How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage By Guarding Your heart

BY: - 25 Aug '17 | Infidelity

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In my most recent article 3 Ways to Fight for Your Marriage and Win After an Affair, I shared how my husband and I had reached an impasse in our relationship. With each of us having forsaken our vows and engaged in extramarital affairs, things weren’t looking good for us and we had decided to separate. But God placed it on my heart to attempt to reconcile with him.

Understand that marriage is a matter of the heart.  It always has and it always will be. It is no coincidence when you read most Christian marriage books, one of the key pieces of counsel provided is to “guard your heart.” In fact, Proverbs 4:23, states, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

God had warned me that his heart had become so cold that it would take me being extremely patient and understanding while owning and admitting the fault I contributed in all of this (remember we all play a part, so ownership is necessary to reconciliation).

I knew this was going to be an uphill battle and in order to succeed I had to guard my heart. Undoubtedly, guarding your heart is an essential component of marriage. However, these generalized calls to guard your heart in the midst of marriage fall short in three ways:

  • They tell you to guard your heart, but they don’t tell you how.
  • They tell you to guard your heart, but they don’t tell you why.
  • They tell you to guard your heart, but they don’t tell you how long.

The reason this becomes so critical is because a hardened heart is a dead heart, and a dead heart has no room for a marriage to live in because if the heart dies the marriage dies with it.

So when do hearts become unguarded? First, hearts become unguarded when you move too fast in your marriage. You must lay a foundation of friendship before building a house of intimacy.

Second, hearts become unguarded when you are not seeking God’s desires for the marriage. Instead of depending on your own understanding and priorities for the marriage, you must seek God’s heart.

Third, hearts become unguarded when there is poor communication about the marriage. This can include poor communication with God in prayer or poor communication with your spouse. If you are too afraid to talk to either of them about an aspect of your marriage, then you need to seek wise counsel.

How do you guard your heart?

Since most Christian marriage books put such a premium on guarding your heart, the result is that it often leaves couples paralyzed as their marriage develops. Instead of following God’s leadership in how much vulnerability to allow, they seek to set up extremely rigid boundaries on emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy. Let’s be honest—people like rigid boundaries over seeking the Lord because it seems easier until you realize it doesn’t work as my husband and I discovered.

Don’t get me wrong, am I saying that building boundaries in a marriage in order to guard your heart is wrong? No. What I am saying is that these boundaries should flow from your relationship with God. Prayer, not boundaries, is the means of guarding your heart.  How you approach your relationship with God is going to directly impact how you approach your marriage.

Why do you guard your heart?

Biblically, Solomon understood the heart to be the center of the whole person—not just the source of emotions and will but also of wisdom and perspective. In essence, the heart referred to who you were as a person.  Solomon rightly realized that what you do flows from who you are. That’s why he instructs you to guard the heart (who you are) because the wellspring of life (what you do) flows from it. So, in your marriage, guarding your heart is a call to protect your character and protect the core of your marriage.

How long do you guard your heart?

It depends on how you define guarding your heart. If we are talking about the type of guarding your heart implied by Christian books, then the answer is: guard every aspect of your marriage until God confirms it’s wise to move into deeper relational intimacy. (Obviously, the only go-ahead for physical intimacy is in the context of marriage.) In other words, it’s a progressive process. But if guarding your heart means protecting who you are so that you can influence what you do, then “How long?” is the wrong question. You should always be protecting your character because that dictates how you show up in your marriage.  In other words, it’s a perpetual process.

Guarding your heart is one of the most important yet least understood facets of marriage. It can paralyze you, or it can liberate you. Guarding your heart is the key to saving yourself in your marriage along with fighting for your marriage in a way that honors God. By so doing, you are a step ahead in one of the most important methods in affair-proofing your marriage.

BMWK, when it comes to protecting your marriage, are you guarding your heart?

About the author

Da-Nay Macklin wrote 47 articles on this blog.

Coach Da-Nay Macklin is a Certified Christian Life & Relationship Coach, founder of the Courageous Conquerors Mastermind and Author of Love After Adultery: The Breakthrough Journey of the Brokenhearted Available on Amazon She is one of the nation’s leading experts on infidelity and a thought leader on maximizing potential as she assists couples and individuals to live life by design and not default. Da-Nay has been has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s show Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal after successfully navigating adultery in her marriage, and named one of the 15 most powerful women on the south side of Chicago. She now resides in Charlotte, NC with her loving husband and daughter.

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Revenge Cheating: 5 Ways it Sabotages Both Marital and Individual Recovery

BY: - 11 Sep '17 | Infidelity

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“Last night was well worth it!”

Imagine reading this text message on your husband’s phone. How would you react? Well, I don’t have to imagine and I can tell you exactly how I reacted…minus the cuss words of course. Being cheated on can cause you to lose your religion!

The interesting dynamic in our marriage is that we both cheated. Neither of our affairs was premeditated and, looking back, we were both naïve given the situations we allowed ourselves to get into. This is important to note and evaluate for your own marriage.  Please know I do not condone cheating and make no excuses. Rather, it is always important to consider and understand.

I cheated during our engagement and I told him.  A couple of days after my confession, I called my sister and, during our conversation, I shared the news.  I will never forget her response. ”Girl, you just gave him a get out of jail free card!” she said. Since I didn’t quite get it, she explained that telling him was like giving him permission to cheat on me, like revenge or retaliation.

Often times, we merely want our spouse to feel how we feel, especially when they have hurt us to our very core. It seems only “fair” that they FULLY FEEL the extent of the pain they’ve caused.  So we think that one way to achieve this after their affair would be to have an affair of your own. Sadly, along with your emotional and physical well being, retaliation affairs can damage your marriage’s chances of recovery. In other words, it yields results such as the following which are quite opposite of what is intended.

  1. You won’t get even. Your spouse’s affair broke the trust and shattered the bond instantly over what took you years to build in most cases. Your revenge affair can never have the same impact. Why? Think about it like this. When you break a vase it is broken, so if you drop it again, it is still broken, right? You can not break something that is already broken.
  2. You are not likely to make your partner feel victimized. Actually you can cause them to feel justified in having their affair. I have seen some use such actions as an excuse to continue their extra-marital affair.
  3. You will not make them ‘get’ how you feel. Rather than feeling guilty for betraying and hurting you, your revenge cheating will provide your spouse with an excuse to disregard your feelings while minimizing the consequences of their own actions.
  4. You are not likely “to teach them a lesson.” The only thing revenge cheating will teach them is that you have stooped to their level and have a spiteful spirit.
  5. You could possibly encourage them to cheat again. Your affair could make cheating seem acceptable in your spouse’s mind…after all you both did it, right? So why not do it again? These thoughts are likely to generate in your spouse’s head.

How it Sabotages Marital Recovery

  1. Guaranteed distraction that’s preventing you from addressing the real problems in the marriage that led to the affair in the first place.
  2. The marriage is already weak—a retaliation affair will negatively compound things so horribly that it sabotages any chance the marriage has to bounce back.
  3. A lack of intimacy is often an originator to affairs. Intimacy allows for connection and when participating in revenge cheating this will certainly cause you to disconnect even further and create an even greater emotional gap between you and your spouse.
  4. Bringing further betrayal to the marriage is like spraying weed killer on the foundation where you two will need to rebuild the groundwork of rebuilding trust.
  5. Revenge cheating often escalates hostility and can lead to domestic violence.

How it Sabotages Individual Recovery

  1. You can not conquer what you are not willing to confront. By participating in revenge cheating, all you are doing is using anger to “protect” yourself from dealing with the emotional pain you feel. Unless you deal with your pain you won’t be able to heal, nor will your marriage.
  2. Creating pain for your spouse will not make you feel better. Rather you will still feel just as betrayed, hurt, and outraged afterwards if not more because this can magnify already intensely raw emotions.
  3. Acting out like a child to your spouse is immature, unwise, and will likely leave you feeling guilty and regretful.
  4. Treat people how you genuinely want to be treated. This third party that you would be using is a real person like you with their own needs and feelings. This is not a time for you to risk further emotional casualties and complications.  You have enough to deal with in your marriage already. Yes?
  5. If you have not cheated thus far, then there is a reason. I’m guessing you are loyal, ethical, and value your morals. So compromising them can later cause feelings of regret and shame that are harmful to your emotional well-being.

Revenge cheating is a bad idea all around. Despite the hurt you feel from your spouse’s betrayal, if you truly want healing and a way to save your marriage, that’s just not the way to go. Take the time and seek the help needed to put your marriage back together, the right way.

About the author

Da-Nay Macklin wrote 47 articles on this blog.

Coach Da-Nay Macklin is a Certified Christian Life & Relationship Coach, founder of the Courageous Conquerors Mastermind and Author of Love After Adultery: The Breakthrough Journey of the Brokenhearted Available on Amazon She is one of the nation’s leading experts on infidelity and a thought leader on maximizing potential as she assists couples and individuals to live life by design and not default. Da-Nay has been has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s show Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal after successfully navigating adultery in her marriage, and named one of the 15 most powerful women on the south side of Chicago. She now resides in Charlotte, NC with her loving husband and daughter.

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