I’m feeling ranty tonight. Presto, a rant appears on my blog!
Recently I came across an earnest exhortation by a popular Christian speaker (Lysa TerKeurst, I believe). She said:
I once sat across the table from a friend who’d traded her marriage for someone she thought might be her “real soulmate.”
This other man had suddenly started saying all those things that she wished her husband would say. She started going out of her way to see him. And she liked that he noticed her.
And suddenly, she was in trouble. Her husband could do no right. This other man could do no wrong.
In tears she admitted it all started with simple, emotional flirting. Now, she’d give anything to go back and make different choices.
Oh, sweet friend… it’s crucial to watch our thoughts. For where our thoughts go, our emotions will quickly follow.
Let’s commit to recapturing some of those amazing thoughts we used to ponder about our husbands. You know the ones during those days where we doodled our first name with his last name on every spare napkin?
Let’s take each of our thoughts captive today. Let’s intentionally fill our minds with a list of all that our husband does right.
After all, the grass isn’t greener on the other side – the grass is greener where we water and fertilize it.
I’m not here to argue with her point. After all, the wedding vows don’t say, “I will never be attracted to another man once I marry you.” They say, “I will be faithful to you despite all.”
I mean, just to be completely honest here, I have been attracted to other men in my fifteen years of marriage. (If you think you know who it is, you’re wrong, it was somebody else.) It disturbed me, because why would I like another man when DJ is truly everything I want? It’s good question, and I explored the answers. I discovered that what I liked about other men usually reminded me of what I love about DJ. Occasionally they’d have some appealing quality that DJ didn’t; but it didn’t take long to decide whether that one quality outweighed everything that DJ gave me.
In short, I’m human, I know some really good men, and I’ve confirmed and reconfirmed many times that DJ is the very best man of all.
So this is good advice… as far as it goes. Unfortunately, it only goes halfway.
I say that because this exhortation, like so much other Christian marriage advice to women these days, leaves us with the idea that “simple, emotional flirting” leads right to infidelity and devastation — as if there aren’t hundreds of small steps and conscious decisions in between those two points. It also ignores the fact that in situations like this, there are usually some muddy, murky relationship issues between the husband and wife.
Look at what she says — “This other man had suddenly started saying all those things that she wished her husband would say.”
So her husband wasn’t saying those things anymore? I wondered if her husband even knew what she wished for. I wondered if she’d told her husband what she’d like to hear, and he still wasn’t doing it. Or, as in some cases I know of, he tried, but she just couldn’t be pleased by his efforts. Seems like there’s a real problem here. More than just some “simple, emotional flirting.”
“Let’s commit to recapturing some of those amazing thoughts we used to ponder about our husbands. You know the ones during those days where we doodled our first name with his last name on every spare napkin?”
But “recaptured thoughts” are paltry substitutes when you’ve got the option of a real man to make you feel that way right now. Mind games won’t fix marriage problems.
I wish she had gone on to say that if you as a wife find something in another man that you miss in your husband — maybe it’s time to face the issues. Don’t just try to “think it away.” Please talk to your husband, preferably with a qualified counselor. Please work together to understand each other’s needs, and together recapture what you seem to have lost.
After all, it doesn’t matter how much you water and fertilize grass that’s already dying. On the flip side, if you and your husband cultivate and preserve a lush landscape, the occasional stray dandelion isn’t going to hold too much appeal.