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Adultery is one of the worst things that can happen to a marriage and violates everything you’ve built with your partner in such a painful way. Many of us who have been a victim of an adulterous affair did not see it coming. We were blindsided, and before we could even process what was happening, we were involved emotionally, physically or both with a person other than our spouse. Infidelity can feel like the worst thing that has ever happened in your marriage. The fatal blow to any marriage is an adulterous affair where one or both spouses think they have finally found the person they were meant to be with.

Once convinced that they married the wrong person or that God put someone else in their life, the idea of divorce can take root and destroy your marriage. Blinded by the deception of the affair, most people have no idea how they got there and don’t know how to get out. There’s no doubt about it: adultery affects marriages in the worst way. While all of us are familiar with physical adultery, there are a number of other forms of adultery that are just as damaging. Here are five types of adultery you probably didn’t know about.

Emotional adultery.

Couples often think of physical infidelity first when it comes to trust violations in the relationship but often overlook emotional infidelity. Based on emotional intimacy, emotional affairs are one of the biggest threats to relationships, and because they are often framed as innocent friendships, they aren’t always the easiest to detect. Even when you say you are “just friends,” there is sexual tension between you and the outside party. When there are problems in your relationship, you or your partner may look to someone else to fill the void.

You begin to share intimate and confidential information about your relationship and ask your “friend” for advice. When things get tough in the relationship, you begin to turn to them for support, advice and attention you’re no longer getting or looking for in your marriage. Phones and computers are breeding grounds for emotional infidelity. If you suddenly find your loved one on the phone or computer a lot, especially at odd hours, and they get defensive when you confront them about it, it’s time to check the records.

Energetic adultery.

While this type of adultery is hard to see, if prolonged, you will begin to see it show up in your relationship physically. Examples of energetic adultery include inappropriate thoughts, visualizing a person other than your partner, fantasizing about other people as you’re sleeping with your partner, visiting certain places knowing that a person you’re sexually attracted to will be there, seeking eye contact with someone you’re sexually attracted to, watching pornography, especially if your partner doesn’t know about it and looking at different social media profiles of people that you have a sexual interest in, among other things.

While this form of infidelity may seem harmless, it will silently sabotage your relationship. Physical cheating often begins with this type of cheating. If you’re doing any of the things previously mentioned, it’s best to cut this out early before it really gets out of hand. Ask yourself how you would feel if you found out your partner was doing these things. If the answer is anything other than good, stop this now.

Mental adultery.

There is no way we can talk about physical adultery without talking about mental adultery. It is one of the biggest problems destroying marriages today. Mental adultery is to look with an intentional and conscious desire to gratify lust, to picture situations in the mind, to think adultery in the mind with a person to the point that if the opportunity were presented, you would commit the physical act. It isn’t just something plaguing our relationships now. Mental adultery also took place during biblical times.

The Bible mentions this form of adultery several times, particularly in Matthew and Mark. Jesus said, “But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28); “For out of the heart proceed…fornications…” (Matthew 15:19); “Out of the heart of a man proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications,” (Mark 7:20-21). What’s so sabotaging about this form of adultery is the fact that people don’t take it as seriously because no physical act has taken place.

Visual adultery.

Visual adultery is committing adultery with your eyes. It’s often deceiving and easy for those doing it not to think seriously because they’re not committing a physical act. Many people think as long as they aren’t physically touching someone other than their spouse, they are not being unfaithful. But the more you commit visual adultery, the more likely you are to end up physically cheating on your partner. This brings us right back to Matthew when Jesus says that if you just look with lust, you have committed adultery in your heart.

Lust can be categorized as looking at someone or someone’s body because you think they look good or might look good. This isn’t to be confused with just noticing someone. You can notice a person’s style, hair color or body build; however, lusting is different. This involves you intentionally directing your eyes towards someone because they look good or are sexually appealing to you.

Spiritual adultery.

This form of adultery doesn’t involve unfaithfulness to your partner but unfaithfulness to God. It really has to do with having an excessive fondness for things of the world. In the Bible, it is compared to the unfaithfulness of one’s spouse: “But like a woman faithless to her lover, even so have you been faithless to me, O house of Israel,’ says the LORD” (Jeremiah 3:20). Scripture reminds us that people who choose to be friends with the world are an “adulterous people” having “enmity against God” (James 4:4-5).

In this passage, the “world” is the system of evil under Satan’s control. Spiritual adultery includes any form of idolatry and is a major theme throughout the Old Testament. Jesus reminds us just how deadly this form of adultery can be. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). It’s important as believers that we leave the world behind us, the cross before us. No turning back.

Adultery is one of the easiest ways to damage a relationship. Sometimes, the damage is so heavy the marriage can seem beyond repair. The reason adultery is so hard to work through is because it destroys trust, which is the foundation of any healthy and working relationship. Adultery can collapse even the strongest bonds and destroy your relationship from the inside out. Though you may not think these offenses are that serious now, if you continually participate in these forms of cheating, they can have some deadly consequences.

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