I'm guessing that approximately zero percent of the Christians exposed in the Ashley Madison scandal planned on having affairs on their wedding days. And yet, startlingly, thousands of husbands and wives have succumbed to affairs. That's why seasoned premarital counselors Dana and Philip McReady spend a significant amount of time talking with engaged couples about affair-proofing their marriages from the get-go: they've been there. They know how easy it can be to get tangled. The McReadys describe marriage as something like building a home. You buy your first starter home, and while it isn't all you dreamed it might be, you nestle in. You tuck your dreams of granite counter tops and a raised-bed vegetable garden (or whatever) away, and start your day-to-day life in the little house with the chipped melamine counters.
Over time, the house fills up with memories, and more than a little clutter: arguments left unsolved, decisions deferred and disappointments unvoiced. Then, one day, you notice that the empty lot over the road is for sale. Your imagination wanders: imagine building your dream house there! One with trellised gardens and perfect, spacious counters! More and more, you notice the cramped space that is your house: a stark contrast with the dreamy lot over the way. Then, one day, in a fit of dissatisfaction, you torch your house, ready to step into your dreams.
Except for this: when the smoke dies down you realize there is no dream house. Just an empty lot in front of you, and a burnt home behind.
The business of "clearing up your clutter" and preventing yourself from building fantasy dream futures elsewhere are part of the foundational work of affair-proofing your marriage, say the McReadys.
Long, long before there are illicit looks and touches, there are dreams and disappointments that pave the way for affairs. As it turns out, newlyweds can do a lot to cultivate the habits of faithfulness from the very beginning. Here are some practical suggestions for affair-proofing your marriage:
Be an open (e)-book
My husband and I can pick up one another’s computers or phones at any time of the day and see what the other has been up to. Of course, this means we trust each other not to post humiliating Facebook statuses on one another’s profiles, but our message histories, internet searches, email and texts are open to one another. If we wanted to, we could see what the other was reading at any given time. Given how many secrets people try to keep in different online avenues, it seems increasingly important to have your online self be open to your spouse at any given point.