Marriage: Attracted to Someone Outside Your Marriage?
Q & A with Dr. Dave & Donalyn Currie—What if I find myself attracted to someone else outside our marriage?
Dave: Wow, Donalyn, this is a gutsy question! I am really glad that someone wanted it answered. Funny though. Many people might not even want to read our answer because somehow they think that others might think that THEY have a problem.
Donalyn: Well, congrats, reader! Here you are. You are brave and wise. The content here will make you stronger as a faithful partner.
Dave: Ok – let’s be honest. Within four months of our wedding while driving with my new bride, I remember doing the head turn for a very beautiful woman. Donalyn noticed and made some comment. At that time I felt hugely embarrassed that I had allowed myself to take note of this lady. Yes, she was pretty but inside I was thinking, “This is crazy! I have this amazing, gorgeous wife right beside me. What would ever possess me to stare at another woman?” I felt both humiliated and confused. It was a good wake-up call. People – we ALL can be tempted!
Donalyn: It might help our readers to realize that men and women are built differently. Men are visually stimulated and women are more emotionally driven. Temptations for men are usually based on looks, far greater at least than for most woman. And when men feel “chemistry”, it can get pretty complicated in their head! On the other hand, women are more enticed by touch, closeness and understanding. This high sense of connection can sidetrack them. But whether male or female, there are steps a person can take to address this issue.
Dave: You need to understand that being tempted by someone outside your marriage is not a new phenomenon. It’s not unique to you, and the truth is, you will likely continue to be curious from time to time. Don’t excuse it – just face it! So you need to develop a game plan on how to deal with tempting or enticing people in your world – those who start to catch your interest.
Donalyn: For starters, it would be helpful to do a little bit of self-analysis and ask yourself, “Am I finding myself fascinated with another person?” Admit it and then ask, “Why am I being attracted?”
Dave: Sometimes, a little chemistry begins to develop between a man and a woman at work. Often you spend quite a bit of time interacting. All good – all innocent at first. But you have just left your spouse that morning with major bedhead or after having had difficult words the night before. Then, at work, this other person is all dressed up and in the best part of their day. They are not battling kids or anything else. They are looking so fresh and so friendly. That’s where you might find yourself in a dangerous zone.
Donalyn: That’s right Dave. And what you need to remember is that you are only seeing the best side of the other person; you are not seeing their grumpy side. You are not seeing them in their worst moods. We hide our ugliness at work. We can forget that the person we are drawn to does have a dark side as well.
Dave: I like that, Babe! We tend to put our best foot forward in the world away from home and let it all hang out at home. Sheesh, it should be the opposite but it happens to most of us.
Donalyn: I remember a situation from when I was working in the tax office in Calgary. We were about three years married. There was a guy who took his coffee breaks at the same time as me. We often ended up being together with groups of people but it was clear, he was pretty persistent in his interest in me. I turned him down in his request to go out for dinner, saying, “I’m married,” and he said that he didn’t even care that I was married. So sometimes the attractions and the temptations are not very subtle and this new interest can be extremely confusing and even enticing especially if you’re struggling in your marriage.
Dave: I wanted to KILL HIM! But Donalyn is right. It is not only important to look at why you may be tempted, but it is also valuable to understand that you are most vulnerable if there’s a void at home. If the relationship is suffering at home, your primary focus needs to be on getting things right between you and your spouse, so you won’t have any context for temptation beyond the relationship.
Donalyn: That is excellent. We need to concentrate on our own spouse. Look for ways to reconnect if there is distance between you.
Dave: Donalyn was good at this. I loved her line because it didn’t put me on the defensive. She says, “I miss Us.” Sit down and work things out, apologize and forgive where needed. Look for ways to start saying I love you on a daily basis.
Donalyn: When we affirm and compliment our spouse for things we love about them, and treat them with kindness everyday, the relationship will improve over time. Work to make your relationship stronger.
Dave: Another key step if you are being drawn into a relationship beyond your partner: break the silence and keep no secrets. If you keep it to yourself, their power over you can grow.
Donalyn: You need to tell your spouse and also one other person who will hold you accountable. It wasn’t easy, but telling Dave about the guy at work broke any private connection. I am glad I did. Dave has done this too. It’s so healthy to do.
Dave: As a matter of fact, accountability is a powerful thing in the life of any person. I have been accountable to another man weekly for over 32 years now. This is a real gift to Donalyn – more than she knows I think. He and I talk openly about our temptations and struggles, and we hold each other accountable to clean up our act and honour God and our wives with our mind and with our eyes. I think that every person needs an accountability partner of the same gender who can push you face the issues in their life, whatever they are.
Donalyn: Temptation begins in the mind, so we need to set a guard inside our mind. Noticing beautiful people in your world is inevitable, but you can’t allow yourself to dwell there. The battles must ultimately be won in your mind, by refusing to linger on tempting thoughts. Dave has always said that an affair doesn’t start in the door of a bedroom; it starts in the window of your mind.
Dave: For that reason it is important to put boundaries in your relationships with people outside of your marriage. I have quite a list of limits. For example, for six years, I produced and co-hosted a TV Talk Show called Marriage Uncensored with Dave & Christie. We’ve known Christie since when I was Mark and her professor in 1982. She baby saattt our kids! We have remained really close – very brother-sister-like. It made great banter for the show too as a Irish redhead faced off against a very brash Scotsman! To safeguard that relationship, our commitment when working late was to always have a 3rd person present. That really works!
Donalyn: For as long as I can remember, Dave and I have agreed not to have a close friendship with someone of the opposite sex unless they are a close friends to both of us. We try to limit our contact with these people, and we don’t go out for lunch or for coffee alone with them.
Dave: And don’t talk about the struggles in your marriage with this opposite sex associate. Their sympathetic ear feels so good but is so dangerous. Your accountability partners – yes, your work teammate – no!
Donalyn: And be careful about verbal bantering and teasing. Women listen for words. Be sure that your kindness isn’t being misunderstood, and don’t let any sexual innuendos creep into your jokes, or allow teasing to become an enticement.
Dave: Of course, you also need to draw the line in physical contact. While Donalyn and I are both compassionate and expressive people, we very rarely give frontal hugs to people of the opposite sex unless the context is appropriate or we are both there. Instead we just give side hugs. You may think you’re just encouraging someone with a little hug, but for some, that can be misread to mean more.
Donalyn: Be honest with yourself. When you know you are really being desirous of another, the best thing you can do is simply flee. Put distance between you and the person that is being a distraction to you and to your marriage. That is what Joseph did in Genesis 39 when he fled his boss’ wife: he put distance between himself and the temptation. He ran. Smart people do.
Dave: When it really comes down to it, God needs to anchor us in our relationships. I want to live and die with integrity. I want Donalyn to feel safe when she is not with me. I want to finish well and for all my kids and grandkids to be proud of me. We honour both God and our mate when we make Jesus the Lord of our eyes and our hearts. Ask Him to set a watch over your eyes and your mind, so that you do not fall into a fatal attraction or become a temptation to someone else. Ask God what steps you need to take to protect your marriage right now. Talk to your spouse about this article.
May closeness, passion, and faithfulness continue to grow between you and your spouse! Walk through all of 2016 with real integrity. We’d love to hear from you and what you are learning or struggling with in this area. Go to www.DoingFamilyRight.com to share it with us.
© Dr. Dave Currie – December 2015