Having a faithful marriage: It “means more than just avoiding the act of being unfaithful,” says one marriage educator. “It’s all about where your heart and mind are and whether they are FOR your marriage or against it.”
It’s something that men and women may not fully realize what they’re getting into when they marry, says Bill Coffin, who works with the National Association for Relationship and Marriage Education, as well as with Healthy Relationships California.
“When we get married, hardly any of us consider that one day we might not actually feel the same head-over-heels way we did on our wedding day,” Coffin says. “At that moment, it’s hard to imagine anything but butterflies and rose petals.”
For husbands and wives who want to have a faithful marriage, protecting that marriage means living out a daily commitment to fidelity. And that means choosing every day to put the marriage first.
You can choose to be faithful to your spouse, your vows and your commitment to the marriage or you can allow a seed of bitterness, resentment or unfaithfulness to be planted in the foundation of your relationship. Ask anyone who’s been party to an affair (whether physical or emotional) and inevitably they will admit it started out with something small—a little flirtation here, a minor sense of dissatisfaction there, a day-dream about Mr. or Miss so-and-so-at-work or the thought that the grass must be greener elsewhere.
Some will say, “Those are harmless thoughts/actions.” Or “I’m not hurting anyone.” But those are lies. Faithfulness is a choice you make every day. On the good days, it’s easy. But it’s those bad days where the decision really counts—whether it’s in the face of temptation, hurt feelings, anger, dissatisfaction or laziness.
Coffin provides excellent questions for every husband and wife who wants to maintain a faithful marriage.
A faithful marriage: Do you have these risk factors?
- Would you ever ride in a car or have a meal alone with someone of the opposite sex? Why or why not?
- Do you have any secrets from your spouse?
- Are there any conversations you’ve had that you’d be embarrassed or anxious about if you knew your spouse had been listening?
- Do you have an emotional connection with someone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse?
A faithful marriage: How do you respect your spouse and marriage?
- Do you talk about your spouse with the utmost respect, especially when he or she is not present?
- Do your actions communicate faithfulness towards your spouse and your marriage?
- Is your marriage a top priority in your life?
- If a neutral party examined how you spend your time, money and thoughts would your faithfulness to your spouse be obvious to them?
- How do you handle disappointment in your spouse/marriage?
How have you answered these questions? Do you have strong protections for a faithful marriage? What’s one step you can take today to strengthen the protections for your marriage?