Is That Really Cheating?

Ashley Wheelon

My friend felt betrayed, alone, and rejected by the one who had vowed to love her unconditionally. As I listened to the story of her marriage, broken by an affair, I shamefully breathed a sigh of relief because my marriage was different…right?

It’s easy to let ourselves off the “cheating” hook when our sin isn’t physical intimacy outside of marriage. But there is more than one way to be unfaithful to your spouse. Adultery destroys people, but we can do just as much damage to our marriage without ever being physically intimate with someone else (Proverbs 6:32). Because the sin of adultery begins in the heart, it’s important to be aware of ways to guard your relationship with your spouse (Matthew 15:19).

7 Ways Spouses Cheat on Each Other (Besides Sex)

1. Emotional Affair

When there’s a deeper emotional connection with a best friend, coworker, or a previous love interest you found on Facebook, that person has more of your heart than he or she should. Loving and respecting your spouse means sharing your most intimate fears, desires, hopes, and struggles in your marriage and with God before anyone else (Ephesians 5:33).

2. Another Confidant or Group

Community is a place of vulnerability, confession, accountability, and encouragement. But if that openness only happens with certain friends or at a Bible study, our spouses are robbed of the opportunity to walk alongside us in our faith (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

3. Hobby Obsession

Having an activity you love is a way to unwind, relieve stress, and enjoy life! Time spent doing that activity, though, should never come at the expense of your relationship with your spouse (Ecclesiastes 9:9).

4. Work Spouse

The workplace challenge is two-fold. Some work relationships can grow too close or become inappropriate, and eat away at a relationship. In both cases, a marriage can suffer (Mark 10:9).

5. Lust

The temptations of an easily accessible Internet makes pornography a huge hurdle in marriages. While there is no physical contact involved in looking at porn, it invites lust into your marriage, which erodes a relationship from the inside out (Matthew 5:27-28, Hebrews 13:4).

6. Children

Children are a good gift from God and we are called to train them up in the Lord. One of the best ways to do that is to model a godly marriage in which both spouses are committed to strengthening their relationship rather than putting each other on the back burner until the kids are out of the house (Psalm 127:3-5).

7. Social Media

One of the most distracting things in today’s culture is social media. Whether we’re checking Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, we should never be more devoted to catching up with online friends than we are with the one we share a bed with (Ephesians 5:25-33).

A physical betrayal in a marriage is devastating on so many levels. However, we can also betray our spouse without even realizing it at times. In some ways, we are all guilty of investing more time and energy in someone or something other than our spouse. Marriage is our most important relationship outside of our relationship with Jesus, so we must protect it.

We can betray our spouse without even realizing it.

Looking at my friend, it was easy to see the sin in her marriage, but it wasn’t always as easy to see my own. No matter what our sin looks like, though, God is always ready to forgive us and make us more like Jesus. His love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres; and that’s how I want to love my husband (1 Corinthians 13:7).

When we follow Jesus, our love starts to look like that. We protect our relationship with our spouse by guarding against cheating in every aspect; we trust in God’s design for marriage when the world tells us differently; we have hope even when the marriage is rocky; and we persevere, determining not to give up. That’s what I want my marriage to look like, and that’s what your marriage can look like, too.

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