Perfectly Imperfect - Affair Proof Your Marriage

Make it a priority to protect your marriage from infidelity.

Chuck Martin
Sep 29, 2019    37m
In this sermon Pastor Chuck Martin gives us biblical advice on how to protect your marriage from infidelity. He teaches us that we need to make our relationship a priority, as it is the second most important relationship in our lives coming only after our relationship with God. He explains we need to do the work to maintain the closeness and intimacy in our marriage. Video recorded at Frisco, Texas.

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Well, good morning. How's everybody doing this weekend? I know it's a busy weekend with homecoming, with a lot of activities. We're glad to worship together. Good to see you this morning. We're not out of summer yet—just in case you didn't get the memo. But we're headed that way. Today, we're going to wrap up a message series where we've been focusing on marriage. I've called it 'Perfectly Imperfect'. In the last six weeks or so, we've been talking about the most important relationship outside of our relationship with Jesus Christ, and that is marriage. And so today, what we're going to do is just kind of summarize what we've learned, and it will hopefully give a word of encouragement to us. But I recognize whenever we talk about marriage, we're at different points. And some of you may be not married in your life. Thinking, "I don't know, Pastor Chuck, after what you've shared, it's kind of scary, when you get into that." Others have, and you're in a great place in your relationship, and some, not so great. And what I pray is that is, that God would specifically give you a word of encouragement, where you are today, in what you need to hear. I started the message series by reading from First Corinthians.

In chapter seven, Paul actually speaks to the single adults in his day, giving them kind of a heads up that, hey, marriage has its challenges. Look at what it says in the end, "...but those who marry will face many troubles in this life." And some of us that are here today say, "oh, yes, if we only knew that way back when." Today I want to begin with three observations, just kind of in general, about marriage. And then I want to give three things each of us can do to guard our marriage, and in a sense, affair-proof our marriage. And that's where we're going in the message today. Three observations. First observation about marriage is, no one sets out to drift apart in their relationship, but statistically, 80 percent of those who divorce, when asked (men and women—in the largest survey done of its kind in the U.S.),"Why did you divorce? What happened?"—and here's the interesting thing—eighty percent, according to divorce mediation project, nearly 80 percent of divorced men and women said that their marriage broke up because they grew apart over time and lost a sense of closeness.

In other words, it's a slow leak. It's not the intent. It's not the one dramatic argument. It's not the one issue. Usually, it's a series of things. Life happened. We got busy.

" know, drifted apart. We each kind of went our own way. We went our own careers. We neglected one another." It's what I call the 'tire' analogy. You know, every winter I'm surprised because usually a little icon appears on the dashboard of my car saying, you know, 'low tire air pressure'. You know the little guy! And I'm always like, well, how did that happen?

Well, it just happened because II never add air to my tires. I'm a terrible mechanic and I don't even think about those things. But they just happen. Temperatures change. You drive, you know, in various conditions, and next thing you know, you're down a few pounds.

The same thing is true when it comes to your relationship. If you do not take the advice of Arnold Schwarzenegger and pump up your marriage, so to speak, it's going to follow the law of thermodynamics. It's going to tend to drift. We tend to drift away from, rather than towards, building up our relationship.

Second thing I'd give by way of observation is, no one I've ever talked to and all of the years of pre-marital counseling has ever sat down and said they had planned to be unfaithful to their spouse. You know, those that I've counseled have gone through various marriage crisis, and certainly adultery or infidelity, is way at the top of the list. Typically, the response is something like this. "I never thought I would. I never thought he would. I never thought she would. I never thought we would be where we are right now." And they're being honest. In other words, they did didn't see it coming, and it wasn't intentional. It happened over time, and they ignored some warning signs. They broke through some boundaries; they violated some principles of marriage.

The third thing, we looked at last week, which is just key to keeping marriage alive—is the vibrancy of your marriage relationship. My observation? The vibrancy of your relationship with God affects everything in your marriage.

In other words, we forget that marriage is more than just my living together with this other person and reaching some kind of agreement that we do life together. It is first and foremost an accountability to God—that God is in the center of your marriage—or should be. And that's why we looked at this passage last week in Ephesians Chapter five. There Paul says, 'be very careful how you live. Don't be unwise but, be wise. See how he uses an analogy, 'now don't be drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery. (He’s saying, don't be controlled by those things), But be controlled by my spirit.' In other words, allow God into your life.

Put God in His rightful place. And then he has the specific word for marriage. Let's look at it together. Just briefly, Ephesians chapter five, verse 21. He says, "submit to one another out of a reverence for Christ." In other words, come to marriage in the sense of, 'what can I do for my spouse? How can I serve my spouse?', not just, 'what do I get out of this relationship?' But how can I, under God's leading, put my spouse first? That's what submitting is, submit to one another. Your agenda, in a sense, your needs over mine.

And he says, the only way we can approach marriage with anything other than a selfish perspective is when we approach marriage, first recognizing that first and foremost it is about my relationship with God. That it is God that not only motivates me to love, or to act, in selfless ways toward my spouse and not give in to my own selfishness. But it is motivated and energized by God, and that's why Paul spends all that time talking about it in Ephesians five. Talking about our experience of trusting in God's provision in our life individually.

You know, as I've shared in this series, marriages are fixed vertically before they're ever fixed horizontally. So oftentimes we just think in terms of, 'OK, I need to' or, 'I will if she would,' or he would, 'if they would make this adjustment than our marriage would be great'. You don't realize that first and foremost, it's about me being accountable to God.

And if you look to your spouse to basically meet all of your needs, if you approach marriage from the standpoint of putting all the pressure on them, well, 'I will if they will' or you put all these expectations on them, then you really put them in the position of God in your relationship.

I shared with you the quote from Tim Keller last week. But I remind you of it again today. "If I look," listen, this is very important, "If I look to my marriage to fill the God-sized spiritual vacuum in my heart, then I will not be in position to serve my spouse and others. If I'm expecting them to meet all my needs."

If I'm expecting them, in a sense, to be God in my life, then I'll not be in no position to serve my spouse. Only God can fill a God-sized hole. Until God has the proper place in my life, I will always be complaining that my spouse is not loving me enough, respecting me enough or doing enough. In other words, our selfish focus will always be on what they need to do and how they're not living up. And the only cure to that is for us to come before God and recognize that first and foremost. My marriage is about my relationship with God. Allow Him to fill my heart with love and patience and joy and peace, so that I can move out toward my spouse with something to give. Does that make sense? If I approach marriage with a sense of a vacuum to begin with, then then I'm in a world of hurt, to be able to see marriage thrive.

So how do we affair-proof our marriage? What are some things that each of us can do? To keep our marriage from just going down the gradual road of decline, of the drifting that this so often happens. Drifting in communication patterns, drifting apart, a sense of distance. How do how do we keep that from happening? I want to spend a few moments talking about that this morning. I'd like to begin with Matthew, Chapter 19, which we look at a few weeks back and just remind you of God's intent for marriage, His goal for marriage. In Matthew 19, Jesus was asked kind of a trick question about, you know, what was admissible, or, what were biblical reasons or causes for divorce.

And in verse four of Matthew 19, when Jesus says, 'haven't you read', he replied that at the beginning the creator God made them male and female. He designed us the way He did. We talked about our differences several weeks ago. If you weren't here, I encourage you go back and listen to it.

"And he said, 'for this reason, a man will leave his father and mother be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh." He's saying that there is this new dynamism in your relationship, that you're no longer just kind of a solo partner. That there is in marriage, the joining together, the fusing together that creates a new union. And he says the two become one flesh. It's more than just a physical union. It's an emotional and a spiritual and a life connection. Verse six, "So they're no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore," notice what he says, "Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate."

I shared with you that at every marriage that I perform, at the end, after I get to the part of, you know, "I'm now a minister of the Gospel and represented the state of Texas and I now pronounce you husband and wife-or man and wife...You may kiss your wife;" and they do that. And then I say, "May I present to you, Mr. and Mrs..!" And everybody applauds. And then I say, "what God has joined together, let no one separate." That's the challenge, isn't it? Life can separate. Inappropriate relationships can separate. Even wonderful things like children can sometimes come between a husband and a wife.

So, let's talk about that. What are some things that we can do in a sense to protect our marriage? And when I use the word kind of affair-proof your marriage, in one sense, and clearly there is, the sexual aspect of that. There is the intimacy, the oneness that is to be exclusive to the marriage relationship. I remind you of Exodus 20:14. I mean, it's a command, "you shall not commit adultery." In other words, marriage has a holiness about it, a sacredness, a separateness about it that we're not to share. An intimacy about it, that is exclusive.

Hebrews 13:4 in 'The Message'. Listen to what it says, "Honor marriage and guard the sacred sacredness of sexual intimacy between a wife and a husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex." So, I just simply say and remind us of the obvious that the Bible is very clear that sex and sexual expression is a gift from God for married couples.

But that is something that we must guard and protect. That there is one aspect of our relationship that is to be exclusive in marriage. And so, as I talk about this morning, how we can protect that, let me just remind you, no one sets out-as I mentioned just a moment ago-no one sets out to have an affair. No one sets out to drift in their marriage. Yet it happens.

Far too often, statistically. One out of every three men tend to have an affair. One out of every four women, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of marriages will experience the heartbreak of marital unfaithfulness. And so, what I want to do is I want to talk for a moment about, so how does that happen and how can we prevent it?

And the first thing I'd say is, we need to affair-proof ourselves. Now, if you're going to affair-proof yourself, you need to understand something about affairs. And yes, we talk about this in church. Really, there are five types of affairs, according to an expert, Dave Carter. He's author of a book, The Anatomy of an Affair. One affair that we don't often think about is what's called 'emotional entanglement. In other words, it is a relationship that moves out of bounds. Primarily, it's a friendship or an emotional attachment that certainly precedes sexual infidelity. Sometimes you can have an emotional affair without even having sexual infidelity. Let me give you the definition of an emotional affair. An emotional affair occurs when a person invests more of their emotional energy in someone other than their spouse or partner. In most cases, emotional affairs start out as an innocent friendship that eventually develops into a more intimate personal relationship that is based on a strong, personal or emotional bond. Many of these involved in emotional affairs do not think that they're cheating because they're not engaging in physical intimacy. However, they're usually quite secretive about the relationship and are often deceptive amount of the time that they're spending with the other person. And I've seen this time and time again. As a pastor, I've seen people come into my office and they'll ask the question, "I think my spouse might be having an affair. I think they might be they might be cheating." And I'll ask a series of questions, "Why do you think this may be?" I mean, this happens. And sometimes it will go something like this, 'Well, you know, I just noticed their phone the other day when they left it on the counter. And so, I looked at the phone and I noticed there were all these text messages. And when I ask him about it, you know, it's a co-worker, knowing this, and, it's no big deal. I don't want to be paranoid, but, should I be concerned?' I've had this conversation more times than I want to admit. And my answer to that conversation when they say, should I be concerned, is absolutely you should be concerned.

And so oftentimes the pattern of an emotional affair starts with a friendship, with someone of the opposite sex, that you have a chemistry or a friendship with, and it starts with a simple innocent texting. But if you cannot include your spouse on a text, you ought not send it. And what I'm talking about here is real life, people.

It is possible for us to take a relationship to a place that we never intend for it to go because we don't have the proper boundaries. And I've seen that time and time again, that's why I'm addressing it this morning. The second kind of an affair is the 'one-night stand'. That is, Carter defines it in this way, he says these kind of affairs--typically unplanned partners--don't know each other. Sometimes they do, through work, but it's usually done in secrecy and almost always involves alcohol. Think in terms of a biblical example of David and Bathsheba, right? In other words, the person is away from their spouse and family, you know, and gives in to sexual temptation. And that does happen. So that is one type of an affair. A third type of affair is called a 'sexual addiction'. And really, that is the person who has these serial affairs. In other words, it's not really an affair--it's the fact they're acting-out sexually. In the sense that there's no bond. It's all about their sickness. And they need help; they need help for sexual addiction, if that's the case. And I want to mention two others that that are common. Unfortunately, we need to pay attention. One is called the 'add-on' affair. And what that means is typically you have a friendship with someone of the opposite sex, that you share an activity that you both enjoy together, but your spouse is typically not involved in that activity. OK. That's why they call it an 'add-on'. I'll never forget; when I was in Houston--I have a friend--He's a friend to this day in Houston. And he was a triathlon. Very excellent triathlete. He actually was in the Kona Ironman competition in Kona, Hawaii. I mean, he was serious about it, right? His wife was not particularly into that. She was not particularly athletic. And so, I remember, when we trained together, I would swim with him. I would do the swimming part to kind of help him with that aspect.(I wasn't in for the rest of that craziness!) But, you know, he spent hours running and cycling and swimming and he found another partner to do some of those things with. And she was cute and she was single. Oh, by the way, he was married.

And I remember asking him about that. I was like, that's not smart (I'll call him Bob). But I was like, "Hey, this isn't a good idea. What are you doing?" And lo and behold, he ran off with her and left his wife. I'm not making this up. It's not smart. He broke through boundaries. Let me mention another. How about the 're-connection' affair? I've seen this one. I hate to say, far more than I would like to admit. The re-connection affair is what I call, the Facebook affair. That's the, "Oh, I wonder what happened to..." Right? That's the, "I'm just going to go online. This is the class reunion. This is the 'we were an item back then' or, 'I remember we were friends in high school.' 'Well, I'm just curious,' 'oh how you're doing'. 'Oh, you're divorced.' or 'Oh, your spouse'. or 'Oh, you've lost some weight'. A little compliment. Yeah. We laugh about it, but I'm telling you, that's no laughing matter. Be careful.

So, the first thing we can do biblically, is, we can affair-proof ourselves. And what that means is, that we are not naive. What that means is, that we have clear boundaries. What that means is, that we pay attention to when the air is going out in our marriage, when we feel neglected, or there's conflict. We address it. We get help. We go to counseling. We talk things through. We leave the kids with the in-laws for the weekend. We go out on a date. I mean, what I'm saying is you've got to affair-proof yourself. You gotta pay focused attention to your marriage.

First Corinthians, chapter 10:12 says, "...and if you think that your standing firm, be careful that you don't fall. Don't say that could never happen to me. Don't say any of those things. Say, God, I am a vulnerable person. And I want to live wisely before you."

And so, the very first thing is that you need to affair-proof yourself. In other words, you must determine, in your own lifestyle, that you will honor God as God. And part of that has to do with sexual purity. Job chapter 31, verse one, "Job said, I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman." And you know, one of the great dangers in our day is the danger of internet pornography? Just call it what it is.

And Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount--think about this--more than 2,000 years ago, addressed this issue. Listen to what he said. Matthew, chapter five verse 27, Jesus says, "you've heard that it was said you shall not commit adultery, (again, we shouldn't have an affair) but I tell you that anyone ( listen what he says) who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." That phrase 'looks at a woman lustfully'. It's a fascinating phrase in the original Greek, which means to continue as a pattern. So, let me just ask you this morning. Part of affair-proofing yourself is affair-proofing your mind and your heart and your eyes, as it is related to pornography. I find it fascinating that Jesus says, 'looks and continues to look'. Because you see, that's exactly what happens when a person falls into a habit and a habit becomes an addiction. And it will erode the intimacy in your marriage. And if that's you, get help. If that's you, good to see you. If that's you, address it. Confess it. If that's you, put your devices in lock-down mode, if that's how you'd deal with it. You need to affair-proof yourself. And aren't you accountable for that? Don't say, well, my spouse is not as interested in sex as I am or whatever, you know.

No. Jesus says anyone who looks lustfully has already committed adultery in their heart. And that's why He says, if you're right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. Now, that's obviously not--He's not saying literally. But what He's saying is, 'take this seriously'. And I found this so refreshing. This is 2,000 years ago and we think it's different now. With all our technology--no one's being hurt. But Jesus was saying, stop it. Deal with it. And if that's you today, I just encourage you. You can break free. You can; and we're here to help you with that.

Secondly, what you need to do, is not only affair-proof yourself, you need affair-proof your spouse. And what that means is, you need to pay attention to each other's needs. That means you need to prioritize your relationship. You know, I say the grass is greener where you water it--not the grass is greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it. Right? Water your relationship. Water your marriage. Pay attention to meeting each other's needs...and that includes sexually.

First Corinthians, chapter seven. Listen what it says in the New Living Translation, first Corinthians chapter seven, verse three. Says, "the husbands should fulfill his wife's sexual needs. And the wives should fulfill her husband's needs. The wife gives authority over to her body, to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations unless you both agree or refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited term so that you may give yourselves completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again." Notice why, "So that Satan won't be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control." So, are you going, "That's in the Bible?! Where is it? I didn't know that was in the Bible." Yes, it's in the Bible. Who do you think thought up sex to begin with? Who do you think recognized that the oneness should be shared only between you and your spouse? That is God's gift. It's God's design, don't use it as a tool, don't use it as a way of manipulation. Don't use it as a selfish, self-indulgent thing. Think of the needs of your spouse. Affair-proof your spouse. Water your own yard. Ok, enough said.

The third thing I'd mention is you need to affair-proof your lifestyle. And I want to give you some very practical things related to that. Some things that you can avoid, some boundaries to put into place. OK, some things to do and some things to avoid. I just want to mention five things to avoid in five things to do. The first of those may seem like a non sequitur, and that is, avoid over scheduling kids’ activities. And you're going, 'why?' Here's what I want you to see:

Here's why I mentioned that I think in our culture, this happens: We end up neglecting each other unintentionally. And the reason why, is because we give all of our time and our energy to this crazy schedule that we commit ourselves to, because we love our kids. Right? And so because we love our kids and we want the best for our kids--we want them to have all these opportunities--we say 'yes' to all these things. And we think, oh, well, we're the adults here. Our marriage isn't important, going out on dates isn't important. I mean, here's what I want you to see--don't put off your relationship for the sake of your kids. Your kids are going to leave home--and that's God's design--and your marriage is still going to be there. Your house will be empty one day. And you want to still be happily married then. And if that means that you say only one kids activity per season, or you say 'no' to this or that. And you go, "I know, but they really love that. And, you know, they're good at that. And maybe I'm limiting their potential." Here's what I'm saying to you--limit their potential! It's okay. But don't limit your marriage. Because the most important thing you can do for your kids is not ushering them to every single activity that they want to be involved in. The very best thing you can do for your kids is to love their mom or their dad.

The second thing is, avoid being alone with someone other than your spouse. And I know that's difficult in the work environment. What I'm saying is, just be aware--put boundaries there. I know folks made fun of Mike Pence, because he will not have dinner or travel with someone of the opposite sex without his wife there. He practices the Billy Graham rule. And I know that may not be applicable in every single situation. But if you're naive enough to think, 'hey, we're just going to have lunch together, we're going to have dinner together, well, it's all about work'. Don't be a fool. Put a boundary there. And if you find yourself moving toward the friendship or admiration with a co-worker who is of the opposite sex, you had better pay attention to that. Put up a boundary.

The third thing I'd say is to avoid private text conversations. I already mentioned it, but I'll mention it again. If you're not open with your phone and would not mind your spouse seeing anything and everything in your correspondence, then you're sinning and doing something wrong. I'll just state it as clearly as that. Now, let your conscience talk to you about the fourth thing. Avoid complaining about your spouse or your marriage to someone of the opposite sex. It's inappropriate. Then finally, avoid pornography. We've already addressed it.

So, what can we embrace? Well, let's talk about that for just a moment. First, prioritize worship and your personal time with God. And that is so vital because God will convict you where you need to be convicted, if you will be in a position to hear from Him. And if you pray, 'God search me' and you say, 'God, I'm open to you today, God, show me where I'm off base'. Then he'll show you where you're being insensitive, and he'll mention to you about your tone and he will prompt you to apologize. I mean, that's what God does, and God is for your marriage. God loves your spouse. So, prioritize your private, personal time with God and worship. The second thing is, pray together with your spouse. I tell every couple that I do pre-marital counseling for to do this assignment. I'll say, pray together with your spouse. Pray together, even before you get married, at the end of every day. Just pray and say thank God. You know, thank God for each other. Pray together. And I give that assignment. I'll say, "if you guys will just establish a pattern of trying together, then what that does is, it opens the door in your relationship for God to fill. And I'm amazed how many folks, Christian people who Bible study, leaders, deacons who come to church and sing the songs--they each have a relationship with God--but they never pray together! Pray for their kids together, then pray for their marriage together. And they wonder why there's a drift, or they wonder why sometimes it's so difficult. How about inviting God in? Kim and I pray together every night before we go to bed. And to be honest, most of them are highly unspectacular prayers. Highly unspectacular and highly un-spiritual. Sometimes it's just, 'Thank you for another day'. Thank you for each other'. But there's been times when we've gone to pray together and we realize, 'oh. I think apologies are in order'. We come to God and pray together. Invite God into your relationship. Humble yourselves as you humble yourself before God with that other person. There is nothing more intimate than praying together, and that's why people do it. I always tell people, you know, sex is not as intimate as praying together.

Now you go, "I don't know that I agree with that." Well, why don't you try the praying and then you get back with me. Tell me. Honestly, praying together before God is, I believe, the most intimate thing you can possibly do as a couple. The third thing is, establish time to connect on a daily basis. I was reminded of that this week. You know, I did something crazy for my wife one Mother's Day--I went out and bought a dog. And that was supposed to be my Mother's Day gift. And we were talking about it, now, joking. "That's it! Oh, come see your Mother's Day gift!" Right? That's why I brought home this little Catahoula hound dog. And we've had him for 16 years! And so, I take him to the vet, you know, get his shots the other day. I was reminded for 16 years Kim and I have had to walk that dog, because if that dog doesn't get walked, he would chew up--tear up everything. I mean, you know, he's just that kind of dog. And so, for 16 years, every day, we've walked the dog. For 16 years we've walked this dog. You get the picture...for 16 years, we've walked the dog together. And for 16 years, we've said, 'How are you doing? What's going on?' For 16 years, he walked around Warren Park Pond, I don't know how many times. Talking about our days, talking about life. For 16 years, we've connected with each other. So, what do you do to connect with your spouse daily? Maybe you need to get a dog.

And finally, I'll mention one more. I'll be done with this last one--actually, I (already) mentioned to establish a regular date night. In other words, you know, something you can put on your calendar. And date nights are NOT team practices or kids’ games, date nights are date nights. Then, you've got to work at this; we had to work at this. But you can do this. If you're not giving focused attention to dating your spouse, then you're missing the most important, life-giving--in my opinion--one of the most important, life-giving things you can do.

Then finally, initiate affection. I'll tell you one of the things that I do. I grew up in a home that was not terribly affectionate. I think a lot of you know, I'm not a hugger--not a natural hugger. I'm just not wired that way. And you know, that's been a point of frustration at various times, to be honest, in our relationship. And so, a number of years ago, when I got a smartphone, I put in my smartphone, 'hug Kim'. I mean, she knows this, she laughs about this--but I put that as a reminder in my phone because I'm not wired toward that. But she needs that. And that's part of her love language. And if she's going to know that I love her, then part of that is just simply hugging her, and just reminding her, so I put that in there. And you know something, doggone it, over the time, I have become more affectionate. I'm not there yet.

What are you doing to move toward meeting your spouse's biggest need? Maybe you've got to put a reminder on your phone. Because, it's a reminder of what's important, and, it's a reminder of who's important. God is for your relationship. But if you're going to move toward your relationship and keep the tire fully inflated, right, you're going to have to pay attention to yourself. You got to affair-proof yourself. You've got to affair-proof your relationship. And you got to be very careful to affair-proof your lifestyle.

Recorded in Frisco, Texas.
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Frisco First Baptist Church
7901 Main Street
Frisco, Texas 75034