While it is normal to find yourself attracted to someone other than your spouse, these attractions are not without danger to your marriage because of where they can lead. Dave and Donalyn Currie, founders of Doing Family Right, offer their thoughts on the subject.
Dave: Well Donalyn, this is a gutsy question needing to be answered. I remember within four months of our wedding, doing the head turn for a very beautiful woman. You noticed and made some comment and at that time I felt hugely embarrassed that I had allowed myself to take note of her. Inside I was thinking, “Well, this is crazy! I have this amazing, gorgeous wife. What would ever possess me to stare at another woman?” I felt both humiliated and confused.
Donalyn: It might help our readers to realize that men and women are built differently. Men are visually stimulated and women are more emotionally driven, so the temptations for a man to be attracted to a person of the opposite sex, based simply on looks, are far greater than for a woman. On the other hand, women are more enticed by touch, by closeness, and by emotional understanding, and may get sidetracked by this high connection need. But whether male or female, there are steps a person can take to address this issue.
Dave: You need to understand that being attracted to the opposite sex is not a new problem or one that is unique to you, and yes, you will face it again. So you need to develop a game plan on how to deal with tempting or enticing people outside your marriage who start to catch your interest. For starters, it would be helpful to do a little bit of self analysis and ask yourself, “Why am I being attracted to this person?”
Sometimes, a little chemistry begins to develop between a man and a woman at work. You leave your spouse at home in the morning with major bedhead after having had a difficult evening the night before. Then you come to work to interact with this other person who is all dressed up and in the best part of their day. They are not battling kids or anything else, and they are just there looking so fresh and so friendly. That’s a dangerous zone to be in.
Donalyn: That’s right Dave. And what you need to remember is that you are only seeing the best side of the other person; you are not seeing their grumpy side. You are not seeing them in their worst moods. People forget that the person that is being a bit of a draw to them does have a dark side.
I remember a situation from when I was working in the tax office in Calgary. We were about three years married. There was a guy that took his coffee breaks at the same time as me. We often ended up being together with groups of people, and he was pretty persistent in his interest in me. I turned him down in his request to go out for dinner, saying, “I’m married,” and he said that he didn’t even care that I was married. So sometimes the attraction and the temptation is not very subtle and the interest can be extremely confusing.
Dave: It is not only important to look at why you may be tempted, but it is also valuable to understand that you are most vulnerable when things aren’t good at home. If the relationship is suffering at home, your primary focus needs to be on getting things right between you and your spouse, so you won’t have any context for temptation beyond the relationship.
Donalyn: That is excellent. We need to concentrate on our own spouse and look for ways to reconnect if there has been distance. Sit down and work things out, make apologies to one another and look for ways to start saying I love you on a daily basis. When we affirm and compliment our spouse for things we love about them, and treat them with kindness everyday, the relationship will improve over time. Work to make your relationship strong.
Dave: Another key step if you are being drawn into a relationship beyond your partner: break the silence. This means not only telling your spouse, but also telling one other person who will hold you accountable. As a matter of fact, accountability is a powerful thing in the life of any person. I have been accountable to another man weekly for over 20 years now. This is a real gift to Donalyn. We talk openly about our temptations and struggles, and we hold each other accountable to clean up our act and honor God with our mind and with our eyes. I think that every person needs an accountability partner of the same gender who can help you face the issues in their life, whatever they are.
Donalyn: Temptation begins in the mind, so we need to set a guard inside our mind. Noticing beautiful people in your world is inevitable, but you can’t allow yourself to dwell there. The battles must ultimately be won in your mind, by refusing to linger on tempting thoughts.
Dave: For that reason it is important to put boundaries in your relationships with people outside of your marriage. For as long as I can remember, Donalyn, you and I have agreed not to have a close friendship with someone of the opposite sex unless they are a close friend to both of us. We limit our contact with these people, and we never go out for lunch or for coffee alone with a person of the opposite sex.
Donalyn: And be careful about verbal bantering and teasing. Women listen for words. Be sure that your kindness isn’t being misunderstood, and don’t let any sexual innuendos creep into your jokes, or allow teasing to become an enticement.
Dave: Of course, you also need to draw the line in physical contact. While Donalyn and I are both compassionate and expressive people, we very rarely give frontal hugs to people of the opposite sex. Instead we just come beside them and give them a hug that way. You may think you’re just encouraging someone with a little hug, but that can be misinterpreted very easily.
Donalyn: When you are really being tempted, the best thing you can do is simply flee. Put distance between you and the person that is being a distraction to you and to your marriage. That is what Joseph did in Genesis 39 in the Bible when he ran from Potipher’s wife: he put distance between himself and the temptation.
Dave: When it really comes down to it, God needs to anchor us in our relationships. We honor both God and our mate when we make Jesus the Lord of our eyes and our heart. Ask Him to set a watch over your eyes and your mind, so that you do not fall into temptation yourself, or become a temptation to someone else. Ask Him what steps you need to take to protect your marriage right now.
May closeness, passion, and faithfulness continue to grow between you and your spouse!
This article was written by: Dr. Dave CurriePhoto Credit: Jacob Ufkes