Betrayal Begins in the Mind

Not long ago when the womanizing escapades of a famous professional athlete hit the media, a well-known sports talk-radio personality made the statement: "A man is only as faithful as his opportunities dictate."  He went on to explain that, in his view, rich and famous men have infinitely more attractive alternatives than the average man and that the temptation from these opportunities eventually overcomes marital allegiance.  While this talk-radio host was simply trying to be clever and humorous, he was actually more correct than he probably realized.  He was wrong about two things, however.  This pattern is not limited only to rich and famous people.  And, it is not limited only to men.

Research has demonstrated that the perceived availability of other potential partners has a significant impact on one's commitment to his/her marriage.  This is especially true for couples who are not satisfied in their marriages for various reasons.  All other things being equal, people are more likely to stay in their present relationship when they perceive their alternatives to be poor.  The more people are attracted to other potential opportunities the less personal dedication they have to their current partner.

If you find yourself thinking about being in a relationship with other people this is a serious red flag.  The more intense the attraction to others becomes - especially if you have a particular person in mind - the greater the jeopardy to your marital commitment.  If, at the same time, one or more people are indicating potential interest in you there is significantly greater capacity for the devotion to your spouse taking a major hit.

Some attempt to justify this phenomenon by concluding it's only natural to dwell on other possibilities, especially if your marriage is experiencing problems.  That may be true on some level, but it's also a huge step down the wrong path if you hope to make your marriage work.  Whether it's natural or not, you must fight this tendency if you value your relationship at all.  Others try to convince themselves that it's okay to imagine as long as you don't act on it.  This is an incredibly dangerous gamble, also.  Fantasizing (emotionally or sexually) about real, available alternative partners is teetering precariously close to the betrayal of your spouse and the destruction of your marriage.  It's no wonder that the Bible refers to this as adultery of the heart (Mat. 5:27-30). 

Here is some important information you need to know.  Studies show that people who are highly dedicated to their marriage mentally devalue other potential partners and ignore or refuse to acknowledge potential opportunities.  In other words, they look less and think less about other attractive alternatives as a matter of will.  Instead of putting mental energy into thinking about possibilities with others, they put their mental energy into creating a positive, enduring relationship with their spouse.
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