Building Lasting Relationships: Faithfulness (Proverbs 3:3-4)
This is the fifth in a series of blogs on building lasting relationships. Each successive blog covers one specific reason relationships fall apart and how to avoid such an unhappy outcome in your relationships.
Human relationships are like houses. First, they must be built and thereafter maintained. One of the most important building blocks in the foundation of a lasting relationship is faithfulness. This is the message in Proverbs 3:3-4 where we read: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”
Relationships are also like houses in that if not properly maintained they will eventually deteriorate and have to be repaired. Relationship building/maintenance is a labor-intensive endeavor. Like any worthwhile undertaking, it requires effort. Both parties in a relationship must be willing to put in the necessary time and work. When this doesn’t happen, relationships fall into disrepair in the same way neglected houses do.
It is important to understand that relationships require work because repair costs always exceed maintenance costs. This principle applies to relationships in the same way it applies to houses. It takes more work to repair a broken relationship than it does to maintain it in the first place. Sadly, relationships broken because of faithlessness are sometimes—though not always—beyond repair. The emotional costs of faithlessness are always high and repairs can be difficult if not impossible. Sincere repentance and atonement are musts if forgiveness is going to be possible.
Faithlessness, often referred to as infidelity or cheating, is one of the most devastating causes of broken relationships. Infidelity in a relationship is a betrayal of trust on steroids. Relationships broken by infidelity leave the deepest scars and, as a result, can be the most difficult to repair. We typically think of infidelity as one spouse or partner in a relationship engaging in an adulterous affair. While physically cheating is certainly the ultimate form of infidelity, it’s not the only form.
The fastest growing, most pernicious form of infidelity is cyber-cheating: people indulging in pornography on the Internet. Pornography and cyber-sex have become huge problems among Christians and unbelievers alike. Internet pornography is now a $15 billion industry that is wreaking havoc on relationships. Because it is difficult to detect, people watch pornography in the workplace, on home computers, and even on cell phones. I once had to fire a faculty member for watching pornography on his laptop computer during classes he was supposed to be teaching.
Another form of unfaithfulness in relationships is emotional infidelity. This manifestation of infidelity involves sharing your most intimate thoughts, dreams, ambitions, fears, desires, and needs with someone other than your spouse or closest partner. We are typically reluctant to pull the curtain back on our inner selves with anyone but the person we trust most. Consequently, emotional infidelity is a betrayal of that person. To the person betrayed, emotional infidelity says, “You aren’t the most important person in my life.”
Regardless of the form it takes, infidelity in relationships is devastating to the partner who is betrayed. Men who are the victims of infidelity feel emasculated; women feel unloved. Some people who are the victims of infidelity never recover and, as a result, are unable to repair and resume the relationship. This is why it is so important to heed the admonition in Proverbs 3:3-4 to “Let love and faithfulness never leave you.”
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com