The lead story in the news a little more than a year ago was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infidelity. Apparently, he has fathered at least one child out-of-wedlock. There are likely more.
To be honest, this whole thing made me angry, especially when I consider the impact this had on his wife and children. He is also one more negative example for our own children and grandchildren.
After hearing about this story, my wife Gail asked, “How does someone like Schwarzenegger engage in this behavior?” Great question. Off the top of my head, I offered this:
- He had numerous opportunities.
- He evidently thinks he is special—and entitled.
- He is using his blood supply to power an organ other than his brain at the moment-of-temptation. (Yes, I really did say that.)
However, I don’t intend for this post to be a rant against Gov. Schwarzenegger. I am not his judge. He will give an account of his choices—as I will mine.
But I want to go on the record and say this: Adultery is not normal. It certainly isn’t inevitable. It is not the way God created us. We were made for monogamy and fidelity.
When we are loyal, we reflect the faithfulness of our Creator. When we are disloyal, we reflect the betrayal of both Satan and Adam. It is no wonder that the Bible often speaks of sin as “spiritual adultery.” Betrayal is the original sin.
However, we live in a fallen world—one that is increasingly indifferent to sexual sin. If we want to live and lead with intention, we can’t be naive. We must recognize the temptation adultery poses and protect ourselves accordingly. Nothing will destroy our influence and legacy faster than an affair.
If we are going to avoid becoming casualties, we must have a strategy. Here are three actions I take in order to protect my marriage:
- I invest in my relationship with Gail. It is amazing to me that so many men are willing to invest such enormous spiritual, emotional, and financial resources in relationships other than the one they have. This doesn’t make economic sense. If you want your marriage to grow and flourish, you must invest in it. This means investing time—dreaming, laughing, listening, and crying together.
- I set specific boundaries. This may sound old-fashioned, perhaps even legalistic. So be it. I think our world could use a little old-fashioned common sense. Therefore:
- I will not go out to eat alone with someone of the opposite sex.
- I will not travel alone with someone of the opposite sex.
- I will not flirt with someone of the opposite sex.
- I will speak often and lovingly of my wife. (This is the best adultery repellant known to man.)
- I consider what is at stake. What story do I want my grandchildren to tell? This puts it all in perspective for me. Do I want them to be proud of my life’s story or embarrassed? Do I want to be remembered as a person who loves his wife and is faithful to her? Or do I want to be the one who squandered his legacy in a moment of indiscretion?
It is time for real leaders to lead—not only in their professional lives but in their personal ones as well. If we can’t lead ourselves, we are not qualified to lead others. Character matters. We must take responsibility for our own actions. Our grandchildren are counting on it.