Several days ago I was talking with some friends who asked me this two-part question: “What are the main issues couples are coming to counseling for today, and have those issues changed over the past ten years?”
It didn’t take me too long to think about how to respond. Last week 72 percent of the couples I saw for marriage counseling were there because of infidelity. Ten years ago less than 10 percent of couples seeking my counsel came to my office because of infidelity. I thought my answer was clear; it was like this huge neon sign was flashing the word infidelity at me in bright, red warning lights. Yet as I peeled some layers back in my thinking, I had a new awareness. I thought about each of the couples in the “72 percent group,” and I realized their first steps to infidelity were alcohol abuse, little or no communication, little or no connection, unresolved conflict, busyness of life, untreated depression, and financial stress. Those were basically the same prevalent issues targeting marriages ten years ago. The difference is that infidelity seems to be considered as an option for people today when it would not have been an option in the past.
Why? Why is infidelity a viable option for so many today? Let me muddy the water for you a little more. Almost every couple that I see for infidelity would say they are Christians. Most attend church on a fairly regular basis, and most of the churches they attend are solid, Bible-teaching churches. Many of these husbands and wives have been in leadership in the churches they attend. What is happening to Christian marriages? I have observed that the constraints that kept people in certain parameters in the past are in many cases gone. We often just shrug our shoulders when we hear that another couple has fallen, and then we move on with our lives. No one is saying that infidelity is right or okay; but it seems people have enough trouble fighting for their own marriages and don’t have much left in them to help fight for someone else’s.
So another couple goes down and another family is ripped apart. You don’t see both of them at church anymore because they agreed to not attend the same church. Their kids are only there every other week because of the visitation schedule. The single mom is now working extra to make ends meet. The ripple effect of infidelity is mind-boggling.
Over the next few blogs, I want to explore this epidemic of infidelity with you. I wish I had all the answers, but I don’t. What I do know is this: as infidelity destroys the fabric of our culture, we still have a God who has the answers.