It was new and different, a flashy, slender package frequently presented before my son as he saw the commercial play over and over. Bright and bold, a new concept he could not get out of his mind. He had to have them! Yes, Yogos. Problem?
He's a conservative kid that for years has given his snack loyalty to fruit snacks. You know, the tried and true snack, the old standby? Nice, plain packaging, maybe even a little frumpy, with a squishy, non flashy appeal? He left those fruit snacks in the dust once I had a coupon to try the Yogos. With reckless abandon he dove into the box, tore into that attractive package of pastel pleasers for the palette and threw a few Yogos back to enjoy. Guess what?
'Mom, I don't like the taste of this. I want the fruit snacks back.'
It's a visual I can't get out of my mind and a stretch I know, but I can't shake how closely this illustration reminds me of an affair. No one wakes up thinking, 'well let's see, get the laundry done, pay bills, have an affair..." and yet, the slide from temptation to full blown affair has caught many by surprise.
This subject means a lot to me because I know my heart well, and it's one that can get out of whack fast. In high school I wrote a little poem that even back then I could not shake, and I still remember it all these years later. I called it:
I want it.
I must have it.
I will die without it.
Now my son probably wasn't obsessed but he quickly forgot all about the regular fruit snacks once Yogos came on the scene. My husband and I have similar personalities---all or nothing. He has many demands on his time and honestly he has to plug in his calendar to encourage me, one of my love languages. If he doesn't, chances are, someone else will affirm me and truthfully, if it came from a male at a time I wasn't encouraged by my husband, I'd be facing a Yogos size temptation. By the same token, my husband is a very charismatic affectionate man who during the day interacts with women. Some might not be in the best of places. When he gives them one on one time, part of his job or service, that might be filling a need to that woman that is not happening in their own home.
If we don't both keep our boundaries in place, I assure you Christian or not, we are just as susceptible as anyone else. The fact that neither of us are in our twenties nor do we resemble Barbie and Ken matter. Of the reading I've done, husbands confessed they entered into affairs not because of the beauty, in some cases the women were not physically attractive as we perceive, but the woman listened to the man, something that wasn't happening at home. The Christian part is important because I think those in the church, any church think that label keeps them safe. Not so. Adultery is hitting the church hard and fast, and pastors and their families just as much. It truly is an epidemic in our society.
My husband and I have a call, a passion for marriage before we were married. We want to see couples live not mediocre existances but ones of unity and oneness. We learned these principles through FamilyLife marriage conferences and small group studies. It's a daily choice for all of us. On the days we don't feel like choosing oneness, the alternative is isolation. There is no gray area. Early on and with some tweaking over the years we've put some boundaries in place so that when life isn't rainbows and happiness, isolation won't rule. It may come off Pollyanna but like I said, I'm seeing solid couples in church separating, divorcing, or carrying on relationships outside marriage. I'm not going to feel weird for having these in place anymore. Here is some of what we do:
-I don't slow dance with anyone but my husband. I know, I'm from the dark ages but for me most of it is I truly have personal space issues and very few people do I want physically close to me. But more than that, I think a lot more than dancing can start between two, including sweet nothings I totally enjoy when I'm dancing because they come from my beloved. Besides, I can't think of a better dancer than him, and I stink. So it works for us. Now he had to dance with a stranger because he was in a wedding, that I understand, as I did when we were engaged. But like holding hands in a prayer situation at church, I hold my husband different than I would someone in a social situation. We try to use common sense about those things.
-We don't have closed door meetings with the opposite sex. A few months ago I signed up for a fitness course that required 4 sit down meetings with my trainer. I hoped for a female trainer but because of staffing issues, I was assigned a male. We discussed this as it was an insecurity issue for both of us. The hysterical part was as nice as the man was, my husband worried that he was going to look and/or sound like Dean Cain or Matthew MacConaughey. Well the trainer was older than my husband and looked literally like Mr. Clean, which was not a worry for me or my husband. Our meetings were public with an open door.
I read in Sandi Patty's amazing book about her Yogo experience Broken in the Back Row that at one time she asked to meet with pastor and author Max Lucado. He was pleased to, in a cafe where everyone could see them. She felt so naive, even after all she shared in her story she was thinking she'd just chat with him in one of their hotel rooms. Those situations always breed trouble. You can avoid the fire by not lighting a match. It might not be popular but it's smart for us.
I also have refused giving rides to men only. When we do youth work we give rides when we drive alone with the same sex. I drive girls, he drives the guys. Now if the car is full of both, fine, doesn't matter but it protects us as much as the other person. Turns out one man from a church I was associated with asked me to drive him somewhere. I said no, I was not comfortable driving a man when I was alone who wasn't my husband. Months later he was arrested for lewd behavior. Again, I may come off silly, but especially given the marriage ministry we believe in, and what we want to model to our kids, I sure feel safer.
-We announce red flags. Sometimes we've had phone calls with friends, but get on the phone with the opposite sex of the couple and share basic things. I had a call once where the husband asked me how I was doing with my miscarriage and we shared a story about parents at Walmart. He was extremely encouraging and helpful, and I sure appreciated his asking. As a safeguard to my hubby I just said hey, I talked to so and so and we had a really nice talk. That way if someone else heard my call and wants to gossip, they have nothing to say. I already blabbed. A pastor said once they use the red flag rule because sometimes church ladies call with flat tires and can't locate husbands or are single moms, etc...and they make sense, you aren't going to turn someone down because they are the opposite sex, but you especially in the era of cell phones call your spouse and say hey, this is what I'm up to, thought I should let you know. I stay clear of keeping secrets about my schedule, my contacts and my plans.
--I won't share intimacies with anyone of the opposite sex. My guess is this is how an emotional affair begins and I can totally see how fast they could take place. There was a season where we were not in the same state and everything seemed crashing around me. I was completely vulnerable, as I'm sure was he. Had anyone come along that time and started consoling me from the opposite sex I would have easily started sharing how deep my grief and frustrations were in our circumstances. I had a supportive family and two amazing prayer partners that I could vent to when my husband wasn't there.
Frustrated with him? It happens, but please don't run to your male co worker and start running your man down. You'll be running with a lot more in no time than you bargained for. By the way, whether it's true or not I read an account of a celebrity marriage that broke up and the female soon after married another male celebrity. Gossip surrounded them over whether that relationship was going on all along. In an interview she stated we never had an affair, we never had sex. Well thank God I'm not God because that doesn't cut it with me. Share intimacies of any kind, emotional, physical, even spiritual moments with another of the opposite sex and it's danger, it's trouble, just don't go there.
- This really is going to sound off the rocker but for me I know my weaknesses and I don't listen to a lot of country music and I really work on not watching soap operas. I like white noise when I'm working and sometimes I'll leave the TV on from the morning where I watched morning news. By 1, the soaps are on and even just the background noise affects me. In a short order I get very negative about my husband and life. Every time I trace it back and for me, it's the soaps and the cheatin heart aspect of music. The fact that in less than a year a soap couple can be dating, married and divorced with a new engagement in the works before Christmas. The consequences are never explored, but in reality, they are crushing. This is totally my own conviction. If this doesn't bug your life, I'm glad because honestly country music is fairly enjoyable to me, but a lot of it and my thinking starts to slide. I'm just being honest, but I'm not your police.
When we first married we attended an Assembly of God church, and in our new home, we have the same affiliation. I say that to say there is a weekly magazine the church has called "The Pentecostal Evangel." Way back when we married they had a little corner in the front where they had topics and little bullet items to help you with the topic. One that always stood out to me was about having a lasting marriage. It talked about daily forgiveness. Laugh often. But the last I can see clear as day. Watch out for the grass on the other side of the fence, for the weeds are surely poison. No one wins in those situations. Even if your spouse is the most inconsiderate jerk ever, please get counseling, don't get another husband before you've dealt with your current one. You're just adding more baggage to your journey and it's loaded with bricks.
So in this house we are back to the fruit snacks, the loyal partner we took for granted, that was waiting for us all along!
Julie Arduini, http://thesurrenderedscribe.blogspot.com/, is devoted to writing for Christ in ways that encourage and inspire. A graduate of the Christian Writer's Guild, her writing resume is on her blog's sidebar. Happily married to Tom, they have two children.