In his book Drawing Heaven Into Your Marriage, H. Wallace Goddard presents a list of things to look for in your interactions with others. He suggests that there is a progression of infidelity rather than things just happening out of the blue.
The following is a list of how things can progress from seemingly innocent behavior to full on infidelity:
- Behaviors that seem or may be innocent (i.e., service for a neighbor, going out to lunch with a co-worker, chatting about problems with an old friend of the opposite sex).
- An affection grows that claims part of one’s heart.
- Extramarital flirting. (Justification-“no harm intended”).
- Relationship declared as “special”.
- Opportunities created to see “special friend” (Accompanied may be a worry of what others will say/think if they knew).
- Excuses made, lies told to hide time and resources spent on other person.
- Spouse is displaced. Emotional intimacy exchanged with “special friend”.
- Faultfinding with spouse.
- Fantasies about other person.
- Physical affection– a squeeze, a kiss, a hug.
- Sexual relations.
What to do if you find yourself somewhere along this progression?
In my opinion, wherever you are, you should turn back immediately. In every case you should disclose to your spouse anything and everything (even if you aren’t sure if it’s a “big deal” or not) involved in what has happened. It is the secret-keeping that fuels the inappropriate behavior. Cut off your personal relationship and all ties possible with that other person. Apologize, express your sorrow and desire to be closer to your spouse.
Even though you are trying to do the right thing now, do not expect your spouse to be “overly pleased” at your coming forward. This news likely will come as a shock or a severe blow to your spouse. Be patient (you are throwing yourself at the mercy of your spouse). They may need time to think about things and come to grips with what has happened. Be constant in your desire to be true and faithful to your spouse.
You cannot know what will come of these things once they are allowed to progress to far. My advice is to catch yourself early. Minimize any unnecessary time with those of the opposite sex outside of your marriage. Be aware of those who may not be a “friend” to the marriage. Ask yourself if you have anyone outside of your family that you consider a “special friend”. Do not be too ashamed that you keep the little things secret or they will lead to bigger mistakes. The need for emotional intimacy is built into us and as a husband or wife the natural and correct partner with whom to share your feelings and thoughts, big and small, is your spouse.
You cannot decide what your spouse will do, only what you will do. Trials will come but overcoming such things together will be a strength to your marriage and affections for each