Affairs of the Heart

(Photo by Maylin Rowe)

Affairs of the Heart

By Jacqueline Napoli

Is it “sin” to have a really close guy friend if you’re married? Even if there’s nothing inappropriate, no touching, no kissing—just a deep, meaningful friendship? Let’s have a look. 

First, what defines a “pure” marriage, really? I’d say, for Christians, marriage should be a living lesson showing the world the deep, committed love of Christ toward His people whom He bought with His own blood. In that context, what is God’s number one command to these people? Mark 12:30 says “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”

Okay, so the aim and ideal of marriage is to love our Beloved with a consuming and completely undivided love. That’s pretty exclusive. But do “really close” relationships with say, a co-worker, a boss, an old friend, a fitness buddy–do these cross the line?

Well, let’s define the line. With inappropriate emotional connections, there’s nothing physical happening, so you can’t call it outright adultery. But Jesus redefined marital unfaithfulness when He said, “He who even looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her” (Matthew 5:28). Okay, check. Lust not an option. But what if there’s no lust, where’s the line then?

What’s interesting is that with women, a deep emotional connection is often what kindles sexual attraction. To be completely understood, accepted and empathized with, this unlocks a girl’s heart like few things on earth (hope you’re listening, gentlemen!). So if you’re in an emotionally profound friendship with someone from the opposite sex and your engines aren’t firing, don’t worry. However, they probably will soon. For this reason, a married woman having emotional connections with a man other than her husband is out of bounds. God knows our hearts–actually, they are “desperately wicked” and “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9) and He gives us this limit because marriage is sacred, precious and needs this failsafe. 

If you are in an inappropriate relationship, the only real solution is to pull the plug on it and end the friendship kindly but surely. If it’s an unavoidable connection, ratchet it down to occasional superficial small talk. Sorry, ladies. But countless marriages die with exactly this “harmless” beginning.

How can we prevent these risks from even beginning? It’s not that hard. “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23). The heart is the essence of who we are. So only share your heart with your husband, no other man. If it’s important enough to share, then it’s important enough to share with him only. He’s the lone male recipient of both your awesomeness and all your hurts, and vice-versa.

If your husband doesn’t care or understand, that makes it harder but not impossible. In this circumstance, do everything in your power to build up emotional intimacy with him. Good Christian counseling, marriage books, walks, dinner dates, pastoral counseling, marriage seminars. Wonders can happen. And if you really are alone emotionally (I’m so sorry if this is you), the only thing in your power is to go extremely deep in your relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. I’ve been there and it’s incredibly painful. Unless there is abuse, keep praying and fasting for breakthroughs and steadfastly invest in your marriage. 

My husband and I make it our paramount goal to talk about anything, everything, and nothing. Our marriage is so precious and so sacred, no other friendship holds a candle. My marriage is my happy place. Put in the work. It’s worth it.