(A bit about me – I only write for women – so I am only going to address things that wives can change and control in this post. We cannot control our husbands. We can powerfully influence them. But we can’t change them. My goal is to point wives towards having Christ as Lord and towards obeying His Word and His beautiful design for marriage.)
FLIRTING IN OUR CULTURE
Our culture thinks nothing about married people flirting with others. It’s “not a big deal.” It won’t hurt anyone! That is what a lot of us believe, at least.
But what is the real harm in flirting? Why does it matter? Where is the line?
FLIRTING IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS
I believe that flirting (outside of marriage) is VERY dangerous for people who are married. It is an extremely slippery slope from flirting to infatuation to an affair. I don’t think ANYONE is above this kind of temptation. I’m not! The only way I can avoid sexual temptations is to put VERY CLEAR BOUNDARIES around my marriage and my heart and to cling to Christ.
Not only does flirting make it possible and more probable that someone will begin an affair, but it is very disrespectful toward a person’s spouse and marriage covenant before God.
The Bible commands us to FLEE from sexual immorality as believers. And we are also commanded not to allow even a “hint” of sexual immorality to be among us.
A marriage covenant is a VERY serious thing in God’s sight. Is it possible that I might get away with flirting temporarily without becoming involved in an affair? Maybe. But it is also very likely that flirting could lead to much more than I intended and the fallout could be catastrophic.
MY PERSONAL CONVICTIONS ARE TO AVOID:
- private emails with other men
- long private phone conversations with men
- being alone with a man in a house or room with closed door
- private texting or Facebook chatting
- building close work relationships with men
- allowing men to disrespect my marriage by flirting with me
Each believer will have to pray and seek God’s wisdom and determine for himself/herself what boundaries God may desire them to have. My husband has his own convictions. I do not try to force my convictions on him or anyone else.
Very few people set out intending to have an affair.
It almost always starts as a friendship or close work relationship then proceeds slowly to flirting and confiding emotional details and problems – and then, before you know it, you are feeling unloved and lonely in your marriage and you have a man just waiting to “rescue” you and shower you with compliments, romance and attention – and then the emotional affair or sexual affair “just happens.”
It can’t “just happen” when we stay far away from compromising situations and provide no opportunity for the flesh!
FOR WOMEN WHOSE HUSBANDS ARE FLIRTING WITH OTHER WOMEN
My heart BREAKS for you! I am SO SO SO SO SORRY for your pain!
My first concern is, why is he flirting with other women? Obviously, all humans are sinful and- men and women alike (Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God). “Sin” is an archery term that means “to fall short of the target.” Sin is wrong in the eyes of our holy God and the person who is guilty of sin will be accountable to God for what he/she does.
All people are either controlled by SELF or they are controlled by God. When SELF is in charge – people sin. They hurt other people and they grieve God’s heart.
But sometimes digging into the reasons behind the sin can be helpful for a spouse to try to understand what is happening.
My guesses would be that it:
- makes him feel desired and accepted
- makes him feel powerful
- makes him feel more masculine and more like a man
- makes him feel like he’s “still got it.”
- makes him feel admired/respected
- makes him feel like he is in control
- His fellowship with the Holy Spirit may be compromised because of some other sin and he may be operating in “flesh mode” instead of “filled with the Holy Spirit mode.” It is possible there could be lust involved here.
I am not responsible for my husband’s sin. He will stand accountable to God for his behavior no matter what I do.
I will stand accountable to God for my behavior and obedience to God no matter what my husband does.
If he is flirting – he is either already far from God or he is heading away from God. The farther a husband is away from God, the less impact his wife’s words will have on him. It is her behavior, kindness, respect, and godly lifestyle that will most convict him – as the Holy Spirit works in his heart.
I can INFLUENCE my husband and make sin more or less tempting for him by my own behavior. We are one spiritually, emotionally and physically in marriage. What I do affects him. What he does affects me. Husbands have “positional authority” and wives have “influence authority.” Our power is similar to the power of an advisor to a king. And this kind of authority is often more powerful than positional authority! For more on that concept, read here.
The biggest question for me as a wife is -
How can I conduct myself wisely in this situation and how can I honor God in my marriage even as I am hurting?
WHAT DO I ACTUALLY HAVE CONTROL OVER HERE?
If my husband is flirting with other women, I would want to ask myself some questions
- do I communicate that I desire my man in a way he really hears?
- do I generally show my husband that I accept him and am not trying to change him in our relationship?
- have I been withholding my body sexually from him? (I Corinthians 7:1-5 says it is wrong for one spouse to withhold sex from the other – that it invites temptation to the rejected spouse and opens a door for the enemy). God commands me to be sexually available to my husband (unless there is infidelity or major health problems or we have agreed to abstain mutually for a short time to pray).
- do I communicate to my husband that he is strong, manly, powerful, respected and emotionally safe with me?
- do I smile at my husband often? Am I friendly?
- do I flirt with my husband (if he is receptive) and enjoy him?
- do I tend to take over control of the marriage or treating him like a little boy instead of a grown man? Do I think I have to lead because he can’t/won’t? Could I step down out of control and cooperate with his leadership instead of bossing and ordering him around? (Ephesians 5:22-33 = God’s design for wives to respect their husbands and follow the husbands’ God given leadership) If you struggle with trying to control your husband (like I used to), check out this post
- do I treat him with disrespect? (This is a LONG list of behaviors for most men, check out this post - it is surprising to most women all the things that can make men feel disrespected. This is important because men need respect like women need love!)
- do I treat him with respect in a way that is meaningful to him as a man? (Ways to Show Respect to Your Husband)
- do I make an effort to make myself attractive for my husband (not just wearing a pony tail and sweats all the time and never shaving – for example) – could I fix my hair the way he likes it sometimes and do my makeup nicely for him to make him feel like I think he’s worth the effort? Could I dress in a feminine, beautiful way that he would enjoy? Am I eating a healthy diet and getting a reasonable amount of exercise? I am not saying we need to have surgery or implants or have anorexia or be a size 2 or obsess over our looks. But the fact is that if we make NO effort to look attractive to our men, they will feel disrespected. Remember when you were dating, how you spent an hour or two dolling yourself up to impress your man? I doubt he expects you to spend 2 hours per day now, but 15-30 minutes might be a nice gift to give to him – to show you respect him and you respect yourself and take care of yourself.
I may have work to do on my end of the equation depending on my answers to these questions. Of course – there can be times when a wife may do everything “perfectly” but her husband still sins. He has a free will. He can do that. My obedience to God and faithfulness to my husband do not guarantee me that my husband will honor our wedding vows. But my obedience to God and faithfulness to my husband DO please God no matter what my husband does.
Pleasing Christ and bringing glory to Him is my primary purpose in this life according to God’s Word.
Beth Moore talks about (and this is a paraphrase) ”What wife, by jealousy, has ever won back her husband? What husband says, ‘Aw! My wife is so cute when she is so angry and jealous, I’ve GOT to go back to HER!’”
There is no power to attract our men with our anger, jealousy and bitterness.
I think a wife can and should pray about her approach carefully then calmly, sadly and respectfully share her feelings and pain (some possible suggestions):
- “I want you to flirt with me, Honey! I don’t want you to flirt with other women.”
- “Please do not flirt with other women.”
- “It is not ok with me for you to flirt with another woman.”
- “I am not going to tell you what to do. You are a grown man and you have the ability and right to decide how you want to live your life. I want you to know that when you flirt with other women, it hurts me deeply. I want you to honor and respect me and our marriage. If you continue to behave this way – I may need to X.” (Please pray and seek God’s will about what action He would desire you to take if your husband continues flirting. Do you need to leave the house for a few hours? Do you need to respectfully pull away from him until he repents? Listen for God’s voice and His wisdom.)
- “It is really disrespectful to me and our marriage when you flirt with other women.”
- “I want to respect you and honor you and our marriage – your behavior with this woman makes it extremely difficult for me to continue to respect you the way I deeply want to.”
- When he approaches you for sex, “I want to be joyfully available to you sexually all the time. It is very hard for me to be vulnerable and trusting of you and to open myself up to you the way I want to when I feel so disrespected and dishonored by the way you have been flirting with so and so. I am so sad about this.”
- “I miss you flirting with me.”
- “It hurts me so much when you flirt like that.”
- “It’s really hard for me to respect/trust you when you flirt with other women.”
- “I feel unloved when you do that.”
- “Are you feeling disrespected in our marriage?”
- “Is there something you need from me that I am not giving you?”
- it’s possible there could be such severe situations that a wife may have to say, “I want to be the best possible wife for you. I want to honor and respect you. But I can’t be with you if you continue to do X. It’s up to you. I won’t try to force you to do anything. It is totally your call how you decide to act. But I want you to know that this is a boundary that I have to protect in our marriage. I will do what I need to do if you continue talking about having sex with/sexting with/behaving in such a sexual way with that woman. I expect you to treat me and our marriage with respect.”
I do think that if a husband feels greatly respected by his wife – that will draw him to her and make it much less likely that he would want to flirt with other women. We are always either drawing our husbands closer or pushing them away. A wife can certainly make sure SHE is honoring her husband and God and the marriage covenant on her end. And she can pray for God’s Spirit to convict him and bring him to repentance.
HOW TO MOST POWERFULLY INFLUENCE A MAN
Generally, men only allow people they greatly admire and respect to influence their decisions. And men only allow people who respect THEM to influence their decisions.
If your husband doesn’t seem to care about your feelings – you may be able to influence his feelings by becoming a woman he can greatly respect and by showing respect for him for the good that you see in him.
THEN – if you say that something hurts you – he will be so much more likely to care about your feelings and to desire to make things better.
Jealousy is a complicated thing. It’s not all bad. God is jealous for our worship and praise. He says he is a jealous God and will not share His praise with another. If we are a believer in Christ, we are in a covenant with Him and our praise should ONLY be going to Him alone. We should not be serving or worshipping or sacrificing to other things as god. We should not be flirting with other “gods/idols”.
The marriage covenant does create certain rights and expectations. Part of those rights and expectations are that we belong to our spouse alone to have and to hold – and I think that includes flirting. A spouse is rightly jealous when his or her spouse dishonors the marriage covenant and flirts with or entertains lust for someone else.
But we must also guard our hearts against unwarranted jealousy and false accusations against our husbands – that will push their hearts far from us! Sometimes we as wives read impure motives into our husband’s every word or glance toward another woman unfairly. Sometimes we judge our husbands’ motives as sinful when they truly are not.
IF MY HUSBAND IS FLIRTING WITH OTHER WOMEN
He may not think it’s a big deal. He may think he’s just being friendly. My husband may have not really thought about possible negative consequences of flirting or he may think he “can handle” the temptation.
This is a sin problem and he will have to be convicted by the Holy Spirit to be able to repent and seek reconciliation with God and with me. I am not the Holy Spirit and I can’t make my husband repent!
I Peter 3 teaches us that when a husband is disobedient to God’s Word, a wife’s most powerful move is to be silent about spiritual things and about God, allowing God’s Spirit to speak to him directly without her interference. Yelling, nagging, preaching, lecturing, shaming, pouting, whining, demanding and criticizing are NOT effective methods to create motivation in men. It still comes back to respect.
My respect of what is good in him will do more to convict him than my contempt and condemnation ever could. My willingness to continue to treat him with respect, and to look for the good in him will pile burning coals upon his head. I do NOT respect his sin! But I find what is good and respect that. And I respect our covenant before God. The more godly I am (by God’s Spirit in me) and the less I sin against him, even when he is sinning against me, the more convicted he will feel of his own despicable behavior and the more loudly the voice of God will resonate within his soul.
I may have to confront him. If so, I will need to take care of any sin in my own life first (removing the “log” in my eye before addressing the “speck” in my husband’s eye – as Jesus commands.) But my confrontation should be done with self-control, manners and respect. There may be times when I need to confront his sin. Please see this post http://ninaroesner.com/resources/when-it-doesnt-work/
PLEASE REALIZE THIS! If I sin against him because he was sinning against me - I am repaying evil for evil. Jesus says I can’t overcome evil with evil, I must overcome evil with good! Jesus commands us to bless those who persecute us, pray for those who despitefully use us, you do good to those who do harm to us and love our enemies – so how much more should we love our husbands.
If I sin against him by berating him, emasculating him with words, raking him over the coals, attacking him, screaming hateful things at him, looking down on him, detesting him, rebelling against him, continually spying on him, expecting the worst of him, refusing to cooperate with his leadership and disrespecting him – he will be thinking about MY AWFUL BEHAVIOR AGAINST HIM. He won’t be thinking about his own sin. He’ll have plenty of ammunition to use against ME because of all the sin I’ve now committed against him. He’ll be thinking about how crazy I am, and how smothering and controlling and disrespectful I am instead of thinking about his own sin. When I keep sin out of my life by living by the power of the Spirit of God – all he will have to think about is the purity and respect I show him, my godliness and his sinfulness. THAT is how he will be convicted, ladies!
WHAT ARE MY GOALS IN MARRIAGE?
In my mind, the goals God desires us to acheive are things like:
- spiritual, emotional and physical unity and oneness
- bringing great glory and honor to Himself
- living out the very great mystery of Christ and His church
- drawing others to Christ through our marriage relationship
- being an example of the grace and mercy of Jesus
- meeting my husband’s needs for respect and for being the leader in the marriage and depending on Christ to meet my needs when things aren’t going well
- my holiness, not necessarily my happiness
- my obedience to Him no matter what the cost is to me
Portia’s Story - Winning Him Over without a Word
BRENT RIGGS TACKLES THIS TOPIC
NINA ROESNER FROM THE RESPECT DARE
RESOURCES FOR PORNOGRAPHY ADDICTION
Another helpful resource is www.affaircare.com
and for pornography issues… http://www.xxxchurch.com help for wives of addicted husbands… http://www.xxxchurch.com/women/spouses/what-do-i-do-when-i-catch-my-husband-looking-at-porn.html
And many of the authors on the Christian Marriage Bloggers’ Association also handle issues of pornography use, flirting and infidelity at http://www.upliftingmarriage.com/cmba-members/