Tuesday, February 17, 2015

It Just Happened

A Follow-Up As Promised

In a previous post, I stated, "...the cliché: It just happened is a lie. There is a decision made deep within the heart of a person before actions are ever initiated." I also said that I would address this in more detail in the future. Here are some of my thoughts on the subject.

It just happened...

I didn't know what I was doing...

One thing led to another...

Two of those excuses are flat out lies. One of them is an excuse, but more honest and true than the speaker of the excuse might realize.

It Just Happened

When you enter into a relational commitment of any kind, especially one as intricately binding as marriage, there is no room for an exit plan, we'll see what happens, escape plan, backup plan, or any other kind of plan B, C, or D.

Your spouse, your future with your spouse, all of your future dreams and aspirations, everything - it's all meshed and merged together with another person. You and your spouse - two separate people, have become one. The design for a husband and wife to no longer think, live, or function as individuals who happen to live together, goes back to the beginning of creation. Your marriage is plan A-Z.

Speaking from my own experience, I kept an exit plan in the back of my mind when I got married. Part of that stemmed from my cultural awareness of the 'normality' of divorce. Part of it stemmed from my cultural foundation in a consumerist society (acquire, use, throw away, then acquire something new). The other part of it stemmed from the pain of my past, a lack of maturity, and a deep need for therapy/premarital counseling.

Regardless of what my own reasons or excuses were, the fact remains: I loved my wife, but I kept an escape plan in the back of my mind. Therefore, what happened didn't just happen. What happened, happened because I allowed it to.

I Didn't Know What I Was Doing

This phrase stands right alongside the phrase, "It just happened." People do in fact know exactly what they are doing. We alone are in control of ourselves. There is no puppet-master pulling the strings. We must take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions.

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8 NIV) In a marriage, if you give into temptation, you are not the only one devoured and destroyed. Your spouse, your children (if you have children), your friends, and your extended family suffer the pain of your choices. Thankfully, if you resist temptation, it will go away.

One Thing Led To Another

This statement is absolutely true. One foolish choice after another. One thing leading to the next. One small step down a path that leads to destruction.

Marital infidelity begins within the heart and mind of a person. Marital infidelity begins with a secret 'plan B' in the darkest and innermost crevices of one's mind.

Some of the things that lead to another - which should be avoided by all married people:

Personal conversations with members of the opposite sex. (This doesn't mean you can't talk to co-workers about job related topics. This means conversations having to do with personal or emotional topics. Save those conversations for your spouse.)

Friendships with members of the opposite sex. (Unless you and your spouse are friends with another couple and your conversations only take place openly within that context and with your spouse present.)

Secret or non-public communication in any form with members of the opposite sex. (Facebook, email, Snapchat, Kik, Instagram, texting, Messenger, Sign Language, Morse Code, ANYTHING that can't be accessed at any time by your spouse or in an open and public forum.)

This is only a suggestion of where to begin. I am not leaving loopholes of any kind. Just because I forgot or omitted an app or site, doesn't mean it's probably okay. If you have to ask, it's probably not okay. It's better to err on the side of safety and integrity, than to risk any kind of compromise.

Make One Thing Lead to Another

One thing can lead to another in a positive way as well though:

Make the decision - I only have eyes for God, and for my spouse. 

Sever all friendships with members of the opposite sex, other than the aforementioned "couples" relationships.

Delete all apps that have no benefit for your marriage: (Kik, Snapchat, Meowchat, or any other kind of "hookup" app, even if it's marketed as an app that helps you make "friends.") After all, real friendships can't even be lived out in a digital world.

Hand your spouse your phone when you walk in the door, or at least leave it out in the open - accessible to them at any time.

Give your spouse all of your passwords: phone code, email, facebook...etc. Leave nothing hidden.

Foster deep friendships with people of your same gender who can hold you accountable.

Rid your mind of any kind of backup plan.

Make purposeful and intentional steps every day to help your spouse feel loved, honored, cherished, and protected.


  1. I am 28 years old and I found out in January that my 38 year old boyfriend cheated on me with two girls 16 years his junior. I am NOT innocent, I started talking to a person of the same sex last year, which lasted two weeks. After he found out he was angry understandably. His retaliation was these two women, communication that lasted a year. They did not have sex, but exchanged pictures and messages. I am really struggling with forgiving him. We are trying to repair our 8 year relationship with faith, however I recently started a job where we both work, the same place that he met these 2 other women. Being there brings up a lot of pain and a lot of anger I don't know how to deal with this, I know that I should forgive but I do not sure that I can. I love him I want to be with him, but I find myself hating him from time to time and hating them and any group of women who looks like them because I'm not them. I know that it's not their fault but I'm hurt. Were the women you were involved with a lot younger than you, and if so how in the world did your wife deal with that? I personally feel that I'm too young to deal with the idea of a person I date moving on to someone so much younger please help me I feel like I am at my wits end and then I can't take it anymore we have good days we have a lot of bad please help

  2. Hello Anonymous,

    The first thing I want to express is that age doesn't change the pain. If I had cheated with people who were exactly the same age, it wouldn't have allowed my wife to feel any less pain. A couple of the women I cheated with were a few years younger than I was, and one was around 5 years older.

    Next, cheating happens in many different ways (emotional, psychological, physical...). When a person begins to confide in someone else outside of the relationship, and connect emotionally, boundaries have already been crossed. I'm not talking about your boyfriend having a really solid guy friend who can hold him accountable. I'm talking about relationships with members of the opposite gender. A good rule of thumb is to eliminate all relationships with members of the opposite gender that are anything more than the level of an acquaintance. There are many things I could say about boundaries, but that would take up too much space here. I'm sure I'll devote an entire post to that topic in the future.

    Maybe the two of you could ask yourselves, "Which is more important - our relationship, or our current job?" If your relationship is more important, why not quit and look for a new job? What lengths are the two of you willing to go in order to fully restore your relationship? I did post recently about rebuilding trust here:http://forgivencheater.blogspot.com/2015/06/rebuilding-trust.html

    When you say that you are trying to repair your relationship with faith, what do you mean specifically? Do you attend a church? If not, are you willing to tell me the city you live in? I could find a good church or two and recommend them to you. Most good churches offer Christ-centered counseling.

    You asked how my wife would have been able to deal with the idea of me cheating with younger women. Again, I want to reiterate all cheating is incredibly painful. Each instance causes a different set of consequences. If the person was much younger, then you will focus on the age factor. If the person was skinny, you will focus on size. If the person was wealthy, you will focus on money...and on and on it goes.
    There will probably be the feeling of unworthiness on your part for a really long time, "Why wasn't I good enough? Was I too old for his liking? Was I thrown away for someone who looks like 'that'?" And the questions will continue to haunt you as long as you dwell on them. Forgiveness acknowledges the pain, but chooses to move forward.

    Retaliation and vengeance demonstrate immaturity.

    So, to answer your question, my wife chose grace and forgiveness because of the model and example of Christ Jesus. It wasn't easy. There are still days when things are difficult. Her self-worth is still incredibly fragile. She still has difficulty trusting things that I say (understandably so). The only thing we can do is press forward together.

  3. Neither of us have a lot of outside friends, and his friends that he does have, I wouldn't say are positive mature relationships. The only people he really talks to are people in this game he plays on his phone, who I find to be very mysogynistic. I really wish that he had men in his life who are filled with Christ love to help him. I wanted him to go to a church retreat but he wouldn't go because he didn't want to make it seem as though he were doing it because of the situation that occurred he wanted it to be because he felt it was the right time. We watched The Love Dare but didn't seem to help as much. I have seen him try a lot he's more patient and loving with me than before, but when something reminds me of the events that occurred I questioned him too much he angers and gets defensive. He feels that I should just move past it but I have a hard time doing that no matter how sweet he is being in a moment . I'm hurt I can't overlook that. Your assumption about my unworthiness correct, I've been through bad relationships and lack self confidence. In regard to church, he is catholic, so I am taking classes at the church to become catholic. He comes with me. I just think it would be better if we had a Christian couple to talk to. As far as work, we work at a university that is primarily for women. It is where he met his ex wife, myself, and them. I work in a department that is closely tied to my personal passions and goals. He is proud of his job, and doesn't want to leave. He has offered to, but he is the bread winner. Thankfully, having been promoted he didn't deal with students as much as he did before... a lot of people would question if he left, he's been there for a very long time. I've met with the fathers if the church, we've attended couples counseling off and on. I just don't know what to do. All of this seems so silly. I know I can leave but he is someone I care for deeply aND he has been part of my life for all my Big moments. Is hard to let go, and if we did, I wouldn't want it to be like this.

    1. I have a couple of questions for you.
      Are you living together?
      Why are you taking classes to become Catholic? Why not continue to pray for him, and invite him to events like the church retreat?
      Of course I don't know which Catholic church he attends, but in general Catholicism is based on religiosity and traditions. Christianity is based on relationships - interpersonal relationships with other believers, as well as our foundational relationship with our Lord, Christ Jesus. Becoming Catholic will more than likely take you in the wrong direction.
      Is your effort to save the relationship your motivation to leave the Christian church and become Catholic?
      This isn't a salvation issue. I'm talking about the best setting to foster a healthy, Christ-centered relationship.
      Have you tried seeking counsel with any of the pastors at the church you were attending?