Editor’s note: A version of this article was originally published on FamilyShare.com It has been modified and republished here with permission.
In just four weeks this article received 3.1 million views and is still growing. We are stunned by it’s popularity. And surprised by the controversy it has created. Our original article was brief and did not allow for much explanation. We appreciate this opportunity to flesh out a few of the concepts we presented. We have received many comments. From those expressing gratitude we see that most people cherish their marriage and want to protect it. They get it. As for the others, well, there will always be opposition in all things.
Here’s the article with our newly added content.
Having an affair is not even on your radar. Never gonna happen. You love your spouse and you’d never be unfaithful to her or him. However, you may be unaware of other ways you are being unfaithful. If these actions continue, you may find yourself on the slippery slope that leads to that never-intended affair and a sorrow you never wanted in your life.
Unfaithfulness usually creeps in through the back door, disguising itself as harmless fun or innocent behavior. If you want your marriage to endure and be filled with happiness you may need to check this list to see if you have fallen prey to any of these unfaithful behaviors.
Having a little playful fun at the office with a co-worker can’t be too bad, you may rationalize. After all, flirting is fun. It’s fun than can end in a tremendous amount of pain. It’s dangerous. If someone flirts with you, ignore it. What falls into the category of flirting? Here’s one explanation of what flirting is. “[It] usually involves speaking and behaving in a way that suggests a mildly greater intimacy than the actual relationship between the parties would justify, though within the rules of social etiquette, which generally disapproves of a direct expression of sexual interest. This may be accomplished by communicating a sense of playfulness or irony… Body language can include flicking the hair, eye contact, brief touching, etc.”
Married people should never engage in this type of behavior with anyone other than their spouse. It is a full-on form of unfaithfulness that leads to no good. The one you’re flirting with may take it as an invitation and pursue a relationship you never intended.
A writer in the Huffington Post put it this way, “. . . if you’re married or flirting with a married man the sexual tension, while exciting, is still like a fault line running underneath your feet. You don’t know when it’s going to erupt, but when it does — watch out — because everything will crumble.”
Avoid flirting like the plague, unless it’s with your spouse. You can flirt like crazy with him or her, all you want.
2. Confiding in the opposite gender
When you pour out your troubles to someone of the opposite gender you are putting yourself in a vulnerable position. It may seem harmless. After all, you just needed a shoulder to cry on. If you’ve got a problem, talk about it with your spouse. That’s your best-ever shoulder to cry on. If that’s not working for you, try a trusted friend, relative, clergyman, or therapist. Not someone who may consider this an invitation for intimacy. Even if it doesn’t start that way, too often it ends that way.
It’s a form of unfaithfulness. We’ve seen it happen. It starts out as an act of compassion, but before you know it your shoulder to cry on becomes comforting arms around you. Then it inches its way into far more intimate behavior. If you think you had troubles to cry about before . . . well, let just say, to use a well-worn phrase, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
3. Spending time alone with someone else
What appears to be an innocent lunch out with someone of the opposite sex may seem harmless. If it’s a business lunch then take along another colleague to keep it on the up and up. Things can spin out of control when two are alone in a social situation. The same goes for stopping by for a chat at that someone’s home without your spouse. These situations can definitely spiral into the category of unfaithful behavior. You or the other person may say, “Hey, we’re both adults. Nothing’s going to happen.” Well, things do happen. It’s not appropriate. Protect yourself and your marriage. Go home and spend that time with your spouse. Your time is precious. Give it to the one you vowed to stay faithful to.
4. Talking negatively about your mate
When you are a true friend to someone you never say bad things about them to others. Your mate is your best friend and is the last person you should ever talk about negatively. If you have a beef with your honey, talk it out with him or her.
A former schoolteacher told us of an experience she had riding in a car pool with two other teachers. She said, “Everyday, and I mean every day, they spent the whole time bashing their husbands. It was almost like a contest to see who could report the worst about her husband. They seemed to relish it. I refused to join in. It just didn’t seem right.” As it turned out, she said one of the women ended up divorced, but she didn’t know what happened to the other.
When you say negative things about your mate you cease focusing on the good in him or her. Everyone has a few less-than-desirable traits, and everyone also has positive traits. Otherwise you never would have married this person.
Let your conversations with others focus on those good things about your spouse. That’s being faithful. The exception is abuse. If abuse is happening it needs to be reported to a trusted friend, counselor, and the police. You must keep yourself safe.
5. Chatting on the Internet with someone of the opposite sex
If you think this is harmless, think again. It may start out that way, but it likely won’t end that way. Some have engaged in what they considered innocent talk with a former boyfriend or girlfriend from high school or college days, or even a stranger. One thing can lead to another and before you know it, your marriage is in jeopardy. Don’t do it. It can end in sorrow and heartbreak for your family.
6. Dressing to attract the attention of someone other than your spouse
If you’re dressing up to look good for someone else, you need to reexamine your motives. Trying to attract someone else by wearing a sexy looking outfit is one more way to jump into unfaithful waters. There is a difference between looking attractive and looking sexy. You know what that difference is. Be wise in the way you dress.Save the sensuous for your spouse.
7. Writing personal intimate notes or letters to someone else
If you are too intimate in your written messages this can be construed as a show of romantic interest, even though that may not have been your intention. If you’re writing a letter of condolence or congratulations, or other good wishes, let it be from both you and your spouse. Then there will be no misunderstanding about your intentions.
8. Not being a willing sexual partner with your spouse
Being faithful to your spouse means being willing to enjoy the intimate side of your marriage. Withholding sexual intimacy from your spouse is not doing your part in keeping your marriage strong and fulfilling. Of course, this also means you need to be sensitive to each other’s needs. Neither husband or wife should ever force sexual compliance on the other. The wishes of each other need to be respected. This needs to be a joyful part of your relationship, and it takes both to make it happen.
The withholding we’re talking about here is a continuous withholding simply because you’re not interested or you use it to punish your spouse. This kind of withholding can cause suspicion. Being a faithful spouse means doing your part to make it a beautiful relationship in all aspects. If you have issues with the sexual side of your marriage, talk it over with your spouse so you each can understand what the other is feeling. If it’s serious, you may need some marital counseling to solve the problem. Being willing to understand and help each other enjoy sexual intimacy is a form of being faithful to each other. Spencer W. Kimball said, “There are many aspects to love in marriage, and sex is an important one. Just as married partners are not for others they are for each other.” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 73)
9. Putting your parents before your spouse
Your spouse must always be the number one person in your life. If something wonderful happens to you, like a promotion, a confirmation of a pregnancy, or any other good news, you may be tempted to immediately call a parent to share in the joy. Resist. Let your spouse be the first to know your good news. Then share it with your parents and others.
This does not mean you don’t have a close relationship with your parents. These relationships should be cherished and nourished. However, they should never take precedence over your relationship with your spouse.
10. Putting your children before your spouse
Kids matter. They are very important people in your life, but not more important than your spouse. If you knock your spouse off the top of your priority list you are not showing total fidelity to him or her. Your mate must come first. Not only does it cement your marriage and make it stronger, it gives your children the best security blanket they will ever have.
A young college student shared the following experience with us. She said, “When I was little I used to ask my mom who she loved the most, me or Dad. She always said, ‘Dad.’ I asked him the same question, and he answered ‘Mom.’ Of course, I knew they loved me, but I was always a little disappointed that they didn’t say they loved me the most. A few years later I asked them again and the answer they gave showed me on top, at last. They each said they loved me the most.” Then she said, “The funny thing is, it didn’t feel so good after all. It wasn’t the feeling I was expecting. I liked it better when they said they loved each other the most.” A few years later her parents were divorced. She said, “They needed to keep loving each other the most, then I might still have a mom and dad together. It’s sad.”
Keeping your spouse on the top of your priority list will not only bless your marriage, but your whole family. When your marriage is strong it frees you up to have more energy to give to your children and others than you would otherwise have. It doesn’t take away from your children, it increases the love and security they feel from you. For your marriage and family’s sake, be faithful in keeping your spouse at the top of your list.
We suggest you carefully review these points and make sure you are being 100 percent faithful to your spouse. By doing this you will create a genuinely happy, fulfilling, and lasting marriage.