A Note from Deb Douglas: Last week we left off with this question: What happens if the wife is the one in a messy affair? In this article, I am writing to women who are having affairs or are sliding downward into an affair. Shocking? Unfortunately, affairs are increasingly common as women become more discontent with life in general, have higher expectations, are more stressed, and are less tolerant of imperfection. There’s a lot to cover, so dig in!
Affairs are messy. Affairs include sneaking around, being fearful, and feelings of guilt. Affairs mean being suspicious of other people who might be suspicious. Lying, covering up, waiting for everything to come to light. Affairs are sin. There. I said it. But more importantly, God said it. It is one of the big 10—the 10 commandments.
How do you safeguard yourself from an affair?
- Keep your marriage relationship healthy! Date each other, take trips together, and work to enjoy life together.
- Be determined to grow spiritually continuously. Pray for protection for your marriage. Pray for strength to stay pure and holy.
- If you find yourself arranging your schedule and life in order to arrange “chance” encounters with someone, change your schedule! Reroute the way you go about your life in order to avoid encountering the object of your obsession.
- Quit lying to yourself. There is no such thing as “harmless flirting.” Flirting of any kind is an attempt to entice another person into engaging with you. Flirting is one tiny step away from sliding into an affair.
- Remind yourself that the grass is never greener elsewhere. That is an optical illusion! What looks like a perfect match is not one!
- If you are married and there are challenges in the marriage, seek counseling, not the comfort of a person you find attractive, interesting, or perfect!
- Remember you are not perfect, and neither is your mate! Give yourself and your spouse some grace!
- In an affair, only the best side is presented. Other people have the same or equally disturbing issues as your spouse!
How do you extract yourself from an affair?
- Recognize that having an affair is not romantic, fun, or exciting. It is stressful, produces guilt and misery, and is messy. It is sin. Sin against God. Ask God for forgiveness.
- Examine what is occurring. Analyze how this affair began. Be brave enough to dive into the causes, the effects, and messiness of the affair.
- Stop lying to yourself.
- God did not send this person to you. God never entices you to sin!
- God does not want you to be happy; He wants more for you! The pursuit of happiness is in the constitution, not the Bible! God’s desire is for us to be holy. To be content. To find joy in Him.
- An affair is never ok! No matter what your spouse has done, it does not give you the right to have an affair.
- No one has made you have this affair. You are an adult with choices and options. You are responsible for your choices.
- No affair is harmless. Others will be hurt!
- Other people know about the affair. As secret as you may think it is, trust me, other people know.
- Draw a boundary. God’s desire is for the affair to end. End the affair. Now. Today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. A text will work.
- Do not delay by making excuses such as, “I don’t know how…” or “I will end it when…”
- Rip the bandage off; just end it! Block numbers, Facebook accounts, Instagram, and other connections.
- Recognize you are in lust with this person, not in love.
- Confess to the important people in your life. Ask for forgiveness.
- Realign your life without the person in it. Quit your job if you must, change churches, or move! Do whatever it takes to get away from the person you have been drawn to engage in an affair. Sound tough? It is, but it’s necessary for your future!
What do you do in the aftermath of an affair?
- Get counseling.
- Ask for forgiveness.
- Allow time for trust to rebuild. Trust is slow to rebuild; be patient.
- Be honest with yourself and others about the affair. See it for what it was: a sin. Not sexy. Not romantic. But sin.
- If you are a person in church leadership, step away from leadership as you heal and rebuild your life.
- Accept that God forgives you. Move on.
- Determine to seek holiness.
- Dig into studying God’s Word. This is the path to healing!
Affairs are messy, but there is life after an affair. We all sin. God forgives sin. Accept His forgiveness and find hope for the future in Him. Leave the messiness behind you!
Note: If you are engaged in an affair at this time, realize that God loves you completely. He is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to forgive and help you move on out of the messiness. If you do not know how to move on, ask for help from a minister or counselor.
If you are being tempted by the thought of an affair, step back and re-evaluate your life. Seek prayer support from trusted prayer warriors. (Do not give details; simply ask for prayer.) Know that God has something better for you than the messiness of an affair.
If you cannot move on from the guilt of a past affair, seek help from a minister or counselor. God forgives when we ask; accept His forgiveness! God does not desire for shame to freeze us in our messiness!
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
God has called Deb Douglas to make a difference in the world, one woman at a time. For over 39 years, Deb has served in women’s ministry. Now she spends her time ministering to women in the sex trade ministry and serving as the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Bossier City. Deb is a contributor to LifeWay’s All Access blog, a freelance writer, and an event speaker. Deb was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. Deb is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.