Much has been written and broadcast in the media about high profile personalities committing adultery. It has struck the marriages of many people from Hollywood celebrities to politicians, sports figures to pastors and church leaders. While these cases are fodder for every talk show, news and quasi-news program, the reality for the rest of us is that many normal, average, ordinary people engage in adulterous affairs. Often times husbands or wives who end up in an affair are not totally miserable in their marriage, as most people assume. In fact, recent studies show that even those people who rate their marital relationship as “pretty happy” and “very happy” end up committing adultery. Affairs don’t only happen in bad marriages.
Researchers say that one of the greatest risk factors for infidelity isn’t what is going on inside the marriage, but something that is outside. That risk factor is opportunity. The state of your marriage isn’t necessarily the greatest indicator of infidelity, so you need to be very careful. Far too many people make the mistake of thinking, “Our marriage is just fine. We love each other, we’re solid and it would never happen to us.” Then they let down their guard and don’t pay attention to the situations they allow themselves to be in because they feel like they are safe. It’s the furthest thing from the truth.
Your marriage is not immune. No marriage is. And it is especially critical that husbands and wives listen to each other when it comes to keeping an eye out for circumstances that could end up being nothing more than temptation and opportunity in disguise. Take for instance the wife who has a chance to reconnect with an old boyfriend via Facebook or some other social network. She may reason that she loves her husband, their marriage is great, she has no designs on any other man, and therefore it’s perfectly harmless and innocent. Even when her husband raises objections and says he doesn’t like it, she tells him that she’s totally happy in their marriage and he has nothing to worry about.
The work place is another area ripe with opportunity. Consider the husband who ends up spending a lot of time with a woman on the job. Maybe they have to be in meetings together or collaborate on projects. Perhaps they even need to have business dinners or travel together within a group of people. It seems like nothing on the surface, especially if his marriage is solid and he isn’t looking for anything by way of a relationship with this woman. When his wife raises a question, he tells her she there is no reason to be upset. He loves her and isn’t interested in anyone else. Yet, his wife may still be uncomfortable with the amount of time, phone calls, dinners, emails they share, even when he doesn’t see it as a problem.
Some people even tell the worried spouse that it’s their problem and accuse the concerned husband or wife of being crazy, jealous or insecure. Wrong! It’s your problem because you are creating an opportunity. Beware of the trap that comes simply from dancing too close to the flame. Most people think they can handle it and they won’t let it get out of control. Trust me—the majority of people who end up in adultery didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to have an affair. It is insidious and happens gradually when given the right circumstances and opportunity.
Don’t be stupid. Listen to your spouse because they are the voice that matters in situations like this. They often see things from the outside perspective that you don’t. When husbands and wives see circumstances are such that an opportunity is there, they need to stand their ground and tell their spouse, “No. I’m not comfortable with this.” Because as the saying goes “All it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing”. Believe me, if you do not put your foot down, if you don’t do something about it, the evils of adultery will flourish.
And know that the decision to walk away from an opportunity may cost you something, but it will never be as high as the price of losing your marriage and family. Maybe you have to let a business deal go, or even in extreme cases change jobs. It may be the inconvenience of going to the other side of town to use the gym or health club to avoid a situation at the one you typically frequent. You might have to forego friendships or change churches. Do whatever it takes to guard and protect your marriage. Opportunity can stand there and keep on knocking, but if you are smart and value your marriage, you won’t dare let it in.