What Would You Give Up for an Affair?

Years ago I knew a couple whose marriage was coming unraveled. The couple was in their 30s. They had children. She had just learned that her husband had been having an affair with a person at work. There was much hurt, turmoil, and brokenness. She was ready to leave him. She was not going to live with a man who would practice such deception and break their marriage vows.relationships1.jpg

He woke up.

I talked with them one day. He told her how ashamed he was of his behavior. He cried. She cried. She recoiled in hurt. He seemed to almost crumble on the floor. He literally begged her not to give up on him and on their marriage. He spoke of his shame and failure. He begged for her forgiveness.

I was about 27 years old. I had never been close to anyone who was experiencing such heartache. I remember thinking that this wasn’t like it was on television or in the movies. On television, a married person might begin a relationship with someone else. There is laughter. One person says that he has never been happier. Sometimes the affair is romanticized to the point that the viewer wonders if he is not missing something by not having an affair. So often the focus is on the self and who seems to be getting their selfish desires met.

However, real men of character will never, ever throw their family under the bus while they chase their lustful fantasy with a new found “honey.”

Women of character will never do this either.

Yet, again and again it happens. A husband or wife begins a relationship with another person. This person has already made a promise before God that she/he would be faithful in marriage. After all, marriage is a covenant with God. A person marries and is in an exclusive relationship with a husband or wife.

Yet, later on, some married people put more energy into the pursuit of a lustful fantasy than they do their marriage. The marriage covenant is violated. As a result, another marriage ends. A person has chosen disobedience to God over obedience. This person has decided to take life into his own hands, making whatever selfish decision he believes is necessary in order to feel good.

  • Smaller children experience the trauma of a mother or father leaving their home.
  • Older children realize that their mom or dad has put their own desires before their family.
  • Trust is fractured and even broken.
  • Friendships are broken.
  • There is much hurt, heartache and disappointment.  

Marriage is often difficult.

Sometimes there are seasons during which a marriage is dry and even rocky. During these seasons, many men and women will often put great energy into their marriage. They will get counseling. They will seek to work through their problems. Some of these marriages get significantly better. Some do not.

Yet, adultery is never the answer. Not for a person who loves God and seeks to live in obedience to him. Not for a person of character.


What would you add to the list above? What are some of the everyday costs of sexual unfaithfulness? What have you observed?


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

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14 thoughts on “What Would You Give Up for an Affair?

  1. You write: “However, real men of character will never, ever throw their family under the bus while they chase their lustful fantasy with a new found “honey.””

    I think you making some mistaken tacit assumptions about how this kind of thing happens.

    Actually, sometimes adultery appears in a spiritual guise. Marriage does not keep other people from being attractive: both physically and personally/emotionally. Spiritual practices like shared prayer and Bible study and small-group worship are powerfully bonding. People can get blind-sided because the temptation doesn’t appear in an apparently lustful guise at all. It appears in a spiritual guise! Young couples’ groups are often destroyed by this dynamic. And, then there are unhappy wives victimized by sexual-predator pastors. And, as I say: people get blindsided. They don’t expect it (and they should).

  2. Craig, thank you so much for your comment. You make such very good points. What you are describing is very real and unfortunately has happened far too many times. You are right (especially as this concerns Christian people) that it happens under a spiritual guise.

    In the post, I am really not trying to be exhaustive in describing how this happens. (If I’ve learned anything in over 30 years of conversations with people in churches where I have served, I have learned that there are many, many ways that this behavior comes about.) This post comes out of my own thinking over the last few weeks about the costs (earthly) of this behavior and some of the character issues.

    Hope you will comment again. Thanks.

  3. The adulterer’s extended family is deeply affected by this. It completely changes the family dynamic and is difficult to know how to relate to that person in a Christian manner. The adulterer wants to continue as if nothing has changed, when in reality everything has changed.

  4. Carie I agree with you. The family is deeply affected by this act and know doubt it changes the dynamics of the family. The marriage will always have that scar and the children will always have that to carry with them into their relationships. I like what you had to say carie,”The adulterer wants to continue as if nothing has changed.” In the beginning the adulterer, if remorsful, will do anything for the marriage and begs for forgivness. He or she is willing to go to counseling, open up and talk, or put in the time and effort/passion they didnt do before the act. Just like Jim portrayed in his blog,

    “He told her how ashamed he was of his behavior. He cried. She cried. She recoiled in hurt. He seemed to almost crumble on the floor. He literally begged her not to give up on him and on their marriage. He spoke of his shame and failure. He begged for her forgiveness.”

    I think the true test is in the months or years after, God willing they are still together. This is were the individual, who committed the affair, still has to have the commitment they had in the biginning. They can not become frustrated or content to their spouse and family. They have to know the scar they caused has not gone away. They commitment they had to go to counseling and do the little things to show they LOVE their family/spouse has to continue.

    • My grand-daughters were 9 and 4 when their parents divorced and now, at ages 16 and 11 I can’t see that their emotions over the divorce have healed much at all. It still seems they feel guilty and fearful of the next shoe dropping in their little lives no matter how much help they get from counselling. Divorce is devastating to kids and to everyone who knows the couple. It is rarely the right decision unless there is abuse. God forgives and we do too but what a hard and sad thing it is to watch. A lot has to do with selfishness, unfortunately.

      • Thanks Gail for this note. I continue to hear and read about the devastating impact and the lingering effects of divorce on children. Unfortunately, these children continue to be impacted even when they are well into their adult years. Very sad.

  5. Cal,
    You made some very good observations. I really like what you said regarding the scars of such behavior and the impact of these scars upon a person and family. Thanks!

  6. What would you give up for an affair? Answer this question in writing and make yourself read it often.
    Also, What would be the consequences if I had an affair?
    These days I’m hearing that having an affair and divorcing is a good thing to do if you’re 50. That way you have the next 20 years to lead a new, exciting life. I, for one, disagree.
    Thank you, Jim!

    • Darryl, thanks for this comment. Yes, there are some interesting twists on the meaning of marriage. So many of these twists seem to be rooted in entitlement. A person is entitled to be happy and so can make most any choice that will enable her/him to experience this.

      Good to hear from you, my friend.

  7. And even when, by the grace of God the marriage is restored – there are scars – and even when things seem healed there is always at least an undercurrent of distrust which rises to the surface during struggles.

    It can never, ever, ever be worth it – no matter how it looks.

  8. Gracie, I appreciate your reminder that the consequences of this sin (and many others) can be severe and seriously hurt a marriage. By the grace of God, these marriages survive in spite of some of the very real challenges that you describe so well.