Poison ivy is my nemesis. I’ve learned the hard way to stay as far away from it as possible or suffer the consequences for weeks. I used to try to carefully pull it myself, but I’m convinced that the oils are strangely attracted to me. Now, when I see it in the yard, I stop weeding or whatever I’m doing and ask someone else to carefully remove it for me.
If we treated sexual temptation in the same way, there would be a lot less remorse, heartbreak and broken marriages. Sexual temptation is not something that we are adequately equipped to face head-on.
Two of my female interviewees shed light on how to handle tempting situations. (Maybe you think women are never tempted, but they are often tempted to begin emotional affairs, which can lead to physical affairs. Men are believed to physically cheat more frequently, so it’s even more important for them to not place themselves in risky situations.)
So, back to the two women. The first was a newlywed who didn’t feel her husband was meeting her needs. She opened up to a man at work who was also unhappy in his marriage. They had lunches and team-building meetings together. Before long, their one-on-one lunches were being held at a local motel. This wife was very fortunate to salvage her marriage 30 years ago, and both spouses made major changes over a long period of time to build a new relationship. Many marriages would not have survived this major breach of trust.
The second woman—who thought she would never be tempted sexually—was attracted to a music teacher with whom she had private lessons at home. Her husband was busy with work, and she found herself listening too hard for the instructor’s compliments and enjoying his company too much. She decided to quit the lessons and tell her husband about her feelings. The fact that her husband had no jealousy or feelings of mistrust (in fact he just joked about it) is a testament to the strength of their relationship. She ended the contact before her feelings became a problem, but she felt it wasn’t worth risking her marriage to place herself in a tempting situation.
I doubt there’s anyone who has been married more than a few years who hasn’t faced at least a tinge of attraction or temptation toward someone other than their spouse. Mutual attraction can be a nice feeling. You find someone who has common interests, “gets” your personality or is fun to be with. However, you only have to read about the politicians, celebrities, and even people of faith, whose private lives have been splashed across the news to know it’s a serious and common problem. They all probably thought they could handle the temptation.
Do you think flirtations and private communication with members of the opposite sex are no big deal? Better to treat these liaisons like poison ivy.