Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Extramarital Interest


I recently returned from a two-week business trip, and since returning home, I haven't been the same. While on the trip, I became friends with this man. We had a whole lot in common, and we really connected. I love my husband and deeply care about our relationship and marriage. We have a great marriage, but something happened with this guy. Nothing inappropriate happened—only feelings developed for him that should not be there because of my marriage. I am so confused right now. I feel horrible about this. I did not mean for this to happen. I don't know what to do? Is this normal? Please help.


First, to develop feelings for another person is not only normal, it is how God created us. If you don’t believe us, just listen to Christ when he was asked which commandment was the most important. Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31, NLT). You see, we were created by a relational God to have quality relationships with Him, with ourselves and with one another.

God has placed deep within the spirit of every human an irresistible longing to know and be known intimately. It is an intense craving to connect on a deep emotional level that reaches beyond our capacity to explain. Deep within your very being is this yearning to belong, for someone to discover the real person inside and make that relational connection. It is a desire to be wanted and needed and cherished for the valued person you are. It is that affinity for connectedness that brings meaning and completeness to the human spirit that comes only from relationships—the God-ordained affinity placed within the human spirit to connect with God, one another, and ourselves.

We were designed to relate significantly with one another and to experience a sense of belonging to family and acquaintances—husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friend to friend. We were meant to relate to ourselves with a healthy sense of identity, to know and value ourselves for the unique person we are. And we were created to enjoy this relational connectedness first and foremost with the God who formed us. Therefore, stop beating yourself up, the feelings you developed are normal. The real question becomes how do you protect yourself and your marriage from taking these normal feelings and developing an inappropriate relationship with this man?

To protect our marriages, we need to make a daily decision to do exactly what King Solomon encouraged us to do in Proverbs 4:23: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Guard your heart. This is the key to building trust and affair-proofing your marriage.

We encourage you to do three important things to guard your heart. First, pay attention to your choices. Rationalization can be a damaging force that works against your marriage. Rationalization is simply telling our selves “rational” lies. Things like: “It’s not like I actually had an affair—we just talked.” We guard our hearts when we stop asking what's wrong with certain choices, and instead, ask what's right with them. One of our favorite quotes is: The choices we make every day, dictate the life we lead. This is the same advice Luke gives in the Scriptures: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10). How we handle the small things dictates how we react to the bigger ones. To guard my heart, I (Greg) think about the choices I'll make and how they might impact my life and marriage. For example, if I spend too much time talking to a female co-worker, I need to be aware of how this can weaken my defenses or make me susceptible for an affair (emotional as well as physical).

Another key to guarding my heart and protecting my marriage is to draw a line with certain choices and then stay a safe distance behind it. For each person the safety line will be different. Some people may not be able to meet a certain person for lunch or hold business meetings behind closed doors. Others will not be able to work late or take business trips with a co-worker of the opposite sex. Whatever the situation, determine where you need to draw the line. The bottom line is we will make mistakes. So,

having extra room or space before you cross the line or fall over the edge can be the difference between a compromising situation and losing your marriage.

The final piece for guarding your heart is through accountability. Accountability is being responsible to another person (a person of the same sex) or persons for the commitments you've made. We can’t encourage you enough to ask a good friend, pastor, bible study group, or co-worker for accountability. The key is having someone to ask the difficult questions like, “Have you shared too much personal information or have you been getting your emotional needs met from someone other than your mate?” Ideally, these kinds of questions force us to carefully and prayerfully consider our choices because we know that someone will be checking. This is guarding our hearts and marriage.

Greg Smalley, PsyD
Website | + posts

Dr. Smalley previously served as the director of Marriage Ministries for The Center for Healthy Relationships. He is the author or co-author of twelve books concerning marriages and families, and currently serves as the executive director of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family.

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