Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Choosing to Refrain

There is a battle waging in the hearts of so many married people. It is a conflict of what they know against what they feel. So often, affairs begin when a husband or wife unduly places their emotions on a pedestal, making an idol of their own heart. I know, because I've been there. Temptation finds root in our feelings, and I write today as a person who's looked this dreadful beast in the face. Temptation itself is not the source of a marriage's downfall, however, and here's why.

Temptation is a matter of feeling. Temptation's dark allure appeals to our primal and selfish desires, regardless of our conscience's objections. By contrast, faithfulness is a matter of choice. In the past, I've written on the topic of temptation from my own personal perspective, but I feel it's necessary to present a better alternative. If married couples wish to resist temptation, they need something else to embrace in its place.


Our society has elevated feeling to a place where it does not belong. Our emotional center should not be the compass of our lives.  Though feelings have their own value, we must submit them under a greater and more enlightened authority. We often hear of a person's emotions being centered in their heart, and I believe that each person is at odds constantly. There is a battle raging between our heart (what we feel), our mind (what we know), and our hands (what we do). We see it every day in the world around us. It's time for each of us to question where our allegiances lie.

You've heard it on TV before -- couples claim that their marriage was dissolved because they merely "fell out of love", as if their vows depended on feeling warm and fuzzy about each other. We've received emails like this before, and I can tell you with certainty that your marriage isn't won or lost on the basis of feelings. Instead, it is your choices that make the difference. The desires of your heart are always in flux, like the cascading waves in a vast ocean. Temptation cannot uproot your relationship by itself. Your response to temptation will either make or break you.

Desire is a feeling; restraint is a choice. The desires that influence a marriage cannot overcome it without the surrender of a spouse who's willing to give in to temptation. By indulging our flesh's base desires, we are giving up to the lower and more primal part of who we are. This is where affairs begin, when we allow the ever-changing current of our emotions to overcome our intellect and volition. As I look upon my own journey, I feel like my bow to temptation demoted me to the level of a mindless animal. I forfeited a part of myself in that moment.

Today, know where you stand. Your marriage cannot stand strong on the basis of how you feel. Knowing is superior to feeling, so embrace what you know is right for your home regardless of your emotions.  Faithfulness is a matter of what you choose, not what you want in the moment. If you find yourself drawn to the siren's song of temptation, choose to refrain. It is your choice that will either preserve your marriage or destroy it.

You are reading The Meaning of Repentance, a blog about the Hartsfields and their road to recovery after unfaithfulness. We encourage you to follow us on Facebook, and we urge you to contact us if you need help with the recovery process. We offer support services in-person and via Skype/Facetime.

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