For those of you who either don't remember or who never watched Oprah, several years ago, she had a man named Gary Neuman on her show. Neuman had done some research on why men cheat and he presented his information alongside Oprah's in-person interviews of couples who were struggling through the after effects of adultery. Here's a little clip of Neuman discussing his research:
Oprah's stated goal was not to disparage the men who had cheated, but rather to attempt to understand their choice. Interestingly, the majority of husbands did not choose to cheat because their wives were unattractive or sexually unappealing; they basically chose to cheat because they stopped feeling appreciated and admired. Very often, the mistresses made the husband feel like a hero while the wife had stopped treating him like the boyfriend who gave her butterflies inside.
I don't know what your reaction to those episodes was (or what it was to the video clip above) but my reaction was panic. "I have to make him feel admired! If I don't, he'll cheat on me!" I often have the same reaction when we talk about how wives shouldn't "let themselves go" in regards to physical appearance. "I have to look gorgeous all the time or he'll cheat on me!" (And yes, I know that the choice to commit adultery is ultimately the responsibility of the adulterer; I'm just sharing what my gut reaction is.)
Demonstrating appreciation for and admiration of your husband are both extremely important to a marriage. So is trying to please your husband in the way you dress or in how your keep your home or how you cook. We should be respectful and playful and sexually available. They are all good behaviors. But I have one concern: why do we do what we do?
Sometimes we have a very real fear about a possible future scenario. We know that anyone in the wrong set of circumstances can choose to sin; no one is immune from it. We've all heard stories of seemingly godly and well-respected men and women who chose to commit adultery. The reality is that it can happen to any of us. Many of you reading this have experienced this devastating betrayal, maybe more than once, and I absolutely do not want to blow off the fear that you feel at the possibility of your husband hurting you again. But I still think it's worth evaluating our motives.
Ultimately, the goal of godly behavior is to glorify God.
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. (Colossians 3:23)When we make an effort to put makeup on or be available for sex or pay him a compliment, are we acting out of fear that if we don't do those things perfectly, our husband will leave us? Are we trying to gain favor with our husband or ultimately with God? Are our actions flowing out of a desire to control the outcome of our marriage? Do we fear that if we do not behave correctly, then it will be our fault if he does cheat on us? Do we believe that if we act correctly, then we will prevent adultery?
Do you realize that you have now become entirely dependent on yourself for the success of your marriage? And that you have thereby left out Christ?
Warrior Wives, now matter how hard you fight for your marriage, you need to realize that you are not in control. You are not self-sufficient. God is in control. And our sufficiency is found in Christ. We cannot do the right thing simply out of fear of the consequences of failure.
Don't stop doing the things you know to be godly things. Don't stop appreciating and honoring and enjoying and respecting your husband. But let's just make sure that we take the time to evaluate our motives and our expectations and our hope. If our hope is in the right place, we can never really be disappointed. But if our hope is that by handing out daily compliments we will avoid a painful circumstance, if our husband chooses to sin anyway, we could be utterly devastated because, deep down, our hope was in our own behavior controlling his choices, not in the goodness and sovereignty of God. We cannot control other sinners' choices; we can only control our own and we can only control our own choices because of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.