Our two main enemies are rationalization and denial. We rationalize when we give acceptable reasons for unacceptable thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Denial is our often intense refusal to recognize the truth about our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Sin can harden our hearts and darken our understanding, turning us away from God. "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."
For example, a woman rationalizes that God understood and accepted her numerous affairs because, after all, it was He who created within her this "need for other men." A man lives in denial about his affair, "it's OK, because each time we have sex we end by praying together."
I will briefly list the 12 steps here and in the subsequent post. For a more complete understanding, you will need to read the book, TEMPTATIONS MEN FACE, from which this information is taken.
1. Readiness - The first step is emotional readiness. Something is occurring in a man's life that has him leaning away from the marriage. This is a vulnerable time. He needs to learn to recognize this and turn his energy toward regaining the full health of his marital relationship.
2. Alertness - The second stage in the affair process is a growing awareness of a particular person in our web of relationships. He begins simply by thinking occasionally about the other person. The innocent thoughts turn to fantasy. As she becomes more present in his conscious thoughts, she may begin to appear in dreams and the dreams are often filled with sexual fantasy. Masturbating while fantasizing about her is common.
3. Innocent meeting - Truly innocent, chance meetings, often legitimate business contacts can potentially build the relationship. This is the stage where some flirtations can develop, prolonged eye contact, harmless sounding sexual innuendo, enticing body language, etc.
4. Intentional meeting - Meetings occur frequently which appear to be by chance when in reality one person has acted in such a way as to increase the likelihood of the meeting. He will hang out for extended periods of time hoping for the chance to "surprisingly" meet her. The excitement of sexual attraction overpowers his rational side. At this point, he has entered a real danger zone.
5. Public lingering - The man & the woman now spend time together while in group settings. They will tend to shut others out by turning away from the group and avoiding eye contact with others. Observers know something is happening. However, they would still deny any suggestion that this was more than normal adult relating. The public setting help them to rationalize: "It's fine to focus on her. Nothing can happen. We are with others."
6. Private lingering - Soon the man & the woman find that they are still together long after the others have left. Conversation shifts from ideas to feelings. Caring is shared. Conversation drifts into private and personal areas. They still feel fine about the relationship because the meetings begin in public.
7. Purposeful isolating - Now the man & the woman begin to plan times alone for "legitimate" purposes. They may request the other to work on special projects at work that require them being alone or work late together. He may ask her to help him sort out his marital problems. They still deny any suggestions that their relationship is not completely appropriate. At home, his wife notices a decrease in verbal & nonverbal communication. He seems suddenly detached, cool, almost formal in his relating. There may be uncompleted phone calls.
8. Pleasurable isolating - Now the man & the woman are planning times alone with each other for the sheer enjoyment of being together. The relationship takes on a youthful euphoria. There is a shared experience of excitement and adventure with more intimacy occurring. There is more touching. His spouse notices that there are long blocks of time that are unaccounted for. There is a noticeable decrease in pleasurable times in the marriage. The relationship is still rationalized: "It's OK to have good friends of the opposite sex, there is nothing wrong with being close friends. After all, she understands me better than my wife."
9. Affectionate embracing - There is embracing without letting go. There is increased touching and playful caressing. Childish games like tickling and wrestling are often played at this stage to increase physical contact. The rationalization is that there is nothing wrong with physically expressing support for one another. At the same time, affectionate embracing and physical contact decreases with his wife.
10. Passionate embracing - Affectionate touching and embracing lead to passionate interchanges. The couple will still rationalize and say that it is fine to get aroused because it is innocent and unplanned, "Besides, my wife no longer makes me feel this way."
11. Capitulation - The couple gives in to sexual intercourse. Denial is eliminated at this stage. There is no way to deny the reality of what they have done.
12. Acceptance - Here they finally admit to themselves that they are in the throes of an affair. If they continue, it is definitely a conscious choice. The emotional investment in the affair is at its peak and the emotional investment in the marriage is at its lowest. The man may find creative ways for his wife to discover the affair. The tension of living a double life is usually too much for someone to bear for very long.
Is this the end of the story? Do the man and woman live happily ever after? Nope. The story of an affair is not a comedy. It is a huge tragedy with unbelievable fallout and consequences.
Tomorrow, we will discuss some of these consequences.
Much of this information is taken from the book, TEMPTATIONS MEN FACE
BE A MAN.