Safeguarding Your Marriage Against Infidelity
A year and a half into dating my husband, I had to confess to him that I had feelings for another man.
At the time, my husband and I were venturing on the joyful journey of a long distance relationship. A 14-hour drive separated us physically, but technology united us whenever we wanted to stay connected.
The problem was, because we were not together in person, it was easy to leave out important details of my day. I could hide some ugly parts of my heart during our daily recaps over the phone because we weren’t living in close enough quarters to feel really uncomfortable with my own sin.
So what began as an innocent acquaintanceship with another man became a confusing source of temptation for my heart.
I’ll be clear: I never cheated on my husband. But I intentionally put myself in situations that dishonored our commitment to one another, and I certainly would have acted differently if my husband had been in the room.
When I finally confessed this to my husband, who was still my boyfriend at the time, my lip quivered, my face was on fire, and I was convinced he’d bolt. Sure, I hadn’t physically acted on anything, but I still betrayed his trust and let my heart wander too far. My heart was broken over the cost of what my heart and mind had flirted with.
How could he forgive me? I wouldn’t want to forgive me! And yet, he did.
I hurt him. My sin wounded his heart. Our relationship took time to mend. But God’s grace was sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9), and our love became a beautiful story of redemption.
My husband exemplified Ephesians 5:25, which says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” And at the time, we weren’t even married. He had a free pass to leave, but he chose to stay.
My husband looked at me in my deepest shame and darkest place and said, “I still love you. I will still fight for you.” This is just a glimpse into the lengths that Christ will go to prove his unconditional love for an undeserving and unfaithful people. Christ doesn’t have to love us, and he doesn’t have to forgive us, but he does.
So in the wake of all the mess and hurt I caused, we decided on some boundaries designed to safeguard our relationship and keep us from temptation. At the time, it felt a little overboard. I didn’t see anyone else doing this with their boyfriends, and some people questioned why we had such “strict boundaries” with the opposite sex.
But we’ve now been married 5 years, together almost 9, and I feel completely confident in our trust and loyalty to one another. Not because we’re perfect and are never tempted, but because we’ve agreed on how we want to protect our marriage and have promised to let the other know immediately if our heart starts to wander. In that place, we can address the issue with prayer and confession before it turns into shame, guilt and unfaithfulness.
I’d like to share with you a few practical ways we safeguard our marriage against infidelity. But first, let me make an important distinction. There’s a difference between fearfully controlling your spouse and faithfully protecting your marriage. The former is born out of distrust, the latter, unity. So if you’re thinking of implementing these in your own marriage, make sure your heart is right before God, trusting Him completely with your man and your marriage.
If you are already in a situation where you’ve developed feelings for someone outside of your marriage, it is imperative for you to go through and follow these steps.
3 Practical Ways to Safeguard Your Marriage Against Infidelity
- Do what you can to avoid situations where you’re alone with the opposite sex. When you can’t avoid it (i.e. coworker, necessary ride/carpool, meeting, etc.), be open in your communication with your spouse. Send a courtesy text to let him know the situation, keep all doors open if you’re in a room, and keep the visit short and sweet when possible.
- If you ever feel a temptation or attraction to another man, bring it into the light immediately. I have an incredibly understanding husband who does his best not to hold my temptation against me, and we usually find out the root of it is simply the enemy trying to veer us off course. But if you’re not able to tell your spouse, confess out loud to Jesus and to a trusted mentor (the out loud part is important! Sometimes hearing ourselves say the words feels weighty enough to lead us to deep and true repentance). When we bring these things into the light with a desire to be redeemed and restored, Jesus will deliver us. Confess and repent as often as you need until the temptation goes away—this can take a while!
- Have hard conversations. I had a close male friend in college who I had to stop hanging out with one-on-one after the incident. He was a bit hurt and confused, but it had to happen in order to honor my relationship with my husband. When we’re willing to show our husband we’re committed to him above every other human relationship, a deep level of trust and intimacy forms.
Wife Step: Reflect on the ways you and your husband are proactively protecting the sanctity of your marriage. Do you have a plan you’re both on board with? Are there areas of weakness or exposure that need to be addressed? If you don’t have a plan, consider the three examples above and communicate with your husband about a potential one. If you find this topic is too difficult to discuss with your husband or for some reason the conversation does not go well, make an appointment with a Christian counselor to help you through the process.
Bailey Richardson is the wife of a Paul Bunyan look-a-like, the mama of a growing little family, and a woman on the wild adventure of pursuing Jesus. She lives in a small lake town in Minnesota where her family is highly involved in their local church and Young Life, a global non-profit youth ministry. A self-proclaimed “recovering perfectionist,” Bailey loves writing for and connecting with women who want to more deeply experience the grace, freedom, and abundance that comes from following Jesus. You can find her at baileymrichardson.com or on Instagram @baileymrichardson.