by Glenda Lesher

A growing phenomenon in the Christian community is the emotional affair. Temptation can happen at any age and stage of marriage, of course, but vulnerability to emotional entanglements generally differs with males and females.  A husband may feel neglected and tempted when his wife is busy raising children, but wives are more likely to experience loneliness and longing when the children are older or during the empty nest years.  If she feels like her husband of many years is taking her for granted and neglects romance, that’s the time Satan will plant seeds of discontent and comparison to other men.

Because a Christ-follower is not likely to look for companionship at a bar, Satan uses the comfortable and “safe” environments in which people let their guard down.  It may be on the job where people spend eight hours a day in mixed company, but it could very well be at their local church. FamilyLife receives e-mails frequently from wives who have bonded emotionally with a man in ministry.  Or she may be writing desperately seeking prayer and guidance about discovering inappropriate contact between her husband and a woman he initially tried to help.  Old flames have also been rekindled through social networking, and this has burned many marriages.

In the FamilyLife article My Emotional Affair, one particular woman tells her true story about the emotional attachment that developed in her life, what fed it, and how the Lord guided her to repentance and new boundaries to protect her marriage.  She listed the following five points that led her to victory:

1. There’s nothing more important than my relationship with God.  I had to acknowledge that I had drifted from Him. When I got into a crisis, I became distracted and compromised, which led to sin.
2.  The feelings of love for my husband are a direct result of my love and obedience to God.  He rewards obedience.  He would not have blessed my sin and disobedience. When I put Him back on the throne of my life, I started receiving everything I needed for life, love, and happiness.
3.  Married women should not pour out their troubles to another man, or vice-versa.  It’s a trap of the enemy.  Satan wants to derail lives and marriages.  Don’t let him!
4. Infatuation is not love. It is selfish and doesn’t meet the criteria of righteous love in 1 Corinthians 13:5-6.
5.  I chose to lead my heart instead of continuing to let it lead me.  Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.” I learned not to trust my heart for guidance or truth.
Taking it One-to-One:

  • Do you need to be more intentional about guarding your heart against friendships going too far? Talk to your spouse about setting healthy boundaries.
  • Are you currently involved in an emotional affair and need someone to talk to?  Please contact one of FamilyLife’s eMentors anonymously here.
  • Is there someone in your life who needs mentoring in this area?  Remember to offer a gentle balance of prayer, encouragement, and truth.