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I think she's having an affair with a co-worker

I think she's having an affair with a co-worker

I think she’s having an affair with a co-worker

Jeff says: I’m beginning to think Ellen is having an affair. She talks about a colleague, Steve, all the time. Lately, she’s been on the phone with him after work and on the weekends. She talks to him more than she talks to me and I’m getting tired of hearing “Steve this” and “Steve that.” Nobody has this much work to talk about – I think there’s something else going on.

I have never been unfaithful – he’s just being paranoid

Ellen says: Jeff is just being paranoid. I wish he’d get over this irrational jealousy. Steve is a good friend, nothing more. We’ve never so much as kissed. But he listens to me in a way Jeff doesn’t and gives me good advice, even about personal things. I feel as if Steve is more interested in me than Jeff is. I’m not having an affair, but if Jeff keeps accusing me, maybe I should consider it!

What do they do?: Our first thought goes to the biblical saying, “If you look at your neighbor with lust in your heart, you have already committed adultery.” Adultery is much more than a sexual relationship with someone who is not your spouse. Adultery happens when we place something or someone else in our spouse’s rightful place – whether it is intentional, innocent sharing with a co-worker, or a simple desire to be closer to your best friend than to your spouse. On their wedding day, both Jeff and Ellen promised to be true to each other in good times and in bad – well, these are the bad times! These are the times when both of them need to be intentional about their marriage relationship; both Jeff and Ellen need to work extra hard at deleting the desire to be closer to someone other than each other, and both of them need to spend extra time in “educating” the other in what their needs are and how they are not being met. When both spouses are totally committed to each other, they take the “bad” times as an opportunity for growth – growth of their marriage relationship, not growth of a more desirable relationship, be it family or special friend or a co-worker with whom you feel comfortable sharing personal information.

Ellen and Jeff appear to have drifted apart and are beginning to lose trust in each other. Jeff is not trusting that Ellen will remain faithful to her marriage pledge. Ellen is not trusting that Jeff can fulfill his pledge to be totally supportive of her needs. If they don’t take some immediate action to regain trust in each other, their relationship will continue to spiral downward and will become more difficult to maintain and rebuild.

Our best advice to anyone experiencing the same situation as Ellen (a co-worker or friend is more interesting than their spouse) is to wake up and take your marriage vows a little more seriously. Ellen’s actions are not innocent; they are destructive in nature and far from acceptable behavior – even if she doesn’t feel that they’re wrong. We would hope that Ellen would begin to focus as much attention and interest in Jeff as she does with Steve. Were she to do that, she might find that Jeff will respond more favorably to meeting her needs.

Then again, it is possible that Jeff has fallen into the “taking-Ellen-for-granted” rut and has not shown any interest in what makes her happy. So,  Jeff’s assignment is to spend some quality time asking Ellen how they can build a better relationship. He might find that Ellen is more than willing to be an active partner in their life together as a couple. We recommend that Jeff and Ellen ask themselves:

• “What brought us together in the first place?”

• “Where was God working in our lives as we built our relationship and where is he now?”

• “Why isn’t our love as strong today as it was back then and; more important, what can we do together to make it strong again?”

God is a part of your marriage relationship. When he is with you as the third person, you will have no room for the Steves of the world, or for a place where mistrust will build.