Affairs of the Heart
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.
A woman in our Coast Guard unit had been corresponding with her old boyfriend for months, unbeknownst to her husband, emailing and instant messaging late into the night. She was convinced she would be happier if she filed for divorce, hoped for the best for her children, and returned to the arms of the one she did not marry.
While the geographical distance prevented her from having a physical relationship with this man, she was clearly in an emotional affair. Perhaps she thought that emailing couldn’t hurt anything. But the more she shared of her heart with him, the more her desires bent toward being with him as a permanent solution to her loneliness and dissatisfaction in her own marriage.
The fact that it is common makes it no less tragic. Each one of us is vulnerable to the same situation. Those of us who would “never have an affair” might just be feeling lonely enough to mention it to a sympathetic man. If he offers us the male attention we are craving, if he makes us feel special, how can our hearts not want to go back for more? While not every emotional affair ends up in a physical affair, you can bet that every physical affair once began as an emotional affair.
Matthew 5:27-28 MSG says, “You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks [or thoughts] you think nobody notices—they are also corrupt.”
It’s inevitable that you will notice attractive men—and that isn’t sinful. It would be sinful if we allow that attraction to spur us on to develop an emotional attachment to that man. Here are some questions Shannon Ethridge suggests we ask ourselves to evaluate whether we, as married women, are in dangerous territory:
· Do you think of this man often (several times each day) even though he is not around?
· Do you select your daily attire based on whether you will see this person?
· Do you go out of your way to run into him, hoping he’ll notice you?
· Do you wonder if he feels any attraction toward you?
One way to play it safe and help guard our hearts is to guard our mouths. Flirting, complimenting, complaining, confessing, and inappropriate counseling and praying are all ways of communicating that could lead to a deeper relationship—in other words, avoid them!
If you find yourself struggling to reserve your heart’s affections for your husband, seek out a trusted friend to serve as an accountability partner to you. You are less likely to stumble if you know you’ll have to report it. “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
Do I fantasize about what it would be like to be with a different man?
When those thoughts cross my mind, what can I do to starve those desires?
Help me guard my heart, especially when my husband is away. I know that Satan would love nothing more than to undermine my marriage and watch it fall apart. Alert me when my thoughts drift into inappropriate territory. Help me take every thought captive to Jesus Christ.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Jocelyn Green is an award-winning freelance writer and author of Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives (www.faithdeployed.com), from which this devotional was reposted with permission from Moody Publishers. She is also the co-author of Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan. She and her husband Rob live with their two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa.