6 Ways to Avoid an Affair

Have you ever known either of these families?bored_couple430x300.jpg


Family #1

For several years, Heather tried to communicate to her husband, Paul, that she wanted to feel special again in their relationship. Too often she felt taken for granted and lonely. Meanwhile, her husband seemed more focused on his career and the golf course. She wanted to renew their relationship. He seemed content.

One day, she was about to leave for work and Paul noticed that she looked particularly nice. Heather had lost weight, purchased new clothes, and lately seemed to enjoy going to work each day. That day, Paul noticed that her skirt seemed shorter than what she typically wore. She put on new perfume as well.

Little did Paul know that a guy at work had recently begun paying a lot of attention to her. Quiet frankly, Heather enjoys the attention. He gives her what she had wanted from Paul. He listens to her, not only to her words but the emotion behind them. He values her opinion about particular work projects. He has made a few comments about her appearance.

Lately, she has found herself thinking a lot about this man, even when she is not at work. This bothers Heather. It also makes her nervous that she feels more attractive than she has in years. Not long ago, she and this man began texting one another outside of work hours. She really doesn’t want Paul to know about these texts.


Family #2

Kevin’s job required much contact with top clientele and consequently demanded his best each day. This included being well dressed. His wife, Jennifer, was a stay-at-home mom, where she cared for their three children. He missed the companionship he once had with his wife. For awhile, he looked for opportunities for her to see more of his work life. He tried to arrange for lunch downtown and offered to get a sitter. Jennifer said it was too much trouble to drive downtown just for lunch. On another occasion, he wanted his wife to be with him at a reception for the new boss. She declined to go, saying she didn’t know anyone and would be bored. On occasions, Kevin tried to include her in settings where it was appropriate to invite a spouse. She seemed to have little interest in going. Finally, he stopped asking.

Kevin continued to advance in the company. He not only had the attention of the executive vice-president, but also had the attention of a particular woman who had been with the company for about five years. This woman was attracted to Kevin and began to subtly pursue him. She laughed at his jokes and complimented him regularly on his appearance. Recently, he learned he would be traveling to Miami with a small group for a two day seminar. This woman would be in the group. Yesterday, she suggested to Kevin that maybe the two of them could explore the city together one afternoon. He sensed that she did not intend to invite others. Kevin thought about it but chose not to tell Jennifer about the offer.

Each scenario could could easily become another woeful tale of secrets, deception, and moral failure.


The following are 6 ways to avoid an affair.


1. Pay attention to your spouse. If you do not pay attention, you may find there is someone nearby who will.

2. Don’t be naive. At some point, there may be someone who is not only interested in your spouse, but obsessed with him. That can also be true for yourself. Listen to your spouse if she begins to send warning signals about a particular person.

3. Be involved in your spouse’s life. Think hard before turning down invitations to join him for lunch during the workday, receptions, office visits, work conferences, etc. Allow the people at his office the opportunity to see you as a couple.

4. Some couples promise to tell one another if there is a person who is becoming a problem for them. That is good, but doesn’t go far enough. Quite often, men are being pursued and don’t have a clue. Sometimes you need to tell your spouse what you are seeing, feeling, and sensing regarding a particular person.

5. Think hard about the impact of flirting. Would you talk this way if your spouse was present? Would you give prolonged eye contact toward another person, if your spouse was in the room?

6. Get honest. Is there a particular guy who you are dressing for today? Do you want to look particularly nice today because you are attracted to one of your clients?   


Question:

What else would you add to this list that might help someone avoid this pitfall?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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11 thoughts on “6 Ways to Avoid an Affair

  1. Off the top of my head:

    1. Also don’t be naive about your ability to resist temptation. So avoid situations where it is just you and that the person you are attracted to or who is attacted to you. I once heard a preacher declare that he would never have an affair. How could he say that, he asked. The same way he could say he would never drink a bottle of Draino. Some of us were amazed at the naivete in that claim.

    2. Confess to an accountability group. Make a pact to call someone else in the group if you find yourself in a situation where you are tempted.

    3. Consider the impact of an affair in advance, e.g., your Christian witness, on your spouse, your children (could you lose them in a divorce), your church, your career, etc.

    4. Give your spouse your password to e-mail and social network accounts.

    • Phillip,

      All four of your suggestions are tremendous. I can’t say enough about the importance of each one of your suggestions.

      I have been thinking about your first comment. Sometimes, Phillip, it seems that some of us who preach are so confident that we handle most anything that comes along. That is so arrogant.

      There are situations and settings that I just don’t need to be in.

      Thanks so much.

  2. I’d emphasize that you need to have rules/guidelines/practices in place that are too strict, too extreme. I know that sounds funny, but the fact is that if your guidelines are “just good enough,” the chances of you stepping over the line are good. Sort of like city planners that have to plan for the 100-year-flood: for 99 years, the measures seem too extreme, but when that flood comes…

    Err on the side of safety and prudence. Rarely does anyone say, “I’m sorry I was so cautious.”

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

    • Tim, I appreciate this. You make a good point. You are right, rarely does anyone say, “I’m sorry I was so cautious.”

  3. Really appreciate these ideas and their exploration. For me, specifically thinking about my husband and our relationship in prayer has helped. Asking God to bind our hearts together and then taking action to make that happen in the form of dates, thoughtful notes, and idea sharing is something to consider.

    • Ann, I like your comment. It sounds like you have taken very intentional steps to build a good marriage. Thank you.

  4. It has long been my practice (and I’ve noticed Thomas Nelson Pub. president Michael Hyatt’s) not to have lunch or meals alone with someone of the opposite sex. In our business context that may be almost impossible (although I think it fits with Tim Archer’s comment)–but it is worth at least making this the norm of your practice.

    Perhaps I am a bit naive in this situation–but I think if you make that your established practice, you probably will not have too many pressures to change it as a practice even in secular business settings.

    I would reiterate what you’ve said–if you feel uncomfortable about something your mate is doing or saying out of the ordinary ask. If you feel you cannot ask without offending him or her then that says volumes about the relationship you have built as a couple.

    I’ve been very honest with my wife when I felt there was a person who demonstrated an interest in me (which thankfully hasn’t happened often to my knowledge!)–and whenever there was a chance I would see that person, I made very certain my wife was present.

    I would add: be honest about your weaknesses. I have been very fortunate that rarely have I been face to face with the temptation in 31 years of marriage! But as I have told my wife: I am susceptible. There is no guarantee that I am beyond falling–I think I know myself pretty well. If anything I would err on being too harsh in my self-evaluation than over-confident!

  5. One other observation and I am not certain what is the best way to deal with this. I believe texting and social media (both of which I employ) has created another avenue of tremendous temptation. Somehow I think as ministers, counselors, and teachers we should help people create an ethic and etiquette regarding things like texting, twittering, and other forms of social media. Our technology has outpaced our development of ethic/etiquette for the technology. While perhaps Rep. Weiner may be an extreme case, there are other ways to be tempted through Facebook, texting, and Twitter.

    • Darryl, I really like your comment (both of them). You are on to something that really needs to be developed. You’ve helped me a lot with this. Thanks!

  6. This is really becoming a problem with some many out of work and going through an identity crisis. Anyone who gives them attention will get there attention. The issue seems to revolve around personal responsibility. Why did Heather lose weight, dress better, and smell good for another but not her spouse? Why did Kevin not stop the advances of the other when he new it was wrong. We want others to be the blame and not ourselves. How will this play out as the world changes? When will we return to personal responsibility and integrity?