Greek, and it means zeal! We are zealous (enthusiastic fans) of our marriage. To guard our marriage with zeal is to show that we value this personal relationship above all others, and it means that we will not quietly stand by while someone else threatens our marriage by stepping over our boundaries. It means that we will tell our mate what we expect of him/her if he/she is encouraging (either passively or actively) the illicit attention, affection or interaction of anyone outside the marriage. It means we set up safeguards to avoid even the appearance of cheating on our mates!

If a woman is getting too close to my husband, and seems like she wants to use him for a confidante, I warn him about allowing her to speak intimately with him. I ask him to be sure that he never allows himself to be in a situation where he is alone with her, so that if mischief is on her mind – either cheating with him or trying to accuse him of sexual harassment – he can protect himself. My husband values our marriage and he is careful to guard our intimacy by not allowing another person to fill any role that is my right as a wife.

I do the same for him. Though I am a certified faith-based clinical counselor, I almost never sit alone with a man to give counsel. My husband has agreed to help co-counsel, or to be a safe and confidential third party when such situations occur. If my husband is not available, then I go to a public coffee shop and sit in full view of others to have my discussion.

If I must counsel a man alone, I almost always do it on the telephone or through e-mail – so that the confidentiality is up to the other party to keep for himself, but I always speak as if the room were full of listeners, giving my attention to propriety, godliness and offering any reasonable help I may give. Even if a telephone conversation is not taped, or e-mail is not forwarded, I know that my God is listening to every word I say, and I know I will hear these words again – either because they were wrong, or because they helped. I know which one I would like to hear a second time! I treat these men as brothers in Christ if that is appropriate, and I usually involve my husband in these relationships as well, and either “cc” him openly in e-mails, or pass the phone to him when he is home.

The male acquaintances/friends I have know I am happily married, and I do not confide in them about my love life, finances, or other personal issues. I do not allow them to speak to me in explicit terms about issues of sexuality – ever – and in general marital relations, I point men and women alike to what God (the creator and inventor of sex) has to say on the issue.

A word about friends of the same sex:

While I may confide in a best girl friend in a general manner, I will not complain to her about my husband. Such behavior hurts intimacy and trust, and it doesn’t help my relationship with my husband. Instead it uncovers my husband’s secrets and shames us both.

Praying for God’s guidance and help, going straight to the source, my husband, with any issues I have, is my first responsibility when I am angry, sad, lonely, worried, or afraid. By submitting to my husband in such a way, I am keeping “interested” third parties and nosey Parker’s from my door, and intruders out of my marriage.

Of course, if your marriage needs help, and your mate doesn’t know it yet, or won’t go with you for help, seeking godly counsel is wise so that you can try to determine how best to obtain healing and reconciliation.

Men who brag to other about their sex problems or prowess outside of their marriage are, in effect, uncovering their wives and leaving them open to attack. Men who complain about their wives to other men are tearing their houses down with their own hands just as surely as the wife is doing it whenever she lets her best gal pal take up her time when she should be spending it with her husband!

What harms us harms our mate. What helps us helps our mate. The fact that we are one flesh with our mate means that whatever we do to bless him/her will bless us, and that blessing will flow over into our family, and thus into all other areas of our lives. God blesses fidelity in the marriage. Faithfulness is always God’s plan for our lives, “in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, in good times and bad”.

Our loving attention and earnest attempts to be unified, in sex, love, finances, family affairs and social life must be invested in our spouses, because when we are married, we become ONE. Our compliments and complaints belong to our mates. Our best efforts belong to our marriages.

It is not always easy to make this sort of behavior a standard if we are used to operating differently. But for the sake of our marriages and families, it is vital that we remember our wedding vows:

“…and forsaking all others, keep thee only unto him as long as you both shall live?  I do.”

If you have crossed over that line of propriety, if you have felt that you are so strong that you are the exception to the rule, I urge you to think again. We are all human, and we all have weaknesses. We have an enemy roaming around like a starving lion, seeking whom he may devour. If you aren’t careful, it could be your marriage on the next docket of divorce court, and your children having to split up their time between parents!

It takes strength to say no to that friendly, concerned neighbor, and draw up new boundaries.

It takes determination to fill up your schedule for the unforeseeable future so that you no longer have time for dangerous liaisons.

It takes devotion to your own mate to risk making your co-worker unhappy by making new rules for social interaction.

It may take time and the loving support of your mate to weather the storm that may result because you are breaking illicit emotional, physical and social ties with a person other than your husband or wife. But saving a marriage is worth the sacrifice, even if it means changing jobs or moving house in order to cut off unhealthy relationships with outsiders to your marital union.

How do we know if we are committing marital infidelity?

We look at each of our relationships and ask ourselves:

Am I happier to see him/her than I am to see my own mate?

Do I dress to impress him/her?

Do I spend my personal time with him/her (lunches, late dinners, stolen moments on “business trips”)?

Do I feel defensive of my relationship with him/her when I mate questions me?

Am I keeping my relationship with him/her secret from my mate?

Am I giving anything to him/her that rightfully belongs to my mate?

Having a sexual relationship with someone outside the marriage is adultery. But having an emotional, confidential relationship with someone outside the marriage is a form of adultery as well. If we are seeking to have someone “fix” us or make us feel better, we should take those problems home where they belong, and confide in our mates.

Your mate may be unhappy if you tell him/her that you have become attached to another woman/man, even emotionally. But if you explain that you want to correct that, and that from now on the two of you are going to talk about things together, and if you ask for forgiveness for going outside the marriage for things you vowed to give only to your mate, then there is a good chance that you will save your marriage before it crashes on the rocky cliffs of infidelity.

If you want to know more about how to safeguard your marriage from the intrusion of prowlers and players, or if you know someone who needs this message, feel free to pass it on.

God bless you as you work to ensure the sanctity of your marriage.

Pastora Covert

* Confidentiality in counseling is the exception to this rule, but even that is managed under strict rules so that nothing inappropriate is being shielded under the guise of keeping a confidence. I always give a warning before counseling so that clients know I will not listen to gossip, slander, or sexually explicit stories.

The following two web sites may also be useful in discussing infidelity: what it is, how to prevent it, how to recover from it:

http://www.homeschooloasis.com/art_protecting_your_marriage.htm

http://www.allaboutlifechallenges.org/marital-infidelity.htm

 

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