I realize that this topic is very different than the sort of posts that I write about. But, it needs to be written.
As a pastor for over 16 years, I have been brought into marriage disasters more times than I care to recount. A wife with tears streaming down her cheeks or a husband whose anger is attempting to conceal his devastation tells me that they have discovered that their spouse has been unfaithful to them.
I’ve heard this multiple times … and it devastates me and makes me angry every time. Either the husband or the wife, who stood before God and witnesses and who made a vow to stay together “until death do (them) part,” has thrown their marriage vows on the floor and trampled it. They have done the same to their spouse’s heart. No matter what happens, lives will have been changed forever. Trust may never be regained.
Now, I realize that there is never a completely innocent party in a marriage breakup. Every marriage since Adam and Eve has been made up of two sinners. While nothing can excuse the sin of breaking a marital vow to God and to a spouse, I realize that there are certain sin patterns that may have created the soil out of which the sin of sexual immorality grows.
If you don’t want your marriage to end in sexual tragedy, then…
Work at Your Marriage
Husband and wife, pursue a relationship with Jesus so that you have the resources inside of you to give to your spouse rather than take (John 14:21, 23; 15:5; 1 John 4:7-8).
- Husband and wife, submit to each other and put each other before yourself (Ephesians 5:21).
- Husband, give your wife what she needs and love her sacrificially (Ephesians 5:25-33).
- Wife, give your husband what he needs and respect him by following his loving leadership (Ephesians 5:22-24, 33).
- Husband and wife, treat each other with respect and honor (1 Peter 3:7; Ephesians 5:33)
- Husband and wife, keep your sexual life aflame (1 Corinthians 7:1-5)
- There are plenty of biblical instructions to keep your marriage in a very healthy condition.
However, far to many people who profess to be Jesus-followers aren’t really following Jesus. They simply want a ticket to Heaven – they aren’t interested in letting Jesus take control of their lives as they learn from His Word and obey Him.
Since that is the case, many marriages end up in trouble. One of the ways that trouble manifests itself is when a husband or wife finds someone other than their spouse to meet their emotional and sexual needs.
Over the years, as I have counseled many marriages, I’ve learned what many of the signs are that may reveal that a spouse is engaging in sexual sin with someone other than their spouse. Here they are.
Nine Potential Signs of an Unfaithful Spouse
1. Renewed enthusiasm about life
As a husband and wife get older, they naturally tend to get tired a little more easily. They may even settle into a rut of discouragement as they go through mid-life.
Yet, when they begin their sinful emotional and sexual escapades, the hormones that may not have been active since earlier in their marriage are awakened. For a time, they feel alive. They have unexplained energy and enthusiasm.
We can certainly get excited about other things in our life that are not sinful. But, if a spouse seems to be getting their second wind and you have no idea why, and they won’t tell you, then go into a heightened state of alert, listening and watching for anything that is amiss.
2. Increased focus on personal appearance
Personal grooming is important. We need to respect ourselves and those we encounter by presenting ourselves well. Our hair needs to be in order. Our teeth need to be brushed and our breath needs to be unoffensive. Our clothes need to be clean and ironed.
But, when someone enters into a private, sinful relationship with someone other than their spouse, there seems to be a renewed, unexplained focus upon appearance. Maybe they develop an overnight desire to get new clothes. Maybe they find it much too easy to shed some pounds or bulk up at the gym. Within a short period of time, they have changed their appearance. Something is amiss.
3. Decrease in a desire for sex with their spouse
Things change as a husband and wife grow old together. Desires change. Expectations change. But, if Christlike love is present, there will be understanding and patience that allows the marriage to remain healthy even when some desires may not be met as often or as completely as they once were.
But, if a husband or wife quickly loses interest in sex with their spouse, something is wrong. If he or she has been treating their spouse as sexy and now finds it easy to degrade them or tell them how they don’t measure up, something is amiss.
4. Finding reasons to be away from home
A healthy marriage is where two people are working to become one. But, they don’t lose their individual identities and they certainly aren’t clingy. Work or other things may keep them away from each other for a time but it makes coming together all the sweeter.
But, when a husband or wife is away from home more than usual and they don’t feel the need to explain, something is wrong. If they are asked where they’ve been and it is met with criticism (“It’s none of your business,” or “You’re being too nosy”), something is wrong.
5. Growing indifference to spouse
As a husband and wife work to become one, when one hurts, the other will hurt. When one is discouraged, the other will care enough to step in to help. That’s what people who are in love act like. They care about each other. They walk the road of life together.
However, if a husband or wife begins to notice that their spouse is growing indifferent to their hurts, something is wrong. If cutting words are given and the spouse, all of a sudden, finds it easy to keep from apologizing and is content with the relationship conflict to remain indefinitely, something is wrong.
6. Unexplained expenses or refusal to share money information
A husband and wife should never have separate financial accounts. All monies that are earned by the husband and wife should go into one account where both have access to it and know where it is going.
But if a husband or wife notices that there are unexplained expenses in their joint account and their spouse gets testy when asked to explain them, something is wrong. Or, if the spouse is found to have a secret account out of which private expenses are being made, something is wrong.
7. Indifference to sexual sins that once were seen as wrong
As a husband and wife are growing together and becoming closer to Jesus, they will notice that things that they once approved of or tolerated are now seen to be offensive. Their conscience (and the Holy Spirit within them) sends up red flares on things that previously didn’t bother them. They are making progress on the road to holiness.
However, there are many people who are headed the other way. Things that once bothered them don’t bother them anymore. Porn was once seen as sinful but is tolerated now. Dirty talk was once frowned upon but is now tolerated. A friend who has been found out to have been having a sexual affair is defended when his actions would have once been condemned. When you see sexual sins getting justified that were once condemned, something is wrong.
8. Criticizes spouse for not meeting his/her needs
For certain, most people have sexual desires. While they may diminish as a husband and wife age, they rarely ever fully go away. It is for this reason that the Bible tells us to get married. “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:9). It is assumed that sex will occur within marriage to satisfy these desires.
But, if a husband or wife begins to complain to their spouse about the lack of sex … but then does nothing to help make it happen, something is wrong. If they are content only to complain about it without fixing the problem, then they just might be doing this to justify their sexual unfaithfulness with someone else. In order to find a way to blame their spouse for their own sexual sin, they reason in their mind: “My spouse isn’t meeting my needs so I have no choice but to get my sexual needs met somewhere else.”
9. Friends are expressing concern
Friends outside a marriage should not be told of sexual matters inside the marriage. Those matters are private and should only be expressed between a husband and wife and a counselor (only if needed).
However, uninformed friends may still see things that cause them to think that something is wrong. Maybe a husband or wife sees the same things but the pain of acknowledging unfaithfulness in their spouse is to much – so they deny it. Yet, their friends, who are not as emotionally involved, are able to see things a little more clearly and are saying that something isn’t adding up. If this is occurring, it needs to be investigated.
If you are married, I pray that you never, ever experience what I have written about. But, if you suspect that something is wrong, the previous 9 Signs may be helpful to understand the nature of the problem.
If you find out that your marriage has been a farce and your spouse has betrayed the sacred vow you made before God and witnesses, please seek help soon from a clear-headed, gracious, competent person. Talk to your pastor, call a local church, or look for a good Christian counselor to help you.
It is never God’s desire that a marriage should break up. Yet, He is gracious and wants to help those caught up in sin or the consequences of someone else’s sin.
If you can think of other signs of an unfaithful spouse, feel free to post them in the comments below. But, please keep them tasteful and do not mention any names. If either of these two requirements is violated, I reserve the right to remove the comment.
Finally, if you have any wise counsel or comforting, instructive Bible verses that could help someone who is going through this, please feel free to leave those comments below.