How can a wife protect her heart and marriage from an emotional affair?
Married women who get caught up in emotional affairs/inappropriate relationships with someone who is not their spouse rarely start out planning to hurt their spouse.
For the most part, it is the opposite; they fail to plan to protect their heart and marriage.
Last week I reading the story of David and Bathsheba and I want to show you how a wife can guard her heart and marriage against emotional affairs, including what to do when she feels emotionally drawn to a man who is not her husband.
By now you have noticed that other guys didn’t fall off the face of the earth because you vowed your life to one man.
There’s the chance, guaranteed actually, that one day, in the course of your married life, some other guy will seem like they have it more together than the guy you chose.
Sometime down the line, some other man will appear kinder, sweeter, more handsome, healthier, good looking e.t.c than your beloved.
And so it is important to know how to guard your heart early in a marriage, to accept that temptation is common to all man (1 Corinthians 10:13) but with it, God provides a way out for those that are willing to move their feet.
So let us look at 2 Samuel 11:2-4
Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her.
Davids attraction to Bathsheba escalated rather quickly. One minute he’s a peeping Tom, and the next, he’s sleeping with another man’s wife.
Now it’s easy to throw stones at David, but I think it’s important to note that he did not go to the roof seeking to commit adultery. At least the Bible does not say that.
In fact, once he was on the rooftop, there was nothing he could have done at that moment not to notice a woman bathing in the open.
As a wife, you’ll run into situations that are out of your control. You have a pair of eyes, and you’ll see (in the literal sense of the word) other guys. Some guy will try to pursue you.
I think it’s important to acknowledge that we are not always in complete control of our environment. We cannot control everyone and everything.
Unfortunately, we act like we should.
And we beat up on ourselves when we feel the pull of our flesh. We act like being tempted is the sin, instead of believing what the Bible says about temptation “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.”
As long as we are on this earth, we will wrestle with our flesh. Even ordinarily, a student does not throw a fit when a teacher presents a test; they take it. And hopefully remember everything they learned in class.
It is the same when it comes to guarding our hearts and marriages against emotional affairs.
That first tremble of heart, the unintentional smile curving your face at a sincere compliment, the mushy skip in your step when a stranger is kinder than your husband, the temptation to pour out your heart to a sympathetic male colleague, the pull to compare your husband; these are the stirrings of your flesh.
These don’t mean you have fallen into temptation.
Falling into temptation is entertaining these sinful thoughts and situations, day-dreaming and hashing feelings and emotions, going out of your way to escalate these moments.
But we have the same option that Kind David had.
He could have “bounced” his eyes off Bathsheba and walked away from that rooftop. You can “bounce” your eyes, both physically and emotionally, from the stirrings of the flesh and compromising situations.
Let us look at three specific ways a wife ought to guard her heart against emotional affairs.
1. Guard Her Place
The verse preceding verse 2 talks about David sending his troops to war and staying behind in the palace.
In the spring of the year when kings normally go out to war..
David’s stay in Jerusalem was unusual. He should have been away, like other kings, thriving in his role as king and commander in chief.
But he wasn’t. And temptation found him; out of location and position, idle, perhaps hazy from the nap. Ephesians 6: 10-18, talks about the armor of God and why we need it as believers.
The Bible breaks down the different elements of the armor – the belt of truth, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit.
It seems most parts of the body are covered. Except for the back. Perhaps a lesson we can draw from the omission is that God did not “design” protection for our back because the back was never meant to be exposed.
We are designed for forward movement. We are not meant to desert our posts but to hold our position, always advancing, always thriving.
The one place a wife should never abandon or neglect is her intimacy with God.
Note I did not say “relationship with God,” though they are close relatives.
But intimacy is different from a general relationship, in the sense it involves close proximity. It involves a complete baring of the soul, a desire to know and be known, a fusion of hearts, an eagerness to please.
It is difficult to daily soak the presence of God, fervently seek to obey His word. And inadvertently trip up with a guy from work.
God changes our appetites, as we guard our positions. We don’t become sinless or lose our ability to sin. But we become more conscious of sin and more desirous not to have it master us.
If our intimacy with God is broken, then the lines of holiness will clog up.
Wives who successfully guard their positions and avoid emotional affairs don’t succeed because they have better self-control. They succeed because they run to God and find help in their time of need.
The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe. Proverbs 18:10
2. Name and Crush the Attraction
The Bible calls Bathsheba “a woman of unusual beauty.”
When we think emotional affairs and adultery, we imagine months of planning, secret rendezvouses, and dark, cold souls. But affairs rarely start like that.
Often, it is a slow, almost surprising fall. It is David on his rooftop, enjoying the sun, minding his own business.
When a wife’s afternoon is interrupted by an “unusual spectacle” it is important to pause and ask the hard uncomfortable questions.
Questions like “why am I so stirred? “Why is this situation unusually attractive?” “Why am I feeling this way about my colleague?” “What gaps and holes is he filling in my life?”
Identifying your attraction is the first step towards crushing it. Of course it’s easier to blame the attraction. But what temptation does is reveal the gaps and holes that exist within your heart and marriage.
So a wife who wants to honor God and her marriage asks the right questions. And she moves her feet. Fast.
Fleeing, as Joseph did. Activating boundaries if they’ve been lowered. Gets accountability if she’s overwhelmed. Initiates the conversation with her husband. Gets the help her marriage needs.
(Please note: I advise bringing in your husband when boundaries have been broken. Or if another man is being routinely inappropriate. I don’t believe a wife should mention every smile, every heart flutter, every man that tries to make a pass, as long as she is fiercely standing her ground. The “confessions” can wear down her marriage. Again this is a general rule, and for specific advice, a wife can talk to an older mentor friend (woman-to-woman) on how/when/if to bring in her husband).
3. Kill The Excuses
The rest of verse 11 details the lengths to which David went to cover up his affair with Bathsheba. From trying to trick Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, to finally having him killed, just so their sin would not be found out.
It’s easy to excuse and try to cover up sin, when you think you can get away with it. Or when you feel like you deserve understanding and your husband isn’t there for you.
It is easy to think of shiny “opportunities” as harmless. But these unusual spectacles rarely stay benign for long.
You might not start an emotional affair with every man you cross emotional boundaries with. But you are stacking up these experiences, and one day you will stack them so high that you’ll cross those lines you never meant to.
The man who is lending his ear, who is trying to play your husband, will one day try to get full spouse benefits.
God blessed women with sharp intuition that can read motives and hearts. And unless you have a hardened/bruised heart, you’ll know ahead of time when you are treading dangerous waters.
We know when we are getting more from a conversation than we ought. We can feel it when a joke has crossed a relational boundary and needs to be snapped back to the line.
You’ll sense it when you need to move cubicles, or turn down company trips, or find another route to work or change coffee houses. You’ll know when to leave a social media App.
You’ll spot inappropriateness before it announces itself because the Spirit of truth lives in you.
At the end of the day, we have to decide who are we doing marriage for. God or man? If it is for God, we will follow Him with all our hearts and discipline our flesh and emotions to honor our vow.
I hope these thoughts get you thinking on how to avoid emotional entanglements with someone who is not your husband.
If you have struggled/are struggling in this area, I want you to know that the temptation that has come upon you is not unusual, but it is common to all married women. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
God loves you; there’s no condemnation. Guard your place, name and crush the attraction, kill the excuses, get the help you need.
Your marriage is worth fighting for. And you will pass this test, because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4
Question – What have I left out? How else can a wife guard her heart? What other lessons has this Bible story taught you? Lets talk in Comments.