We Need to Better Define “Unfaithful”

affair article image
I believe that nearly every affair begins with the thought, “That felt nice.

It felt nice to be noticed.

It felt nice to be complimented.

It felt nice to be appreciated.

It felt nice to be respected.

It felt nice to laugh with them.

It felt nice to get along without fighting.

It felt nice to be seen as a person and not just as a parent.

That felt nice.

What a person does with that thought determines what happens next.

One year ago, I wrote an article that went viral for two reasons – a ton of people loved it and nearly an equal number of people hated it. (You can click here to read the full article before continuing if you’d like.)

In that article, I shared how I called my husband at work, and he didn’t have time to talk. Later that day, I went to a store where a man not only paused to say hello, but voiced that he hoped my day got better. The guy had no motive other than kindness. He wasn’t hitting on me. He wasn’t flirting, and his words weren’t bad.

But Satan used that moment to whisper, “Your husband doesn’t notice you like that.” And that was the danger. Because while I had no intentions of wanting a relationship with that man in the store, the moment we entertain the thought that someone other than our spouse could notice us, or appreciate us, or see us in ways our spouse cannot, we have put our relationship at risk.

In the article I went on to say, “The most dangerous threats to our marriage don’t always look like a steep drop off. They don’t look like a place that is obviously hazardous that we can easily avoid. Sometimes, the most dangerous threats to our marriage look like a friendship with a coworker, or church member, or that nice single dad in the car-line at school.”

That is where those who read the article either started cheering or laughing. Where they said, “She’s right,” or, “She’s crazy.”

The truth is, many didn’t understand because as a whole we have wrongly defined infidelity. We have decided that infidelity is sexual intimacy or an obviously inappropriate emotional relationship. But an affair doesn’t just begin when two people sleep together. An affair doesn’t start when the first physical boundary is crossed. Infidelity doesn’t even begin with the first text, or call, or meet up. Unfaithfulness begins when a person wonders what a relationship with someone other than their spouse would be like.

Yeah. That needs to be said. We need to talk about that. We need to redefine the word affair. We need to make very clear what it means to be faithful and what it means to be unfaithful.

Unfaithfulness is giving any part of our heart to someone other than our spouse, and it begins the moment we even wonder what that would be like.

It begins the day that you decide to get dressed nicer than usual because you know that coworker is going to be there too. Unfaithfulness begins the day you decide to stay an extra few minutes at the park just in case that one dad drops by with his kids like last week. The infidelity begins the moment you decide to send the extra text message because you don’t want the conversation to end just yet. The betrayal begins the moment you think that person just understands you better than your spouse does. It begins when you want to talk, touch, or be with someone other than your spouse.

Unfaithfulness begins in our heads long before it progresses to anything else. Jesus even talks about this in Matthew 5:28 saying, But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. He understood the power of our thoughts to impact our hearts.

And THAT is why the thought, “That felt nice,” can be so dangerous. Whether you believe in Jesus or not, the truth is the threat to a relationship begins right there at that tiny flash of a second… before the text, call, conversation, lunch, hotel, or weekend away is a thought something like, “That felt nice.” And it is quicksand.

We can either step out onto it and wonder, “What else is out there?” Or we can keep our footing and ask ourselves, “How can I make these feelings happen with my spouse?”

Faithfulness begins right here. We have to be willing to identify quicksand and call it dangerous. If we’re going to remain faithful spouses, we need to be honest with ourselves and others about what it means to be unfaithful… and if we’re going to be faithful friends we need to be ready to point out danger in the lives of those we love.

A reminder for us to watch our footing and make adjustments where necessary…

So much love,


  • Linda Patterson says:

    I am not married anymore. I have been single for 13 years but I can identify. I can identify because my husband was the one that wondered and then took action.

  • Liz says:

    I SO needed this today! Marriage has been so hard lately with a husband who farms and is gone 12-16 hours a day and the demands of raising a toddler who isn’t sleeping well right now (meaning mama is a mess). I feel unappreciated and used up. I can see how the enemy could work this to his advantage. Thanks for the reminder to watch his schemes and pour more into my marriage. I found your blog after hearing your interview on Family Life Today. You’ve been such an encougement! God bless you, your family, and your ministry!

  • Marty Blancett says:

    Amazing article that describes true unconditional love to truly deny yourself and to put your spouse first. Guys and gals should read this. It is truly how the devil subtly divides and conquers by “what feels nice”! “That felt nice” leads to expectations and expectations of your spouse is not unconditional love! Expectations can be trust but when it becomes about me and what I want, think I want, or feel I need, then it is deadly to a marriage!

    Christ is enough when we need anyone besides him then we have lost and the devil has a foothold in your marriage. When we entertain the thoughts “that felt nice” we compare our spouse to that other person unconsciously or consciously, we expect that kindness from our spouse no matter what our spouses circumstances are, that is not unconditionally loving our spouse.

    I learned that truth the hard way but I thank God I learned it! 23years up in the flames of unmet expectations.

    Thank you

  • Krystle says:

    So true! VERy good article!

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