Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

I Only Have Eyes for You

Most betrayed spouses long to believe their spouse only has eyes for them. Even those who have strayed wish they could truthfully speak those words. Both parties feel that being able to eliminate wondering eyes will somehow improve the situation. If only their mate would come to the point where they were no longer tempted, then somehow the relationship would be safe, the need for feeling special would be met, and they would finally feel loved and cherished. And what if a spouse continues to struggle with feelings for an affair partner? Would you want to be with someone who is split in their affections? Why would you want to continue with a mate who struggles on a daily basis with temptation for something other than you?

Even betrayers believe that coming to the point where they are no longer tempted will somehow redefine them and make them more acceptable. Not being tempted must mean they've become stronger or more moral. They feel that the very presence of temptation reveals a lack of integrity, a defect of character. For many the net result of the continued struggle is shame and guilt. Can one be faithful and still be tempted? And what if they've broken off an affair and chosen to honor a commitment to marriage; do lingering feelings for an affair partner, or urges to make contact (even if they remain faithful) make that commitment less meaningful?

Needless to say, most couples dealing with infidelity struggle with these issues. Not a week goes by without someone raising these questions. How are you to look at ongoing temptation?

The author of Genesis explained it this way: God placed the first man and woman in a garden and told them he wanted to love them, give life to them, and provide for them, but that he was also going to give them the freedom to reject him and really hurt him if they so chose. The only thing he asked in return for relationship with him was that they not eat from one tiny little tree out of the entire garden. If they ate from that forbidden tree they would sever their relationship with God and get to self-centeredly pursue what they thought would make them happy. Instead of embracing the relationship offered to them, they gave in to the temptation to pursue their own happiness and went out on their own.

I've often pondered why that tree was in the garden at all. If God hadn't put the tree in the garden, Adam and Eve would have never been tempted to break away. Without that tree in the garden, they never would have failed. Why did he place something tempting before Adam and Eve and give them the chance to hurt him?

The answer is simple, without choice there could never be love. If God hadn't placed something before Adam and Eve which could have been chosen over God, then they would have been no more than a puppet on a string. Without another appealing option, there could never be loyalty; there could never be a forsaking of myself and my desires for another. Without temptation, the gift of love could never be expressed. Without temptation, self-sacrifice would have no value. Without temptation love could not exist. The essence of free will requires that temptation exist. Free will has to be in place if there is to be a real relationship. Temptation isn’t the problem, the problem lies when we refuse to love and instead seek our own happiness at the expense of others.

We mistakenly believe if we or someone else is tempted it reveals a lack of love, that we’re not enough for them if they find something else alluring. But if temptation defines the quality of our love and our character, then the person with the most temptation would be the vilest person. Who was tempted more than any other person? From what I believe that would be Jesus. Did the fact that he was tempted in every way just as we are somehow make him less than perfect? Absolutely not. Temptation is not the problem; its very presence is what shows our love is real. We will either choose to love others and remain true to our relationships or we will once again reject those we love in pursuit of our own happiness. Temptation is what provides opportunity to express our love.

So if my mate did only have eyes for me, his or her love would be cheaper and less alluring. My spouse would be a puppet with no real desires, emotions, or aspirations. Without my spouse having the opportunity to see that they do have other options, they would never be able to choose me against those options. I would rather be chosen than endured. The fact that my mate continually chooses me when I know they have ample opportunity to do otherwise makes our bond stronger, not weaker.

I want to encourage you to view your mate’s ongoing battles with temptation not as a rejection, but as the greatest proof of their love. The stronger the temptations the greater the expression of love as they continually choose you over other possibilities. For those of us experiencing temptation (and actually that is all of us), don't allow temptation to define you, rather view the temptations as reminders to look to surrender your own will for the sake of others. Ultimately, fulfillment and fullness of life will never be found in chasing our own desires at the expense of others. If you are struggling with temptation in your marriage and need help mending the wound infidelity creates in a relationship, I suggest EMS Online

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Comments

GREAT ARTICLE

Great insight and words of wisdom. As one who struggles with daily temptations this article helps put that temptation into perspective for me.

Temptation

This was the most insightful article for me to date. I have also been tempted many times in my marriage of 35 years. I just made different choices than my spouse. I do feel a little puzzled as he tells me now he has "never been tempted since his affairs ended". My gut tells me this is not the truth ( there have been some questionable behaviors since) so I remain a little suspicious.

Temptation

I can honestly say that after 30 years of marriage, I have never been tempted. When I see someone that is a pretty package, I think of my spouse's good qualities and the temptation vanishes.. That new person never cleaned up your barf or brought you something you forgot, or stepped in when you were frustrated with the kids. Why would I throw that away? I make it a point to appreciate my spouse. That other person isn't real. You might think you know them, but you don't really know someone until you've experience life with them.

Questions on temptation

Thank you for this article. It has helped me drop some walls down this morning. Getting through this is hard, but God is faithful.

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