I've been told I'm old-fashioned. Out of date. Clueless of how things work in the world. However, I've talked to too many people who've blown it by having an extra-marital affair.
They come from all walks of life.
I've never heard ANY of these people say that they "set out" to have an affair, hurt their family, end up in divorce court, or intentionally break the hearts of those that they love.
Most people don't mean to blow it by having an affair.
But, they don't just randomly happen. Typically, a series of choices over time will lead to an affair. Most people don't run into extra-marital affairs.
Rather, they slowly drift into an affair by making one bad decision after another.
And, affairs can be avoided by making CAREFUL choices and taking WISE steps toward fidelity and faithfulness in marriage.
By putting some wise guidelines into place, couples can enjoy incredible protection in their relationships.
Here are 10 strategies you can put into place to protect yourself and your marriage from an affair.
Strategy One - Don't ever have a MEAL or go to event/outing alone with a person of the opposite sex unless you are blood relatives.
There is no reason you need to be alone with a person (who is not your spouse) of the opposite sex for a meal.
If it's a work thing, try to involve an additional friend. Somehow, adding one person can offer protection for our marriages.
Strategy Two - Don't ride alone in a CAR with a person of the opposite sex unless you are blood relatives.
If it is possible, invite a third person to ride in the car with you. Even a young child can provide some protection and accountability.
If you find yourself in a tough spot at work, try to discuss the situation with your boss or co-worker in a gracious and honest manner.
Speak the truth in love, but speak the truth as needed.
Your goal is a happy marriage!
Strategy Three - Don't read many sappy NOVELS or watch many sappy love movies
By reading and watching too much romantic fiction, you will start to believe the grass is much greener somewhere else. You will begin to become discontent with the marriage relationship that you do have.
You'll start to covet and want what you do not have.
Often, romantic movies and books can become for women what pornography can become for many men.
Women will imagine and dream of some perfect relationship that they do not have. Be careful with these. Read and watch them in limited amounts.
Strategy Four - Don't even FLIRT a little!
Just intentionally treat other men or women with respect and distance. Even casual flirting can lead to trouble.
Try to be professional, business-like, and kindly distant with any man or woman who is not your spouse.
Too many affairs happen between good friends and great family friends. Affairs can even happen in within families.
Lines get blurred. People get too comfortable. Big mistakes happen.
Be careful with how you act and react to ANYONE of the opposite sex.
Strategy Five - Don't have LONG TALKS over the phone or online with anyone of the opposite sex who is not a blood relative.
One of my counselor friends tells me that one of the main reasons for divorce today is people hooking up through social media or with someone who they meet on the internet. Watch out online!
Also, be careful with counseling and one-on-one prayer situations. It is best for men to meet with men and women to meet with women if possible.
Pastors and ministerial staff need to be especially cautious when counseling and meeting with church members one-on-one. Keep the doors open. Invite a third person into the session.
Take every precaution to protect your marriage - especially if you are in the ministry!
Strategy Six - If you are tempted to have an affair, talk to a TRUSTED friend of the same gender!
Ask this trusted friend to pray for you. Give them the freedom to hold you accountable.
There is something about "admitting" you are tempted that could protect you and prevent you from blowing it.
Strategy Seven - Be HONEST WITH THE LORD about any temptations you may be having
Pray over these things and give them to the Lord. God already knows what you are struggling with. Talk over these temptations and issues with Him.
Strategy Eight - DATE your own spouse!
Enjoy as much time as you can with your mate. Maybe you are being tempted because you aren't spending enough quality time together.
Strategy Nine - Initiate SEX with your own mate
If you need love and affection, seek out your own spouse. They will likely love this attention from you.
It's possible that you are being tempted because you are not enjoying the relationship God has given you.
Strategy Ten - Fall IN LOVE with Jesus as never before
Press in close to the Lord and spend time with Him.
Open your Bible more.
Turn on Christian music.
Read more inspirational books.
Allow God to fill your empty places.
The truth is .... anyone on any day at any time can blow it! Anyone!
None of us are exempt from temptation!
Don't flirt with sin.
Don't play with fire!
James 1:13-16 in The Message says:
And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, "God is tempting me." God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.
These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
So don't be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.
A closing illustration
We have many curvy, narrow, winding roads in our city.
Anytime you take the "back way" to our church, you have to hug the middle of the road, or you could easily clip the edge of the road.
More than once, we've caught the edge of one of these roads and run off a bit.
One night, we even busted a tired wide open by clipping the edge of one of these narrow roads.
Our goal in driving is to try to stay as far away from the road's edge as possible.
We hug those yellow dividing lines when we drive on those curvy back roads.
So also in our marriages, we need to stay as far away from "potential" affairs as possible.
We need to hug these ten guidelines!
To completely avoid an affair
We stay away from every possible temptation. We put some wise guidelines into place. Then, we press in close to Jesus and stay there! And, we really seek to enjoy the marriage that God has given us.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Melanie Redd's website. It has been republished here with permission.