A Follow-Up As PromisedIn 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 HappenedWhen 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 DoingThis 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 AnotherThis 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 AnotherOne 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.