We have received numerous requests to continue our series of relationship oriented articles. You recall in other articles I have mentioned the media and society, and their portrayal of relationships as disposable or temporary situations. These are only a couple of the small factors that come into play when someone commits the sin of adultery. The real root of the cause is embedded in our makeup as human beings, and the challenges we face. This article is meant to help define the reasons, and to help people avoid the dangerous grounds when it comes to infidelity in any relationship.
Drawing the line
When people get married, they draw a line together. The line represents what they are willing to accept, and what they are not willing to accept as part of their agreement to live as one flesh. As Christians, our lines related to adultery are clearly drawn by the Word of God. But everyone has “the line” in their relationship, regardless of what type of relationship it is. And this article is meant for everybody.
The great disconnect
It appears with the recent studies on people who support monogamy as compared to those who have committed adultery, that there is a great disparity in the statistics. 90% of all people polled support the upholding of monogamy, while somewhere near 60% of our population does not practice what they preach. Someone is lying here.
Regardless of the aforementioned disparity, when we get married, we stand before God to profess our love and commitment to the person who we have chosen to dedicate our lives to. But then what happens to 60% of us? The answer to this question is actually quite complex.
Straying from the path
Celebrities do it, politicians do it, our neighbors do it, some religious leaders do it and even some of our friends do it. Some elements of the media have even provided a shelter for the actions of these people by glamorizing the idea of adultery in much of the television programming we see. This creates a sort of kinship among people who commit adultery, thereby taking away some of the stigma attached. They are all human, and they fall into the traps of adultery through several possible ways:
Yes, believe it or not, testosterone exists in both sexes and can drive the urge and desires to “want it now” and more frequently. Dopamine levels in the brain contribute to thrill seeking and risk taking and are much higher in those who are prone to crossing the line. While I am not a fan of blaming these for infidelity, they are factors that cannot be ignored.
This is probably the most dangerous part of the formula. It is human nature to desire. Desire can come in many forms and through many ways. The desires that lead to thoughts of infidelity however, are those caused by relationships that have gone stale, pent up resentment for a spouse, lack of communication related to intimacy or the desire for something new and exciting. We see the evidence of this in everyday life. A married person is resentful of their spouse for some reason, or reasons, and they confide in another person. Often times they become clouded with the notion that there is something much better in another situation. The reality is that they do not really know that person, or the situation that they could find themselves in. The glamour of it does not match the reality.
Often times the roots of these feelings come from childhood. Factors like the lack of unconditional and consistent love and affection can impact a person later in life as they look for affirmation and love in another person and find that no single partner can sufficiently provide the level of affection that they desire. Children who are raised in a family that is strictly against any talk of human sexuality or the understanding of their desires are often times more apt to seek out what they are not allowed to even discuss. The forbidden fruit factor.
When someone has the opportunity to meet other people who are willing to engage in any activity that crosses the line, they are far more likely to entertain the idea of doing so themselves. Famous people have a much higher rate of infidelity for this reason primarily. They have the availability of willing partners and a higher potential for dangerous and tempting situations.
People who find themselves suddenly thrown into this situation are often times less likely to resist the temptation to engage in activities that cross the line. This could be someone who has changed jobs, become suddenly famous or has found themselves in a new situation where they are surrounded by people of the opposite sex.
How do we avoid temptation or dangerous situations?
The first answer to this question is simple and absolute, never put yourself in a situation where you will be tempted to cross the line. Never do, or say, anything that you would not do, or say, with your spouse present.
Some other things to consider:
Talk to your spouse first. If there is ever anything that you need and are not getting, or anything that is causing the least bit of resentment, talk about it. Get it out in the open.
Avoid temptation. My wife and I agree that one on one lunches or any outing with the opposite sex is a potential seed of danger. While this may seem extreme to some, it works for us and is well respected in our relationship.
Take responsibility. Own your actions when it comes to anything that your spouse may see as a danger to the line that you have drawn.
When all else fails, get help. Talk to your pastor, your family, a counselor or whoever you can trust to help you stay on the path. Do it as a couple and open your heart to each other.
Marriage is a lifetime commitment, don’t let aging, maturity or the challenges of life get in the way of your commitment to live as one flesh. I have seen numerous examples of couples who have had several rocky years, yet put the work into their marriage before stepping outside of it, only to find that through it all, and many with God’s help, they are more in love and passionate than they ever dreamed they would be. Fight for your marriage if you have to, it’s worth it.
An ounce of prevention
Whether your children are raised in a Christian home or not, there are some key elements to teaching them the meaning of love and preventing dangerous situations later in life. Show your children unconditional love and affection. Whether they have excelled in school or just burned down the shed, love them, hug them and kiss their little foreheads. Talk to them about human sexuality and desires when the age is appropriate. Teach them how to love and what it means to be loved unconditionally. Show them in your own marriage. Our children see our love and respect for each other, they see the same passion that we had when we were first married.
I won’t get into the theoretical grounds of trying to illustrate the signs that someone is cheating. I’ll leave that to someone else. Suffice it to say that you should know your partner, and you should know what signs to look for to understand that there is a problem, or a change in your relationship. I will say this however, excuses like “It was a mistake”, “I never meant to hurt you” and “I never meant for it to happen” are simply expressions of someone who really just never meant to get caught. And I do not subscribe to the theory that monogamy is not human nature, that is simply another excuse in my opinion.