By Cheryl Scruggs
part of Guarding Your Heart in Marriage series:
3- An Affair: "The Beginning of the End" 4- The Truth about Divorce
The fatal blow to any marriage is an adulterous affair where one or both spouses think they "finally found his/her soul mate.
Once convinced that he/she married the wrong person or that God put someone new in his/her life, the idea of divorce can take root and grow. Blinded by the deception of the affair, most people have no idea how they got there.
How does an affair start?
Many of us who have fallen prey to an adulterous affair did not see it coming. We were blindsided, and – before we knew it – were involved emotionally, physically or both, with a person other than our spouse. Many times the other person is a complete stranger, but the sudden emotional or physical connection deceived us into thinking we had known them all of our life. This new "love" was the missing puzzle piece to our happiness – or so we thought.
In most cases, no one intentionally seeks after an affair that could potentially destroy their marriage. Forming such a connection to someone else may seem unlikely, but may be easier than you realize. All it takes is one conversation, one innocent flirtation or one look. If you are vulnerable, the ball is rolling.
How do we succumb to an affair?
Easily! Like me, most of us never dream we are capable of such sin. Unfortunately, we are both capable and susceptible. I gave in because I was not guarding my heart. It never crossed my mind to be cautious about my relationships with other men because I never realized I could be so vulnerable. I started having an "innocent" conversation with an acquaintance of mine. I felt compelled to share with him the unfulfilled state of my marriage. Yet that evening was the beginning of the end of my marriage. I quickly developed a deep emotional connection with a man I barely knew! I falsely sensed that I was falling in love with a stranger.
I couldn't stop thinking about him. I craved his voice. I couldn't concentrate on anything else. I was duped and falling fast. Within a matter of days, the negative feelings I had long been having for Jeff reached a heightened level. I somehow "knew" I didn't love him and told him so.
Jeff was flabbergasted and caught completely off guard! What could have gone so terribly wrong overnight? In truth, I was completely deceived and I could not see it. When Jeff asked if there was someone else, I denied it. The truth is that I'd allowed my heart to be stolen.
When do the symptoms start?
The warning signs often appear long before the actual fall into adultery: when our thoughts begin to derail; when we fail to take negative thoughts captive, constructively deal with them, and face the issues in our marriage. The emotional and physical disconnect is subtle and sometimes goes unnoticed until we find ourselves in the arms of another person.
What are some of the symptoms?
Symptoms are not easily pinpointed, but once you become aware, they are easy to recognize. Here are a few:
Unexplained discontent with your spouse
Feelings of being trapped in your marriage
An overwhelming sense that your needs are not being met
A desire to be away from your spouse
A reluctance to spend time at home
Fantasies about being married to someone else
Comparing your marriage to other marriages
Attraction to someone of the opposite sex
A constant preoccupation with someone else
An unhealthy attachment to a coworker, friend or acquaintance of the opposite sex
How do you combat the temptation of an affair?
Once the temptation of an affair presents itself, many people focus on getting out of their marriage. They choose to stop working on their existing relationship and focus, instead, on this new and exciting relationship.
God gives us every opportunity to walk away from temptation, but many of us choose to walk toward it instead. God also offers us guidance and direction when we are tempted to have an affair. Most important, He reminds us that adultery is a sin.
We must not ignore this fact, rationalizing why we deserve to have an affair or why we think it is right. Bottom line: We do not deserve it, and it is wrong! Period.
To guard against this, two important things are necessary. First, submit to God's Word instead of to the temptation. Ask God to show you the truth and what is right in His eyes. Second, share your struggles with a trustworthy friend, pastor or counselor. When a secret is brought into the light, the excitement of it lessens.
I regret not having told someone. It may have saved my marriage.
Original article published at focusonthefamily.com. Copyright (c) 2010, Cheryl Scruggs. Used by permission.