Avoiding Affairs, Part 4 – In Love After 31 Years Of Marriage

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Mrs. Cathy Bowman is the mother of two grown daughters and the wife of Dave, the acting regional director of the Navigators ministry. Cathy and Dave are also staff training coaches of the North East Division of the Navigators.  These are her thoughts on “how to withstand affairs in a marriage” from the standpoint of one who is very much in love with her husband after 31 years of marriage.

The first thing that came to my mind is 1 Corinthians 10:12- “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” The enemy loves to destroy us and marriage is one of his favorite targets. I want to remain always humbly thankful to and dependent on God for my marriage and not my own wisdom or goodness. With this in mind, I also believe that God has given us wisdom principles for marriage.

1.) There is a good and right jealousy in marriage. In marriage, we should follow God’s example of His being very jealous of us. Dave and I right from the start knew that we wanted to be each other’s only “best friend” of the opposite sex. I won’t discuss intimate issues with any other man and he won’t with any other woman. We stay far away from traps of getting emotionally involved with others. Also, we won’t be alone with other men/women. When Dave needs to meet with women, I am there or someone else is. These are just safeguards as we strive to “put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3) nor make any “opportunity for the flesh” (Gal 5:13).

2.) We choose to stay best friends. We have “dates” still. Usually this means for us to go out for lunch (we love “buy one, get one free” coupons) and then do errands together. We know each others’ wounds and fears and “core lies” and try to speak truth and be kind to each other.

3.) I choose to respect and show respect to Dave. I believe all men struggle with the question: “Am I enough” and know they aren’t. I try to let Dave know that “You are enough for me.” To do this I must continually not try to expect Dave to be God for me (who will provide for all my needs), nor even another woman (who knows how I’m feeling without me having to say much.)

4.) Think and act rightly about sex. I do not know of a husband who strayed from a wife who warmly receives him emotionally and sexually. I am reading a great book, “What’s He Really Thinking” by Paula Rinehart and today I read “Having your support and advocacy is what a man feels most acutely as respect…. (also) sex translates directly into respect.”

A little while ago, I saw Dr. Laura promoting her book “The Care and Feeding of Husbands” and she boiled her suggestions into 3 tips: “Tell him you respect him, tell him you appreciate him, and have sex with him.” I think she is a wise wife.

Hope this is helpful!

*Update* Addundum Added from Cathy:

I do agree that a man’s unfaithfulness is not always the woman’s fault.  Some men do have such ego problems and sexual addictions that are not related to his wife’s failure at all.   I think of pornography and the control that has on some men who have wonderful wives.   In her study, Barbara Mouser talked about men who get power often want more women (think of a former president and many other powerful men) I agree that sometime it is just total sin and evil involved on the man’s part.

You can read my Lady of Wisdom interview with Cathy here.

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18 Coffee Talks on “Avoiding Affairs, Part 4 – In Love After 31 Years Of Marriage”

  1. Reborn says:

    Thanks for another great series, Sarah Mae! I love that Mrs. Bowman shared a few things that men interpret as respect (support, advocacy, sex).

    I know that my husband needs him to respect him but I struggle with recognizing actions and words that register as "respect" to a man. If you or anyone else has other practical ideas, I'd love to hear them! :)

    Reborn
    .-= Reborn´s last blog post … Pursuing The Holy One =-.

  2. Holly says:

    Thank you so much for this series! What a great topic. God Bless you as you use your blog as a ministry!

  3. Becky says:

    This makes so much sense…and yet I still have trouble with one thing.

    How do I make it possible for my husband not to EVER be alone with another woman. He is a nurse and works mostly with women. Sometimes he carpools or something like that and it seems difficult to Never have him in the same space as another woman without me there. I don't want to seem paranoid and make it more than it is.

    Any thoughts?

  4. Kendra says:

    It's great to hear stories how God has redeemed what has been broken, ie. an affair, but how much more glorious is it when God is glorified because of being faithful. Thank you for posting this!!
    .-= Kendra´s last blog post … Fearless – by Max Lucado =-.

  5. sarah falkd says:

    Yes, but even if you have a wonderful sex life with your spouse….he may still cheat on you. I am so sick of this bit of "advice". It may be true for some people…but how do you guard a marriage when you're marriage is emotionally and sexually satisfying and your husband still struggled with ego and falling to sexual temptation with another woman. I am so sick of this being a reason that men cheat…as if it is the wife's fault. What if it really wasn't the wife's fault?

  6. sarah falkd says:

    “Tell him you respect him, tell him you appreciate him, and have sex with him.” What if you do all these things and more…joyfully…with affection and respect? What if you try your best to be the best wife you can be…and he still cheats? Is it still supposed to be the wife's fault? Some people will think that the husband cheated because he didn't feel respected or his wife didn't like having sex with him. But I can assure you this is NOT always the case.

    • SarahMae says:

      Sarah, my heart is so sad for what you must be/have gone through. I am so so sorry that you have more heartache in these posts than help/encouragement. I'm just not sure what to offer you, friend, but I will pray for your family.

  7. Allie z says:

    Sarah Mae, thanks for this great series. Putting my marriag first is something I thought would come naturally… After months and months in the word, my Hubby and I are both happier and able to do just that. This is so helpful as it reiterates what I already know.

    @Becky- my Hubby is a teacher so I can relate to your frustration. He's in a female dominated field. Carpool with same sex only; don't be afraid to the the others in the carpool that he won't carpool unless there's another male. Period. (I carpool with a couple. I've made it clear that if she doesn't ride one day, I'm driving seperately.) My Hubby eats lunch by himself, never leaves campus to grab a bite with a female, and always carries a book to meals to look busy. :) He has an open door policy- the door to his office remains open. If the individual wants privacy, my Hubby asks that the conversation be taken to a different location (an open space or copy room etc) or an aide is called in to x (clean the room so someone else is present). Bottomline, it takes creativity and commitment. We discuss it with an open book. I encourage him and respect him. I let him know how important it is to me. Even reward him (get creative!! You're married!!) when he gets home.

    Allie
    .-= Allie z´s last blog post … Party time =-.

  8. Sisterlisa says:

    I don't think the author meant that it's the wife's fault if she doesn't do these things, just that they are tips to having a healthy relationship. The key is to have a deep abiding relationship with Christ out Lord. Cover the husband with loads of prayer and trust God with the rest. Even with all the tips for maintaining a healthy relationship, yes the man could still fall to temptation. That is his fault and his fault alone. Men are not perfect, they are fallible. But there is hope and healing for a relationship that has lost the trust of fidelity.
    .-= Sisterlisa´s last blog post … Join Our Team =-.

  9. Sarah says:

    I am loving this series. What wonderful advice these women are giving. Our bible study read Love and Respect a little while ago. That is an eye opening book and I highly recommend it.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog post … Last is First =-.

  10. Thena says:

    I never realized it until my husband mentioned it that above sex they long for respect. Men want to know that all they do is not in vain, and unappreciated.
    .-= Thena´s last blog post … No Bake Cookies =-.

  11. Thena says:

    @sarah falkd No its not always the wifes fault. I think some are just doomed to cheat no matter what. MY first husband cheated and even though I forgave him and tried to work it out. He filed for divorce a year and a half after the affair. My prayers are with you Sarah, I've been there so if you ever want to talk please feel free to email me.
    .-= Thena´s last blog post … No Bake Cookies =-.

  12. Becky says:

    @Allie Z — thanks for the tips…and the comradarie. It can certainly be tricky. I think that when I say something my husband thinks it's about him…but it's soooo not. It's really about me, and respect. Thanks for the tips!

  13. Holly says:

    Sarah Mae,

    I totally agree with Kendra about how having women share stories of their infidelity in marriage truly showed God's goodness and grace, and I think the thing that has really stuck with me the most was the concept that we should never think "Oh I would never do that." I don't believe that any of us are "above" or "too good" to cheat on our husband's. But I also feel like this taught me that we do need to set up safeguards and be open about it with our spouses, if we haven't already. Thanks to those women who shared.

    And I so appreciate how you are going full circle with it by having women share ways that kept their marriages strong and full of love, passion and God in the centre ~ ultimately something I long for in our marriage for years to come.
    .-= Holly´s last blog post … Basement Reno's =-.

  14. I respect Cathy Bowman for shooting straight and not flinching. Good solid advice for women. I have been married to my best friend for 25 years, and her advice resonates. I would add to it a footnote. If you are not able to enjoy your relationship with your husband fully — if he is not your confidant, passionate lover, dearest friend, one and only — then seek help, seek mentoring, seek counseling until you are deeply satisfied that all is well. Many don't do this before there is a bigger problem, but after, and then it's so much more difficult.
    .-= Cassandra Frear´s last blog post … The Great Afternoon Tea =-.

  15. Jessalyn says:

    Sarah,

    It is true that respecting and having sex with your husband can never keep him faithful. To say so would be to put your trust in your own actions and not the Lord's perfect will for your life. I do however believe that these principles are taught in scripture as guidelines for the wife and her service to her husband. What a man does with these gifts of service reflect on his spiritual state and not necessarily the wife's. However, that does not negate the wife's responsibility to serve her husband in this way. Most men who are loved in such a way are safeguarded from searching elsewhere, but not all of them. It seems that you are speaking from a painful experience and for that I am very, very sorry. I will be praying that the Lord works his perfect will for you and your husband and that he will draw you both closer to him through this trial.
    .-= Jessalyn ´s last blog post … Your Marriage and God =-.

  16. All excellent advice! This has been a great series! I still take all this advice to heart even though hubs and me are best friends and have been happily married for almost 17 years!
    .-= Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates´s last blog post … Giveaway Winner & Other Giveaways To Enter =-.

  17. Note from a man's perspective? This was a great article. Cathy is right; nothing keeps a husband's excitement for his wife alive like respect and physical intimacy. The respect is what keeps his head high and proud to be in the relationship; the sex is the fruit of the relationship. This is discussed so well in Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. Most husbands won't (or can't) tell their wives what it means when they tell him, "I'm proud of you!" with a smile on their face and a hug. Why, he'd climb a mountain and kill a grizzly with his bare hands if that's what she wanted right then. Husbands don't always act worthy of respect (spend money unwisely, watch too much football, etc.), so wives may have to look a little to find something to compliment, but if she will, it pays dividends in ways that criticizing him never can.

    Jessalyn made an important statement I'd like to comment on: "It is true that respecting and having sex with your husband can never keep him faithful. To say so would be to put your trust in your own actions and not the Lord’s perfect will for your life. I do however believe that these principles are taught in scripture as guidelines for the wife and her service to her husband. What a man does with these gifts of service reflect on his spiritual state and not necessarily the wife’s."

    That is very true. There are 4 adultery sections in Proverbs (chs. 2,5,6,7). In each of them a female temptress entices a man into an unlawful sexual relationship. She has definitely acted out of line! But in these sections who does God hold accountable? The man. Even though he has been sorely tempted, the point of these sections in Proverbs is that the man must develop sufficient spiritual and emotional reserves to not give in, and if he is too week, to run away. A man with a devoted wife but who doesn't appreciate her or isn't spiritual may fall; a devoted husband with a wife who isn't spiritual or doesn't appreciate him can still stand strong, and in fact God expects him to.

    I have been a minister/family counselor for 27 years. This subject/discussion still intrigues and amazes me! My wife and I have worked through all the emotional and marital stresses successfully for 27 years and now work with other young couples. This is great work you are doing on this blog, Sarah Mae.

    Warren Baldwin
    Blog: Family Fountain
    .-= Warren Baldwin´s last blog post … Follow up on Challenge to Character =-.

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    I'm Sarah Mae. I'm figuring out how to fit perfect into fallen skin. Stick around for the stretching...your soul is welcome here.

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