Affairs are a devastating thing that happens to marriages. There are physical, emotional and even spiritual affairs. Affairs of the heart will destabilize your relationships, especially the one with your spouse. But let's understand affairs a little bit better before we conclude we know everything about them.
What is an affair? Most people think that an affair is a dishonest relationship with someone other than your spouse. A relationship that has to be kept in secret. Usually there has to be an amount of deception used to keep others, (especially ones spouse) in the dark. This is true, but I would like to also offer the following. An affair can also be anything that either replaces and/or occupies a place in your heart that should be reserved exclusively for your spouse and family.
There are physical affairs that are either one time or short time flings that at the time seem to be harmless relationships that end as quickly as they start. The problem is that the physical relationship which is suppose to be exclusively reserved for ones spouse has now been compromised. The effect on both spouses is devastating. The cheaters perspective on the physical relationship has changed and guilt now occupies their heart everything they are intimate with their spouse. If the tryst is revealed, the other spouse has to deal with deep seated feelings of rejection.
There are emotional affairs. These affairs sometimes lead to physical affairs, but the damage is done before that ever happens. Many times you see two people become good friends which in and of itself isn't a sin. But when one or the other begin to emotionally invest into each other things that should be only spoken to ones spouse - then an affair has begun. Let me explain. If you are stressed about something that you use to talk to your spouse about, (i.e. your job, your family - even your marriage) but instead you speak to this other person because they "understand you better" chances are you're in an emotional affair. When you begin to feel for this other person's feelings that you should only have for your spouse, then you're in an emotional affair.
There are spiritual affairs of the heart too. I am not saying that a relationship with Jesus is going to ruin your marriage. In fact it will help strengthen it. However, I have seen those who use the church and religion as an excuse to avoid or reject their spouse. They were in love with the organization more than they were in love with their spouse. Weird I know. Usually the marriage is in such bad shape at this time, for whatever reason, a spouse has to find something to fulfill their needs for love, acceptance and forgiveness. Because the church offers those things readily, they are drawn to its strengths. But if there is no attempt to reconcile the marriage then the church becomes a surrogate spouse and the affair goes on.
So what can you do to protect yourself from these kinds of affairs. First of all, ask yourself what from your heart belongs to your spouse exclusively. Here is a short list. Your sex life. Your love that would die for them. Your desire to protect them from harm. Your desire to pour your life into them and see them excel. Now pledge to yourself that you will protect these with everything that you have. You will be tempted, but you will say NO! No excuses - take no prisoners. There is nothing worth your marriage or family.