Whether it’s before an affair, to #affairproof your marriage, or after an affair to reconcile, there are specific actions you can take to problem solve in your marriage.
The #1 topic in our Affaircare Topic Survey was Problem Solving, and today we tackle how to solve those issues that are damaging your marriage.
The first thing that MUST be ascertained
Are you trying to get someone else to solve the problem for you? If you hear yourself saying, “I can’t make my mind up” “I can’t help it” or “What should I do?” those are typical clues that you want someone else to do your job. Ask yourself if you are trying to avoid taking personal responsibility. Do you manipulate things so you can avoid the natural consequences of your choices? In essence if this is the issue, than “the problem” is not the real problem. The REAL problem is that you don’t want to be responsible. The solution is to make a choice, and act. Make the decision and accept the benefits of the choice you made and live with the consequences of the choice you made.
If, on the other hand, you are worried about making the RIGHT decision, then the answer to that is simple.
5 Actions You Can Take to Problem Solve in Your Marriage
1. Secure commitment from both to Christ and His Word as the standard for all that is done and said.
1.a. Study together what the Bible has to say about the problem. Keep an open mind.
2. Foster and establish companionship between the spouses (making sure they have a right understanding of what marriage is)
3. Unity in intimacy
a. United “the two are one”
b. Intimacy: physical/sexual and emotional/mental
4. Growth, which means sanctification. Grow in Christ as a couple because of this issue.
5. Exemplify the relationship between Christ (The Groom) and His Church (The Bride)
If you take these five actions, and there is not a resolution, then it comes down to personal preference. Honestly, discuss it with your spouse and agree to pick one. Do not assume and agree together that you will do nothing until there is earnest, mutual agreement.
Example: Arguing about money–husband bought a “man toy” without speaking to his wife and now they are in more debt than they can afford.
As Christian counselors who have worked with couples for 17 years, we frequently meet couples where one of the spouses just does not think what they are doing is an affair. “It doesn’t seem like an affair to me!” they say. So we thought we’d dedicate an entire episode to discuss some of the most common objections to why their “friendship” could not possibly be an affair.
If that friendship you have with someone at the office or at school is affecting your spouse, in what way is it showing your spouse love? After all:
“the essence of married love, to which each party pledges himself or herself, is to put the other first.” ~Jay Adams
1. “Well they need to get over it”
But that’s not how Scripture deals with those things. In I Corinthians 8:8-12 Paul writes: “But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. …When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” He’s talking about a big controversy they had in Corinth about whether a follower of Christ could eat meat that had been sacrificed to an idol. Further, Paul was Jewish and some in Corinth even said that Christians had to keep kosher! Paul answered all this by saying that there is only one God from whom all things come and for whom we live, thus “where a meat is cooked” does not make the meat sinful or non-sinful. BUT if eating that food causes a brother or sister in Christ to fall into sin, we not only sinned against a fellow Christian, but against Christ! And he goes on to say that if something he does causes someone to fall into sin, he would rather not do it AT ALL then to cause them to fall. This is the way of Christian maturity.
The mature Christian does not put a stumbling block in front of the baby christian, even if it is the baby Christian’s “weakness.” If you’re spouse is stumbling because of your actions, you are not loving them. And if you are not loving your spouse and loving someone else (a “friend” or someone “who needs you”) then that is the very definition of infidelity. You need to end that “friendship” and refocus on your marriage.
It may be it is a weakness, and they need to grow, and there are ways you can help your spouse do that that don’t involve hurting them or the marriage or the family. PUT OFF the sin of causing them to stumble because of your actions, and PUT ON the godly action of helping them to grow in Christ.
2. “Well I wouldn’t be friends with the Other Person if my spouse wasn’t such a grouch!”
Wait a minute! Let’s define right here and now who is responsible for what in your marriage.
Certainly it would be easier if to be faithful if your spouse was loving and pleasant … Certainly it would be easier if they were always what you wanted them to be! But God has told husbands to be loving PERIOD! Ephesians 5:25 and 28, Colossians 3:19, I Peter 3:7 And God has also clearly told us that wives are in submission to their husbands, whether their husband is loving or not! Ephesians . 5:22 and 24 and 33 and Colossians 3:18, I Peter 3:1 You don’t do it in hopes of getting your spouse to do what you want them to do -OR- “only on the condition that…” You do it because God expects you to and has given you the power to do so. PUT OFF the behavior of self-centeredness, and PUT ON the behavior of God-centered obedience.
3. “But this is just the way I am! I’m friendly!”
Doubtless that is the way you WERE as a non-Christian, and being friendly is not the problem. But allowing the guise of friendliness to corrupt your good character IS! It’s not the way God wants you to be and with His power it’s not the way you will be in the future, so continuing to use that as a reason to keep sinning is not valid–you’re still harming your spouse! Scripture is full of warnings to keep away from outside influences that lead to occasions to stumble. In I Corinthians 15:33 Paul writes: “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.‘“Proverbs 12:26: “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Proverbs 13:20 “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” (There are so many in the book of Proverbs we could go on and on.) Psalm 1! Keep away from all whose lives are displeasing to God; otherwise, you are likely to be influenced by them…and being pleasing to God would be building your marriage relationship and honoring your commitment! PUT OFF the rationalizing of “that’s just the way I am” and PUT ON the confidence that in God you are a new creation, as promised in 2 Corinthians 5:17.
4. You may just be in outright denial that it’s an affair.
The examples above are ALL affairs, and I bet the disloyal spouse in those scenarios didn’t think they were! If you have convinced yourself that what you’re doing is justified even though you know it’s harming your marriage, in that case, you obviously need to stop. If you are the only person in the world Other Person has to lean on, then you have an inappropriate relationship–you’ve given a third person the support that’s due only to your spouse. If you have told yourself “I deserve better” or “Love shouldn’t be this hard” and crossed the line of honoring your vow to forsake all others, then you have been unfaithful. Stop using euphemisms! PUT OFF the denial and justification, and PUT ON admittance and repentance.
The end result is the same in all instance: the relationship outside the marriage needs to stop forever. There needs to be a rebuilding of your primary commitment–your marriage. Whether your spouse is weak, there’s a flaw in your spouse, you don’t want to change, or you are in denial, all of those instances indicate a deep issue in your marriage that needs to be addressed.
Our site is about helping people recover their marriage after an affair. But how can we talk about adultery without first knowing what marriage IS?
This series will focus on erroneous views of marriage that lead to wrong expectations, attitudes, and practices. Many bible-believing Christians go wrong because their concept of marriage is an illusion. So we’re going to spending the next weeks studying the blueprint of marriage: 1) the origin of marriage, 2) the purpose of marriage, 3) the obligation of marriage, and 4) the commitment of marriage.
We talked two weeks ago about the Origin of Marriage–it began with God, who instituted it even before businesses and churches, as a foundation of society.
Our last podcast post discussed another common misunderstanding: the Purpose of Marriage. Many couples, even Christians, think of marriage as legalized sex or procreation, but the true purpose is a COVENANT of COMPANIONSHIP.
This week we talk about the one erroneous belief about marriage that leads to wrong expectations, attitudes, and practices: the Obligation of Marriage.
The Duties of Marriage
There are many “marital duties” mentioned in the Bible:
a) Sexual duties
In I Corinthians chapter 7, Paul gives us some clear instruction about married life and sexuality. We can glean from these verses that sex should only be between covenant-committed, married husband and wife. Please note that the couple yields there bodies to each other, rather than seeking their own sexual pleasure. Finally–we are not to deprive each other of regular, healthy, lively, enjoyable sex!
1 Corinthians 7:2b-5
…each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
b) Duties for wives
Again the Apostle Paul teaches us about marriage in the fifth chapter of Ephesians. In these verses, addressed to wives, we learn that wives are directed to submit to their husbands the same way that we submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
c) Duties for husbands
The Apostle Paul continues this chapter addressing the husbands, and here we learn that husbands are COMMANDED to love their wives the way that Jesus Christ loved the Church–sacrificially. Paul even points out that a husband who loves his wife, loves himself!
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
d) Duties for parents
King David teaches us that one of the duties of marriage is the produce and raise godly offspring, who can be “shot out into the world.”
Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
The ONE Obligation of Marriage
So there are many duties relating to marriage–but the ONE UNDERLYING OBLIGATION is the promise to provide lifelong companionship to your spouse. When a couple takes marriage vows, whether you know it or not (and most often people don’t know) you are promising to spend your life meeting THEIR needs–not the other way around!
Today’s society has told us that “love” is about YOU: you’ll never be alone, you’ll get regular sex, you’ll have someone who is “there for you,” and you’ll have your needs met! But as usual the world got it 100% backward!
THE obligation of marriage is that “love” is about GIVING and not RECEIVING.
Your marriage vows state that your spouse will never be alone, because you will be their companion. You promise to provide regular, lively, loving sex for your spouse. Your pledge is that you will “be there” for them! And together the two of you covenant to spend your lives getting to know each other so that you know how to meet their needs.
That means that when one spouse comes to us and says “I’m not getting my needs met” it is nonsensical. We do not have counselees fill out the Love Kindlers questionnaire so they can present it to their spouse and DEMAND that their needs be met! NO! The reason for filling out and sharing the questionnaires is so you can learn what would meed the needs of your spouse and then begin to plan how to meet that need! In other words, the work in the questionnaire is TO LISTEN and LEARN, not to demand.
Thus we help our counselees see that the primary question is “How can I please God and my spouse?” not “How can I please myself?” If the focus is taken off of pleasing The Self, then selfish actions such as “I’m not not getting my needs met” or continuing in infidelity will not make any sense.