Marriage in God's Hands

Adultery: A Family Problem

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Alanzo Smith, June Smith


Series Code: MGH

Program Code: MGH000066

00:29 Welcome to Marriage In God's Hands.
00:32 I'm Alanzo Smith and this is my wife June Smith.
00:36 And we just celebrated our anniversary.
00:41 After 33 years.
00:44 Alanzo is my lover and husband.
00:47 And he's the Family Life and Family Ministries director of
00:51 the greater New York conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
00:55 And June is a professor at Long Island University
00:59 and she also has a private practice.
01:02 We're here today to talk about adultery,
01:06 a family problem.
01:09 This is a growing family problem.
01:12 It is one of the saddest things that happens in families.
01:17 We have so many people who are having challenges
01:21 in their marriages simply because one partner
01:25 went and committed adultery.
01:28 So we are saying that adultery, for the most part,
01:34 just does not happen in a vacuum.
01:37 It is true that there are some relationships that they just
01:41 start like that, but often times there's a buildup,
01:44 a gradual creeping compromise that you make.
01:48 So we are saying that people don't always intentionally
01:51 go out to have what we call an affair
01:54 or a relationship outside of their marriage.
01:57 But there are things that begin to happen that we want to
02:01 point out as red flags.
02:02 So hopefully we will be more aware and protect and
02:07 put boundaries in our relationships.
02:10 Let's examine some of the conditions that lead to
02:13 an adulterous relationship.
02:15 For example, sharing things in common.
02:19 It seems to be the least threatening of all the
02:23 conditions that we can mention.
02:25 But we need to talk about it.
02:27 When you have mutual interests and you find that it is easy to
02:34 talk to an individual about those interests, you tend to
02:37 form a bond and you tend to develop an attachment that
02:42 allows you to feel comfortable in the presence of each other.
02:45 Common interests could be things like we share the same birthday,
02:49 we like the same sports team, we are of the same ethnicity,
02:56 we are maybe possibly the same religion.
03:00 There are things in common that we share and that causes us
03:03 to talk a lot on the lunch break, every time we have some
03:06 time together or we meet each other, there's something
03:09 in common that we can share.
03:11 And this tends to lead to a chemistry.
03:13 We begin to feel...
03:14 We let our guards down and we begin to feel
03:17 close to each other.
03:18 Now up to that point, it seems like just a very simple
03:21 innocent relationship.
03:22 I was about to ask you that because are we saying that
03:25 at that stage that an affair is happening here?
03:27 It's not necessarily yet an affair but it leads to or
03:30 could lead to an affair.
03:32 So we just want individuals to be aware that even in
03:35 forming friendships you want to establish very clear boundaries
03:39 when you are already married.
03:41 And you mentioned chemistry.
03:45 The chemistry is where you find individuals
03:49 are able to communicate a lot.
03:51 Communication process is smooth, they can talk,
03:54 they can share.
03:55 And in their lives, the bonding that is growing
03:59 and that is developing.
04:00 And what tends to happen at this point is that the individual,
04:04 or one individual is getting what we call
04:06 emotional needs being met.
04:08 So you start turning to this friend for emotional support
04:13 if you're having problems, if you're having difficulties.
04:17 It is easy now to relate to this person, it is easy to talk
04:21 to this person because there's this chemistry and
04:23 you have learned to share ideas and to share things in common.
04:26 And you begin to even notice when, you know...
04:29 Let us suppose this is a co-worker, or maybe a person
04:33 in your Sabbath school class, or somebody who is
04:36 in another relationship with you.
04:37 You noticeably begin to see that this person is absent
04:41 when they're not there.
04:43 It's not just another person outside of the office
04:45 or outside of church.
04:46 You begin to feel the absence of this person
04:49 in your relationship.
04:50 So we are talking about emotional emptiness.
04:55 When you have spend so much time talking and sharing,
05:01 innocently, things that happen at home, on the job, wherever,
05:06 and when this person is away on a vacation, whatever it is,
05:10 and you're not able to share, to talk, and you might not
05:12 have access to email or texting, you start missing this person,
05:17 you start feeling the absence.
05:18 And this could lead to; you're at home and you're not happy.
05:22 And your spouse might be saying,
05:24 "What's wrong? Is something wrong?"
05:25 And you say, "No, nothing is wrong. "
05:26 But something really is wrong because there's this
05:30 emotional emptiness.
05:31 So in your emotions and in your psyche, almost,
05:34 there's a noticeable bond that has occurred.
05:37 And all of a sudden, you become conscious that this person
05:40 means more than just a co-worker or just an acquaintance.
05:43 So we are going down what we consider a slippery slope.
05:47 And the danger of that is most people who begin to
05:52 establish a relationship with this person will now begin to
05:55 have a mental comparison.
05:57 We're talking about conditions that lead to adultery.
06:01 And one of them is this mental comparison that you make
06:08 between your spouse and this individual.
06:12 You find that you have spent so much time talking to
06:15 this person, so much time sharing, so much togetherness,
06:18 there is this synergy, there's this connection
06:21 that you have with this individual.
06:23 So in a subtle way now, you start comparing your spouse
06:31 with this person.
06:32 And guess what?
06:34 The person is coming out to be the better of the two.
06:38 And I think we would be right if we would say that the other
06:42 person that you're spending all this time with
06:44 and having this bonding and attachment with
06:46 is also going through the same experience
06:48 psychologically and emotionally.
06:49 And so both of you are becoming very conscious
06:52 that there is something special happening.
06:55 Yea, and we compare physical beauty.
07:00 All of a sudden, this person is more beautiful than your spouse.
07:03 You compare how they laugh, how they smile.
07:08 You start saying, "This person listens to me more.
07:11 This person understands me more. "
07:13 We rationalize things away and give ourselves
07:16 reasons for wanting to spend time with them and
07:19 reasons for wanting to talk with this individual.
07:22 Not understanding, however, that we're moving steadily
07:26 along this slippery slope.
07:28 The danger with that is, however, that when this
07:31 begins to happen, you don't have access to this person
07:36 as you openly should.
07:38 So you are likely to begin to be deceptive.
07:41 Precisely.
07:42 Deceit triggers in.
07:47 I have to hide, I have to be exclusive,
07:50 I have to develop passwords.
07:53 I have to do everything so that I can still find time
07:57 to spend time with this individual but I have to
08:01 hide it from my spouse.
08:03 And it's about that time that the other spouse,
08:06 the non-adulterous or the spouse who's not
08:10 engaging in an external relationship,
08:13 begins to notice something happening in the relationship,
08:16 in her marriage or his marriage.
08:17 And we want to say to our listeners listening to us,
08:21 if for any reason you find yourself at any of these stages
08:26 along the continuum, you ought to take an honest
08:29 introspective look at yourself and see where you're going
08:33 and say to yourself, "I have to check, I have to stop. "
08:37 See, if you step into the water, no matter how good a swimmer
08:43 you are, you will get wet.
08:46 So when you start stepping into these conditions,
08:51 start finding yourself at this stage, the chances are
08:55 you will be taken downstream.
08:57 So we're saying that in friendships, in relationships,
08:59 in meeting people, we will develop bonds and we will
09:03 develop some sense of attachment.
09:05 However, when you are married and you are investing in a
09:08 relationship, you ought to be cautious and you really
09:12 should be aware that these emotional attachments
09:14 could lead you into adulterous relationships.
09:18 Create boundaries.
09:19 So we want to create established limits.
09:21 That's important.
09:22 Create boundaries in relationships.
09:24 We're not in any way saying that you will not form friendships
09:27 or you should not form friendships.
09:29 But what we're saying, create boundaries.
09:31 And understand that if you don't, then they
09:33 lead to a slippery slope.
09:35 And we're saying that when you're in a marriage
09:36 you really shouldn't entertain individual friendships that are
09:40 exclusive of your marriage partner.
09:43 So if you have a friend that is not your wife's friend
09:46 or your husband's friend, then you ought to be aware
09:49 that this could lead you, if you're spending quality time
09:52 with this person and secret meetings with this person
09:55 and exchanging gifts and doing all these things,
09:58 that you could be heading in a difficult place.
10:02 Another condition that we would want to examine is
10:05 what we call the kinesthetic embrace.
10:08 It may start out with just a mild handshake
10:11 but then the handshake becomes prolonged, a little longer.
10:14 A squeeze, a hug.
10:16 And here we are having now physical contact.
10:20 Is there danger in this subtle physical contact?
10:24 Because the normal person looking on the outside
10:27 seeing you hugging this individual would not be
10:29 able to conclude anything.
10:31 But the synergy, the energy, what's going
10:32 on between both of you; both of you are communicating.
10:35 Is there danger here?
10:37 If you notice, it's a progression.
10:38 We started having mutual interest, then we started
10:41 developing a chemistry between each other.
10:42 And as we progress, we find that we were getting some
10:45 emotional benefit from this relationship.
10:47 And surely, if now you start getting physical,
10:51 it is likely to lead you into deeper bonds.
10:54 So yes, there is a danger.
10:56 Now is it possible that this could even happen in church?
10:59 Oh, it happens in church. It happens everywhere.
11:03 And we're asking individuals to be on guard.
11:06 We want people to be warm, we want people to be open,
11:09 we want people to be friendly.
11:11 We don't want you to be hostile and nobody
11:13 wants to come around you.
11:14 All we're asking is that you create boundaries.
11:18 You understand who your spouse is, who your friend is,
11:23 and there must be a marked difference between the
11:25 two in your relationship.
11:27 And of course, you want to think about...
11:28 We will go into the consequences and what happens as a result
11:31 of some of these relationships.
11:32 But if especially you have children in your relationship,
11:36 when you begin to take this journey towards establishing
11:39 external attachments and bonding, first think about
11:43 the impact it could have on your child.
11:46 Gift giving is another condition that pushes one along the way.
11:50 We start giving gifts.
11:51 We start with small gifts, inexpensive gifts.
11:55 And then it mushrooms, it develops into
11:58 more expensive gifts.
12:00 And some of you are on the receiving end of these gifts.
12:04 And you have to have a conscience within yourself
12:07 to say, "I shouldn't take this gift. "
12:09 So now you start exchanging gifts, you're sending a
12:12 very clear message, "I like you,"
12:14 "I'm interested in you," "I admire you,"
12:17 "I need to be with you more frequently. "
12:20 And that leads to what we might conclude to be secret meetings.
12:24 Secret meetings are dangerous.
12:26 Secret meetings occur alone in a car, visiting at the office,
12:32 visiting at the home.
12:33 Secret meetings occur frequently and often.
12:37 But one has to be careful because in there lies the trap
12:42 for these secret meetings.
12:45 So we're talking about creeping compromises.
12:48 When you're in a marriage, when you're in a relationship
12:51 that you're totally committed to and truly committed to...
12:54 And we could conclude that you really shouldn't be
12:56 in a marriage if you're not committed to it.
12:58 Because marriage is about commitment.
13:00 We actually made a commitment when we got married.
13:03 So when you're in a marriage and you have a commitment,
13:06 you don't want to do anything that would
13:07 compromise that relationship.
13:09 So the final step in this progression is this
13:12 creeping compromise where you talk about, you rationalize,
13:16 you justify your behavior, you give reasons.
13:19 And as a result of this you find yourself doing things and
13:23 going places you should not go and you should not do.
13:27 So we are saying, we're agreeing that these are some things
13:31 that we shouldn't do that leads to the adultery.
13:34 We are going to take a break but we will come back
13:37 and pick up to talk about the consequences
13:40 and remedy for adultery.
13:50 There are many How To books available
13:52 but there's one that's free and perfect for every couple,
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14:23 Welcome back.
14:24 We have been talking about adultery, a family problem.
14:28 And we have shared with you some conditions
14:31 that lead to adultery.
14:33 Conditions like...
14:35 We say adultery doesn't just always start
14:39 with an intention to hurt each other
14:42 or to hurt the other spouse.
14:43 But things like spending time together.
14:46 Things like building a chemistry in a relationship
14:50 that's just a casual friendship.
14:51 Meeting emotional needs.
14:54 Noticeable absence when the person is not there,
14:58 how you feel.
14:59 We talked about this mental comparison that you make
15:04 with your spouse and this friendship.
15:07 And Alanzo, I think that's almost like the
15:08 turning point, actually.
15:10 Because in ordinary friendships you have some chemistry,
15:14 you have common things in practice.
15:16 But you don't begin to compare and contrast your spouse
15:19 and begin to feel or give the edge to somebody else.
15:22 So when that begins to happen, you know
15:25 you're heading in the wrong direction.
15:28 The seeds are going to conceive because
15:29 you have to start hiding things now.
15:31 And we talk about this embrace.
15:34 We call it the kinesthetic embrace where you
15:37 want to touch, you want to hug, you want to kiss,
15:39 or caress the person which is another dangerous
15:42 area we're moving into.
15:43 So we conclude that we call these compromises,
15:46 creeping compromises, where gradually you start on a
15:49 sliding slope and eventually you end up in a full blown affair.
15:53 There are consequences though, serious consequences,
15:57 to an adulterous relationship.
16:00 What might be some of these consequences that
16:03 we would like to look in the eyes of our listeners and
16:06 talk to them about it and share with them.
16:08 I think one of the most painful is that the person who is
16:14 engaging in this adulterous relationship is likely to
16:18 lose his or her family.
16:20 So we have what we call divided homes
16:23 where now the other spouse who finds out about this affair
16:27 is likely to walk away from the marriage.
16:29 And you have a marriage, a family with two or three
16:33 kids, being split.
16:35 So divided loyalty leads to divided homes.
16:39 And that's a serious consequence you know, because we have to...
16:43 It's not just two people walking away.
16:45 The emotional consequence, the financial consequence.
16:48 But greatest of all, the impact on the children.
16:53 And the spiritual impact as well.
16:55 I have dealt with so many couples, so many individuals,
17:00 who have been either victims or perpetrators
17:03 in adulterous relationships.
17:04 I recall a woman who had called me one night and
17:07 she was actually suicidal because she found out
17:11 her spouse was having an adulterous relationship.
17:14 And thank God she had called a friend and told her about
17:17 the incident and her friend referred her for counseling.
17:20 So the pain, the sadness, the depression
17:24 that one experiences when they suddenly find themselves
17:27 in a situation where they have to make a choice between
17:30 staying married and leaving the marriage because the partner
17:33 committed adultery can be devastating for all.
17:38 I heard a son telling his dad that he did not
17:45 respect him anymore.
17:46 And the father was bewildered, he couldn't understand why.
17:50 And when he asked the son, the son said,
17:53 "You think I don't know what you're doing to mom?
17:55 I read everything on the computer. "
17:58 So he did not know that the son somehow found access
18:01 to his computer and was reading everything.
18:03 So here we find out a lack of trust that develops
18:09 in the life of the child towards the dad.
18:12 As you cite that experience, I recall the
18:14 story of a young girl.
18:16 She was fourteen years old doing very well
18:18 in school academically.
18:19 And her parents all of a sudden got her last report card
18:24 and realized she was failing.
18:25 And of course that caught their attention.
18:27 And they brought her in for counseling because they
18:29 couldn't get anything out of her.
18:30 She wouldn't talk, she was depressed, she was very sad.
18:34 And when I interviewed the young girl, she asked
18:37 the parents to leave the room.
18:38 And I said, "What's going on?
18:39 Let's talk about how I might be able to help you. "
18:42 She said, "My parents are such hypocrites.
18:44 My father doesn't know that I know he's
18:48 having an affair with another woman
18:50 and is cheating on my mother. "
18:52 And that's why this little girl was failing in school.
18:55 So sometimes...
18:57 They would have thought that the truancy they saw in the child;
19:00 the acting up and misbehavior, the child is defiant.
19:04 Not knowing that they themselves are, in this case he himself,
19:08 is the one that is causing all of this.
19:11 The father had no clue that his child was aware
19:13 of what was going on.
19:14 So yes, it has a devastating affect on the child.
19:17 And we should emphasize the spiritual component
19:21 to all of this because the family suffers spiritually,
19:27 but the church also suffers because sometimes these
19:30 individuals are prominent leaders and prominent members
19:33 within the congregation.
19:35 And that does affect the church at large.
19:38 The credibility of our gospel.
19:41 I think one of the things that tends to happen is that
19:43 young women who are engaging in an adulterous affair
19:49 with a married man, of course, although adultery occurs with
19:52 other married people, many times it compromises
19:55 the single woman or single male.
19:58 Because, think about it, when a married man approaches
20:01 a single woman and tries to engage her in a relationship,
20:05 what is he likely to offer her?
20:07 You know, sometimes they make promises, empty promises.
20:12 Promises that they are not able to fulfill.
20:15 But whether or not he's able to, or she's able to fulfill the
20:19 promise, the fact of the matter is, it is detriment to the
20:23 health of the marital relationship.
20:25 And not only that, society suffers as a whole
20:29 when you look at the social and the moral values in society.
20:33 You know, we're living in an age, this 21st century
20:36 in which we're living in, you look at the stars, the Hollywood
20:39 stars, the leaders, the professionals,
20:41 these individuals, and too many of them,
20:45 their families are falling apart.
20:46 There are too many figures that we hold in the society
20:50 as such that afterward it comes out there's an affair.
20:54 It's happening too often.
20:56 And our young people idolize these stars,
21:00 look to them, pattern them, et cetera.
21:04 And when this happens it affects them.
21:06 So we could say this behavior has almost become norm.
21:10 And so young people feel comfortable, or individuals,
21:13 almost feel comfortable going outside of their relationship.
21:16 Because they, quote, see significant and important
21:19 people who practice this kind of behavior.
21:21 But we are saying, by God's standards, that's not God's
21:25 intent for the family.
21:26 When we get married, we're saying we are married forever
21:29 and we want to be faithful and loyal to each other.
21:32 You know, June, the pressure and suicide and suicidal ideation
21:38 sometimes comes into play here.
21:41 There are individuals who it becomes so painful,
21:45 it becomes so hurtful; sleepless nights and sleepless days and
21:52 the crying, that sometimes they feel they just
21:55 want to end it all.
21:56 Sometimes they feel trapped and they feel like they've been
21:58 invested so much in the relationship.
22:00 But we're here to tell you that no matter what,
22:03 suicide is never an option.
22:05 Never ever.
22:06 And yes you will feel sad and you'll be very upset
22:09 that this has happened.
22:10 But by God's grace, you can have life after an affair.
22:13 And sometimes this comes to complicate the family;
22:17 when a child outside of the marriage is involved.
22:20 That creates a lot of complication.
22:23 Yes, that's probably one of the saddest things that happens.
22:26 Because a child who is born into a relationship
22:29 where the father is married to somebody else
22:32 really is likely to have very difficult problems.
22:38 And our listeners out there, I'm sure there are individuals
22:44 listening to us right now who can identify with exactly
22:48 what we are talking about.
22:50 Here it is, you want your marriage and you're doing
22:52 everything to keep the marriage, and all of a sudden you hear now
22:56 there is a child involved.
22:57 What should be the approach of, first of all, the offending
23:03 partner, the one who went outside and fathered
23:06 or mothered a child?
23:07 If that happens, I think it is important for them,
23:10 for the husband or the wife, to acknowledge that this happened
23:13 and to face it with the spouse.
23:16 And if the spouse is willing to forgive you and wants to stay
23:19 married with you, then you must be able to negotiate
23:22 with your spouse to take care of your child.
23:24 And we're talking about the attitude now.
23:27 It has to be with humility, a humble heart.
23:32 You can't just demand, "This is my child and
23:36 I have to take care of my child. "
23:37 No, that's not the attitude.
23:39 You have done something that is wrong
23:40 so you have to be humble, you have to ask for forgiveness.
23:43 You have to ask your spouse to help, to understand,
23:47 and work with you rather than demanding.
23:50 And I can understand how painful it must be for the
23:53 wife or husband to have to embrace this child.
23:55 But remember, the child is the innocent victim here.
23:58 The child had nothing to do with what went on between the adults.
24:02 And irresponsible people allowed this to happen.
24:05 So now, yes, the wife who's husband went out and
24:08 had an affair that yielded a child, think about this child.
24:12 And you really need to embrace this child and help to get
24:15 the support that the child needs.
24:17 We want to share with our listeners some remedies.
24:22 We have talked about the problem.
24:25 If someone is listening, so where do we go from here?
24:28 What do we do?
24:29 And the first thing we should say is, acknowledge
24:34 that there is a problem.
24:35 You have to acknowledge that there is a problem.
24:37 That's your starting point.
24:38 Because there can be no true healing, no true forgiveness,
24:42 if you're in denial.
24:43 And while you acknowledge that there is a problem,
24:46 you must be committed to quit the relationship.
24:49 You can't fix it if you continue in the same path.
24:53 And by quitting, we mean confronting the lover
24:57 and saying, "This is over. "
24:59 You have to end it, put a closure and a full stop.
25:03 Allow no possibility for continuation
25:06 of the relationship.
25:08 It reminds me of the way God relates to us.
25:10 When we sin, God is willing to forgive us.
25:13 But He says we must turn around 360 degrees.
25:16 So it is in an adulterous relationship.
25:18 In addition to this, we've got to encourage the
25:21 offending partner to apologize to the spouse,
25:25 to acknowledge that, "I hurt you and I wronged you. "
25:29 Be transparent.
25:32 Come clean.
25:34 Put everything on the table.
25:36 Work towards a resolution.
25:38 It makes no sense to have an attitude.
25:41 You have done something that is wrong,
25:43 you have violated the covenant marriage,
25:45 and you have violated the covenant of heaven.
25:47 Do your best to bring about a resolution.
25:50 The best thing is to keep your marriage intact.
25:54 And remember, you're going to have to work real hard
25:57 to restore trust; to get the spouse to trust that every time
26:02 you leave home, you are in a safe place.
26:06 And that will take some time.
26:07 To build back trust, it doesn't happen overnight.
26:11 It is something that you'll have to be patient with your
26:14 spouse on and work towards.
26:17 But yes, it can be done.
26:20 Through the grace of God, through the mercies of God.
26:22 It is not God's intention that individuals within families
26:28 should have an affair.
26:29 It was not God's intention.
26:30 When He says we should leave our father and mother and
26:33 cleave to our wife, cleave to our spouse,
26:36 cleave to our husband, this was God's intention in marriage
26:40 that we stay together.
26:41 And we should stay together.
26:44 So if there's a problem, if there was an affair
26:48 in the relationship, we are saying, let's acknowledge it,
26:50 let's turn away from it, and let's move forward to restore
26:53 trust in our original relationship.
26:57 The greatest remedy that we can share with you
27:00 is the remedy of making sure your spiritual reservoir
27:06 is replenished.
27:08 That is important.
27:10 You replenish it through reading the word of God,
27:13 and through prayer.
27:16 The psalmist says, "Thy word have I hid in my heart
27:19 that I might not sin against Thee. "
27:23 You need the word of God to give you strength.
27:26 Men like David and Sampson failed because their
27:30 spiritual reservoir was not filled up.
27:33 On the other hand, Joseph was able to overcome temptation
27:38 because he had a relationship with God
27:40 and his spiritual reservoir was filled up.
27:44 So we're encouraging you, acquaint yourself with God
27:46 and be at peace.
27:48 We're encouraging you to hide His word in your heart
27:51 so that you will not sin against Him.
27:53 Be strong, be faithful.
27:55 Enjoy your marriage and keep your home happy.
27:58 God bless.


Revised 2014-12-17