What Happens at Work Stays at Work: Relationships and Workplace Romance

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Devil’s Advocate. Pacino does such an excellent job as Satan, it makes one wonder if he hadn’t made a pact with him himself. Think about it; all of his movies he’s literally in league with evil, The God Father, Scarface, and of course you can’t have the Devil without having Heat. Pacino aside, the movie has great writing. One of my favorite lines from the movie is this line here,

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

The funny thing is that there are many people who really don’t believe that he does exist.  Partly because they think he’s some creature with a mustache two horns with a pitch fork, a long red suit and a spiked tail.I don’t think that’s unintentional, its actually a great strategy. Think about it. If you don’t want anyone to really know how evil you are you get a bad body double that is silly, and unassuming; something that seems innocent, harmless, playful.

One of the greatest tricks that the devil uses is deceit. He rarely shows his horns, instead he often comes as an angel of light. He’s seductive, reading you, noting your sinful appetite, the things you like, the things you love, your weaknesses, your vulnerabilities. Often times you won’t recognize him at first, not until you’ve been hooked and that’s when he’s got you.

There’s plenty of things we are tempted with, but for today I want to write about temptation in marriage. It may come as a shocker to some, but in marriage you will be tempted. The temptation comes in many seasons in many forms. Sometimes the temptation leads to a sexual form, other times it takes the shape of an emotional snare, where you become enamored by someone other than your spouse. You may have sexual thoughts, or sometimes a simple longing to want to be with this person who has taken hold of your thoughts.

In the movie the Devil’s Advocate the protagonist Kevin Lomax  played by Keanu Reeves (in one of his best roles outside of Bill and Ted’s Excellent adventure) is an up and coming hot shot lawyer. Fresh off winning a big local case, he and his wife set off to relocate to New York, brimming with excitement at their new opportunities. They’ve made it to the big leagues; He will now become a trial lawyer for a large firm in the big city. While working at the firm a sparkling red head catches Lomax’s eye. Initially he is intrigued with this beautiful woman but as the movie progresses we see his interest turns into intrigue, which turns into attraction. As Lomax’s fascination with his temptress grows, his interest and concern with his wife dulls. Engulfed with work, he spends less and less time at home, and more and more time working and growing closer to his beautiful co-worker. The movie climaxes with his co-worker stripping before him, the Devil prompting him in the background to satisfy his lust which has been building over time.

Most people don’t go looking for affairs, they don’t go seeking to become attached to someone else, but affairs happen because of the sin in our hearts.

Scripture says this in regard to temptation and sin

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:14-15

“You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heartcan be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt. Matthew 5:28-29 MSG

Sin begins with a desire. You desire something  or someone that you shouldn’t. That desire may exist, but its not until it conceives, until it is acted on that it becomes sin. We all have evil desires, that is part of our nature. We have evil thoughts, but we cannot act on them we need to take them captive to the obedience of Christ.You will be physically attracted to someone other than your spouse, you may feel you have a connection with someone other than your spouse, but you must not act on that. That is sin.

Sometimes however you may develop a friendship with the opposite sex that has no evil intentions at all. Often affairs are not committed with some stripper or prostitute, but  a friend or a co-worker someone whom you spend time and have connected with .Sometimes there may not even initially be physical attraction, but due to the closeness brought on by so many hours of work or play an attraction builds. Many times when you spend lots of time with people and become aquatinted with their struggles, aspirations, or common experiences at work  you develop emotional bonds and lower your guard. You feel safe, and comfortable  with this person, you feel that they listen and easy to talk to whereas your spouse and you may  only seem to fight and argue. With this person you’re able to laugh and talk about anything and everything where as your spouse you may only talk about problems. Sometimes things don’t have to be bad in your marriage, but the worse state your marriage is in, the more appealing it is to have someone who is interested in you or flirts with you.

All relationships go through seasons. Sometimes your marriage will go through a dry season, but it is important that when you feel that you invest in your marriage all the more. I know there are people who may feel that their marriages are done, or that their bad spouse gives them an excuse to stray. That is wrong. It is sin. There are some who may think that as long as I don’t have sex with someone else its okay to think about this other person after all, “Who am I hurting?”. The answer is your spouse, your kids, God and yourself. Sometimes we may not realize that,sometimes as indifferent as our spouses may be,they can tell when we are not totally present.  When another partner has already checked out, they may not notice but for you to check out as well is not the answer.

So what do you do when you find that you are developing an attraction to someone who is not your spouse? Scripture answers us with one word. Run.

2 Timothy 2:22 says this

22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

So there are at least 3 steps .

1. To cut off and or minimize the time you spend with the person you are interested in.

You should not spend any time one on one with that person. It is too tempting, even if you aren’t doing anything physical the emotional connection that is there will only heat up. If you work with that person and for whatever reason you cannot move work stations you need to pour water on the conversation. Stop sharing personal stories, keep conversation minimal. Bring up your spouse as much as you can in conversation. Tell them good things about your spouse, how you like how they smell, look, or the things you plan or hope to do with them. Even if it hasn’t been a while you need to get your spouse in your mind and in your conversation in order change the atmosphere.

2. Invest in God and your marriage.

Paul tells Timothy to pursue faith love and peace. The energy that you spend thinking on the other person needs to be invested in God and in your marriage. If you are not spending time in devotion with God you are setting yourself up for failure. If you are not spending quality time with your spouse, you are setting yourself up for failure. Invest in your marriage, talk to your spouse, if you’re always talking about problems, try talking about positive memories or fun times, or light conversation. If there are big topics that need to be handled schedule a time, but you need to get the pot warm before you jump into the ice.

3. Share with someone you trust and your partner and pray.

The passage in Timothy says to pursue love with others. We need likeminded people who are investing in God and family to help keep us accountable in our pursuit. We need to share with others who can pray for us, who can rebuke us, and who can ask us hard questions as to if we are avoiding contact with that person. We need to share with our spouse the basic problem. I realize it may not be wise to give all the details to your partner, but you at least need to share with them what is going on, you need to ask their forgiveness and ask them to pray for you. Its easier to progress when you have a team and the two most important members of your team are God and your spouse. Don’t keep them in the dark.

4. Develop healthy boundaries

Even when you escape this temptation, there are others that will come. Many are easy to avoid when you have strict boundaries. Here are a couple.

  • Avoid prolonged one on one conversations as much as possible with the opposite sex especially if they are attractive.
  • If possible Avoid riding in the car one on one with the opposite sex
  • Keep emails work related
  • Don’t Flirt
  • Talk positively about your spouse around your co-workers
  • Do not go on lunch  one on one with the opposite sex,  especially without your spouse’s approval
  • Communicate with your spouse if you are attracted to anyone at your office or immediate work site.
  • Pray with your spouse before and after work.
  • Run

Often times in our marriages we treat our work like Vegas. What happens at work stays at work. I know it seems wise on the surface, but in reality if we want our marriages to be an oasis and not a desert we need to communicate with our spouses. I realize that to some this may seem crazy or overboard while others may see it as wise counsel. Your marriage is valuable and you need to protect it. There are so many traps, so many pitfalls that we an avoid by healthy communication. We all have seen flirting at work, sometimes by people who are married, or in a relationship and sometimes by single men and women looking to have fun. Maybe you may be the big flirt at the office, or maybe you have the wandering eye, or maybe you eagerly look forward to spending time with the co-worker who is not your spouse. If your eye is roaming on someone other than your spouse think on this scripture

I have made a covenant with my eyes not to lust after a woman. Job 31:1

There is nothing  wrong with  enjoying the company of our co-workers, but we all know when that enjoyment is going a place it shouldn’t. My prayer is for those who are in difficult situations at work, and for those who are starting a job or who are developing innocent friendships but need some accountability. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to be honest with God, yourself and your spouse. Talk to your spouse about what’s going on. If you don’t feel comfortable tell someone. If you have no one you feel you can talk to you can even email me here heraldinthewild@gmail.com

The Herald

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July 2, 2013 · 2:37 pm

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