I hate to break it to you, but marriage is not about personal satisfaction. It is not about whether your spouse is meeting your needs or giving you all that you believe you deserve. It is not about how satisfying or unsatisfying your relationship is or the expectations you had in mind in the beginning. No, marriage is about who you are, the standard you set for yourself. It is about integrity and about the kind of person you aspire to be. Are you going to be a person who allows your spouse’s weaknesses and shortcomings to become justification for your own sin? Or do you want to be the person that keeps your word and your covenant, regardless of your situation or satisfaction?
Common Excuses People Make for Adultery
1. My spouse let herself or himself go.
A common excuse for adultery is that the spouse, often the wife, “let themselves go.” They did not maintain the beauty standard they held at the beginning of the marriage. Many rationalize that the one who “let themselves go” warrants a degree of responsibility or blame for their spouse’s infidelity. But what is really happening? Why might a spouse, a wife in particular, relax her personal care or no longer bother to “look nice”?
2. I haven’t felt this way in years.
There is a reason you haven’t! The sensations you felt at the beginning of your relationship, the so-called honeymoon period, is not intended to remain forever. Though you should expect to feel attracted to and affectionate toward your spouse throughout the years, you should not anticipate the same euphoric rush of butterflies at every glance. This is basic biology. Research has shown that the exhilarating “can’t eat, can’t sleep” infatuation present in the beginning of a relationship typically does not last beyond the second year. Therefore, the exciting sensations prompted by the new love interest will also subside with time … just as it happened with your spouse.
In his book, “The Meaning of Marriage,” Timothy Keller writes, “What you think of as being head over heels in love is in large part a gust of ego gratification, but it’s nothing like the profound satisfaction of being known and loved. When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him- or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience… The kind of love life I am talking about is not devoid of passion, but it’s not the same kind of passion that is there during the days of naïveté. When Kathy first held my hand, it was an almost electrical thrill. Thirty-seven years later, you don’t get the same buzz out of holding your wife’s hand that you did the first time. But as I look back on that initial sensation, I realize that it came not so much from the magnitude of my love for her but from the flattery of her choice of me. In the beginning it goes to your head, and there is some love in that, but there are a lot of other things, too. There is no comparison between that and what it means to hold Kathy’s hand now, after all we’ve been through.”
3. The love disappeared.
I remember a profound moment from adolescence that took place in youth group. A leader said that there were moments when she remained with her husband only because she had committed to the Lord and her husband on their wedding day to honor the marriage covenant. This was a shock to a naïve teenager, whose ears had never before heard such candid confessions from the married ranks! Her honesty about the challenges of marriage allowed me to realize that emotions wax and wane through the relationship journey. Some moments you may simply not like your spouse as you used to. But that is not the end of the story.
What do you do, then?
You choose love. You love anyway.According to Keller, “You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must be tender, understanding, forgiving, and helpful. And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become more constant in your feelings. This is what can happen if you decide to love.”
Faith would be easy if you only had to serve those you love. But true faith is revealed when you serve the one whom you would rather not love at that moment. The one who sets your teeth on edge. This is what Christ modeled for us. “You see, at the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Matthew 5:6-8)
Getting Help for Adultery through Christian Couples Counseling
In Intimate Allies, Allender and Longman describe: “Adultery is like the worship of false gods. It allows for the passion that God intended without bowing the knee to the one whom we were called to love. Adultery is not merely sex with the wrong person; it is union with someone who will never require us to face our sinfulness or draw forth glory so that we are more and more in awe of God. It is intimacy without commitment, flight from the struggle of intimacy without ever facing our part in the loss.”
Christian counseling offers the opportunity to face the things that thwart our marriage. It can yield great help and healing for both marriage partners as the struggles of the relationship are discussed in a confidential, safe space guided by a professional Christian counselor in spokane. Without judgement, and with gentle guidance, your counselor will support both of you as you work to rebuild and strengthen your marriage.
“Intimate Allies” by Dan B. Allender and Tremper Longman III and “The Meaning of Marriage” by Timothy Keller
“Broken,” courtesy of Tom Butler, unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “I do,” courtesy of Jeremy Bishop, unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License