If you look up “how to affair-proof your marriage” on the internet, you’ll find a lot of Youtube videos and articles by therapists and preachers explaining how to build your marriage and save your marriage.
They talk about establishing an emotional connection with your spouse by having romantic dinners and fight-free conversations. Isn’t that all nice and tidy?
And if you’ve been attending church for long, you’ve also gotten the Christian take on strengthening your marriage: you’ve read the books and attended the conferences. You’ve established the weekly date nights. You pray together and go to small group together. You’re safe. You’ve done the work.
Yet all around you, marriages are crumbling because one spouse cheated while one didn’t (somewhere between 13-41 percent, conservatively). While your married friends go to church and raise moral children, one of them is cheating, while one of them is not.
Maybe this is not your friend’s story. Maybe it’s yours. So the concept of “affair-proofing” your marriage really ticks you off. Just another infuriating Christian cliché.
Well, you’re in luck. This is not advice about affair-proofing. It’s kind of the opposite.
Here are 3 reasons you can’t affair-proof your marriage (and what you should do about it):
Reason 1 – You can’t control what your spouse does. You can’t know what’s in your spouse’s heart or mind. You can’t manipulate his/her fantasies, fears, actions, or past abuse. As much as you want to, you can’t make your spouse a spiritual person. And you have only two responses to this stark reality:
- Fear: This is the first and most natural response. It’s easy at first, but it will consume you in the end. If you don’t fight fear, you absolutely will develop phobias, insecurities, suspicion, controlling behavior, rage, impatience, intolerance, judgment, disdain, distrust, pride, and/or manipulation. Not pretty, and not how you save or strengthen a marriage.
- Love: This is the spirit-filled, grace-filled option. It’s hard at first but rich in rewards. Choosing to love will develop in you grace, humility, patience, trust, submission, forgiveness, hope, joy, and respect (even for a jerk).
In other words, you will become the selfless, serving wife or husband—the antithesis of the American sit-com. You will be an anomaly.
Love and fear don’t seem like opposites, but they are. Love manifests itself in the presence of fear and beats it back. It’s how Jesus conquered death on the cross and how martyrs face their executions. It’s how the enslaved forgive their oppressors and how the grieving conquer bitterness. Love eradicates fear. Jesus stated, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” (1 Jn. 4:18). There’s only one way to control your worst phobias—show love.
Real affair-proofing is choosing to love your spouse regardless of what he/she is doing, like God loves us. He doesn’t condone bad behavior, nor does He throw Himself at us. John finishes his thought with this explanation of “perfect”: “The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” The two words in this verse for “perfect” carry an idea of maturity and completion, a virtuous conclusion, an intended purpose fulfilled. This is the reality that marriage was meant to produce—a process of spiritual maturity in you!
Source: Crosswalk | Sue Schlesman