Are You Having an Affair?
Well I was. I didn’t know I was. In fact, it came as quite a shock…
It was one of those periods when I was particularly critical of my husband; every little thing he did bugged me. He got his hair cut too short. He wasn’t loving enough. His chewing was bothering me. And appreciation that he was willing to empty the dishwasher wasn’t my first thought…No, instead I thought about how annoying it is that he always leaves one thing out. You know, he puts all the cups, plates, silverware, utensils away…but he leaves the one lone bowl out, below the cabinet where it belongs.
- Have you ever experienced annoyance over every little thing your husband does?
- Or do you concentrate on the things you don’t like about him?
- Or wish he were a little more like Jacquie’s husband…more laid back? Or more like Beth’s husband…the life of the party?
I mean, if we’re honest, there are things we don’t like about our spouses…yes? Or is it just me? <<Click to Tweet
I knew I was being negative, circling lower on the downward spiral. And I started to think I really didn’t like Chris.
I puttered around my house, thinking, “Why does he have to be so annoying?” “I can’t believe Chris didn’t change that light bulb.” “Who is supposed to hang up this wet towel? What am I? The maid?”
There was a battle going on in mind. At the same time I was being critical of Chris, I was also thinking, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I being so negative?” “Why am I so hard on Chris?”
I wasn’t happy with my husband, but I wasn’t happy with me either. <<Click to Tweet
Then I heard that small inner voice… “You’re having an affair!”
“What? That’s ridiculous…I’m not having an affair.”
“Yes, you are. You are having an affair with an idealized version of your husband…It’s Chris, only better, newer, funner, more loving, neater…So the real Chris can never measure up. You’ve got your eyes on another man…and he doesn’t exist.”
How awful! Here I had my real, live husband, a good man. But I convinced myself he wasn’t good enough. I set him up to be a disappointment, to be less than. He couldn’t possibly measure up to my expectations.
It was a moment of reckoning. I had developed a habit of criticizing my husband. I was in a rut.
In Made to Crave, Lysa TerKeurst describes the reality of this pattern…
“Brain research shows that every conscious thought we have is recorded on our internal hard drive known as the cerebral cortex. Each thought scratches the surface much like an Etch A Sketch. When we have the same thought again, the line of the original thought is deepened, causing what’s called a memory trace. With each repetition the trace goes deeper and deeper, forming and embedding a pattern of thought. When an emotion is tied to this thought pattern, the memory trace grows exponentially stronger.
We forget random thoughts that are not tied to an emotion. However, we retain the ones we think often that have an emotion tied to them.”
Wow. Guilty! Every time Chris did something I didn’t like, there was a feeling attached to it—annoyance, anger, frustration, impatience. I dug in deep to the path that led from one negative thought to another about my beloved husband. He couldn’t win.
As I processed the idea that I was having an affair with an idealized version of my real husband, a scripture flashed in my mind.
…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
This was my way out! Instead of camping on the things I didn’t like about Chris, I would simply start thinking about the things I did like. This would create a new thought pattern. I started focusing on the positive…Chris’s kindness, his helpfulness, creativity, faith. (I could go on…)
There are a lot of things I like about my husband, but I had to change my stinkin’ thinkin’.
And that’s just what I did…
As I concentrated on what was true about my husband—that he’s kind, helpful, servant-hearted. And as I thought about what was praiseworthy about him—he is a hard worker, determined, faithful, a man who helps with dishes and is even willing to cook—I had a whole new perspective. Now the same guy I was disappointed in and critical of started to look pretty darn good. Because in truth, there is a lot about my husband that is noble, right, admirable, and that I appreciate.
So how about you? Are you having an affair with an idealized version of your husband? <<Click to Tweet
Or are you thinking good thoughts? Concentrating on what he does, instead of what he doesn’t? What do you like most about your husband? What are you most grateful for in your husband?
Make a list of at least five traits you like…and think about such things! I’d love to hear about your list in the comments.
Elise Daly Parker has been married for 28 years and is mom to four mostly grown girls. She is a writer, editor, writing coach, and blogger. She believes we all have stories that matter--big life bios and small meaningful moments. Elise believes our stories are a reflection of God’s glory and are meant to be shared. They have the power to inform, reform, and transform. She loves God, family, friends...and really likes travel!