When we know we’ve done something wrong, it is far easier to find excuses or justify our behavior than to own up to our wrongdoing. This is also true when it comes to infidelity. When a person is having an affair, they find justifications that allow them to continue pursuing a double life. Thoughts such as “it’s only flirting” or “it’s harmless as long as no one knows” are rationalizations people use to absolve themselves from the reality of their affair and assure themselves that it is acceptable.
In the article that follows, I will explore myths that people have convinced themselves are true when they are having an affair.
Myths about Infidelity
Myth: “It’s only infidelity if I have sex.”
Myth: “Keeping my affair a secret is for the protection of my family.” Often unfaithful spouses will convince themselves that keeping their affair a secret from their partner is a kindness to them. Keeping secrets, telling lies—some rationalize that those are for the protection of their spouse. After all, telling their spouse might only cause more pain than good. This logic often even lingers even after an affair has been exposed. The cheating partner convinces themself that the details are better kept secret than to be honest. Glass, however, argues that this is often rooted in a selfish motivation: “Unfaithful partners often say they are protecting their partners from pain, but they are really protecting themselves from exposure so that they can continue to lead the double life.” Even when rooted in good intentions, the desire to keep details secret invariably creates a rift between the spouses.
Myth: “It is possible to have an affair, and still be fully present in my marriage.” Inevitably, it is exhausting to maintain a double life. Eventually, the energy required for the extramarital relationship will take energy and attention from the marriage and family. Often in the beginning of an affair, guilt from secret keeping causes the unfaithful spouse to be more attentive at home. However, the offending spouse is continually guarding against discovery, and each step closer to the affair partner “has a corresponding act of deception” with the spouse. In time, the unfaithful spouse will not be able to be fully present in both the marriage and the affair.
Myth: “Affairs are common, so it’s fine for me to be unfaithful.”
For a Christian, this reasoning should raise a red flag. Glass states in her book, “People are more likely to cheat if their friends or family members have cheated.” Glass tells a story of two married co-workers whose friendship turned to romance. “Although Ralph and Lara used different personal rationalizations, they were both influenced by how many married people they knew who had had affairs … They knew of at least one other work affair in their department, and both of them had friends who were involved, without any apparent penalty.” Making the behavior of others a standard for one’s own choices can have a powerful and detrimental impact. As a Christian, however, Scripture is the main standard that guides our behaviors and decision-making. When it comes to infidelity, the Bible is clear: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality….” (1 Thessalonians 4:3) So despite a culture which excuses infidelity, and at times, even celebrates it, those who follow Jesus must be committed to faithfulness in marriage.
Christian Marriage Counseling Offers Truth for Healing
Infidelity is saturated with deception and lies. If the deceit of infidelity has infiltrated your relationship, Christian marriage counseling in Spokane offers hope. It provides tools for honest, truth-seeking communication for rebuilding trust and beginning the process of healing. Whether you have been unfaithful and are trying to restore your marriage or you are the wounded spouse looking for answers, Christian marriage counseling offers a place to open the conversation. If you both want to explore together how adulterous thoughts or actions came to be in your marriage, please contact us at Seattle Christian Counseling. We are happy to support you in the difficult, yet essential, life-giving process of healing.
NOT “Just Friends” by Shirley Glass, PhD.Photos
“Dock Boots,” courtesy of Andrew Neel, unsplash.com, Public Domain License; “In the Thick of the Forest,” courtesy of Toa Heftiba, unsplash.com, Public Domain License; “Contemplating Life,” courtesy of greekfood-tamystika, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License