Question: "How can married Christians avoid emotional affairs?"

An emotional affair occurs when a married person shares emotional intimacy and support with an individual other than his/her spouse. Marital partners should share problems, feelings, and needs with one another and determine the boundaries of what can be shared and to whom. Depending on others to meet our emotional needs can become a temptation, especially when spouses spend much time apart while spending large blocks of time with others. Co-workers and those in close proximity on a daily basis can become a substitute for emotional support. Work relations and friendships need to have proper boundaries to ensure they do not become inappropriate.

There are warning signs that a platonic friendship could be leading to an emotional affair. When we start to feel a need to hide aspects of a relationship, we are crossing a line into inappropriate territory. Emotional distance between spouses or an increase in arguments may indicate one spouse is turning to another person for closeness. Intimacy requires closeness, and that cannot happen if a spouse gives his/her closeness to someone outside the marriage. Thus, emotional affairs often lead to sexual affairs as the intimate emotional closeness shifts to physical closeness. Many people deny the seriousness of an emotional affair, but such affairs are not harmless and can destroy marriages and families.

Christians should make choices that guard against the temptation to lean on someone other than the spouse God has given to them. Here are some wise choices:

   1. Do not spend time alone with anyone of the opposite gender, especially someone you are attracted to.
   2. Do not spend more time with another person than your spouse.
   3. Do not share intimate details of life with anyone before sharing it with your spouse.
   4. Live transparently. Do everything as if your spouse is present.
   5. Devote personal time to prayer and Bible study. Ask God to put a hedge around your marriage.
   6. Maintain a pure thought life. Do not entertain fantasies about other people.
   7. Plan time with your spouse on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and use those times to build emotional closeness between you.

All of these choices will help Christians to identify weak areas and avoid the temptation of an emotional affair.

Christian priorities put marriage and family second only to the Lord. The Lord designed marriage to make two people into one person (Genesis 2:24). He wants them to grow together and let nothing separate them (Matthew 19:6). Married partners must value their relationship in the way the Lord values marriage and work on ways to build closeness in order to strengthen it. The Lord also forbids adultery or lusting for a person outside of marriage (Proverbs 6:25; Exodus 20:14; Matthew 5:28). People who go outside the Lordís design to meet their needs will ultimately sin against God and potentially ruin their relationships with Him and with one another (Proverbs 6:32; 1 Corinthians 6:9–20).

The world believes that married partners need to have separate lives to be healthy. That is simply not Godís plan in creating men and women or marriage. He intended for married people to share a life together and create a family. Intimacy is formed when people are planning their lives together rather than living two separate lives in the same household. Those who do not understand Godís plan for married people can be misled into thinking it is unhealthy to share everything with one person, but that is what makes marriage different from any other relationship. It is a blessed union between two people and mirrors that of Christ and His church. Sharing intimacy with someone other than a spouse, whether the intimacy is physical or emotional, is sin and a violation of trust.

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