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 (Manna 36: Prayer)
Forsaking All Others: Keeping Intruders out of Your Marriage
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ARForsaking All Others: Keeping Intruders out of Your MarriageToday, one out of every two marriages ends in divorce. What precautions must we take to keep intruders out of the picture?Marriage is not self-sustaining. We need to protect it from Satan’s many deceptions. Our marriage can only be successful if we continually nourish our marital relationship, stay alert to warning signs, and take active steps to keep intruders out. Most importantly, we need to ask God for His guidance and wisdom.

Today, one out of every two marriages ends in divorce. Still higher is the rate of people who break their marriage vow to "forsake all others," instead becoming unfaithful to their spouse. Some critics blame these problems on the declining morality or values of this generation. But even Christians who hold strong convictions against infidelity are part of these appalling statistics. Living in a world where marital unfaithfulness is becoming the norm, we as Christians need to take extra caution to protect our marriages in these times. What are some ways that you can keep intruders out of your marriage? Let's take a look at a few together.

Staying Alert: Paying Attention to Wake-up Calls

If you talk to people who have had extramarital affairs, most of them will tell you that they did not look for opportunities to cheat on their spouse. In fact, many share the experience of being surprised at their attraction to someone who somehow made them "come alive" and get in touch with emotions that they had not felt in years. Such magical feelings of connection and affection made going forward with developing an illicit relationship seem somehow right. What these individuals often do not realize is that the beginning of their downfall usually lies in failing to recognize their attraction to someone else as a danger signal. They do not see it for what it is—a wake-up call that sounds an urgent and sober warning to mend an emotional void in their marriage. This void may have gone unnoticed and unattended to for many years, and it has made them vulnerable to temptations.

When left unmet, our emotional needs pave the way to longings and vulnerabilities. We are particularly susceptible to extramarital affairs when we are dissatisfied with our own marriage. Such dissatisfaction often develops as a result of unfulfilled needs and desires, which give way to an emotional void that may grow undetected in our marriage. Over time, this void makes us vulnerable to the attention and affection of others. Gestures of concern, no matter how innocently extended by someone other than our spouse, may happen to fulfill an emotional void within us, creating an illusion of intimacy and stirring up feelings of attraction for that person.

A match may be made in heaven, but the ensuing marriage is built on earth. Every marriage, even the best of them, has its shares of "downs," emotional voids, and negative aspects that are vulnerable to intruders. What separates the successful marriages from the doomed ones, however, is how an attraction to a potential intruder is handled. Those who go on to have affairs interpret the attraction they feel to an extramarital other as a sign that they and their spouse have grown irreparably apart. In contrast, those who hold steadfast to their marriage vows soberly heed this kind of attraction as a wake-up call to do some mending to their marriage. They recognize that an emotional void has budded in their marriage and needs to be snipped before it can take root and destroy the marital blessings that God has given them.

Communicating with Your Spouse and Regaining Sobriety

In a popular television sitcom, "Mad About You," a young wife struggled to tell her husband after she had shared a kiss with a male co-worker. She wanted to keep silent for many reasons: "Oh, it didn't mean anything." "It won't happen again." "Why bring it up and hurt him over nothing." The list goes on. Like her, most of us would prefer to hide our feelings of attraction for someone else as a secret from our spouse. As difficult as it may be to bring this subject to light with our spouse, it is an essential first step if we truly wish to resolve the marital issues that may lie beneath the red flag of the attraction.

The Bible teaches us to communicate honestly with our spouse. Communication is a necessary weapon against illicit relationships, which can only begin when a person deceives his or her spouse. Yet only when we truthfully acknowledge our feelings to our spouse can we begin to address any emotional voids that may be growing in our marriage. But first we need to recognize these voids, before any mending can take place. As the wife in "Mad About You" discovered, revealing the kiss to her husband did create some unwelcome waves in their marriage, but it also helped bring into focus important relationship problems that they had previously overlooked.

Another integral part of healing from extramarital temptation is regaining a sense of sobriety. Whenever we begin to develop feelings of attraction for someone other than our spouse, we need to take important steps to regain a sober heart and mind. We can extinguish these inappropriate feelings for someone only when we eliminate the conditions that fostered the attraction in the first place. Besides communicating with our spouse, this almost always means stopping further contact with the potential intruder as much as possible. Equally important is letting go of the enamored memories of and feelings and longings for that person. Even if the intruder is no longer physically present, these memories and yearnings may linger in our hearts. Unless we thoroughly snuff them out, with the help of God, they could get in the way of our capacity to develop closeness with our spouse.

Guarding What You Say

Couples who have a successful marriage usually have a healthy support network of friends and family. Friendships and relationships with different people are a necessary and natural part of life. Certainly, there is nothing wrong at all with venting your frustrations to friends so that you need not rely solely on your spouse for support. In our technologically advanced world, communication with others knows no geographical bounds. With the click of a few buttons you can easily reach someone across the globe, either by telephone or on the internet. Pouring your heart out about a particular philosophical issue or a specific struggle in your life can now be done effortlessly. But as much as this technological convenience may be a blessing, it can also be a curse. If you are not careful, you could easily say too much for the good of your marriage.

An extramarital affair usually happens with someone you already know. Often it is with a friend, a co-worker, or even a fellow churchgoer. Its catalyst is usually a feeling of fondness for someone. Because affection grows out of conversations shared by two people, we need to be especially careful about what we disclose to those of opposite gender. We need to watch out that we don't communicate with friends or others as closely as we do with our spouse. A key to protecting our marriage is to not allow potential intruders to gain access to our hearts. Protect your heart, the wellspring of emotional closeness, because only your spouse should have access to your innermost thoughts, yearnings, dreams, and despairs.

Guarding what we say means not complaining about our spouse to friends, co-workers, or even clergy of opposite sex behind our spouse's back. Why? Because in periods of heightened vulnerability, by complaining about our spouse to members of the opposite gender we are revealing our unmet desires and wishes to them. When this disclosure takes place behind our spouse's back, we are in essence inviting this other person to meet our needs, and trying to create an illusion of closeness that is missing from our marriage. The other person may not even realize that he or she is creating feelings of attachment or attraction in us. But once a channel of exclusive, intimate communication is established, it opens the door wide open for Satan to tempt us by distorting even the most innocent gestures or by creating inappropriate thoughts and feelings where none existed in the first place. This is why the most prudent advice is for us to pour out our hearts and discuss our marital problems with our same-sex friends. We all need support and comfort from others when we are in need. But we must be careful not to invite Satan to take advantage of our vulnerabilities by tempting us to turn to someone who could potentially be an intruder in our marriage.

Being a Prudent Helper

The converse is just as true. We need to be equally careful whenever we lend a helping hand or a sympathetic ear to someone in need. Remember that people in need feel vulnerable and have unsatisfied wants. When we offer them support, we give ourselves the chance to meet their needs, and this often elicits feelings of closeness in them toward us. Developing a bond with same-sex friends and with church brothers and sisters is the stuff that camaraderie and fellowships are made of. But fostering extramarital intimacy with an opposite-sex individual simply creates temptations. Even if we are happily married and have no intention of pursuing an illicit relationship, it is irresponsible of us to allow ourselves to be viewed by an emotionally vulnerable friend as his or her lone confidant. It's as if we are inviting an intruder to look to us to fulfill their needs and to challenge our own marriage in the process.

Therefore, we ought to be prudent helpers. We must take extra caution particularly when we help those of the opposite gender. Our guiding goal should be to help others get closer to their spouses and to God—but not to us. That means that whenever we try to help, we should involve the other person's spouse as well. It also means that we should avoid being alone when we approach the needy recipient, so that an exclusive bond cannot develop. We might need to bring a friend, a fellow churchgoer, or a family member, but what is most important is that we remain vigilant when we extend our support to a person of the opposite sex. By not allowing potential intruders the opportunity to grow emotionally attached to us, we are protecting our own marriage.

Praying for Divine Abidance

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand" (Eph 5:12-13).

We are fighting a spiritual war. We should never think that we could fight off Satan’s schemes and attacks against our marriage by ourselves, without God's help. Sure, we need to be alert and do everything we can to protect and nourish our marriage, but these precautions alone aren’t enough. We also need to continually recognize the limits of our efforts. We cannot fight and win a spiritual war by ourselves. With humility, we need to come before God and continually ask that He protect, bless, and guide our marriage. We need divine protection and wisdom to overcome the devil’s temptations, which grow the strongest whenever jobs, family situations, or missionary trips separate us from our spouse for a period of time. Even when blatant challenges aren’t on the horizon, we still need to pray for power to mend the many imperfections in our marriage, so that we don’t leave a foothold for Satan to tempt us. We need to pray for meekness when we are too stubborn to change our harmful ways. And we always need to pray for strength from God to ward off intruders who entice us to be unfaithful to our spouse.


A marriage is not self-sustaining. "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Pet 5:8). Time and time again, we need to protect our marriage from the various temptations put out by the devil. We can only be successful if we continually nourish our marital relationship, stay alert to warning signs, take steps to keep the intruders out, and do all these things with help from God. Only God has the power to overcome the forces of evil. And only with the Lord's abidance can we stay true to our spouse and "forsake all others," never allowing them to intrude into the union that God has blessed us with.

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Publisher: True Jesus Church