5 Ways to Keep Friendships from Becoming Affairs
By Benjamin Deu, MA, LMHC, Seattle Christian Counseling
References “NOT ‘Just Friends’” by Shirley P. Glass, Ph.D with Jean Coppock Staeheli
One misstep is all it takes to set you off in the wrong direction. “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” (Proverbs 4:26-27 NIV) As this verse reminds us, Christians must be mindful of how their interactions with others pave the way for inappropriate relationships. There’s nothing wrong with having friends. But give some thought to the following suggestions to keep your friends from becoming competitors for your spouse.
1. Don’t discuss relationship problems with anyone you could see as an alternative to your spouse (22)
There are a lot of reasons not to do this– your spouse probably does not appreciate you airing your marriage’s dirty laundry, it provides an opportunity for increased bashing of your spouse and your relationship, and it can send the signal that you are interested in replacing your spouse. Few things bring people together like hating something. A marriage problems-venting session creates ideal conditions for you to bond with someone you might have no business bonding with. (INSERT THE FENCES QUOTE ART NEAR THESE TWO SUGGESTIONS)
2. Alternately, be cautious of involving yourself in the marriage problems of your friends (23)
The best way to avoid an affair is to be wary of becoming too intimate with members of the opposite sex. Isn’t that how you ended up married? You got to talking with your spouse, formed an emotional bond, acknowledge physical attraction, and then got married. The majority of affairs follow the same path. Be wary of inserting yourself in the personal business of members of the opposite sex who are not your spouse. If you think they need help, bring your spouse.
3. When you do talk to someone about your marriage problems, make sure that person supports your marriage (22-23)
Everyone complains about their marriage every now and again. That does not mean you do not love your spouse or want to stay married to them. But, it can seem like it at the time. When you let off steam about your marriage problems, make sure it is with someone who supports the relationship. Only vent with people who want to help you strengthen the weaknesses in your marriage, not exploit them to their own benefit.
4. Avoid opportunities for temptation
This is much more general than the previous tips, but just as important. I am not saying shut yourself off from every member of the opposite sex. Rather, be cautious in your interactions. Being alone with your spouse so you could get to know one another and bond was how you ended up falling in love with one another. Be wary of allowing the same thing to happen between yourself and someone who is not your spouse.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Many situations can seem innocent, but as this verse tells us, they can be corrupted. Avoid being alone with, touching, or spending long periods of time with members of the opposite sex you are not married to. If you would not like your spouse being this friendly with someone else, maybe you shouldn’t be either.
5. If it feels wrong, or you have to hide it from your spouse, don’t
“They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.” (Romans 2:15 NIV) As this passage tells us, God has imbued all humans with a conscience. If that small, noisy voice in your heart acts up when you interact with someone, get some advice about the situation. If the thought of telling someone else about this relationship feels like something you would rather not do, consider that an additional sign the relationship is probably inappropriate.
Christian counseling for avoiding adultery
If you are concerned a friendship with someone other than your spouse poses a threat to your marriage, consider getting in touch with a professional Christian marriage counselor. They can help you assess the dynamics of the relationship and how you should proceed. A professional Christian counselor will use Biblical principles and therapeutic techniques to help you understand your motivations regarding the relationship and whether they are in line with God’s design for marriage.
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