The verdict is in:
Count 1: Infidelity – Guilty
Count 2: Not thinking – Guilty
What were they not thinking about? The consequences of their actions – the devastation that can never be completely overcome.
Before you start shaking your head and pointing your finger, realize that we are all only one thought, touch, look, gaze or Facebook contact from a fall.
Think it can’t happen to you?
That’s what most adulterers thought, too. So how does it happen?
Men and women are incompatible — apart from God, that is. We are wired so differently that, without God’s physiological design triggers, men and women would never get past the “yuck” reaction of childhood to the idea of playing together. But God designed us to portray His image in the mystical union of marriage.
God designed the body to release neurochemicals to trigger puberty, attraction and bonding. Some neurochemicals are as addictive as heroin. You recognize their presence by the tingles when you find yourself unable to think about anything but your intended. MRI images show the frontal lobe of the brain (thinking center) virtually shuts down, while the back part (emotional/reactive) lights up the screen in bright red. Once the chemicals have accomplished God’s purpose (to drive you together), they wane and you become “normal” again. This usually occurs after two to three years.
Adultery can occur when neurochemicals get triggered with someone other than your spouse. It can happen instantaneously with a former flame and with the same intensity as where you left off. If you have ever friended an old flame on Facebook, you are playing with fire. Stop now.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
Is your marriage protected?
Do you leave your home unlocked with the doors and windows open while away? Do you leave valuables laying around in plain sight? Probably not.
When a security company installs a system, they identify and take measures to prevent vulnerabilities. Do we take more care to prevent a burglar from stealing our stuff than we do to keep the father of lies from stealing our families? Have you taken simple steps to identify and counter the weak spots in your marriage? Naivety or denial is like leaving your house open and unprotected when you leave.
Studies show 60 percent of affairs start at work and 20 percent start on Facebook or other social media, usually with an old fling. What security system do you have in place?
Sadly, not all affairs are unintended. Ashley Madison, a dating website for married people, claims to have 21 million subscribers. According a survey they conducted, one in four respondents claimed to be “born again” Christians. What drives Christians to intentional adultery?
Identifying the vulnerabilities
Pastor Dave Carder began studying infidelity when his own senior pastor ran off with a parishioner. He unsuccessfully tried to get him to return to his wife and children. As a result, he returned to school to study this behavior and has been counseling those trapped by adultery for thirty years.
His book Close Calls: What Adulterers Want You to Know About Protecting Your Marriage, is a must-read for every couple.
According to the book, “You and your spouse will discover what kind of person might fit each of your dangerous partner profiles, you’ll review your history as a couple, and you’ll learn to recognize the high-risk factors each of you bring to the table. You will find out how to recognize those high-risk seasons we all pass through and be vigilant in spotting how these times are affecting you” (page 12).
He points out that it’s not usually one factor that leads to an adulterous relationship. However the convergence of a fight combined with unresolved issues, sustained stress and a dangerous partner in a solo environment is an affair waiting to happen.
Top ten things you can do
1. Recognize that you are not immune. Prayerfully consider Proverbs 5 as a couple. Then agree to set up your marital security system.
2. Read Close Calls and do the exercises to discover your vulnerabilities and recall why you married.
3. Identify and actively work to meet your spouse’s needs so someone else doesn’t show up who will.
4. Keep no secrets.
5. Never reestablish a friendship with an old flame.
6. Tell your spouse if an old flame attempts contact and show your spouse any messages you may have received.
7. Never engage in intimate solo behaviors with the opposite sex, such as sharing marital problems, ministry work, hobbies or even praying together alone.
8. Tell your spouse if/when you find yourself attracted to someone.
9. Disengage from any activities or relationships that cause you to want to share any aspect of your life or dreams with that person instead of your spouse.
10. Express what you appreciate about your spouse daily. Be your spouse’s greatest admirer… not their greatest critic.
May God grant you the desire and wisdom to lock down your marriage for His glory.
Submit a question for consideration in a future issue at GoodNewsFL.org/AskAColumnist.
Patricia Hartman is a CPA/partner at Kofsky, Hartman & Weinger, PA (www.khwcpa.com), a board member for Living Water Christian Counseling and author of “The Christian Prenuptial Agreement” available at www.ChristianPrenuptial.com. She is the President of South Florida Word Weavers.