Newly married couples don’t normally think about marital affairs. Unless they’re forced into marriage, newly married couples most likely are in love with each other.
The question is, why then do affairs happen?
(Regardless of whether you’ve been married for 5 years, 15 years or 25 years)
I feel this is a very real question and if we are married (or in a relationship), we should really give this question a good thought.
Do we feel the need to delete our text messages so they’re not read by others/our spouse?Recently I read an article on WHY emotional affairs take place in marriages (including christian marriages).
(Note: Affairs could be ’emotional’, not necessarily ‘physical’)
Here is one common reason:
Reliance on outsiders (especially when the spouses have to spend much time apart)
When we start to depend on the opposite gender other than our spouse to meet our emotional needs, temptations tend to creep in.
Affairs could happen between us and anyone with whom we spend large amount of timeAnd, affairs could happen between us and anyone with whom we spend large amount of time, eg. Co-workers, old school friends, personal trainers, etc.
What started out as an ‘innocent friendship’ could lead to an emotional dependence, and hence, an emotional affair.
So what are the warning signs that we should watch out for?
> Start to negatively compare our spouse with others
Be aware of that increasing thought or feeling: ‘He listens to me better than my husband’, ‘She speaks lovingly to me every time we chat’ or ‘We can laugh out loud and connect so well with each other!’
> A need to hide aspects of a relationship
Do we feel the need to delete our text messages so they’re not read by others/our spouse? Are we excited about secretly receiving a call or text messages from another person other than our spouse?
> Less willingness to be intimate with our spouse
Intimacy requires closeness, and such an intimate relationship cannot happen if a spouse gives his/her closeness to someone else outside of their marriage.
What can do we do to guard ourselves against such temptations then?
Here are some tips and thoughts:
Avoid spending a lot of time alone with anyone of the opposite gender1. Avoid spending a lot of time alone with anyone of the opposite gender (especially if we are somewhat attracted to him/her)
2. Avoid spending more ‘quality time’ with another person than we do with our spouse.
3. Avoid sharing intimate details of our life with anyone before sharing it with our own spouse.
4. Stay transparent, ie. Do everything as if our spouse were there with us.
5. Do not entertain fantasies about other people. Shoo away thoughts that are not pure.
6. Stay connected with our spouse by making extra efforts to build emotional and physical closeness (eg. Plan activities that you can do together as husband and wife, daily/weekly/monthly)
Having been married for ‘many years’ should not be our excuse for taking our spouse for granted7. Keep an open communication throughout the day, share your activities or thoughts and daily things that make you excited or sad. Grow that ‘enjoyment’ of sharing your life with each other. Be each other’s best friend.
(For those who hardly ever stay in contact with their spouse during the day, this may mean checking your phone and taking the time to contact or REPLY your spouse’s text messages)
8. Appreciate our spouse. When was the last time you genuinely cuddle, hug, kiss or say ‘I love you’? Having been married for ‘many years’ should not be our excuse for taking our spouse for granted.
9. Have a community of positive and loving married couples where you can be strengthened and encouraged by them, while you do the same towards other couples.
(In our case, we are blessed to have a group of married couples with whom we have regular Bible studies and discussions)
Do everything as if our spouse were there with us10. Last but not least, if you’re people of the faith like us, do devote personal time to prayer. Ask God to protect our marriage, while we ourselves make the effort to build and nurture our relationship with our spouse.
(I’m sure there are more tips out there. You’re welcome to add more to the list)
Everyone is so prone to emotional affairsI’m not a marriage expert.
I simply know that everyone is so prone to emotional affairs, no matter how ‘strong’ we assume our marriage is. And that’s why we need to always stay alert and be aware of the signs.
Let’s continually nurture our relationship with our spouse.
May God have mercy and help us all.