Although the topic of infidelity is complex and there are many variables that fluctuate from one couple to another, there is undeniably a few key elements that exposed us to this tragically common situation. The setup may vary, but there's no doubt that affairs do not occur in a vacuum -- they are often symptoms of a greater underlying issue. An affair can be the most alarming manifestation of a systemic and possibly fatal sickness in your marriage.
In order to battle and overcome the sorrows of my affair, Hannah and I have worked tirelessly to uproot the foundational problems that placed our marriage in harm's way. Here are four pre-existing conditions that exposed us to the fallout of unfaithfulness.
1.) Neglect of Responsibility. First and foremost, I must face my role in this process as the chief person responsible for our marriage's well-being. I am the husband and the leader of our home. For years, we lived in turmoil as I haphazardly and inconsistently guided my family. Our life was like a fun-house mirror, where everything God had expected of me was distorted beyond recognition. I was passive; I was a coward. I bottled up frustrations, acted immaturely, and I failed to tend to the daily needs of our young marriage. I set the stage for this to happen, plain and simple.
2.) Spiritual Stagnation. In the weeks and months leading up to my affair, our marriage was stranded in a spiritual wasteland. We had settled into a church that we didn't like out of complacency, choosing to be a part of a very superficial community instead of investing in deep friendships. We were an island, with no deep and meaningful connections and no one to help steer us back on course. Again, this reflects poorly on my performance as a husband. It was my duty to shepherd my family spiritually, and I failed.
3.) Unresolved Baggage. Every person walks into marriage with some degree of baggage, no matter the source. Perhaps there are conflicts with your past, upbringing, or past boyfriends/girlfriends. The question is not whether you have baggage, but what you do with it. It can become the cinder block tied to your feet as you try to establish your new marriage. I had a myriad of unresolved problems regarding my past, and I thought I could simply forget them in time. I was wrong.
4.) Sheer Naivete. Like most couples, we began our relationship with a great deal of ignorance regarding the road that was before us. When it came to infidelity, we sometimes thought "that could never happen to us" or "my spouse loves me too much". Those concepts are based in fantasy, not reality. Your spouse is subject to temptation just like every other person that walks the Earth, and you must fight to stay faithful to your vows. Success is not a guarantee, and neither is fidelity. Once again, I neglected to prepare our marriage for the trials that lay ahead of us, and it cost us dearly. I walked into our marriage ill-prepared and aloof to what we would be facing. I will be discussing this idea of marital naivete more in a future post, so keep checking back.
As you see, the common thread that is woven through each of these elements is my failures and lack of willingness to rise up as the husband I should be. I was the reason it happened, and my wife did not deserve the torment that my immaturity has caused. I want to encourage everyone who reads this to earnestly examine the foundation in which their marriage is set on, because it can influence so much about your future.
You are reading a post on The Meaning of Repentance, a blog about the Hartsfields and their journey to recovery from unfaithfulness. Click here for a brief introduction and make sure to subscribe by email(on the right side) for regular updates.