Posts tagged infidelity

Avoid being a social media casualty



social media casualtyDid you know that a third of all divorce filings contain the word “Facebook”?

That’s according to a recently-released report by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. But before you go telling all your friends that “a third of all marriages end because of Facebook,” recognize what the report really says.

The truth is that Facebook is mentioned in one-third of divorce filings. A lot of those filing papers only make reference to an online relationship. Some husbands or wives have even declared their intention to break up through Facebook, email, or Instagram. But a great number of the divorce papers simply use Facebook messages or wall posts to make a case for divorce by pointing out a spouse’s uncivil behavior or poor parenting skills.

The widespread use of electronic media today makes it almost certain that Facebook and Instagram could be used by lawyers to build a legal web to snare an uncommitted spouse. And that’s on the rise. Consider that three years ago, 20 percent of divorce filings contained the word “Facebook.” Whatever the case, social media is definitely playing an increasing role in families and family breakup.

More important than that, I believe the level of social media engagement in our culture today is evidence that we’re putting a lot of time into passing interactions with others and not enough time in deep relationship-building with a spouse.

Recently I saw a comment on one of FamilyLife’s Facebook pages by a husband who took a little passing snipe at his wife for everyone to see. In all fairness, he was probably reaching out for help in an area of frustration in his marriage. But those kinds of comments, when read by a wife, often make the problem worse by feeding a sense of embitterment or hurt.

Here are some principles that may help keep social media interactions from becoming words in a divorce filing.

1. Keep everything in the open.  If you don’t have a joint husband/wife account (on Facebook for example) make sure what you say online is nothing you couldn’t say with your wife standing there beside you. Before messaging, ask yourself, “Is this something I wouldn’t mind my wife seeing?” You may even consider letting your wife read it first. It’s good for accountability, and it’s a good way to double-check that what you’ve written isn’t miscommunicating what you meant.

2. Say what you need to say … and say it to the right person.  Rather than gripe about a marital problem on social media, talk directly with your wife. If you think it might hurt her feelings or get you in hot water, think of a way you can soften the blow when you raise the issue.  In most cases, the following approach is helpful: “I know you care about me, and I know you probably didn’t think about it, but I feel (insert your emotion) when you (insert the offense). I don’t want problems to build that will isolate us. Can we work through this together?” This works for wives, too.

3. Use social media to build each other up.  It’s never been easier than it is right now to send notes to each other for no reason at all, or to brag about your wife in front of others.  Social media makes it easy to connect with each other while you’re apart during the day, and that will keep a relationship from drifting.  Just make sure that what you say online is reinforced by what you say and do when you see each other that night. Remember, your wife is always looking for proof that she’s important to you. That gives her a lot of security.

4. When you’re together, come together.  It’s very easy, even when you’re home, to drift to your own individual social media corners. By the end of the evening, you realize that you’ve hardly spoken a word. This happens with father-child relationships, too. Set your personal devices aside, and plan some face time (the real thing, not the Apple feature.)

Above all else, remember these two driving principles of building and maintaining a relationship:

  • The quality of your relationship depends on the amount each of you invest in it.
  • If you aren’t intentionally growing toward oneness, you’re automatically drifting toward isolation.

Don’t let your marriage become a social media casualty. Be intentional about strengthening your marriage and avoiding the things that could potentially destroy it.

© 2014 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading “Avoid Being a Social Media Casualty” by Scott Williams on the Stepping Up blog for men.

STEPThink - 10-point checklist“The Unmasking of an Online Affair” tells the story of one couple who came back from emotional infidelity.

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistRead Dave Boehi’s 3-part series “Are We Replacing Conversation with Connectivity” on FamilyLife.com.

STEPPass - 10-point checklistShare this post and these articles with your wife and work together to keep social media under control.

Irreplaceable



Last week I had the pleasure of sitting in on the one-time showing of the Focus on the Family documentary film Irreplaceable. Even if you missed the premiere, encore presentations of Irreplaceable are being added at other theaters around the country.

You may have seen the trailer for the film. If not, here it is.

YouTube Preview Image

http://www.irreplaceablethemovie.com/

The movie is just an introduction to a new series that seeks to look at the family from a number of different angles in an attempt to “recover, renew and reclaim the cultural conversation about the family.” It is also the launch of a new initiative by Focus called Gen3, challenging individuals to commit to building a thriving, divorce-free legacy for three generations.

After watching the first film in the series, I’m inclined to believe that Focus on the Family is going about it the right way. As you can see in the trailer, the film itself is a journey to find the cause of family (and thus) cultural decline. But the journey actually finds its answer in an unexpected place—back at home.

The film starts off looking at the history and ideology that’s led to family decline, and the far-reaching impact it’s had. Starting with modern views on sexuality (which really aren’t new at all), the questions move in a progression toward marriage, then parenting, then children, to the meaning of life itself. It becomes obvious that there is not just one cause for cultural decline, but many. It reveals that individuals, not social issues, are at the heart of the problem … and of the solution.

The documentary starts with the notion that cultural decline is inevitable when families become unstable, because the family is irreplaceable. But it ends by recognizing that what is truly irreplaceable is each person within a family.

The narrator’s search for answers to the general problem of family fracture leads him to reflect on his own personal struggles growing up in a family where the father was not faithful to the family. This leads him to recognize his own importance to his own family and how much his active presence is needed by his wife and his children. He realizes that it’s he who is irreplaceable.

Truth be known, everyone is irreplaceable in their family, if you believe in God as Sovereign. I’m often impressed at how differently God has made each of the members in my own family, and how their strengths and personalities have a unique and vital place in the health of the family as a whole, as well as in the life of each individual. Add to that the unique roles we each have as husband and wife, mother and father, son and daughter, brother and sister, oldest, youngest, and middle. God has placed each member in the family to be a blessing and to be blessed.

How about you? How often do you think of yourself as irreplaceable as a man, as husband of your wife, and father of your children? How often do you recognize your wife’s unique fit as your partner and helpmeet, and as the nurturer and center of the family? And how often do you recognize each child and his or her irreplaceable part in your home now, and the irreplaceable part they will have in the family they will begin when their time comes?

The first step in rebuilding a crumbling culture is to create a strong culture in your own family. They, in turn can carry that legacy to the next generation, and the next.

No, cheaters never prosper



You drive along Interstate 30 in Little Rock, and there it is, a billboard with an astonishing message. It pictures three former U.S. presidents — Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton — along with the words:

Who said cheaters never prosper?  Happy Presidents’ Day!

This is the latest campaign from AshleyMadison.com, a highly profitable website with a most unusual clientele — people who are interested in committing adultery. If you register on the website, you can connect with others interested in cheating. As the website states:

Long gone are the days of working late and having an affair with the office secretary, with today’s technology the ability to have a discreet emotional or sexual affair is at your fingertips. You have definitely come to the right website. Ashley Madison’s married dating services can help you find that special someone who makes you feel young and alive again.

And yet Ashley Madison claims it merely facilitates cheating rather than promoting it. One of the more amazing statements on the website is, “No, Ashley Madison does not encourage anyone to stray or have an affair, despite our trademark, ‘Life is short, have an affair.’ In fact, if you are having difficulty in your marriage or relationship, you should seek counseling.”

Provocative statements

Ashley Madison’s founder is a Toronto entrepreneur named Noel Biderman. He and his wife say they are happily married with two children. But he also says that “Monogamy, in my opinion, is a failed experiment.”

Biderman tends to make provocative statements like that when defending his company. And he’s a master at deflecting criticism. “You eradicate Ashley Madison, you’re not going to eradicate infidelity. That’s what allows me to sleep at night.” Or, “If you think that all affairs happen on Ashley Madison, you’re very naive.”

Those are clever words. By addressing absurd accusations nobody would make, Biderman deflects legitimate complaints about making money from something most people consider to be immoral.

Apparently helping adulterers is a big business. And you wonder if Biderman considers any publicity as bad. Every time he defends the company against those who despise his product, that means more people are aware of that product. One could argue that even this article is only helping Ashley Madison.

Cheaters never prosper
The truth about adultery

Do cheaters prosper? In many respects, Ashley Madison only rehashes the excuses people have made for thousands of years about adultery: Guys can’t help themselves … It can often help marriages … We shouldn’t be too prudish about cheating … You need to let men sow their wild oats … etc., etc., etc.

Statements like these will encourage men (and women) who are unhappy in their marriages and are looking for some extramarital spice. But you and I know they are lies. The truth is that cheaters do not prosper.

For one thing, adultery destroys marriages. Ask yourself, why do so many people consider adultery such a betrayal? Why is it that Noel Biderman’s own wife says she would feel “devastated” if he cheated on her? It’s because sex as God designed it is much more than a physical act; it binds a couple together emotionally and spiritually in a way they can only partially understand. If your wife has sex with another man, the sense of hurt and betrayal cuts to the core of your soul.

Guys, what kind of impact do you think just one little cheating incident might have on your wife? As one woman said, “My husband wants me to stop bringing up his affair because he has ‘repented.’ What about me? He acts like nothing has happened, but I walk with anger. I cry out to God every day, but the hurt is still fresh.”

Second, adultery harms your legacy. Children feel the impact for many years to come. In most cases, it severely damages the relationship between the parent and child. In addition, the children may repeat that behavior when they are adults. Consider the story of one of the presidents pictured on the Ashley Madison billboard, John F. Kennedy. His womanizing is common knowledge now, but many don’t know how his behavior was influenced by his father, Joseph, who cheated on his wife regularly. His children knew it, and a number of them went on to be unfaithful to their own spouses. Few families in American history have accomplished as much as the Kennedys, but their legacy has also been clouded by reckless immorality.

Let’s be faithful

In response to the Ashley Madison initiative, FamilyLife has begun a campaign to encourage people to be faithful to their marriage vows. In fact, we’ve even created our own billboard for I-30 in Little Rock.

God offers the strength to withstand temptation, and the hope to build a lasting marriage. Cheaters never prosper. But those who trust in God do.

Note: For more on the “Stand Firm for Families” initiative, read “Doing Nothing Is Not an Option,” by Dennis Rainey and “A Billboard That Hurts Women and Children,” by Barbara Rainey.

Our daily temptation



I think we would be shocked if we could count the number of times we are tempted each day.

Our culture has become so sexualized over the past few decades that it’s easy to become hardened by the number of images and temptations that bombard us each day. Walk through a supermarket and you see suggestive photos on the covers of magazines … turn on the television and it doesn’t take long before you see advertisements for sexy lingerie and erectile dysfunction … go online, and you find unwanted e-mails or ads offering x-rated images with just one click. It’s a daily temptation.

I think we would be shocked if we could count the number of times we are tempted each day. Sometimes life feels like a continual stream of choices: Will I trust God for the power to turn from that daily temptation, or will I dwell on it just a bit? Will I take a second look? Will I click on that tempting link … just this one time?

I am reminded of a story that FamilyLife President Dennis Rainey tells in his devotional book, Moments With You:

I was seated in a car with another Christian leader — a good friend of mine. We were both away from home, without our wives, waiting for a colleague who had just gone inside a store. And as we sat there, a woman walked by who was, well, drop-dead gorgeous. I caught sight of her as she entered the store, and then turned back to our conversation.

When she walked by again, by God’s grace (or the fear of my own reputation being spoiled), I summoned up enough self-control to look away. But I did notice my friend’s eyes lingering as she walked on to her car. Knowing we were both fighting the same battle, I casually said, “Hey, you can look at her once, you can look at her twice, but if you look at her that long …”

We laughed. We knew.

Guys, there’s nothing wrong with appreciating a woman’s beauty. But we all know in an instant when we’ve reached that point where we’re no longer simply noticing her but have begun enjoying her and letting our minds become a playground of lustful thoughts.

As Dennis writes, it’s often not the first look that gets you — it’s the second, and third, and fourth. If you dwell on that daily temptation, you begin playing with powerful forces. As James 1:14-15 tells us, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

These words run contrary to the spirit of our modern age, which tells us that biblical boundaries for sex are prudish and outdated. Our culture encourages us to embrace and experiment with sexuality to help “discover who you are.” And then it avoids taking responsibility for how uncontrolled lust can ravage lives, marriages, and families.

Whenever FamilyLife Today airs programs on pornography, for example, we receive a number of heart-breaking e-mails about people giving in to temptation and getting caught in a trap from which they couldn’t break free. Here are just two examples:

At the age of 13, I started my first job. That day I took my first puff of a cigarette and was exposed to pornography for the first time. I had no idea of the power that was to take control of my life as a result of that action. For the next 25 years I battled with pornography. My sin did not stop with pornography but took [other forms]. No matter how hard I tried, I could not make real changes. I could not escape it.

It’s not just men whose lives are hijacked by the effect of porn.

My dad had pornographic literature in the house that I found as a young girl. It distorted my view of male-female relationships. I began to see sex as a way to get love. I led an extremely active sexual lifestyle and eventually started working as an exotic dancer. I’ve been following the Lord for 11 years now, and am married to a wonderful man. But the ghost of pornography still haunts me. Fantasies still plague my mind and interfere with what should be pure love for my husband. I can see the connection now between how I feel and what you said. I am praying for God to cleanse me of the effects of pornography.

Letters like these echo the warning of James 1:14-15 and show us that giving in to temptation is far more dangerous than many people realize. One of the most critical commitments you can make to your marriage is to stay clean. You can’t avoid daily temptation. But you can control your response.

Choose to turn away. And ask God for the power to continue turning away every day.

Copyright © by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

21 things a man needs to know about marriage (part 3)



This is the final installment in a three-part series. The full first part and second part of 21 things a man needs to know about marriage is here, but we’ve listed the first 14 things from those posts here.

  1. A man needs to know that the ultimate team is marriage.
  2. A man needs to know the difference between being a consumer and an investor in life, in relationships, and marriage.
  3. A man needs to know the Christ-like role of servant, husband, and lover.
  4. A man needs to know that marriage is meant to mature a man into Christ-like character.
  5. A man needs to know the meaning of love.
  6. A man needs to know that a marriage and family depend upon God as their maker.  
  7. A man needs to understand sexuality as God’s good creation, distinct from its counterfeits.
  8. A man needs to know that the key to great sex is exclusivity.
  9. A man needs to know that marriages typically have a one or two year “honeymoon era.”
  10. A man needs to know that living together and having sex before marriage uses up a good portion of the “honeymoon era” euphoria. 
  11. A man needs to know that commitment is a key to success in all of life, and especially in relationships with a woman.  
  12. A man needs to know that marriage is not easy.
  13. A man needs to know that the purpose of marriage is less to make you happy, than to make you holy.
  14. A man needs to know that God gives authority and responsibility to a husband to make the marriage thrive and last.

things a man needs to know about marriage15. A man needs to know that he can change his marriage by changing himself.  He can make himself a better husband by making himself a more consistent and devoted follower of Jesus.  If he wants to improve any aspect of his marriage, family or parenting, the solution lies in deepening his daily commitment to God.  The path to build a great marriage or heal a marriage is to humble one’s will, to let the Holy Spirit take control of him and to obey Christ.

16. A man needs to know that romance is created and sustained intentionally.  Thinking about what she likes, remembering what is important to her, setting things up the way she prefers … these are all critical.  In dating and various stages of life, romance can spontaneously happen, but for the long term, it must be deliberately planned and created.  If a man wants to be a leader, this is an area in which to lead.  It leads to good things.

17. A man needs to know that divorce is avoidable.  He understands that nothing is impossible for God, and he humbles himself to admit and repent from the ways he fell short in loving his wife in the past, so he can excel at loving her from this day forward.

18. A man needs to know that he can recover from a wife’s affair because he has the power to forgive.  Jesus forgave all his sin, and he is called to do the same with his wife.  Furthermore, he seeks to understand what led his wife to be unfaithful, even if it means admitting his own failure. Usually a man breaks his vow to choose, love, and protect her before a woman breaks her vow to be faithful.

Note: if you have an affair, you don’t have control over whether you can recover because you can’t force a wife’s forgiveness.

19. A man needs to know that even the worst things can be redeemed for deeper purposes.  Romans 5:3-5 reminds us to rejoice and find value in tribulation, loss, and suffering because tribulation brings perseverance, and perseverance brings proven character like that of Jesus, and proven character brings hope, and hope does not disappoint because God’s love is poured out to us by His Holy Spirit.

Face crises and trials and suffering straight on with Christ and a few close teammates. A man steps up by surrendering to Jesus Christ and persevering in making Him the center and Lord of his life.

20. A man needs to know that humbling yourself to your wife is the gutsiest and most successful way to heal her heart and your frequently-compromised relationship. A man with courage and wisdom will never overlook his wife’s hurt feelings.  And he’ll seek to overlook the disrespectful words she blurts out in reaction to how he hurt her feelings.

When you are in conflict, don’t wait for things to blow over.  Don’t try to point out her fault.  Don’t try to minimize the situation.  And don’t defend yourself.  Instead, be a leader.  Start the apology.  A great starting point is, “I was wrong.  I hurt you.  Please forgive me?”

21. A man needs to know that a wife wants you to lead her, but will tend to lead and control you if you don’t lead and initiate.  Leadership starts with your character and your devotion to Christ.  Your walk with God determines the quality of your love and leadership as a husband.

Seek God.  Read His word in the Bible.  Pray for Him to shape and lead you.  Humble yourself before Him.  Seek a mentor or group to help you grow and become a good husband.

Leadership of a wife is humility before God, initiating teamwork with your wife, praying with her every day and praying for your family.  Most guys I know well are like me in this: If you’re frustrated with your wife and your marriage, the solution lies in getting back into Jesus and His Word!

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