Several years ago, as I was preparing a youth night on the topic of chastity, two ministry colleagues offered me an insight I’ve never forgotten. While practicing chastity had been a priority during their dating and engagement, they found themselves pregnant on their wedding day (and later gave birth to a wonderful little boy). They told me that their pregnancy wasn’t the result of one big decision to go for it, but rather the result of a series of small compromises that went against their resolution to save sex for marriage.Infidelity is the result of a series of small compromises that leads one into another’s arms.
It would seem that the same is true with marital infidelity. Generally speaking, people don’t profess their wedding vows with the intention of cheating. Infidelity is the result of a series of small compromises that leads one into another’s arms. Here are 7 causes of infidelity that can sneak up on us.
1. Inappropriate Physical Affection
This first one should be the most obvious. There are certain physical actions that should be reserved for our spouse alone. One simple cause of infidelity can be inappropriate physical affection. We need to have clearly defined lines in our own minds about what is not acceptable, whether that be holding hands, a lingering hug, or kissing. Crossing these lines can become a cause of infidelity in your marriage.
2. Watching Pornography
It’s getting harder to argue that pornography is harmless. There’s a great deal of research out there that suggests that not only is porn addictive but that it harms us and our marriages. Many wives feel personally betrayed when their husbands watch pornography. Even those who say they are OK with it find themselves trying to live up to or reenact what their husbands have been watching. No real woman can ever measure up to the fake fantasy world created from watching pornography, so it should be no surprise that this, too, can be a cause of infidelity.
3. Looking at Other Women
There’s an idiom shared among some men that says, “I’m allowed to look at the menu—I just can’t order.” Men can use this excuse to justify a second or lingering glance at a woman in almost any setting. This “innocent” glance can lead to entertaining a fantasy which, unchecked, can open the door to further actions that become a cause of infidelity.
4. Justifying Bad Behavior
Mac Davis used to sing, “Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.” These words still resonate decades later because one of the most difficult things for a man to do can be admitting that he has done something wrong. And so one of the causes of infidelity can be when we let our pride do the talking, and instead of owning our bad behavior, we justify it (to ourselves and to others).
5. Oversharing with Another Woman
When a man promises to be faithful to his wife in all circumstances, it’s about more than just one’s physical actions. We promise to share our hearts with them as well. While professional and personal circumstances may place us in relationships with other women, it’s important to maintain boundaries with them. The evangelist Billy Graham had a rule for this situation: He chose to avoid being alone with any woman who was not his wife. He understood, as we should, that one of the causes of infidelity can be when we choose to share marital problems (or things we haven’t told our wives) with another woman.
6. Circumstances When You’re Not at Your Best
All of us have moments when we aren’t at our best. Some examples of this are those moments we find ourselves bored, lonely, angry, tired, or hungry. If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s in these moments that we make our worst decisions. At these times, it is doubly important to be aware we’re not at our best and to be on guard for moments of temptation.
7. Being Inconsiderate of Marital Tension
Every marriage goes through ups and downs. Whether it be a fight, a loss of some sort, or even the first few weeks post-partum, it is critically important in these circumstances to remind yourself of your commitment to your marriage. Otherwise, your frustration can become a cause of infidelity when you start looking for comfort outside your marriage.
Sound off: What other small compromises can open the door to infidelity?
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What are some ways we can protect our marriage?”