I’ve actually thought about what it would be like to have an affair, to kiss and to make love to another man.
Now, before all my friends and family freak out, let me clarify:
I’m not having an affair.
I don’t have a crush on anyone.
I’m not “flirting with danger.”
I wasn’t turned on by the idea of an affair, and I didn’t let any steamy, lustful images dance around in my head. Don't get your undies in a bunch. Don’t get offended, and swear you'll never read anything on this website ever again.
Rest assured, this is a conversation I had with Holy Spirit and He didn’t put a lid on it, so He must’ve thought it was okay to talk to Him about it. Let’s just get that out of the way up front. Capisce?
I have thought about it, though - in a completely unemotional, non-sexual, purely hypothetical, totally detached, and sterile-scientific-experiment kind of way.
I’ve thought about the moment of passion and what it would take to find myself in that situation. Would it be an innocent friendship that made me feel valued and emotionally fulfilled? Or a strong sexual attraction? What about intellectual stimulation where I felt engaged and challenged?
I’ve thought about the effects and what would happen afterward.
I have thought about what would change and what would remain the same when the dust settled.
What would people say? How would friends and family treat us? Would my children still grow up having a relationship with the Lord? With their parents? What would happen to Rob? Would he ever heal and move past it? Would he ever love again?
What about me? What would I do if the affair turned out to be a fling and things didn’t work out? Would I regret it enough to try to be reconciled with my husband? Would he forgive me? Would he love me enough to take me back?
And then I flipped the scenario.
I thought about what it would be like to be the spouse on the receiving end of a cheating partner. I thought about how I would feel, what I believe I would say and think and do.
Would I divorce him? Would I take custody of the kids? Would I hate him? Could I ever speak well of him again? Would the tears ever end if he cheated on me? Would I be able to look at my children, see their resemblance to him, and still treat my kids the same? Could I forgive him and ever be healed enough to try again with him?
I asked myself a lot of questions in the Lord’s presence. And I did a lot of thinking.
I thought about the 12 years of friendship I have had with my husband, the countless hours we’ve spent talking, crying, praying, dream-building, worshipping, and doing warfare together for our loved ones and for our future.
I thought about how the strength of our marriage has been forged in the fires of afflictions, in the myriad of heartaches and the extremely difficult circumstances we’ve been through. We went through them together, as a couple deeply in love, as two who have become one.
And I thought about how an affair is all about one couple becoming two distinct entities with unaligned drives and desires. I thought about how the ‘w’ in “we” gets distorted and flipped upside down, twisted into “me” and, suddenly, they find themselves believing, “‘You’” are not a part of what makes ‘me’ complete.” The “we-ness” gets broken into “me, myself, and I.”
Excuses and blame become the culture in the petri dish of dissatisfaction growing the bacteria of selfishness.
“Me, myself, and I...my-self...self-ness...self-ISH-ness.”
I thought of how selfishness replaces thankfulness. You can’t be grateful for your partner and cheating on them at the same time. You cannot truly treasure the gift the other person is to you if your thoughts never wander around to appreciating how truly wonderful they are. It’s very difficult to be tempted by the arms of another person when you’re busy fantasizing about the arms of your spouse and what it’s going to be like when you two see each other later in the day.
I realized in the dating and engagement stages - and often in the newlywed phase, as well - we think about our significant other constantly. There is a continuous pursuit of and a desire for that person. But when two people have been together for a few years, those daydreams tend to grind to a halt.
Survival mode kicks in.
You have to pay the bills. Feed the dog. Water the plants. Clothe the kids. Wash the car. Do the dishes. Make the dinner. Meet the quota. Please the boss. Pay the bills. Feed the dog. Water the plants. Clothe the kids - the cycle continues. The awe and wonder of why you first loved your spouse get lost in the mundane crap (for lack of a better word) of life.
Passion gets usurped by responsibility. Pursuit gets replaced with complacency. Thankfulness gets ousted by individualism.
There’s a song by Boys II Men, “Water Runs Dry,” that talks about this scenario. This song had just been released when my uncle had an affair and cheated on my aunt. I heard the song and cried. I just sat there with the song on repeat, bawling my ever-lovin’ eyes out. As a 10-year-old, I just couldn’t fathom how two people could go from passionately loving each other to selfishly hurting one another.
But now I get it.
Having sat there in a conversation with Holy Spirit envisioning the various angles of an affair and its effects, I totally get it.
The breakdown of connection in communication leads to a sense of “every man for himself,” and the needs and desires of SELF become elevated over - and more significant - than the needs of “US”. You will not fulfill your own desires if those desires compromise the integrity of “us” when “we” are your genuine priority, not just your “me.”
I’ve used some terrible grammar in this post, I know. I am aware of that, but you get the point.
So, yes, I did imagine having an affair.
I want to be in a place where I continue to check my heart within my own relationship and gauge where I am at on the spectrum of relational health with my husband. I believe it’s important to check yourself, to spend time in His presence and ask Him to show you areas of weakness or need, then ask Him to fulfill those areas.
My husband will never be able to fill my heart with love the way Jesus can. He’ll never complete me the way the Lord does. He will never be able to meet my needs to the capacity and in the completeness that God does. But if I don’t take the time to evaluate whether I have unmet needs, desires, and expectations in my marriage or within my soul, I expose a vulnerability to the enemy for him to find an inroad into my life, into my marriage.
Without further ado, I encourage you to take a moment with the Lord and ask Him the questions you need to ask to make sure the integrity of your marriage is not compromised in any area. You don’t have to imagine an affair, like I did. That’s not really necessary for most people. I just think very deeply and thoroughly and that happened to have been part of my processing. You DO, however, need to be still and listen, then be ready to take action on whatever He says.
Maybe you need more romance.
Maybe you’re bored with the romance you have. Perhaps the two of you communicate, but you don’t really connect. Maybe the intimacy you have is at a level that’s no longer deep enough to be satisfying to your soul. Maybe you need to worship together. Maybe you need alone time.
Could it be possible God knows of a wound in your heart you didn’t realize was there, caused by something you wrote off as insignificant and, yet, it’s actively undermining the quality of marriage He desires for you to have? Have you stopped dreaming of what a great marriage would actually look like and what it would feel like to be fulfilled in your relationship with your spouse?
Or maybe things are going great and you don’t have any areas that need improvement.
Maybe you just need to take a moment to thank the Lord for the amazing marriage you have and celebrate your union with your spouse.
And if you’ve had an affair, there’s forgiveness and redemption available, so don’t beat yourself up, okay? That never does anyone any good. Just ask for forgiveness and seek God’s will on what to do from here.
Whatever your situation, I encourage you to take the time to talk with God about it. It’ll be worth it. I promise.