Anyone whose marriage has been rocked by an affair certainly knows the monumental need for faithfulness. But there are a lot of ways we can be faithful (or unfaithful) to our mates other than sexually. Though that’s certainly a foundational way!
I’ll be broadening the idea of unfaithfulness to any way that we show devotion, prioritize and/or love someone or something more than we do our mates. This rule stands, all except for the Lord . . .
The Bible often links love and devotion with faithfulness. So I will be referring to these concepts interchangeably today in the inventory below. Click on the link to download the Faithfulness Inventory.
But before we head there, let’s look at certain wrong choices that often lead to unfaithfulness in marriage.
3 Sinful Choices that Can Lead to Unfaithfulness
I allowed moments of anger to turn into bitterness, early in my marriage—refusing to forgive and love my husband once again. Before I knew it, I was tempted to indulge in the next sinful choice.
With or without bitterness, this choice can be deadly to a marriage. In my case, I not only hid my anger from my husband, but in time it morphed into a rebellion of sorts. I rebelled by thinking about what it would be like to be married to other men I was attracted to. You can read about that sick and sinful choice here. Thankfully, God protected me from actually entering an affair! I was playing Russian Roulette and never realized it at the time!
3. Sexual Disconnection
Bitterness increases the likelihood of this one since it’s hard to feel attracted to someone we’re angry with. Go figure! According to the Apostle Paul, there’s a direct correlation.
“Do not deprive each other [sexually] except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Corinthians 7:5 (emphasis mine)
How Faithful are You?
Hover over each Scripture to see where the questions spring from—answering each question with one of these scores: 1 for never; 2 for rarely; 3 for sometimes; 4 for often; 5 for very often.
1. I challenge myself daily to be loving toward my spouse, working hard to make him/her feel like my number one priority next to God (Proverbs 3:3).
Since I’m often distracted by busyness, I gave myself a 3. Unfortunately, my husband, the more emotional one in our relationship, has to remind me to pay attention to him on a daily basis. 😦
If you let your kids or your job, etc. take precedence over your spouse, you’ll soon grow distant in your marriage. Then you’ll become easy prey to how that old song goes—“You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling.”
2. I stay alert to the temptation to make someone or something—other than God—more important than my spouse, and quickly seek God’s help to resist this (Colossians 3:5).
Even though I’m often distracted by other pursuits, I gave myself a 4 because I strive to remain alert to this and quickly correct it when God—or Gary—reveals this to me.
If you’re allowing the priorities in your life to pull you in different directions from your mate, you’ll soon be living parallel lives. You might even end up feeling like roommates rather than lovers.
3. Whenever I’m physically attracted to someone other than my spouse, I resist fantasizing about and looking lustfully at that other person (Matthew 5:27-28).
I gave myself a 5 here because I’ve learned from my mistakes of the past—being very familiar with the fallout and consequences of this dangerous game.
Giving into this practice is very dangerous and toxic to your marriage. If your spouse has been unfaithful to you, it can be traced back to this singular choice.
4. When troubles erupt in marriage and life, I double-down my efforts to remain committed to and close to my spouse (Ruth 1:16-18).
I gave myself a 5 here because I know how easy it is for troubles to create a wedge in my marriage. When my spouse and I do this, our love grows deeper than when life runs smoothly.
If you struggle here, it might be because you’re operating in your own strength, instead of God’s. You might even be resisting God because you’re angry with Him for allowing these troubles. Perhaps your problem has more to do with how you’re viewing God than how you’re relating to your mate.
5. Making love to my spouse is an enjoyable priority for me, and one which I strive to make meaningful and enjoyable for my spouse as well (Hebrews 13:4).
I gave myself a 3 because I let my aches, pains and tiredness . . . well, let’s be honest, my aging body interfere here as well.
If you struggle with this one, you run the risk of growing apart or, worse, angering your spouse. Remember what I said above about the connection between bitterness and unfaithfulness? Nuff said! 😉
6. I vigilantly guard against what distracts me from my spouse, choosing to readjust my priorities whenever I’m giving more attention than I should to other people and things (Matthew 6:24ab).
This one is a 4 for me since I work at readjusting my priorities when I see they are negatively impacting my marriage. It is a constant challenge for me, however.
Refer to number #2 to see how this might be impacting you if you’re weak here.
7. Whenever my parents or others interfere, come against, or intrude on matters that should be left up to my spouse and me to guard and decide, I support my spouse (Genesis 2:24).
I gave myself a 5 here since I eventually learned how toxic this is to a marriage. Click here to watch a video I did on this subject.
If you aren’t doing this, you’re probably deeply hurting your spouse and fracturing your marriage. No spouse wants to play second fiddle!
8. My spouse would say that I put his/her feelings first, especially when our desires conflict (Romans 12:10).
I gave myself a 3 here because, in times of conflict, I’m usually lousy about this. Once the dust clears, I’m fairly good about deferring to my husband’s desires.
If you struggle here, your mate probably will also struggle to feel like a priority to you. This is an easy one, though kind of painful, to fix. Just surrender your desires and love your mate more.
9. When my spouse sins against me, I look for ways to help my spouse feel forgiven, accepted, and like he/she can save face (1 Pet. 4:8).
I gave myself a 4 here, especially if a conflict hasn’t erupted. My priority and desire are for my husband to always feel forgiven and accepted. I truly want to cover his shame with love.
If you struggle here, look at the Forgiveness Inventory and corresponding Scriptures for inspiration on how to improve.
10. When loving and respecting my spouse is hard, I rely on God to help me to meet my mate’s needs and desires before my own (Ephesians 5:33).
I gave myself a 3 here because I can be far too self-centered and self-protective at times. This is the one I will be choosing to work on harder this week!
If you struggle here, consider doing this for your mate as unto the Lord. That may be all the incentive you need to bridge this gap!
(Add up your scores, then click the Faithfulness Inventory to find out what your total score means.)
Homework: Take the Faithfulness Inventory. Then focus in on one or two of your weak areas this week, doing what the corresponding Bible verse(s) encourage as your action point. For example: I’m going to work on #10—putting my spouse’s desires before my own. Click the link to find all the posts in this series—Insight for 2020.
Which of the 10 ways to be forgiving do you most want to work on and why?
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