By Rhonda Stoppe, Crosswalk.com
I love a good, clean, romantic comedy where two people become attracted to one another, overcome an obstacle, and finally fall in love. I love a happily-ever-after.
However, if your understanding of real love is what you’ve seen in movies, your comprehension is skewed. The world’s view of love is completely feelings based. If your concept of love’s grounded in feelings alone, then the object of your love may transfer to another when your feelings change.
Why Do People Fall in Love with Someone Else?
If you’re married and your spouse isn’t measuring up to your expectations you’ll likely feel disappointed––even betrayed. I’m not necessarily talking about if they’ve cheated. Rather, things like:
- They’ve let themselves go
- They don’t listen
- They’re unkind, rude, angry
You get the picture. Unmet expectations are the root cause of why married people “fall out of love”. Maybe you’re in this situation. The one you vowed to love isn’t the same person you married, or who you hoped they’d become. When this happens it’s tempting to think, I’d be happier with someone else.
If you’re looking at that woman at work who dresses nice, and smells lovely you might compare her to your wife at home with the kids wearing yoga pants and a hot mess.
If you're a wife, you may be tempting to fall for someone who offers a listening ear, makes you laugh, or tells you you’re pretty––especially if your husband has stopped treating you with such care.
The danger of comparison is you can develop a superficial attraction to someone you admire, developing feelings for them. In our book, The Marriage Mentor, my husband, Steve, makes this profound statement: The grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it.
You might already be falling for someone else. Maybe you’re fantasizing about what it’d be like to leave your marriage for a new and exciting relationship. The world says, “Life’s short. You deserve to be happy. Follow your feelings.”
Why You Should Stay Faithful to Your Spouse
However, before you trust worldly advice, which by the way is Satan’s schemes to destroy you and your family, let’s consider God’s response to the unfaithful:
You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did He not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless” (Malachi 2:13-16).
Let’s gather a few insights taken from this passage:
1. Unfaithfulness in marriage breaks God’s heart.
And any attempts made to serve the Lord will be rejected, rather than received with blessing.
2. Marriage vows are a covenant between you and God.
When you’re unfaithful to your spouse you're unfaithful to God. My husband and I do premarital counseling. In the first session Steve says,“Marriage is a binding covenant with God that you’ll love and serve this person for the rest of your life. It is not a contract that can be made void if one doesn’t measure up. If you’re not ready to make a lifelong covenant with God to daily choose to love and serve each other then please do not get married.”
3. Marriage makes you one with your spouse.
I don’t know how to explain the mystery of it but God sees you and your spouse as one from the time you knit your lives together in a marriage covenant. To walk away from your spouse will cost you deeply in your spirit because you’ll leave a part of yourself behind.
Many divorcee’s, years later say, I never should have left my first marriage. I’ve never been the same since. And every other relationship I’ve had has similar struggles and disappointments.
4. Your children will suffer.
Children raised by divorced parents suffer deeply. Not only is it heartbreaking for them to watch their parent’s betrayal, it also develops a sense of insecurity and sorrow. While the world says, “Kids are resilient. They’ll adjust.”
God’s word says your betrayal will threaten their development into “godly offspring”. If you're a Christian, and you’re deepest desire for your children is to follow Christ, realize what’s at stake if you choose to leave your spouse.
Letty was married to a man who proved to be anything but the kind person he pretended to be during courtship. Over the years her disappointment turned to resentment. One day, broken before the Lord, Letty realized her own sin and repented of her bitterness. She asked God to help her love her husband and cover with love when he didn’t measure up to her expectations.
As time passed, her husband changed very little. But Letty changed as she kept her focus on loving Christ through prayer and Bible study. And by fellowshipping with godly girlfriends she found the encouragement and prayer support.
After Letty’s kids were grown she said, “I know lots of kids raised in wonderful homes with great marriages, who turned out apathetic toward God. I think my kids grew up to love and serve Christ because they saw the reality of Christ in me as He gave me strength to love my husband and fight for joy.” Wow, right?
What to Do If You’re Married and in Love with Someone Else
Along with growing your love for the Lord, here are three practical steps to take when you notice that your love is fading:
Even though Steve and I have biblically counseled couples for many years, it still surprises me when spouses are convinced their trouble is no fault of their own. Asking God to help search your heart and make you aware of your sin is the first step toward repentance. To repent requires you to agree with God that your thoughts and attitudes are sinful.
It’s easy to make excuses or justify sinful acts, so take some time to be alone with the Lord and pray, Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).
If God reveals to you areas of sin that you’re harboring against your spouse, ask Him to make you truly contrite over your sin. Then commit to daily asking God to make your heart tender toward your spouse. To soften your heart is not beyond His power.
Think back to the way things were when you fell in love with your spouse. You thought about them. You listened intently to what they had to say. Do you remember when you couldn’t wait for their gaze to meet yours? A moment in particular that took your breath away?
When you make a habit of remembering details of how you fell in love, you can rekindle feelings of adoration you may have forgotten. Looking at old pictures, reading old love notes, and talking about past memories can have a wonderfully positive influence on your relationship.
3. Believe the Best About Your Spouse
Relationships where people always believe the best about you are priceless, right? Would your spouse count you as one of those relationships? When you think about your spouse, do you dwell on what disappoints you? Unchecked, this practice can seriously undermine your love. And over time, you may come to believe I am falling out of love.
To cultivate a new way of thinking begin making a deliberate decision to think on their good qualities and refuse to dwell on how they don’t make you happy. In this way you can rekindle your affection for your spouse and learn to delight in them.
4. The Power of Right Thoughts
Develop a healthy thought life toward your spouse by following Paul’s advice: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8 esv).
5. Seek Godly Counsel
If you’re falling for someone who’s not your spouse you need godly counselors. More than one person contemplating an affair has benefited from godly counselors who help them discern the source of their unfaithful tendencies and guide them to not only turn from lustful thoughts but to rekindle love in their own marriages. Learn from godly mentors and you’ll have no regrets.
Rhonda Stoppe is dedicated to help women LIVE LIFE WITH NO REGRETS.
Rhonda is the author of 6 booksincluding: Moms Raising Sons to Be Men , and Real Life RomanceHer newest book is The Marriage Mentor,is co-authored with her Pastor-husband, Steve Stoppe. (Harvest House Publishers) With over 30 years experience of helping women build a life with no regrets as a pastor’s wife, mentor, speaker, author, mom & grandmother. She’s a regular guest on Focus on the Familyco-host of The No Regrets Hour,and other popular Christian Radio broadcasts. Rhonda helps women to:
- Break free from regrets that hold them back
- Grow in wholehearted devotion to Christ
- Find victory over people-pleasing
- Have the marriage others only dream about
- Build a godly legacy to become more influential than they ever dreamed possible
Rhonda and Steve have been married 38 years and live out their own real life romance on their ranch in Northern California. WATCH FREE marriage videos or to book the Stoppe’s for your marriage event visit www.NoRegretsWoman.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/stevanovicigor