Dear Maggie

I have a wonderful husband whom I love very much and teenage kids. This past year has thrown considerable pressures at us which we have handled and found our way through. However, I have very slowly been getting closer in friendship to another man at church. We Facebook each other almost daily, he makes me laugh and gives me a place where I can offload. In the last year we have also been meeting for lunch and sometimes our hands have strayed although we have never gone any further. I am adamant that I don’t want an affair, but the more we define boundaries, the more we seem to want each other. Even when we touch just a tiny bit there is a like a charge between us. I don’t want to lose our friendship but realise he is beginning to mess up my head.

You are playing with fire! Don’t be deceived, this is not just a friendship. For us as women, emotional connection will eventually lead to us wanting a man physically too, even if we didn’t greatly fancy him at the beginning.

It is a false illusion that defining physical boundaries will keep you in a healthy place regarding physical intimacy. The fact that you need to define this indicates that a chemistry has already been sparked. My guess is that you are both feeding off these sparks. Steeling yourself for what you can’t have seemingly honours your Christian values, but in practise will raise the electric charge between you.

You must back off this relationship as fast as you can if you truly don’t want an affair. This will mean ceasing Facebooking and meeting secretively. Be prepared for some ‘cold turkey’ as you break the habits you have formed and withdraw from the mental addiction to his presence in your life and head.

Look at what need he is filling and what you can learn from that. Proactively find other ways to provide for these needs. It sounds like you and your husband have absorbed a lot of pressure. Make space to have some joy again. But also look to create other outlets for you to offload, whether that is with girl friends or in hobbies. You need to laugh again, not in this secret world, but in the real world of your home. There will be a subconscious release for all of you as you dare to find humour and playfulness again with your teenagers and husband: you will all come alive.

Remember also that there are spiritual laws in operation. Galatians 6:7-8 warns us out of concern: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A person reaps what they sow. The one who sows to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit…will reap eternal life.” If you keep investing in this secretive relationship it will bring destruction at many levels: to your mental peace of mind, which often then affects physical health and ultimately it has the power to destroy all you have built over the years. I also think that when we ‘sow to please the sinful nature’ we remove ourselves from God’s protection and as a result more things go wrong in life. The more you withdraw from this unhealthy relationship, the less you will need the outlet it is giving you: his presence is creating the problems that his presence pertains to solve!

I write these things to you out of love not criticism. I hear strongly your desire to be faithful to your husband and recognise the pressures that have drawn you into this vulnerable place. I realise my advice will cause you pain to apply, but implore you that this pain will be a fraction of the pain that you would end up in if you do not detangle yourself from this friendship. I pray that our heavenly Father will give you the emotional strength you need to get back into joyful living. Dig deep into him who is “able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.” ( Jude 24) Bless you.