Today’s guest post is from Alecia from Marriage Life Ministries.
My husband had an affair. It almost wrecked our marriage, but instead it was the catalyst for bringing us closer together. But through the whole sordid process, I learned something important: what we do before marriage often impacts what we do after marriage.
Most of the world thinks that purity is for the birds–that saving yourself isn’t relevant, convenient or even necessary. Or that remaining pure in your mind body and spirit after you get married isn’t important. I beg to differ.
It’s interesting that while over the last few decades our culture has gotten more sexually permissive, it has also adopted firmer attitudes against adultery. This “oddity” was found by the Marriage Project at Rutgers University when they were doing research on marriage and infidelity. People now disapprove of adultery more than they did a few decades ago, even though we’re also becoming more promiscuous. How can we as a culture not see how these two things are completely connected to one another?
Our behavior, as a culture, definitely speaks to different priorities than what the studies and surveys are suggesting. A majority might feel that cheating on one’s spouse is wrong, but that’s not stopping very many affairs.
Why? Again, it comes down to this. Purity.
I was slapped in the face with this concept shortly after Clint’s confession. Oh, sure, I’d heard it all growing up: “Don’t’ give yourself away.” “Sex before marriage is bad.”, but it was amazing to me to sit down and think about the ramifications of the choices that had been made in our situation. It wasn’t just Clint’s lack of sexual purity (before marriage and during our marriage) that led to our problem, but also my own lack of sexual purity. I had contributed to an atmosphere in our marriage that made us susceptible to adultery.
Infidelity doesn’t just create an atmosphere of non-purity in our marriage relationship…it stems from one.
Just as much as it matters what you do with your mind and your body after you get married, it matters what you do with it before. Our marriage wasn’t just affected by Clint’s infidelity. His infidelity was made possible because of sexual impurity.
The things you view, the way you think, the relationships you have, the sexual experiences you participate in, can all too easily impact your marriage–its health, longevity, and its ability to ward off infidelity.
If you didn’t have purity when you were younger, single, and dating, though, it’s not too late! With God, it never is. The important thing is to recognize that you need it—that you need Him to help you.
But you also need to work at it. If you don’t work at it, your choices will fester in your marriage like an old rotten pair of gym shoes shoved in the back of the closet. You’d like to forget they’re there but the smell wafts out at you every once in a while until the stench permeates the whole house and you’re hunting around playing the “What’s that smell” game. You can’t shove it under a rug or hide it or minimize it. As a couple you must deal with it.
If you feel like your marriage lacks what we would call purity, make some changes. Take the time to care about what you watch (by yourself, with your spouse, and as a family). What you expose your eyes and ears to will affect your mind and will affect your marriage. Take the time to care about the relationships and connections you make with the opposite sex. Strike up non-negotiable boundaries that serve to protect your marriage. Take the time to care about the type of intimacy you and your spouse have and build up a more positive form of it from the foundation up.
This thing called purity is kind of an important thing. After all, the couples who enjoy the best sex are those who are monogamous, and who waited until they were married to have sex. Oh, the irony!
This antiquated, stuffy, prudish word is actually anything but.
It’s the portal to you and your spouse living the next 50 years happily together.
From Sheila: I so appreciate Alecia’s take on this, as someone who has lived through an affair and has come out the other side.
I think sometimes we misunderstand purity. We think that it applies BEFORE marriage, but as Alecia says, it’s just as important once we’re married. We need to keep ourselves pure, which means keeping ourselves focused simply on our husbands.
When we’re married, we have great sexual license, which I talked about in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. But let’s not confuse that freedom with a lack of boundaries. Just because you can, and should, enjoy sex now does not mean that it’s a good idea to focus on just getting yourself aroused any old way, like thinking about another man, or watching porn, or immersing yourself in explicit HBO miniseries. Many couples have found that taking this license too far is quite dangerous.
Why? Because it reinforces the idea that sex is only about the physical, only about getting aroused, and not about a spiritual and emotional intimacy. And once we start to entertain these thoughts, it’s too easy to get careless.
So let’s keep pure in our marriages! Today, can you tell us how you do that? Leave a comment, or if you’re having a tough time figuring out what this means, leave a question, and maybe we can help you!