The old joke goes thus: She left him on the sofa when the phone rang, and was back in a few seconds. "Who was it?" he asked. "My husband," she replied. "I better get going," he said. "Where was he?" "Relax. He'll be late, he's playing poker with you."
Many people live with that kind of deception. 23% of male heterosexuals and 12% of female heterosexuals cheat on their spouses (The Journal of Sex Research, 1997). Given that on TV sex outside marriage is portrayed three times more often than sex in marriage, (Education Reporter, 2008), maybe I ought to be happy with that rate of marital faithfulness. But to me that stat indicates a shocking level of pain and betrayal. Nearly 1 in 4 marriages? That’s incredibly sad.
Even if a married person avoids flirtation and full-blown adultery, his or her inner life may still be marked by bouts of dissatisfaction and yearning. That too is sad. For Christians, who may imagine themselves immune from such things, naming that temptation can relieve some guilt. But once that guilt is confessed to God, another step is needed: the tempted spouse must boldly initiate conversation about how to protect and strengthen his or her marriage.
Other people need a stronger deterrent to the lure of adultery. Start by realizing this: the fantasy of adultery is pure foolishness. Say it to yourself: “I’m being an idiot. This dalliance would wreck my spouse, our children, our finances, our church, and our friends.” And realize this: the person who pays the highest price for adultery is you. It will destroy you. You may bond with the co-adulterer for a while, but the issues that haunted you before will only return with a vengeance. You’ll realize that you ruined everything for a fantasy. You’ll hear the devil mocking you and saying “gotcha!”.
And that’s only the beginning of the misery. Let’s be clear: unrepentant adulterers are destined for hell. That’s what people who wantonly throw away love and faithfulness deserve. 1 Corinthians 6:9 says Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: adulterers…. will not inherit the kingdom of God.
If hell doesn’t scare you, I can’t help you. But if it does, safeguard your marriage with the following advice. First, take encouragement from the fact that satisfying sex and romance is a learned behavior. Don’t let the movies fool you. Get a book and read it with your spouse - the one I lend out the most is The Gift of Sex by Clifford and Joyce Penner.
Second, have sensible boundaries. Don’t be alone with someone of the opposite sex. If you can’t avoid it, let your spouse know where, when, and with whom. Give your spouse the right to veto the meeting because their antennae are probably more reliable than yours. And anyway, it’s your spouse’s trust you want to build, not that other person’s. Also, notice when you start to alter your routines in order to get more time with someone you’re lured by. Nip that in the bud. Finally, be constant in prayer. Prayer is where our wrong desires get transformed. Be honest with God about your struggle and let him fill you with his Holy Spirit.
Your best chance for happiness and sexual fulfillment is in your marriage. Maybe it doesn’t seem that way right now, but don’t be a fool – reject the tyranny of the “now” and strive for the joy of faithfulness.