The woman wrote it on a marriage forum, hoping for some wise advice about the situation in her marriage. She accidentally discovered that her husband had been searching on Facebook for old girlfriends and had re-connected with several old flames through private messaging. Since that time, she checked his phone while he was in the shower and learned that he regularly privately communicates with several women. She asked if any of these things would be considered “red flags,” and if so, what should she do about it.
I skimmed the advice offered to her, expecting to to see plenty of support for a woman whose husband is obviously neck deep in a temptation that is sure to burn everyone involved. But, instead, I saw comment after comment attacking the wife.
The “red flags,” people told her, were her snooping around in her husband’s business. The only problem here, they scoffed, was that she doesn’t trust her husband. Again and again, everyone told this poor woman that SHE is the problem, for looking at what she had no right to see. For not blindly trusting her husband to have innocent conversations with women he used to date.
And then, today. The scandal of a man in politics who refuses to eat a meal alone with any woman who isn’t his wife. And, over and over again, articles phrase the whole thing as if his WIFE is the one to blame–as if she doesn’t allow him to eat dinner with other women because she is so very insecure and doesn’t trust the man she married. As if it would be ridiculous to think that a man would actually take steps to protect his marriage unless he was somehow coerced into doing so by his overbearing wife.
The world sees marriage as a basic co-habitation situation. You share a space, you share some laughs, but you still maintain your personal privacy. Any violation of that privacy is considered a weakness in you. You have trust issues. You are insecure. You are accusatory and probably need counseling.
If you don’t trust your spouse, what do you really have, they say. The world screams at us that it is despicable to think for a second that your husband or wife could be capable of having an affair. After all, people who have affairs are horrible, nasty, shady creeps.
But, do we really think that? Because we all know that people who have affairs are teachers. Pastors. Philanthropists. Presidents, kings, and some of the most admired people who have ever walked the planet have fallen victim to the temptation to feel desired by someone they aren’t married to. We KNOW that it can happen to anyone. But, somehow we love to get all indignant about people who are willing to talk about the temptation and ways to avoid it.
Chad and I have affair safeguards in place in our marriage. It isn’t because we don’t trust each other. It’s because we both know that we have a sin problem. We both realize that we aren’t above committing ANY sin, even one that has the potential for destroying our family and our ministry. So, we really, really don’t want that to happen, and we take steps to limit opportunities for it to happen.
We have access to each other’s phones, computers, email, and social media. We are free to sit down at any time and read each other’s text messages. Does it feel weird? Yes. Is it necessary and important? Yes. Personal privacy is not a privilege of marriage in our house. We choose to be open books for the sake of our marriage, our family, and our relationship with Christ.
We avoid being alone with anyone of the opposite sex. We are careful in the ways that we communicate with them. We have accountability software on all of our computers, tablets, and phones so that the internet isn’t a temptation that will hurt our marriage.
We aren’t doing these things because I am convinced Chad isn’t trustworthy or he is convinced I’m not. We do these things because I know that I’m not trustworthy, and he knows he isn’t. We are sinners, and we have to acknowledge our tendency to do wrong so that we can encourage each other to live for Christ in every way, especially in our marriage. One place Christians cannot afford to be indignant and prideful and filled with self-righteous assurance is in our marriages. Too many awesome Christian people have succumbed to temptation for us to pretend like it could never be an issue for us.
So, we give up our privacy and we give up our pride, and in these little ways we give ourselves over to each other. This is what real trust looks like.
For further reading on the issue of temptation: It Only Takes a Spark