I have been a Marriage and Family Therapist for over 20 years now (I started when I was 5, just kidding!!!) and I often hear a similar story in my office over and over again. It goes something like this, ďI didnít start out to have an affair, but he was so nice to me. He listened to me. He appreciated me and he cared about me. He understood me. One thing led to another and before I knew it we were alone together. How did this happen?Ē Workplace affairs happen and they happen to Christian men and women. No one sets out to have an affair, but they happen. I want to answer some questions about affairs and give you some things to think about.
First of all, why do affairs happen? There are many reasons. One is a person feels unfilled or unappreciated in their marriage. Another is affairs are exciting, it is like dating again and there is intense passion.
Affairs are secretive which leads to the excitement. On the flip side of all of this, affairs are not reality. When a person is having an affair they donít have to worry about the dirty socks on the floor, who did the dishes, who is going to pick up the children, etc. The person with whom you are having an affair can be ďperfect,Ē because there are no responsibilities to be fulfilled. You can just concentrate on one another and leave the world behind. Again, this is fantasy and not reality.
Second, the ďBut, I deserve to be happy principle.Ē I hate to bust your bubble but nowhere in the Bible does it say we deserve to be happy. People will tell me that I donít understand how miserable their marriage is and how wonderful the other person is to them. I am not doubting how bad marriages can be, but I can assure you 100% of the time an affair is not the way to make your marriage better. You talk with your spouse and go to counseling to improve your marriage. If your spouse wonít go, you go yourself. You pray and pray some more for your marriage to be restored. You seek Godly wisdom.
Third, even if people end up leaving their marriage and marrying the person they had an affair with they will soon find out the new marriage has problems all of its own. The biggest issue in second marriages, that started due to affairs, is trust. If my husband or wife cheated with me to start this marriage, who is to say they wonít cheat again. There is always the nagging question in the back of your mind. Also, you soon find out that Mr. Perfect has a lot of things that annoy and disappoint you. The grass really wasnít greener on the other side of the fence.
Fourthly, can a marriage survive an affair? Closely, related to that is do I have Biblical grounds for divorce? Yes, yes and 50 times yes a marriage can survive an affair. I have seen God do remarkable things in peopleís marriages and made their marriages better than they were before. Do I recommend that as a marriage improvement strategy? NO WAY!!? God can restore and strengthen marriages. Nothing is impossible for God. Can affairs be a biblical reason for divorce? Yes, but donít jump to that conclusion too quickly. When Jesus made statements about divorce in Matthew 19:1-9, He also says because of your hardness of hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. God hates divorce and His desire is for couples to keep their marital commitments and covenants. Now, as soon I say that let me quickly say if you are divorced God still loves you and shows mercy and grace as He does for all our sins. None of us can keep all of Godís laws that is why we are so thankful for Christ and His sacrifice for us. Yet, we must say Godís desire is for people to remain married. Also, do not hear me say you must stay married at all costs. There are situations of abuse, repeated unfaithfulness, and other issues that may necessitate someone to seek a divorce. Also, I have seen a spouse battle to the end for a marriage and one person demands a divorce no matter what the other spouse wants. As always, there needs to be lots of prayer and wise counsel before a decision to divorce is made.
Fifthly, what are some warning signs that I may be vulnerable to a workplace romance?
1. You feel unappreciated at home, but feel really appreciated at work for all you do.
2. You start thinking of ways to meet and talk with a person you may be interested in.
3. You start keeping a list of all your husbandís faults and focus on them repeatedly.
4. You start daydreaming of the perfect marriage.
5. You quit working as hard on your own marriage.
6. You think about what you will wear to work the next day and what that special someone will say.
7. You tell yourself you deserve to be happy.
8. You start rationalizing reasons why it is okay to spend time with the person at the office, we are JUST talking.
9. You fantasize about life with the other person.
10. You no longer spend time praying or reading the Bible, because it makes you feel guilty.
These are just a few of the warning signs to start you thinking.
So, what is someone to do to inoculate themselves from having a workplace romance?
1. Pray for yourself and your spouse daily. Pray that God will keep you committed to your marriage.
2. Pray that God will help you love your spouse even when he is unlovable.
3. Flee from evil. The Bible talks about the devil in 1 Peter 5:8-9 as a roaring lion waiting to devour you. This means we donít dance around temptation, we run from it as far as we can.
4. If you are currently being tempted, do everything to stay away from the person. You may even have to change jobs.
5. Have an accountability partner who will pray with you and give you wise counsel. Ask them to hold you to Godís principles and words.
6. Pray that God will keep all temptation away from you.
7. Work on your marriage. Once you have children it is so easy to ignore your marriage. Make your marriage a priority.
8. Be willing to seek counseling for yourself and your marriage if it is in trouble.
9. Realize that Satan makes sin so attractive and he is the Father of lies. He will fill your head with nonsense in order to make you think you are doing right.
10. Trust that God can and will change your marriage. Also, learn the most important thing is realizing the only one who can meet all of your needs is God. You must trust in Him alone.
As Christian Working Moms we also have to be very aware of our witness to others. People are watching us and seeing if we practice what we preach. Being faithful to your spouse is a very strong witness in this day and age. Every marriage has problems, but I repeat having an affair is NEVER the answer to those problems. May we all cling to our Savior and trust Him to meet all of our needs. Also, remember with God nothing is impossible.
Kimberly M. Chastain, MS, LMFT is the Christian Working Mom Coach and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She is the author of 2 ebooks, Pearls of Encouragement for Christian Working Moms and Help! My Preteen/Teenager is Driving me Nuts. You can find both of those books at www.christianworkingmom.com.† Also, check out her blog and Online Bible Study as well.† You can have coaching tips delivered to your email box daily, find out more at http://www.kimberlychastain.com/cwmtips.htm.