Dr. Wall debunks the excuses people give for having affairs.
All a man’s ways seem innocent to him,
but motives are weighed by the LORD.
If you’ve had an affair, you’ve had an affair because you had an affair. Plain and simple. Be careful about all these excuses about how your husband wouldn’t talk to you. Or he never helped. Or all she did was nag. Or she didn’t respect you. Or all the two of you did was fight. Or he never appreciated you. She never complimented you. Or she took you for granted. Or the sex was boring or rare or non-existent or she made it obvious she wasn’t into it. Or. Or. Or. Or.
Do you hear yourself when you tell yourself or your spouse these things? Do you hear how pathetic it sounds? Put yourself on the other side of these excuses and puke. Imagine your spouse had an affair and she told you lies like the first paragraph above. Imagine you are a completely broken spirit because your husband had an affair and you asked why did you have an affair and he told you it was because you put on weight. Please. This is a complete fabrication, but you are a wreck of person since finding out he had an affair and now he tells you this? Guess what? You are going to believe this lie! And now you will feel even worse!
If your spouse had an affair, steer away from the why questions. You don’t want to know why. If you knew why you’d probably die of shock. No one could take it. Only God knows the motives of the heart. If you’re going to go start reading minds you’ll only hurt yourself more. If your spouse had even half a clue as to why she had an affair, she wouldn’t have had one! If she tells you it’s because she didn’t feel close to you anymore and that you are never home and when you are home you spend the night on the couch and she has to do everything including the dinner, the bills, the kids and the mess of a house, don’t believe it for even half a second.
“But Dr. Wall, that’s why I did have an affair. If he was the husband he was supposed to be, I’d never have had an affair.”
Really? Re-read that previous sentence. Now insert your name where it says “husband.” Do you see it? “If I was the wife I was supposed to be, I’d never have an affair.” Period. If your husband wasn’t fulfilling his end of the bargain, if he was letting you do everything, that’s a separate issue. His selfish behavior does not somehow relieve you of your vows and now you can go do whatever you want. It’s an excuse, a justification, you can tell yourself to make it Okay in your heart so you don’t go crazy, but that’s all it is: An excuse and a justification so you don’t go crazy.
Let’s look at the Ten Commandments for a minute. Number 6, 7 and 8 are:
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
Let’s say you murder somebody. I know you wouldn’t, but let’s say you did. Now let’s say when the investigating detective asks you why you murdered your neighbor you gave a bunch of reasons: You hated him. He kept blowing his snow onto your driveway after you’d already shoveled. He never mowed his lawn. He played his stereo too loud. His dog never shut up. He had an affair with your wife. He molested your thirteen-year old daughter. He cheated you out of some money. You were having an affair with his wife and he found out. Whatever.
Do any of these excuses cut it? Do any of these so-called “reasons” give you carte blanche to reinvent the Ten Commandments and insert your own rules for you? Did the Ten Commandments come with escape clauses for you? Did God say, these are the Ten Commandments for everyone, unless you can find a really, really good reason not to keep them. If so, you are off the hook. But keep in mind you need a really, really good excuse.
Or you steal your neighbor’s car and the police officer asks you why you did it and you said you were envious of your neighbor, or you’ve always wanted a car like that, or you were broke, or you needed the money to pay off your gambling debt or you were planning to use the proceeds to support your drug addiction. Whatever.
Here’s the kicker. You had a car. Then you went out and stole your neighbor’s car. Now you’ve got two cars. One car you paid for; one you stole. Why would you need to steel a car when you already have one? Sorry. I just asked why. Don’t answer that question.
I wonder if it’s only a coincidence that adultery is smack dab between murder and stealing in the Ten Commandments? I’m thinking not. I’m thinking an affair is like a murder and robbery: The death of your own innocence and the stealing of someone else’s. Like a murder everyone around you is affected: Your spouse, the affairee’s spouse, your kids, your affairee’s kids, your extended family, your affairee’s extended family, your friends your affairee’s friends, and society at large. Sometimes people lose their jobs because of it. They certainly lose any respect they had. Like a robbery, you are taking something that is not yours, that you have no business having. You didn’t work for it. You didn’t earn it. You didn’t pay for it. You don’t deserve it. You just took it. It wasn’t yours to take, and you took it anyway. Your affairee took it from you, too. Both of you are taking each other. Marriage is about giving your heart away to your beloved. An affair is about stealing. Don’t tell me you loved your affairee. You just took her innocence away. It wasn’t yours to take. You took your wife’s innocence away. Or your husband’s. You took the innocence and protection of your marriage away. The marriage boundary has a huge hole in it. Chaos has entered. Or in the words of Solomon:
Folly brings punishment to fools.
An affair is it’s own punishment. You don’t even have to believe in hell. You ignore the marriage boundary at your peril. The Ten Commandments aren’t there to make your life miserable and take your fun away. The Ten Commandments are given to protect your soul from the worst side of yourself. You keep God’s commands and you have peace. You break them, ignore them, scoff at them? Ha! I think not.
Imagine the pride of heart it takes for you to convince yourself that your affair, emotional or otherwise, is fine. The Ten Commandments don’t apply to you. Your marriage vows are expendable. Being faithful? No biggie. You’ll just forget the wife or husband of your youth. You worship you at the altar. You put you first. Forget dependability, loyalty, perseverance, promises, integrity and truth. Your feeeeeeeeeelings are more important. No one will know. You can give your heart to someone else and it’s FINE.
Tell that to your son who will despise you. Tell that to your daughter, who starts sleeping around and won’t talk to you anymore. Tell that to your wife or husband, who cries into the wee hours of the night when the news that you are not what you have portrayed comes out. The truth is revealed that you lied. You told yourself it was Okay as long as no one found out.
Alright. Let’s say no one else knows except you and your affairee. Well? That’s not really true is it? Your heart knows. God knows. Your affairee knows. That’s three witnesses and we’ve only started. What about your car? Or the cell phone company? Or your computer history? The walls will testify. The mirror shouts back. The strange sidewalks you stroll down in all your arrogance pronounce your doom. There’s that stench in your car. Your clothes reveal. Better take that shower. Your soap suds in protest. Your towel knows. You can’t dry yourself enough. Out damned spot. Your conscience pounds away in your head. You lie to yourself you’ve done no wrong. You lie to yourself you are fine. You lie to yourself that there isn’t a God and there isn’t a wrong or right and you can do these things and there are no consequences. It’s fine. Everything’s fine. And your ceiling creeps down on you and you get claustrophobic and you can’t be around people any more because you panic that they all can read your mind and your mind tells you are a liar and that all of this is wrong and you can’t do it without a cost and there will be a penalty to pay for your lies. And then the panic passes and you go Whew! and walk away and ignore your conscience and you call her or text him again and it feels so good. It can’t be wrong.
What if it is wrong?
If it is wrong it won’t matter WHY you did it.
It’ll only matter that you did.
To see other blogs on affairs by Dr. Wall click here.
Dr. Wall had several blogs on Tiger Woods’ affairs. The first was on December 4, 2009: Dr. Wall explored two lessons we can all learn from the recent news that golf legend Tiger Woods had an affair:
The second was on December 12, 2009:
On January 7, 2010, Dr Wall laments the cheapening of sexuality in our society and proposes a better way:
Meanwhile, on December 16, 2009, Dr. Wall gives advice to someone thinking of coming clean after an affair: