Breaking your marriage vows, especially for a follower of Jesus, doesn’t begin by waking up one morning and deciding to destroy your marriage, your future, and your relationship with God. It rarely starts with something sexual. It starts with some legitimate empty place in your soul. But if you want to spare yourself devastation, you need to pay attention to the red flags that indicate you’re risking your relationship and headed for an affair.
You may think you’re not vulnerable to an affair; that very belief puts you at risk. No human being can provide you everything you need, including the very best spouse. And if your marriage is less than Fully Alive you’re even more vulnerable.
You can probably write the script. There’s a person at work, at the gym, next door, or even at church. Perhaps you get a message from an old friend, or a new one. Your heart skips a beat and you feel just a little bit more alive for a moment. How do you know how far is too far?
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Paying attention to these warning signs will save you untold heartache, regret, and probably a lot of money. If these warning signs show you’re headed for an affair, take action now.
You Hope for Their Attention
You know that little charge you get, that hit of dopamine, when that person notices you? That’s super addictive. Huge red flag. Validation and attention is a very powerful thing. Without immediately changing course you’re headed in a very dangerous direction.
This looks like thinking about this person when you choose what to wear, or checking your phone because perhaps they’ve sent you another DM. You time your visit to the gym or the break room secretly hoping they’ll be there. A look, a comment, a conversation with them fuels your day. You hope to impress them. You’d like more.
You Compare Them to Your Spouse
The dopamine hits you get when this person notices you–why can’t your spouse do that to you? This person really gets you. They understand you better than anyone else, even better than your spouse does. She looks nicer than your wife, and your brain loves being filled with the sight of her. He listens better than your husband, and you need to be listened to.
What might have happened if you’d met this person before you met your spouse? What would it feel like if . . .? It would sure be nice if I could have these kinds of conversations with my spouse. Your imagination starts to fantasize.
You Share Personal Things
Intimacy doesn’t start by taking the clothes off your body. (If you do take off your clothes, that’s of course a problem.) Intimacy starts by letting down your walls and letting someone see and know you. Vulnerability creates connection, and it’s a bonding thing in your brain.
So you find yourself sharing parts of your heart with this other person that cross the line into the personal. And when they share something personal with you, you enjoy it and hope for more. And if things aren’t great at home and you share some of what’s less than “OK” about your marriage, this becomes all the more addictive.
You’re Uncomfortable Talking About Them With Your Spouse
My spouse wouldn’t really understand. I don’t want to hurt or alarm them. I’m being kind to not talk about this with them. I can handle this myself.
The fact that you shrink from the thought of sharing about this person with your spouse is evidence that it’s not OK. It creates a division in your brain between “marriage” and “this relationship.” That kind of divided heart, if allowed to continue, never ends well.
You Justify Interacting With Them
It’s at work; a “work husband” or “work wife” can’t be all that bad, right? We’re just exercising together. There’s no harm in coffee, right? It’s not sexual; it’s just friendship. They sought me out; I’m not taking the initiative, so it’s not a problem. I’m doing hard and good work; I need a little encouragement. We’re in ministry together; our connection is for the work of God.
And there could be a thousand other justifications.
How good we humans are at lying to ourselves! If you find yourself wondering if your interaction with this person is OK, it’s almost certainly NOT OK! The fact that you find yourself exerting any thought to justify this “relationship” indicates there are hooks seeking to embed themselves in your soul.
If any of the above red flags are showing up in your soul, you’re headed for an affair. Don’t walk; run away! You may not have “sinned” yet, but you’re playing with fire. “Can a man embrace fire and his clothes not be burned? Can a man walk on burning coals without scorching his feet?” (Proverbs 6:27-28).
How do you run?
- Pursue intimacy with your spouse. Tell your spouse you’re feeling empty and need to step up your connection together. Tell them about your internal temptation and that you’re committed to strengthening your marriage as a fortress against trouble. BE the invitation for your spouse to come closer.
- Tell someone else. You must have a couple godly Christian same-sex friendships, people who truly know you and you know them, who know what’s going on in your life. Enlist their help. Ask them to challenge you, support you, ask you the hard questions, pray with and for you.
- Tell Jesus. Sure, He already knows. But you need to be brutally honest with Him about the state of your soul. Run to Him as if you’re a gazelle being pursued by a lion, because you are. He is your only place of safety. Your life–perhaps physically but certainly spiritually–depends on it.
If you find yourself hesitant to tell your spouse, your buddy/girlfriend, or Jesus, that’s the biggest red flag you’re headed for an affair. Sometimes the specifics of your situation may make it dangerous to tell your spouse, and that’s even more reason to tell a few friends. If you don’t feel like telling, that’s the very reason you must tell. And doing so enlists those you need to come alongside you in the battle.
Fight For Your Marriage
Do you find yourself wondering if your marriage is worth fighting for? It is!
And our Fully Alive Marriage course is a powerful way to do that.
In this course you’ll discover the expectations and beliefs that previously set your marriage up for failure, and you’ll be equipped to replace them with the understanding and tools you need to build a Fully Alive relationship that lasts.
Don’t let your inner vulnerabilities fester. Take action today to fortify your soul and your marriage for the assaults that will surely come (if they haven’t already).
I’d love to see you in the Fully Alive Marriage course today!
Your Turn: Have you noticed any of these red flags in your own soul? Are there any other red flags you would suggest? Leave a comment below.
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- Breaking your marriage vows is rarely first about sex. It’s about the empty places in your soul. These five red flags will alert you when you are headed for an affair. Tweet that.