Temptation in marriage is a lot like fishing. It involves three elements — the bait, the lure, and the trap. Learning how to recognize and handle all three takes you a long way toward being temptation-proof. Let’s talk about those key elements now.
Ever heard someone described as “alluring”? It’s a close relative of being seductive, except there are no obvious elements of manipulation. When it comes to temptation, the lure is never obvious. It’s usually subconscious. In fact, most people wouldn’t be able to recognize a lure if it bit them in the butt.
Here’s the myth: If you were being lured or seduced, you would know it. Here’s the fact: if the person is skillful, you won’t have a clue it’s happening.
To give you a better understanding of why we’re usually blind to the allure, let’s go back to that fishing analogy.
I love to fish. I grew up fishing on an island, so I know a lot about the subject. Like every good fisherman, I know a good lure has to resemble and move like the prey of the fish you are trying to catch. That’s what triggers the instinct for the fish to bite. For example, if you’re fishing for snapper, then you need to know what snapper likes to eat. The same principle applies to temptation. The point of a good lure is to resemble the thing you want so much that you instinctively pursue.
The question is: Do you know what your lure is? To find the answer, ask yourself another question: Do you know what you like to feel? The word feel is a clue because 100% of what makes affairs so alluring is that they promise some type of emotional reward. This is why a big part of dealing with temptation is recognizing your own emotional lures. For more help uncovering yours, download and listen to my Wayward Partner’s Complete 7-Step Infidelity Recovery home study program. For now, let’s move on to the next element of temptation.
The bait isn’t the same as the lure, but the two work closely together. While the lure triggers the urge to pursue, the purpose of the bait is to make the victory look easy.
Let me give you an example.
I recently worked with a client from Louisiana. I could tell right off the bat this guy was a straight shooter. He’d been married for more than 12 years, and in all that time, he never gave cheating a second thought. That was before he hired a new front-office employee. She was a single mother and a friend of his general manager. Things worked out great for a while, then she started bringing him coffee. Then she began to run errands for him. She even picked up his wife’s prescriptions and dropped them off on a day when he was too swamped to leave the office.
Little by little, my client began to depend on her.
They talked about everything. At one point, he even began to think of her as a little sister. Except he really didn’t because in the back of his mind, he was always sexually aware of her (and so were other guys in the office), though he didn’t think much of it. Then somewhere along the line, the conversations between them grew more and more personal. She told him about her child’s father and what a loser he was. She told him about her promiscuous teenage years. She told him about the hook-ups she enjoyed with random guys on the weekends when she was out with her friends. All in all, she gave the impression that she was guilt-free about sex, and that she had none of the traditional hang-ups. In fact, in one conversation, she went so far as to say that sex was a recreational release… like a good game of tennis.
This went on for months. Until one day, it went a step further and before he knew what was happening, he was having mad passionate sex on his office desk. He later told me: “I have no idea what came over me. It’s as if I had an out-of-body experience. I just don’t know how it happened.”
In hindsight, it’s easy to see.
The lure was that she made him feel powerful (running errands, seeking to please, etc.) and the bait was no-strings-attached sex. See the difference? The bait is always what makes the victory look easy or free. But of course, it isn’t because there’s a third element.
The trap is sprung the moment a hidden agenda is revealed, when a person recognizes that the game isn’t what it appeared to be. Most wayward partners have no clue about the hidden traps inherent in extramarital affairs, and it’s not until they’ve already bitten the apple that they realize there’s a poisonous worm hidden inside.
A classic example of this is what happened to my client from Louisiana.
What trap did he walk into? Well, in his case, it was a financial and emotional trap. She (the affair partner) stopped showing up at work on time, and he couldn’t fire her. She wanted money to help with her bills, and he couldn’t say no to her. The threat (trap) was that she would go to his wife. But those were not the most painful traps. The real trap was the web of deception he had to weave in order to cover his tracks.
Word to the wise:
You never weave deception for another without first being caught in it yourself.
My client had to learn the hard way… that the only free cheese is in the mousetrap. Because eventually, he refused to play ball, and the affair partner quietly dropped off a brown manila envelope of sexually explicit pictures in his mailbox. And when his wife opened the envelope, she didn’t stop throwing up for six hours. My client lost everything: his wife, his house, his business.
But none of that hurt like realizing he had walked willingly into a trap. Nothing hurt like looking back and realizing that all the red flags had been there… had he known what to watch out for. “I knew what I was doing was wrong,” he told me, “but somehow I became convinced that I could get away with it.”
Key Insight: The biggest trap of temptation is convincing yourself you can get away with it.
If you take nothing else from this article… take this: You will not (and cannot) get away with any wrong action. The universe runs on exacting laws. And one of those laws is that every action has a consequence… and those consequences return to the doer. It only takes a minimum amount of intelligence to observe this truth.
Remember: Awareness is the key.
Temptation only has power over you if you’re not aware it’s happening. I have faith that I have given you enough information to jump-start your awareness process. Here is an infographic to help recap everything we talked about and take your learning even deeper.
My final thoughts…
So far, we’ve covered the reality that sexual temptation is a given for everybody. None of us are immune. We’ve talked about the fact that there will be times when our sexual emotions are triggered inappropriately. You’ve learned that awareness (of what’s going on within your mind and environment) is the key to dealing with temptation.
What’s the purpose of all this?
The point is to take the bullets out of the gun, rather than walking around wearing a bulletproof vest. Now you know that the real danger is ignorance, you can arm yourself with awareness.
This is good news.
What it tells you is that temptation is something you can resist. You can disarm the allure; you can neutralize the attraction; you can evade the traps of an extramarital affair. The key question, of course, is this: Are you willing to?
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!