I’ve been planning to write this post for awhile now, but have just been keeping it on the back burner to simmer. I feel like now is the time!
I recently read a good article from Gary and Joy Lundberg entitled, “10 ways you are being unfaithful to your spouse–and you don’t even know it.” It discusses 10 things men often do that lead to either emotional or physical affairs with other women. I’ve been taking these things very seriously because I have broken a lot of these rules and it has led me to the emotional affair I’ve described recently in my blog. Now, I’m feeling the pain from those mistakes! I want to share what I did and didn’t do to prevent my developing feelings for this other girl and also emphasize what we need to do in the future to protect our hearts from falling into affairs.
This is a big one for me. Flirting is just how I tend to interact with females that I like. It starts out innocent for me–just having fun–just being friends. But, with time, the flirting has started to get deeper because I enjoy seeing how far I can take it for some reason. If a girl is open to my flirting, it becomes a challenge and I get deeper than I intended and feelings can arise that I didn’t want.
With my recent crush, I didn’t start out being attracted to this girl at all. She was sweet and friendly to me. We were working together and studying together and that’s about it. After awhile, the flirting started. We both realized we were open to flirting with each other and it just kind of progressed. I soon noticed I really liked her eyes and her smile. Then, it was her hands and her hair I was becoming attracted to. It grew as the flirting grew. And the feelings grew right along with it.
According to the article, flirting “usually involves speaking and behaving in a way that suggests a mildly greater intimacy than the actual relationship between the parties would justify, though within the rules of social etiquette, which generally disapproves of a direct expression of sexual interest. This may be accomplished by communicating a sense of playfulness or irony… Body language can include flicking the hair, eye contact, brief touching, etc.”
We were having all kinds of eye contact and suggestive conversation. There was touching–starting out brief and lasting longer and longer.
The article goes on to state, “Married people should never engage in this type of behavior with anyone other than their spouse. It is a full-on form of unfaithfulness that leads to no good. The one you’re flirting with may take it as an invitation and pursue a relationship you never intended.” Their advice is, “Avoid it like the plague. It’s dangerous. If someone flirts with you, ignore it.”
Well, that’s great and truthful advice. But, for a guy like me it’s a bit easier said than done. It’s not easy to just change how you interact with the ladies! But, it’s also not easy to lose your wife! I’ve been hearing all the horror stories in the comments from the guys who were left by their wives because they couldn’t get past a crush. I don’t want that! I have to learn to stop flirting. I’m making some strides, but I still have a ways to go. Even with the girls you would never consider yourself to become attracted to or involved with, it has to stop!
#2 Confiding in the opposite gender
We all want someone to be close to. It feels good to pour out our problems or struggles with someone who seems to understand how we feel. It’s called relationship! But, this one got me in a lot of trouble with my crush. She shared things with me that she said she had never told anyone else. That made me feel pretty special. I talked with her about the deepest things in my heart as well. She knew practically everything from my past–including my greatest struggle to date which was my decade of hidden addiction to porn. I talked to her about everything–even my relationship with my wife. These deep secrets between us drew us close. I don’t think I’ve felt closer to another person except my wife.
I think it’s pretty obvious the danger this presents. I was drawn to it because it made me feel so good to be understood. She seemed so non-judgmental. Even though she knew my darkest corners, she still liked me and respected me! I loved that about her! But, I was setting myself up for strong feelings that didn’t belong between me and another woman.
The article suggests, “If you’ve got a problem, talk about it with your spouse. That’s your best-ever shoulder to cry on. If that’s not working for you, try a trusted relative, clergyman, or therapist.”
The problem is, you’re probably not going to feel the same satisfaction from talking to those people. The stimulating satisfaction of sharing secrets with a crush can be found in only one place and there’s no substitution. I would say the only answer is to just not do it at all. It’s not worth it! JUST DON’T GO THERE!!
#3 Spending time alone with someone else
Yet another mistake I fell headlong into. When it all started, it was just out of necessity–we needed to eat. So, we’d stop by someplace and get some food. I think we began to realize we enjoyed getting food together, so we started intentionally trying different places. I found out she likes to try different kinds of international foods just like I do, so we made a point of trying all kinds of different ethnic restaurants together–but just as friends. I was deceiving myself. There was more than just friends going on in my heart. These were little dates which I was rationalizing away as nothing. But, sitting across from her, staring into her eyes, having intimate conversation was not “nothing”. Very dangerous! I don’t recommend it. I still have some changes to make in this area because we carpool alone together two days a week for about an hour. But, the dining dates have stopped. We also used to take little walks into the hills or on the beach during some of our free time. Those walks have also ended. Do I miss them? Of course! But, I’d rather have the freedom that comes with not having feelings for someone you can’t have!
In the article, they say, “What appears to be an innocent lunch out with someone of the opposite sex or stopping by for a chat at that someone’s home without your spouse is definitely in the category of unfaithful behavior. You or the other person may say, “Hey, we’re both adults. Nothing’s going to happen.” Well, things do happen. It’s not appropriate. Go home and spend that time with your spouse.”
I agree fully with this advice!
#4 Talking negatively about your mate
My wife is a pretty good person. I love her. I didn’t really have too many negative things to say about her. But, when my wife caught on to my “friendship” with this other girl, she started to get jealous. I would talk to my crush about my wife’s feelings trying to get advice from her about women. Over time, my wife’s feelings got stronger and she was gripping tighter and tighter to me. I was starting to feel a little bit choked in my marriage. I wanted some freedom. I realize I might have been asking for too much, but that’s how I felt. I now realize there was a midlife crisis situation going with me in my heart at the same time. I wanted to run out and experience new girls–be young and free again. I was fighting all of these terrible feelings. I was talking to this girl about these feelings. I was including feeling and thoughts I was having about my wife in those conversations. This was all wrong–but especially breaking the family circle with this other woman.
Looking back, I realize there was only one conversation I should have been having. The article supports it. “Let your conversations with others focus on the good things about your spouse. That’s being faithful.” You’ve always heard, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.” Well, that’s true! The only things you should be sharing about your spouse with any other person should be the good things. In fact, I would take that even a step further and say that the only thing you should even be thinking about in your mind about your spouse is the good things!
I read a book that started to help me get out of this crush situation I was in. It was called the Love Dare. There is a chapter in there that talks about thoughts. We tend to spend a lot of time in what they call “the Depreciation Room”. This is where we think about all the things that annoy us about our spouses. Instead, we should be spending all our time in “the Appreciation Room”. We need to be intentionally thinking of what it is about our spouses that we like. Whichever room we spend the most time in will, ultimately, be how we wind up feeling about our spouse. So, it’s important to guard our thoughts! If we only have GOOD THOUGHTS in our head about our spouse, it will be easy to only share GOOD THINGS about him/her to others, right?! That’s how it works!
So, this post is getting long! I’m going to pause with these four. I’ll pick up with #5 in my next post. I hope you’ll spend some time thinking about these four mistakes we make and try to live a life free of them. If you want to have a life free of wondering emotions for other girls/guys, they are a must! If you want to live a long, happy life with your spouse you’ve got to get these things out of your interactions with others. Do you agree?