I heard the sermons, read the books, and heard the stories in the counseling room. Sermons on how to guard our hearts, how to maintain commitment in marriage, and how romance started at work. I remember listening to one in particular. She never had an affair, but her heart was no longer with her husband and it was causing friction at home. She wanted “him”.
I suppose the idea came in my own mind when I experienced thoughts I never had before and feelings I was not acquainted with. I left the women’s ministry that I led for seven years and that served as my incubator and found myself back in the profit world surrounded by the normal work environment. Something was different.
I was going through a mid-life crisis. Things were good at home, but I was a mess. I was hurting on every level, confused, lost, and unsure of what my future would hold. Almost everything that I loved in my life was gone. Which in and of itself is a telling statement. What about my husband? He was there. I felt as if I had lost everything important and he was there.
Perhaps it was my vulnerability or perhaps it was my state of confusion. I think it was my hearts desire to feel good. I was so tired of feeling bad and hurt all the time. I wanted to feel good. A friendship started and like the woman I counseled previously no affair happened, but something happened in my heart. A desire was birthed and it felt good.
I left that job and when I did I could see that I had flirted. My heart was far from desiring intimacy with my husband and was prone to want it with “him”. It came quite to my surprise when I would think of him or feel the temptation to text or email him. My desire was for that feeling. I wanted to feel good and that provided quick relief. The thought of home and the reality of my life was pain and confusion and I simply couldn’t stomach those feelings any longer.
I started a new job and there is no “him”, but I notice how easy it is to flirt and laugh and do so in a way that you wouldn’t do if your spouse were around. Your at work and it seems harmless, but a quick glance at your heart provides the tell tale sign of what is really going on. After a flirtatious remark I noticed my eyes lit up and I smiled. What is going on?
Perhaps it was the years as a stay at home mom. Where I lived in sweats, wiped butts most of the day, cleaned up vomit, wore my hair in a ponytail forever, wore little make-up, and forsake my identity as a woman. That’s a little extreme, but mom’s understand.
Perhaps it was the years of strain and stress in our marriage. Where we just got by and had sex to make it all better. Perhaps it was the toll of no passion, romance, creativity in the bedroom, or lack of simple care for one another. Perhaps it was a lot of things that we neglected for the sake of career and raising kids.
Perhaps it was my lack of faith and distance from God. My eyes were no longer on Him. He became an afterthought. I didn’t meditate on God’s Word or spend time in prayer, but simply thanked Him when I awoke and hoped that my weekly church attendance sufficed for keeping our relationship going. Perhaps it’s because He was no longer my joy and so I sought that joy elsewhere.
I know the damage all too well. I experienced it. He went out on me when I was home with four small children. I know the pain of betrayal, the damage that lies have on your relationship, and how long it takes to rebuild trust. I understand. It happened to me. So how could my heart begin to stray as his did so many years ago?
Here are some reasons that I think we start to become attracted to “him” (or her) at work:
1. Attraction (doesn’t always mean physically)
2. No complications
3. No responsibilities
4. I am an adventure to someone again
5. The way they look at you (whether this is true we have no idea)
6. They are nice, kind, and smile at us.
7. Someone cares that you get your coat hung up!
8. There aren’t any kids around.
Someone smiles at you, talks to you, and asks you how you are. That’s attractive if you are in a lifeless marriage. The “him” at work doesn’t have any complications, not yet anyway. There will plenty down the road. It’s easy to flirt when there is no responsibilities tied to the encounter. It’s hard to flirt at home when you just cleaned up dog poop, the cat puked on the carpet, and you have to run and pay a bill that is late.
Someone looks at me like my husband looked at me once. It sends an utter shrill down my spine. They smile at you and ask you to lunch and you feel like you did when you were a young woman. I am someone’s adventure. They are nice, open the door, and walk and talk with you all the way into the restaurant. Do we do that with our spouses? How did we get in the habit of treating each other with such a lack of care?
A couple “him’s” at work were worried because my coat wasn’t hung up and one was concerned because my office wasn’t as nice as they thought it should be. It felt nice to have someone really show care for me. There aren’t any kids running around at work. Kids that you love and that also drain your will to live. Let’s be honest. The most wonderful and hardest thing at the same time. I love being mom, but I hate how I have let that keep me from being a sexy wife to my husband.
The thing is the “him” at work is anything, but complicated. Let that lead to an affair and it has the potential to destroy everything that you think you don’t care about anymore. It will have the same responsibility, the same opportunity for neglect, can end up including more children, and a host of complications that we cannot foresee.
In the end it’s not worth it. If our heart desires passion, adventure, and romance than let’s make that work at home. Let’s make that work with someone we have committed to, had children with, and lived through difficult times with. Someone we once flirted with, who made our eyes light up and our heart flutter. That person is still there, underneath the weight of life, we just need to find them.