Deception: A Root of Infidelity

I saw a quote recently on marital infidelity from Esther Perel, a couples therapist, and I thought it was insightful: "We don't so much want to leave the person we are with as much as we want to leave the person that we've become."

Marital infidelity is often rooted in deception, and the deception exists on several levels:

  1. There is deception toward one's mate.
  2. There may be deception toward the one you are committing adultery with (e.g., hiding your wedding ring, lying about your marital status, etc.).
  3. There is often self-deception in thinking that the excitement of a new relationship in which you are investing heavily with emotion & interest could not be re-kindled with the one to whom you've already pledged your life (if you were willing to change and invest heavily with emotion & interest once again as you did before).

I can't help but think about an old friend of mine who recently went through a divorce after twelve years of marriage. His wife cheated on him and clearly demonstrated deception toward her husband and deception in multiple ways toward the one she committed adultery with (he knew of her marriage, but she lied about other things to him). The man she has now chosen does not truly love her; he is not seeking what is in her best interest. What kind of man pursues a woman whom he knows is married? Not an honorable one, this much is certain. I can't help but think that the one she deceived the most, however, was herself. Leaving an honorable man for a dishonorable one is never wise and will not lead to lasting joy. How much better it would have been to reinvest her emotions and interest into her husband again! How much better it would have been to sincerely desire to work through the struggles side by side! How much better it would have been to keep her vows instead of abandoning them! The way of sin is exciting--for a while--but it does not last (cf. Heb. 11:25). The foundation of adultery is deception and selfishness, never genuine love!

This sad situation reminds me of several bits of wisdom from Solomon. "When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed--better not to vow than to vow and not pay" (Eccl. 5:4,5). When one vows "till death do us part" and "for better or for worse", he or she should mean it! Breaking our word is a terrible sin indeed, despite how our society has trivialized it. The bonds of marriage should not be forsaken lightly. Proverbs 6:23-29 is also worth contemplating at this time, as Solomon warns his son about immoral women:

"For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life, to keep you from the evil woman, from the flattering tongue of a seductress. Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, Nor let her allure you with her eyelids. For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent."

By way of application, let me suggest to all married folks reading this: Even if you are sincerely devoted to your mate "for life" (which is what all vow, isn't it?), it never hurts to reflect upon the present and compare it to the past. Am I a better husband/wife now than I was 5 years ago? Am I taking my mate for granted in any way? Am I inadvertently inviting problems into my marriage because of how I've changed? Am I investing the same level of emotion & interest now that I did before marriage or in the beginning of married life? If not, why not? He who has ears to hear, let him hear (cf. Matt. 13:9)!

The wise will perceive how a matter ends & make changes (sacrifices) accordingly for the best possible good. Dear Lord, give us all wisdom!