How Do I Forgive a Crush on My Husband/Wife? (Boundaries to “Affair Proof” Your Marriage)

July 29, 2006 at 8:07 pm 14 comments

Question:

A woman asks of google a genuine question in a string search who landing, somehow, on my blog.  It’s deserving a genuine answer, and I’m not sure anyone has addressed it.  She asks,

“How do I forgive a woman who has a crush on my husband?”

So, what guidelines would you offer this lady?   If you find yourself, or friends there, what counsel do you have, if any?  Oh, crushes are “normal”?  Thoughts you might have:  It will pass.  Probably harmless.  Get over it.  You’re too sensitive.  Nothing wrong with a little casual flirtation now and then.  You’re too serious.

These are all responses I’ve heard in our culture.  We won’t go into whether these are right or wrong, but I’m not sure any of them are helpful to people nativigating the waters, or hurting.

“Forgiveness”:

Forgiving takes time in these situations.  To whatever degree, we have felt violated in an important area.  It’s a challenge for all of us.

Just keep working at relationships…they are the hardest work there is.  It’s a process.  But, worth it.   “With God, all things are possible”.  (Bible, NT).

But, let’s extent this a little further, because it’s likely some “boundaries” here have been crossed that need some examination.

I’m going to start with a definition of the word “boundaries”. Boundaries are pre-determined, or common sense ways, or even intuition we carry that defines our “safe space”.  We have boundaries, almost like walled protection, around things inportant to us.  There are gates in the wall, where we may choose to let some people closer than others.  There are fences, perhaps internal to that, which also help give us the developmental and protective “space” we need in which to thrive.

Our “boundaries” as a couple should help protect our sense of safety.  If those have not been talked about or clearly discussed, now might be the time to read a marriage book together on the topic.  “BOUNDARIES” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend might be a good place to start.

Behavior that seems offensive to us needs to be dealt with.  A spouse should be willing to take whatever steps are necessary to help the other spouse feel safe within reasonable limits, depending on the severity of the fear.  We need to deal with the behavior first, and at the same time, begin working on our relationship with our spouse. THEN, we can deal with the other person at some point in regard to forgiveness.  For now, the person needs to be pushed as far and deliberately out of the picture as possible until the relationship feels solid again.  They see that we protect it first, then relationship can be attempted again until the walls and fences have been more clearly defined.  This is a process and sometimes a painful one.  But this in and out time period is important, especially where there is a three-some or four-some.  All the lines need to cross gracefully and respectfully.  Times of “apart-ness” need to test the commitment to primary relationships in the group.  It is, in some ways, a testing ground.  Will the marriage survive as primary?  It always should.   Never should, “you are just too jealous” be said.  Safe people do not get as squirm-ish.  Respect will generally flow from healthy relationships.  It is not a given.

We consider not only the space of the person we are dealing with, but also their spouse, for they are one.  God makes us “one” when we join in marriage.

Sensitivity and respect are necessary for us to interact in healthy ways in community, and it takes some experience and, as I said, some trial and error,  to navigate those waters.  With TV shows acting as if platonic and  deep cross-gender relationships outside the marriage should always be okay, we struggle to find what is Biblical.  The spouse needs to be the center of focus in any relationship.

Is my concern justified? Since I started this entry, I hear this question from people fairly often.  Your concern is likely justified if your radar keeps going up concerning the person.  It is justified if you are uncomfortable.  Don’t make “I’m right and you are wrong” statements.  But try to set up situations where you are more comfortable.  We are to respect one another’s weaknesses, scripture says.  Sometimes we are so bent out of shape in efforts to “not be a jealous spouse” that we don’t really protect our spouses, and our own hearts, as we should.  Often, one spouse will have discernment on an issue before the other does who is in the relationship.  Yes, people can get out of balance with insecurities, sometimes those seasons come and go, but we can honor each other as the Lord deals with them on insecurities.  We protect each other as a priority…we pray along with them, and we adjust.  Our marriage should be our most fulfilling relationship on earth, and it can be.  Work on it.

What does scripture actually say on this topic? First, Let me address my thoughts on what I believe is a mis-applied verse:  “Love is not jealous” in 1 Cor. 13.  As far as I can tell, that verse does not mean that jealousy has no place in married life.  “Love is not jealous” applies to wanting what others have, being envious, or being inordinately, and possessively jealous, or hyper-paranoidHowever, jealously has a place in marriage.  God Himself is described as “a jealous God”, and he is also “love” defined.  How can these two co-exist?  Because he gave us the model for monogomous relationships.  We are to love Him first and foremost, about all else, forsaking all others.  He wants our marriages to follow that model, laying down all others for the good of our marriage.

Let me say this:  it can be counterproductive to tell an unobservant husband that some friend or lady appears to have a crush on him!  You might say, “lately I’m struggling with _________”.  Could you please watch and be sure around them for a while?  I just feel outside of that.  Timing is everything, tone is everything.  But, every so often, “the talk” needs to happen, if it is frustrating you to the point where you frequently worry.

First, pray for him that his eyes would be opened.

Second, pray for your marriage, that you will be as willing to learn, understand, and meet needs which may be unmet.

Thrid, instill frequent, fun times to lighten the tone and rekindle.

Fourth, pray for your own heart condition.  If you are jealous of appearance, weight, hair, dress, profession, charms…then deal with the jealousies in your heart. You may need some time to deal with those, and if you do, it calls for some time.  Deal with your stuff.

A word of caution:  Do NOT play,”get even” games with your spouse.  If he/she can get away with _______, I can have a little fun, too!  See how they feel!  This is no time for games and scores. It’s time to learn, mature, and grow into leaders together, influencing the world as you are called to do.

Family is God’s biggest calling on our lives…to learn to do it well, and LEARN TO ENJOY IT FULLY!  He wants us to have a good life together!  We can be happy together, or we can be miserable together, but we are called to stay together.  He gives us the tools to do it well.

I’ve gotten my tail feathers sprung here and there by others at times, just as you likely have.  I have a very faithful man and feel utterly safe as a rule, but a reality check:  if you think you or your spouse is beyond an affair, beyond stumbling or struggling, even if at just a heart level, think again.  We are all vulnerable–things happen; we are tested.  Each of us, on either side.  If either of you are rehearsing conversations, or looks or glances, or interactions…you know.  If you are thinking about a person’s assessment of you as you get dressed or groom, you know. If you are looking forward to conversations with the person, you know. If you are reacting to the person inordinately, or too often, you know.  There is no need for paranoia, but there is a constant need for heart checks, and…for boundaries.  God doesn’t tell us to be careful around temptations, he commands us to FLEE from them.  That doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy people and anticipate having a good time when we are with them.  But, it does mean that we have self-examination to heed, or we may have a net set around our feet that is about to trip us up and tangle us up to the point that we have a very hard time seeing how it happened, or knowing how to get out without some broken bones.

Accountability

You may say to a close mentor, “Watch me for a while, I’m feeling tempted a lot lately and I need some prayer covering.”  They will.  You may need to be general about it, you may need to be more specific when the time calls for it.

Pro-Active Marriages Fare Better than Re-Active Ones:

We have to be pro-active in a culture whose divorce rates are soaring.  Pay the price for long term commitment. There is a lot at stake: witness, marriage, the family unit, example to your kids, the honor of Christ, and the happy, fulfilling, faithful living that God intended for us to have in all it’s fullness!

Formally Defining Boundaries

Couples will have to define together, and re-define initial boundaries here and there as life, situations, and needs change.   These help keep us in check if we see ourselves moving beyond what we agreed at one time were “safe” behaviors.  The set-point will call us back into check, or our spouse will!  Don’t get angry.  Praise God!

“We had agreed you would call before ever…to ask my permission” has powerful weight.  It will buy us time and often save us from situations that otherwise we might fall into for lack of good judgment or excuses.  “We are just good friends…everybody knows that”, etc.  “Other people do it”.  “It won’t hurt once.”  “This is a special circumstance”.  “I’m just…” , or “I was the only person to _____”.

At the risk of you taking a boundary that doesn’t apply to you, I’ll share one from my own marriage.  We always calls to ask my permission before riding alone with a person of the opposite sex, no matter who it is.  This often comes in handy to save either of us getting into a situation we don’t need to be in.  We simply say that we need to call home first and if the other isn’t comfortable, we simply say, “I’m so sorry, I’m going to have to get right home.  I hope you get it worked out.  If you still can’t find a ride, call US and WE’LL come rescue you!”  No need for the whys.  Just cover yourself with your spouse.

DO BOUNDARIES MAKE ME FEEL IRRESPONSIBLE, LIKE A CHILD?

I am not sure why spouses today seem to feel the need to “trust” one another to the point of not setting healthy boundaries, but that is a trend.  NOT having some boundaries WILL create trust issues.  If we know what the expectations are, we know how to please our spouse and protect them.  That FEELS GOOD.  It may prick short term when you feel “checked”, but it feels good long-term, when you stand the test, and your spouse feels secure.  When our primary aim is to honor our spouse, we do not feel “policed” as much as our marriage feels PROTECTED.  You will feel good knowing your marriage is something your spouse cares about saving!

How do you set “boundaries”?  What are you talking about? I gave you one example from our lives, it doesn’t have to apply to you.  Your work situation may call for it often.  It’s just one we have set.  Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what they are, it’s just that you are making yourself accountable and submissive to the terms of another person instead of doing your own thing, trusting yourself overly, in every situation.

I love this verse and the expansion the Ampified version of the Bible gives it:

Philippians 2:12
Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (selfdistrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ).

Again, I often hear one partner say of another, “She/He just doesn’t trust me.”

Friends, the truth of the matter we need to embrace, according to the word of God, is that we don’t even need to trust ourselves.

Hello?

Did you read that scripture?  Seriously.

What we CAN trust is the word of God.  Yes, we can pray for wisdom, receive it, act on it, “without wavering” as the book of James commends us to do.  We can trust things the Lord tells us to do and how He tells us to live.

It’s the everyday whims, interactions, and situations where we can get caught off-guard where we must be very careful.

The trust is, we are not a trust-worthy people by nature.  NONE of us. Don’t go comparing your spouse to someone else’s who doesn’t seem to be bothered or care about anything.  You are married to YOUR spouse.  Honor them.  Your concern is not the marriage down the street and what he or she “gets away with”.

Hopefully, we learn to become trustworthy and have a reputation that makes it easy for our spouse to relax somewhat.  But, it is the work of God in us constantly checking each of us that maintains a holy and goldy life, not something inherent to our character or some natural sense of faithfulness or goodness we think we possess. Scripture reminds us  “Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall [into sin].” (1 Corinthians 10:12 AMP).

Disciplines help keep our hearts safe, making daily interactions easier.

MORE ON BOUNDARIES:

Boundaries can be common sense, or due to intuition, but not necessarily.  Realize that different people have different expectations, limits, and comfort zones for what makes them feel secure and safe.  Each spouse may have different needs.  Nevertheless, boundaries set for one will probably apply to the other to keep things feeling “fair.

Men and women have different basic needs, however.  Security is a primary need for most women in relationships.  Without it, waters are very rough for sailing!

SOME PROTECTIVE BOUNDARIES I’VE HEARD:

I’ll share some boundaries we’ve heard through the years that sold both of this on this idea.  See if these don’t show respect for a spouse.

“I do not go up an elevator with a woman alone when I am on business at hotels.  In that way, I am never tempted to deal with uncomfortable situations and I avoid even the appearance of evil”.  (Billy Graham said something to that effect, sorry I do not have the exact quote).

James Dobson has held similar guidelines for traveling alone.

Another I respected said, “At hotels, I have the cable turned off to my hotel room, or ask for the TV to be removed if that cannot be done to avoid inappropriate channel surfing.”  He just knew his curiousity was too high for the temptation when he was bored and alone.

Here is another many couples I know have taken on:  “I will not counsel a cross gender person on issues of their spouse, marriage, or intimacy issues.  I will defer those people to my spouse, or schedule times to talk when we are together.”  Some professionals, counselors, and church staff, must work around this issue in other ways, but for the general public, even deacons, this is often a good rule of thumb.  It cannot be entirely avoided, at times, but you can see warning signs, and divert care-givers to these people who are more healthy for them long-term.

CAN’T WE HAVE FUN?

Yes!  Living life well is fun!  There is no more fulfilling life.  Honor for the spouse is the priority.  These couples want to do whatever it takes to protect what is stated to be most important to both of them, especially for what they perceive to be “high-risk” situations.

Some people are geared to be, (or negligent in being, depending on how you want to view it) more “playful” than others.  Some “playfulness” can be tempered with maturity and exemplify priorities like love, respect, and honor for an esteemed spouse.  If the spouse is honestly not offended, carefully consider witness on this issue.  What you and your spouse may be strong enough to handle, young people, or young marriages around you may be playing with fire to try to emulate.  There is nothing so painful as seeing someone follow in your footsteps… and fall.  Nothing.

“Humanity”, or what is called simply”human-ness”, “attachments” can so entagle us that foolishness can start “looking wise in our own eyes”. We may feel that what is clearly common sense no longer applies to us.  For this reason, accountability with our spouse and others is so important…it holds us true to ground zero– “center”.

NEEDS:

While a spouse is not always at fault for the faithlessness chosen by a spouse, it is important to try to keep your relationship healthy.  A healthy marriage is a more resilient marriage.  A healthy marriage should make temptations easier to resist.  A healthy marriage should feel like something very much worth protecting in a world where they are hard to find.

I’m not sure that I can cover these topics in full here, but they are some ideas to prayerfully consider if you are struggling on either end of this spectrum, the offending spouse, or the one offended.

You are Changing and Growing:

Unmet, or even “created” “needs” can begin to dominate reasoning processes to the point where we are not using good sense.  In such a setting, excuses and reasonings can begin to sound like “God’s provision” when they are not.  A time like that isn’t logically a time to trust yourself.  It’s a time to use common sense.

I say “created needs” because your spouse, not another person, should be the first to know when your “needs” are changing. I also say “created needs” because Satan has a good way of creating or magnifying “needs” we may not even have known we had; now we suddenly “deserve” to have filled.  He trips us up.  He is not called “the deceiver” for nothing.  We become “me” centered…much more than usual. A breakdown begins.

Now, you may have to tell your spouse, even though someone else picked up on it first!  That’s okay!  It’s okay it they thought they “knew” you, and you’ve changed a little.  It’s okay if family responsibilities haven’t allowed them to see the person you’ve become.  Family life is very consuming.  They probably know you better than anyone on the planet, in fact!

Change is the maturing process of life, and we must choose to continue to reveal ourselves to one another, just as God reveals Himself to us along our path.  While He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we are constantly “getting to know” Him!  Our marriages are just as rich. Celebrate that! Don’t just assume that you are “no longer in love” because someone along your path suddenly “knows you better” than your spouse may at any given moment.  Simply recognize this and to draw closer to your spouse, while possibly “blocking” any “intruder” to your faithfulness.

Arrange times to reveal yourself to your spouse, and give them opportunity to stay in love with the person you are becoming.

Don’t assume they will grow with you if you are not creating common pathways.  Build your lives around one another.  That’s how you stay married…not by walking in opposite directions for so long that you claim you’ve just ‘fallen out of love’.

Love is nurtured and built, not just dropped in our laps.  The most enduring loves must choose to grow together, and even choose to wait on one another to catch up to where we are at times.

One suggestion might be to try to arrange some marriage retreat time and work on new goals for your relationship together.  Take those times seriously when your spouse tries to talk to you.

Don’t go blaming your spouse for not meeting needs they didn’t realize you were having.

THE GIFT OF CONTENTMENT:

Don’t expect family life to feel like the same thrill as the dating stage was!  You have a lifetime of work cut out for you, especially those of you raising children or caring for aging family members.

Realize that there is a great stability and calm and reliability to the “sameness” of marriage…enjoy it’s benefits without wishing for times that are past, with all their moodiness, unpredictability, and…dare I say, expense?

Learn the art of contentment.  “Godliness with contentment [NIV] (that contentment which is a sense of inward sufficiency) is great gain. “(I Timothy 6:6 AMP).  What does “inward sufficiency” come from if not from Christ who is our “all” and “all in all”?  Letting Christ be your completion fills the holes of these times if you will let him, sometimes, while the dust settles and things calm.  Continuing to allow access to your life by a third person while saying you are “trusting Christ” probably only means you are fooling yourself.  If someone has come in between you and your spouse, cut off the relationship.

While growing together, also learn to appreciate the joy of being able to rest in your marriage relationship without expecting it to constantly maintain the “spark” of a new relationship.  In marriage, there will be moments of “spark”, but there will also be days of “work” and “mood” and “sickness”.  This is marriage.

“Growing Apart”

Getting too attached to someone outside the marriage can, and most likely WILL interfere with relationship with our own spouse.  Suddenly, someone else knows more about what is going on with us than our spouse does, and there is great danger in that.  I am not referring to professional counseling situations that are needful, but those need to be examined.

Keep the focus what, or rather WHO, should be the focus.

Yes, I believe that your marriage partner SHOULD be your best opposite gender friend.  If he/she is not, there is much room for improvement, and much room for caution.

Needs:

Let’s talk some more on “needs”.  How can we find out what our needs are?  A book I recommend is,  His Needs Her Needs:  Building an Affair-Proof Marriage.

This is a book to be completed in a marriage class.  A strong leader guiding a class through this book can build you up, hold you to task, challenge you, and take you higher than you’ve ever been in relationship with your spouse.  You’ll come out a different couple.

You might be asking, does every single need we have get met in marriage?  Not entirely.  But there is a healthy cluster of “need-meeting” that defines who we are as a couple…it builds us up, and is basic to the health of a marriage.  “Need-meeting” can be greatly improved for most of us so that we are “satisfied” (even without being married to the “perfect spouse”…and no one is “perfect“!

We all have strengths and weaknesses, things we need to improve on.

THE PROBLEM WITH “STARTING OVER”

Did you know that second marriages a greater chance statistically of also failing?  Third marriages even more so!  Let the one go, and cling to the cherished “spouse of your youth” as Proverbs says.  Make a commitment to just keep getting better!  You can do it together.

There is, actually, no “starting over”.  What happens in all our relationships, we carry with us through life…they become part of who we are and have become.  They help  make us, form, and shape us.  This is why scripture encourages us to be careful who our friends are, for we will become like them.  We become “one” when we marriage in God’s eyes.  There is nothing to make us “un-one” with him.  We take remnants of that with us wherever we go.  Childen still embrace both parents and their “ONE” family of origen.  We cannot take that from them.  To try to do so is very harmful, even to adulthood.  Imagine the discomfort of not being able to suddenly discuss one parent interaction in front of the other without a tinge of bitterness and anger in every conversation.  How miserable for children!  To learn to love is the better choice, when it is physically and emotionally possible to do so.  I am not speaking here of long-term situations of abuse or severe cases of neglect.

HIS life; HER life…

Some couples seem to isolate certain areas of their personal lives as “my zone”.  That is okay, but also take care to have interests and hobbies you share together, even if it isn’t your “thing”…support your spouse.  Learn about their interests.  Be a cheerleader.  Enjoy watching them do what they do well.  Celebrate their interests on occasion.  Take some part of the most fun things in their life.  Value the whole of who they are.

HOPE: God offers hope for marriage.  It is His design.  It is the best design.  It is not trouble-free, and it can easily be threatened.  It is God’s commitment to make it work, in His ways, His time.

Who are we to question what He has given?

We have to do it His way or satisfaction will not to follow.

His standards.

You have been made aware:  hormones and emotional attachments can grow strong!  So, don’t tempt the human being you are.  Respect it.  Flee from temptation.

Don’t dance with it for the joy of the song.  Turn off the music and walk back to your spouse.  Find your music there!  It is playing, however quietly.

A Biblical principle :  “to honor family above all else is to honor God above all else.”

Honor God by setting yourself up to stay “honorable”.

HOW IT BEGINS:

Nobody sets out one day to have an affair.  Lines are crossed.

Pride is our enemy.

Reasoning takes it’s toll.

Boundaries are about learning how to do battle BEFORE trouble takes hold.  Few recover after it does.  Though some do.  Learn how to recover if you fall.

Learn how to pull away when you need to.  It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.  Character is learned.  Pass the tests!

Remember that it is YOUR marriage.  You two have to make the rules to some degree.  You are not responsible for setting them for everyone else and judging them for not following guidelines that work for you.

Boundaries you set are for the protection and honor of your marriage and spouse. Think about sticky situations in advance together so that you consider how to respond in ways that honor the Lord and your marriage. God says there is no test where they is not a way out.  Plan the escape routes NOW!  Rehearse the words you will say–rehearsed or prepared responses may save the day.  They will allow you to say, “This is how I treat everyone to honor my spouse, it’s not personal.”

While these ideas are meant to be read in the context of cross-gender interactions for married couples, some of them are safe principles to keep in mind even for single folks out there.

Some Guides that May Help

  • VEHICLES: there is usually a same gender person who can help run the errand, go get the car, or take you home.  It’s too big a set-up if it happens frequently.  No, it doesn’t look co-dependant to call a spouse and ask for permission.  Just don’t volunteer or say “I’ll get back to you in a few minutes on that” if someone asks.  I went into detail as to how you can phrase this above, so I won’t repeat that here.
  • MEALS: Eating meals together over conversation, drinking coffee or having break time with one person primarily and often during breaks is a set up.  Recognize the ways we set ourselves up and steer clear.  In most parts of the country, even the “business lunch” can be avoided in favor of safer situations.  Join groups, wait for you spouse or another person to show up.
  • SUPPORT: A frequent one I’ve seen that spells trouble:  young moms at church during socials and meals.  Develop and look for supportive people who are healthy for you.  Even a well-meaning deacon can get in the way striving to do nothing more than “serve” initially.  Deacon wives, step in.  Be available to young moms.
  • PHONE CALLS: Keep calls pointed.  When points of dead air time are there with no reason to remain on the phone, it’s time to excuse yourself and get back to work.  Don’t extend conversations into involved personal matters if it doesn’t apply to the two of you, and even if it does, don’t make those calls frequent or prolonged.  Deal with it, let your spouse know there is something up (say you are on a ministry team together and need to work something out).  Feel free to ask about their family in general, but don’t delve deeply into personal issues, family issues,  or behavioral issues–invite the couple over to supper and interact as groups if that support is needed.  Deep issues need to be handled with those trained to do the job and truly provide help needed.  Don’t connect with an opposite gender person more than it seems their spouse is–VERY easy to do with IMs, blogs, chat rooms and texting!
  • PERSONAL CONVERSATIONS: Don’t talk cross gender about marriage problems, struggles, and frustrations.  You cannot be a safe brother or sister if their heart is hurting.  Send someone who is appropriate if you sense a need, even if you can’t break the confidence…send relationships their way, and trust God with them. Assure them you and your spouse will pray.  Try to shift or cut off the conversation if you need to.  If you are a minister…find good training, have great accountability, keep working at building a strong marriage , and stick to strong personal boundaries.  Have co-ministers who ask you hard questions. and help you vent stresses.
  • WATCH SHOWING OFF YOUR SPOUSE: This may sound absurd on first thought, but affair-proofing marriages means you are careful to not create dissatisfaction for the brother or sister who has it hard in that area.  By all means, brag on your spouse as God leads!  In doing so, just try to be sensitive to not provoke jealousy one on one with your co-worker.  Solomon made this mistake, and brought vulnerability on himself when he he showed off even the secret storage rooms of his castle to visitors, noting to them everything he had.  He held nothing back from them.  His castle was invaded shortly thereafter.  Learn from Solomon’s example when it comes to your marriage.
  • THE WORKPLACE:  Consider the “open-door” policy.  If you have an office…leave the door open as much as is possible for meetings, talks, and interactions.  Don’t make other Christians cringe with the playful way you interact at work.  Treat people honorably.  Act as if your spouse were present.
  • PRAYER: Learn how to pray non-emotionally.  This can feel backward in light of attempts toward authenticity.  But if you need to pray for someone cross gender, be very careful.  Heart ties are formed very easily in prayer, both healthy and unhealthy ones.  Point them to strength of God…not the strength found in hearing YOU pray.  You don’t need to be SuperPerson, Hero of the Day, or The Lone Ranger.  Let a spouse or other “safe people” be the one to “reach their heart” in prayer, or hunt down your spouse before the time of prayer…this honors and values their involvement in your ministry.  You are “one”!
  • COMPLIMENTS: this is an area of high need for most people.  Seasoned and matured people have learned to deal with stray flattery and even honest compliments.  We all want and need to be complimented.  But beware of frequent compliments toward the same person or received FROM the same person too often.  Be aware that many spouses do not meet this need well.  Don’t make someone stumble in an attempt to build them up.  Be sensitive and pray for wisdom.  You can be an encourager to people without causing them to stumble.  Strive for this goal.
  • SERVICE: In general, men need to take care of men, and women need to meet the needs of women, or couples need to work in pairs.  Jump in there.  Don’t be shy.  If your church doesn’t support this model, gently nudge from time to time and see if doors open for you.
  • SPOUSE SUPPORT: Get to know the people your spouse serves — let them know you; be open.  You might take treats to his office, where that may be helpful.  Show yourself to be taking care of him, not pulling him down.  If He has female staff, they will respect and honor you for your commitment to and love for, him. Call during lunch.  Show regular,  priority in these things toward your spouse.  When you honor each other, others will honor your relationship as well.
  • DRESS: Pray about what you need to wear each day.  If God doesn’t give you a complete peace about it, stop and change, even if you are in a hurry.  This deals more with women than men, but to many men as well.  If YOU are the focus of your dress rather than the function you need to perform that day, reconsider WHY you are dressing the way you are.  What need are you trying to meet, and should it be met outside of your marriage?  If you are hoping to be noticed and given attention…discipline yourself, and allow God to help grow you to maturity so that you aren’t causing someone else’s spouse to stumble.  Reject the “it you’ve got it, flaunt it” notion, or it’s partner that says you can play up one suite to compensate for lack of strength in another.  The goal is modesty and appropriateness so that no one stumbles.  Women can provoke jealousy and frustration with other women by not respecting these sensitivities.  If you want to flaunt what you’ve got, save it for date night with your spouse.  No one else needs to see you flaunting.   Be well dressed.  Take care of yourself.  Be lovely.  Be handsome and well groomed.  Take good care of yourself and your appearance, only guard the reasons behind what you are doing.

Some of these are to discuss as a couple, some are to prayerfully consider yourself over time.

God bless you as you strive for the joy and happiness God planned for you and yours!

Other Resources:

Focus on the Family (www.FOTF.org)  They have awesome real-life testimonies and tapes

“Marriage Partnership” is a Christian-based magazine which you can subscribe to.  Great “bathroom” reading.

Email, or comment below.  I appreciate your thoughts and will pray for you.

About the author:  “Magnanimity” is a personal blog from a stay-at-home Mom with BS degrees in Individual & Family Development/ Family, & Consumer Finance.  The word “Magnanimity” is a bi-word reminding her to live life purposefully according to scriptural principles. She is married to a wonderful man, and they raise three children together, she plays keyboard in her church band, and has a new chocolate lab named Daisy who will soon weigh more than she does (note: she doesn’t like dogs in particular.)  She does like a lot of hazelnut and vanilla cream, AND sugar in her decaf coffee (a coffee wimp, in other words).

Other related blog entries on related subjects:

The Crush and The Christian Marriage

How Do I Forgive a Crush on My Spouse? (Boundaries in Marriage)

Christian Dress:  I Need to Feel Sexy: Meeting a Real Need

Christian Dress (Part 2): Some Practical Examples

How Do I Get My Spouse to (               ):  Working Together Toward a Spectacular Marriage

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Entry filed under: Christianity, People, Relationship & Sexuality. Tags: .

Clippings Left Behind July Weekend Trip 2006

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Misty  |  July 28, 2006 at 11:51 am

    Interesting topic. I think I could forgive as long as hubby didn’t reciprocate the affection and was open about it. And as long as she didn’t stalk him or anything. Totally depends on the situation. Might take a lot of work if it’s too involved.

  • 2. bryonm  |  July 29, 2006 at 8:34 am

    How does a woman find out that another woman has a crush on her husband? That’s what I’d like to know.

    I like to tell my wife about all the young chickies that have a crush on me just to make her jealous. She just rolls her eyes. “Like YOU got a prayer,” she says.

    My wife wouldn’t have trouble forgiving. I think she’d expect the woman to have her head examined.

  • 3. bryonm  |  July 30, 2006 at 1:21 pm

    Hooray. I was funny.

    Thanks for leaving the comment on my blog 🙂

  • […] How Do I Forgive a Crush on My Spouse? (Boundaries in Marriage) […]

  • 5. Maria  |  October 16, 2006 at 8:06 pm

    Thanks for this article. I’ve been married for 13 years; I’m 35. My husband has had an “emotional” affair with a woman at work who is starry-eyed over him. They are both Christians, so nothing physical came of it (Praise GOD). He still is working with her (He is actaully her “mentor” there, training her to do what he does, so he has to work with her.) He came to me to tell me on his own, and we’ve been working on our marriage. But this woman still has feelings for my husband, and it’s difficult to know that every day he is with her (btw, she’s 26, size 2, gorgeous…). He is looking for new work, but in the meantime, I must trust God and know that my husband answers to Him. Thanks for the article.

  • 6. Isles  |  November 12, 2006 at 9:25 pm

    I really appreciated this article and it had a lot of realistic, and wise counsel to it. I would like to know how to address a boundary issue not with your spouse but with your best friend who tends to show too much ‘love’ towards your husband? Esp. if this best friend loves the Lord, is very involved with God on a daily basis, not just on Sunday mornings. I am having a hard time letting my friend know that I am my husband’s “helper” not her and even though it is not often, I am troubled by her over-extended generosity towards him. I feel if I approach this with her, it will harm our friendship and she does mean a lot to me. Any Christ-like advice would be appreciated. God bless!

  • 7. Mag  |  November 14, 2006 at 12:15 am

    Isles: I tried to email you Isles and it returned. I’ll be glad to try to comment here for the benefit of others reading as well. (This little box seems so small for such a conversation! Apologies.)

    1. Which friendship is more valuable and important to you than anything else in the world besides Jesus?

    2. Which ranks higher…maintaining female friendships, or cultivating friendship, security, and safety within marriage?

    Hard questions we need to ask at times. Not to “insulate” overly, but to be responsive with something tells us it’s time to pull back.

    These “leading” questions may help us realize that sometimes even female friendships need to be honed, toned down, or just be cyclical in nature. Female friendships often instead try to maintain the same type “best friend” atmostphere that we had in high school or college. Women, those days have passed. We have now married our best friend. It’s important to try to respond to the ebb and flow of life enough to be available when it’s time to draw closer together, sometimes to the exclusion of other important and even meaningful, supportive relationships.

    Other friendships need to be able to wax and wane with seasons, with your needs and demands, and your marriage’s comfort level of having others in your space…for whatever reasons, for either of you. Hopefully you will both experience meaningful friendships…but as family life takes off, more and more time needs to be invested in home life, and less and less time is available for outside relationships. This is just the cycle of family.

    One possible approach to help you get started while “gently teaching” your friend is to say something like, “Friend, don’t take it personally if you see less of me for a while. God has really laid it on my heart to completely “outserve” my husband right now, to be the helpmate, woman, and person he needs. I need some space from other things to stay focused on my job. Forgive me if I seem a bit out of touch…I know we can always pick up right where we left off. I take great comfort in that and hope you will as well as we have time to catch up from time to time. I am excited to see what God will do with your gifts of service and teaching until we get a chance to catch up again.”

    In your sitaution, ultimately, after you win your husband’s ear and friendship, he will be open to your heart to ask him to reject help and gifts from her and affirm you instead in ways like: “Oh, thanks, but I’m waiting on my wife to eat. No thanks. How’s the family? Good…hope your all well. [exit scene].”

    “Boundaries in Marriage” by Townsend and Cloud would be one I would recommend.

    Thanks for trusting me enough to read and ask and consider. I hope this was helpful in some way. I’m honored to just walk it out with you. Many blessings to all.

    ~Maggie

  • 8. Isles  |  November 15, 2006 at 7:37 am

    Hello, I emailed you 🙂 Hope to hear from you soon.
    Blessings

  • 9. Leslie  |  January 26, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    I truly thank you for this article, as it is very timely in my life. I am 35 and have been married for nearly 13 years, I am also pregnant with identical twin girls. Today, I happened across an e-mailed correspondence between my husband and one of his former female soldiers (He is in the Military) The tone of the e-mail was mostly just a friendly greeting, as this lady has moved on to another country and no longer works with my husband, however, at the end of the e-mail, my husband expressed to this woman that he had recently revealed to yet another female colleague that he had a crush on both the other lady and this one as well. He goes on to say that he never said anythiong about it because some things are better left unsaid, but since she is now gone and the other woman is leaving soon too, he figured it would be okay. I feel extremely hurt and betrayed by these comments. I feel that they were highly inappropriate and disrespectful both to me and to our marriage, especially since I am 6 months into a very high-risk pregnancy. I am having a difficult time digesting this, especially since it’s so new and since my husband keeps insisting that he meant only that he had professional admiration for them and the way that they performed their jobs. I am having a very difficult time getting to a place where I can forgive and now wonder if I can trust him at all. I know that I must trust in the Lord and put this situation in His hands…I only pray that my husband can and will do the same.
    Again I thank you for the wonderful article and wish you many Blessings!

  • 10. Maggie  |  January 27, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Leslie: I am honored to read your sincere comment on the blog. What a struggle to face. But, you are strong. You must be to endure the rigors of being the wife of a military personnel! I know.

    I don’t know if you’ll get this or not (you are free to submit a pretend email address/name for posts like this), but just wanted to let you know that you are prayed for today, and I’m here if you need a short- term ear. This is a critical period for your marriage. I’m glad it was brought to light so that you both can deal with it openly and honestly. I will be praying for grace for you as you both learn and mature in relationships in ways that build up your marriage rather than threatening to tear it down.

    “Crush” is a wordly term that needs to likely be eliminated from married person’s description of feelings toward other people for a number of reasons. It sounds like it can be made innocuos, but the fact that it’s not cearly defined in it’s meaning is what makes it so fearful. Imaginations can run wild for all, even if it was just meant, as you say as “I admire you”, or whatever. There are reasons there are differences in the English languages, and there is a big difference in “admire” being stated, and “crush” being used.

    “Crush” carries romantic undertones…perhaps not of the candlelight or date variety, but of the “attraction” variety. While it is normal and human to be attracted even after we are married, there are some things that need to be taken to the Lord and sorted with Him rather than vocalized or acted on. To send an email, make a call, leave a note, or say something inappropriate or flirtatious are responses to
    have the Lord deal with in us. Pray for your man as he takes these things to the Lord. At this point, he may need the wisdom of another strong man, for it seems he is crossing boundaries, perhaps without realizing he’s about to get himself into trouble.

    Staying “professional”is using professional language. Professional respect calls for a mature response. Hopefully he will learn how to express that respect and admiration in safe ways. We are all learning.

    People of all ages and all marriages have much to learn to deal with adult relationships, so have hope. You are in a difficult situation and will have an emotional time dealing with this…but hope, and have faith. Continue to believe in your man and help steer him toward what builds you up and makes you feel safe when he’s away.

    God can do more in your marriage than he’s done so far.

    Blessings in Christ,
    Maggie

  • 11. annie  |  April 10, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    My husband had never drank until he met the people across the
    street, he would go over when i was at work. Then the wife told my husband that her husband had an affair with another women should she
    have an affair with another man and he came and told me about. They
    would talk on the phone all the time. He would go over every night and drink except when I was off. And she always put her husband down
    and praise my husband, and he would tell me all this and tell me nothing happened between them. But when she called my husband to come and rescue her from the husbands friend while i was here, that
    told me something right there. He also told me when we started fighting about it, that he would leave over them, would hit me when i called her a bitch. Also found her phone number all time not her
    husbands. But i am the one that has to stop saying anything.
    I know I need to leave him, just wish it was easier, i mean we have been together for 30 years. It really hurts.

  • 12. hildah  |  September 12, 2007 at 5:28 am

    trying to forgive my husband who had an emotional affair with a lady friend of his that was visiting us. All this time he made me run ard for her and i thought he just wanted us to be nice to her. then this one night i findout abt their affair. its been 2months and i am still very angry at him because despite the fact she leaves in a different country they still communicate. i feel like i shd give up but i have 2 lovely boys to think abt. we are all christians a pray abt this but the pain just cant go

  • 13. Josh and Pam Snapp  |  October 5, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Thank you. We have been experiencing horrible problems with scenarios just like these. We searched on boundaries and were led to this article. Thank you again for providing much needed advice in a world where the respect for marriage is discarded.

  • 14. Joseph  |  September 18, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    I have major trouble in a two year marriage that seems like we have been together for 30 years. I am so frustrated with it all . Its like I just want to give up trying. I have been saved for one year and still learning about the Lord, but I feel alone and i fit the bill of a husband who is saying If he/she can get away with _______, I can have a little fun, too! See how they feel! Please !!!!!!!HELP

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ME: “MAGGIE”

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Sifting the joy from the mundane:

recording, photographing, learning, creating.

I am married to the love of my life, as we raise three children, learning the ways of grace.

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Magnanimity (derived from the Latin roots magn- great, and anima, soul) is the virtue of being great of mind and heart. It encompasses, usually, a refusal to be petty, a willingness to face danger, and actions for noble purposes. Its antithesis is pusillanimity. Both terms were coined by Aristotle, who called magnanimity "the crowning virtue."

Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary of the American Language defines Magnanimity as such:

MAGNANIM'ITY, n. [L. magnanimitas; magnus, great, and animus, mind.] Greatness of mind; that elevation or dignity of soul, which encounters danger and trouble with tranquillity and firmness, which raises the possessor above revenge, and makes him delight in acts of benevolence, which makes him disdain injustice and meanness, and prompts him to sacrifice personal ease, interest and safety for the accomplishment of useful and noble objects.[1] (Source: Wikipedia)

MAGNANIMOUS WORK

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"We shall not waste our time in looking for extraordinary experiences in our life, but live by pure faith, ever watchful and ready for His coming by doing our day-to-day duties with extraordinary love and devotion." ~Mother Teresa

MAGNANIMOUS LIFE:

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"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not come. We have only today. Let us begin." ~Mother Teresa

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MAGNANIMOUS ATTITUDE

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A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in it's vicinity freshen into smiles. --Washington Irving

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MAGNANIMOUS LIFE

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When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. -Harriet Beecher Stowe

YOU CAME; I SMILED

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Please know that I am not posting as an expert, but as a fellow traveler. I recommend that you research and double check things on your own before taking any advice or instruction from this site.  Information is given in good faith for the time period in which it was written. I am also an affiliate of the Sure Cuts A Lot software, for Cricut, which means you don't need Cricut cartridges to cut any font or .jpg on your computer.  I get some pocket change for introducing you if you choose to buy it by clicking on my site.  And we all know I need more cardstock, so I do appreciate it.  I sometimes review other products for a fee, but I am not required to give a positive review, and post honestly as to my experience.  I hope you find this useful.

Sidebar photographs by Maggie except "clay mugs". Others, stockxchng (by permission) unless noted.

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