Anatomy of Adultery - 15 Steps of Unfaithfulness
Adultery just doesn't happen. A person has to take certain
steps in order to commit this ultimate act of betrayal. What
are those steps? Keith Drury, the author of: Money, Sex, and
Spiritual Power, answers that question with absolute clarity.
This article is a must read for every married person, those
intending to marry and those presently engaged.
How does adultery "happen?" People don't just decide
one day to hop in bed and be unfaithful to their spouse. Adultery
is the culminating act of a dozen or more tiny steps of unfaithfulness.
Each step in itself does not seem that serious or much beyond
the previous step. Satan draws a person into adultery one tiny
step at a time. And he does this over time so that our conscience
is gradually seared. This makes it easier to take "just
one more step" thinking such a tiny step won't hurt us.
The following "15 steps" which analyze how adultery
"happens" are based on scores of interviews, counseling,
and correspondence with church folk who fell into unfaithfulness.
Our question: "How did this happen... what were the tiny
steps which led to this mess?" While the order varied
from case to case, the following is the general progression,
which surfaced in most incidents. This is not some sort of
theoretical list. These are the actual steps taken by scores
of church people who wound up committing adultery and regretting
it later. Some of these people sobbed deeply as they shared,
hoping that their own pain and failure might save other marriages.
This information comes to you at great expense.
This chapter doesn't have any preaching or analysis... that
is left to you. Here we offer you cold word-for-word quotes.
You and your Sunday school class can draw out the lessons.
How did these lives get ruined? How does it start?
1. Sharing Common Interests.
"We just had so much in common, it was uncanny."
"She and I both enjoyed music, and we were attracted
to each other."
"He was so spiritually-minded... I'd been looking for
someone to share my spiritual struggles with."
"We both loved horses, and started riding together."
"We both shared a burden for the church and especially
"She was the first woman I'd ever met who liked the
outdoors, even hunting and fishing -- I was fascinated!"
2. Mentally comparing with
"My husband wasn't interested much in spiritual things,
but this man knew so much about the Bible."
"She was slim, attractive, and dressed sharp -- quite
a difference from my wife who didn't take care of herself
much at that time."
"She was so understanding and would listen to me and
my hurts -- my wife was always so busy and rushed that we
didn't have the time to talk.
"My husband just would never communicate -- he'd come
home from work and just sit there watching TV. I finally gave
up on him. Then this man came along who was worlds apart from
my husband -- he was gentile, loved to talk, and would just
share little things about his life with me."
3. Meeting emotional needs.
"He understood how I was feeling and offered me the empathy
I was hungering for."
"She was there when I needed her."
"My ego was so starved for affirmation that I would
have taken it from anyone -- I guess that's what started the
"No one had ever really believed in me until he came
along. He encouraged me, inspired me, and believed so deeply
in what I could become."
"My wife was busy with the kids and not at all involved
with my work. This girl admired me and treated me like I was
really somebody. It felt so good."
4. Looking forward to being
"I used to dread going to work, but after we started
our friendship, I would wake up thinking of how I would see
him later that day... it seemed to make getting up easier."
"I would think of being with her the whole time I was
driving to work."
"I found myself thinking of him as I got dressed each
morning, wondering how he would like a certain outfit or perfume."
"I looked forward to choir practice every week because
I knew he would be there."
"Every time I drove by her house I would think of her
and how we'd see each other that Sunday."
5. Tinges of dishonesty with
"When my wife would ask if she was with the group I'd
pretend I couldn't remember... right there I started building
a wall between us."
"I would act like I was going to practice with our ensemble,
but actually I was practicing a duet with him."
"Once my wife asked about her, but I denied everything,
after all, we hadn't done anything wrong yet. Now I see that
this was one of those exit points where I could have come
clean and got off the road I was speeding down."
"Whenever we got together as couples I would act like
I didn't care about him, and afterward I would even criticize
him to my husband. I guess I was trying to hide my real feelings
from my husband."
6. Flirting and teasing.
"I could tell from the way she looked at me. She would
gaze directly into my eyes, then furtively glance down my
body then back into my eyes again -- I knew then that she
was interested in more than my friendship. But, I was so flattered
by her interest that I couldn't escape."
"Then we started teasing each other, often with double-meaning
kind of things. Sometimes we'd tease each other even when
we were together as two couples. It seemed innocent enough
at first, but more and more we knew it really did mean something
"We would laugh and talk about how it seemed like we
were "made for each other" so much. Then we'd tease
each other about what kind of husband or wife the other one
would have been if we'd married each other."
"He had those killer eyes. When he'd look at me in that
"special way" I would just melt. It was hopeless
fighting my urges -- he had me."
7. Talking about personal matters.
"We would talk about things -- not big things, just little
things which he cared about, or I was worried about."
"We'd meet together for coffee before church and just
"I was having problems with my son and she seemed to
understand the whole situation so much better than anyone
else I talked with. I'd tell her about the most recent blow-up
and she would understand so well. We just became really deep
friends -- almost soul-mates. That's what's so weird about
all this -- we never intended for it to go this far."
"I had lost my Dad just before we got to know each other
and he had lost his mother a few years earlier. He seemed
to understand exactly what I was going through and we would
talk for hours about how each of us felt."
"I was so lonely since my husband died and hungry for
someone to share life with. Then he began to call just because
he cared. I loved hearing his caring voice at the other end
of the line, even though I knew he was married."
"We spent so much time together at work that I swear
she knew more about me than my wife ever did -- or even cared
8. Minor yet arousing touch,
squeeze, or hug.
"He never touched me for months. Then one night after
working late, we were walking toward the door when he said
'You're so special, thanks for all you do..." then he
turned and hugged me tenderly, just for a second. I loved
how I felt for that moment so much that I began to replay
it over and over again in my mind like a videotape. Now I
know that I should have stopped it all right then. I never
intended to ruin my family like this."
"She was always hanging around our house and was my
wife's best friend. Often she would stay late to watch TV,
even after my wife went to bed. She would sit beside me on
the couch and I was drawn to her like the song says... like
a moth to the flame."
"He would often pat me on the shoulder -- you know,
in appreciation for a good job I'd done. But I knew it meant
more than that."
"The first time she touched me was when we were doing
registration together. We were sitting beside each other.
I'd say something cute or funny and she would giggle, then
under the table she'd squeeze the top of my leg with her hand.
That was really exciting to me."
"Every time she shook hands with me at the door she
seemed to linger, sort of holding my hand more than shaking
it. No one else would notice, but I knew there was more to
her touch than appeared to the eyes. She knew too."
9. Special notes or gifts.
"He would write these little encouraging notes and leave
them in my desk, pocketbook, or taped to my computer. They
didn't say anything, which could be traced. If anyone found
them they wouldn't suspect anything. But we both knew what
was going on, we just didn't want to stop yet."
"I would sometimes call him and leave a short message
on his answering machine. He would leave little notes in my
"He would buy me a little gift -- not that expensive,
but it always showed he had taken extra thought to get exactly
what I liked. Of course everyone else thought he was just
being a good boss."
"She started leaving unsigned notes to me in my desk
sharing her feelings for me. It scared me at first, because
I thought someone would find one. But after a while I found
myself looking forward to the next one, even though I knew
10. Inventing excuses to call
"I started figuring out ways I could drop off something
at her house when her husband was gone. He and I knew each
other and I would always return borrowed tools in the afternoon
when I knew she'd be there alone."
"I would wait until the end of the workday then I'd
call him just before closing time about something I'd made
up as a 'business question' and we'd talk."
"The more entangled we got, the more I planned times
where he and I could practice together. We started meeting
"She started arranging her schedule so that her husband
dropped her off at committee meetings. I would hang around
and offer to take her home, acting with as much nonchalance
as I could muster up."
11. Arranging secret meetings.
"By now we both were so far gone that we started meeting
secretly at the mall parking lot. It know now how foolish
this was, but I was driven by something other than good sense
at that time."
"We started arranging to work evenings on the same nights,
then we would leave early and meet each other in the dark
"I started making sure he knew my travel schedule so
we could attend the same conferences. We still weren't involved
physically at that time, but there was such excitement and
romance to it all... even the secrecy seemed to make it more
"She would sometimes call me just before lunch and we'd
sneak through a drive-up together, and then spend the rest
of my lunch hour talking quietly to each other."
12. Deceit and cover ups.
"Once we were meeting secretly I had to invent all kinds
of stories about where I'd been to satisfy my wife. By now
I had built a towering wall of dishonesty between us."
"Pretty soon my whole life was full of lies. I'd lie
about where I was going, where I'd been, and who I'd been
with. The more suspicious my husband got, the better liar
I became. But he knew something was going on. It's hard to
lie without people suspecting it."
"I joined several groups so that I would have an excuse
to be away in the evenings."
"She would ask when I'd gotten off work. I'd simply
lie about it, and she never knew what hit her. How can I ever
regain her trust now?"
"We agreed that if anyone saw us driving around we would
both tell the same story: that my car wouldn't start, he stopped
to help, an we were going together to get a new fuse to replace
the broken one he'd discovered."
"By now my whole life was a lie, so I began telling
them regularly to cover up our little meetings."
13. Kissing and embracing.
"The whole thing seemed so exciting by now. I was such
a fool. We were meeting secretly and both of us were fearful
of being caught. But that only seemed to increase our common
ground. When we'd meet, we would embrace as if we'd not been
together for years -- like in the movies when someone comes
home from the war."
"Once we started meeting secretly the end came fast.
We kissed and hugged like two teenagers going parking for
their first time."
"It just felt so good to be hugged and loved by somebody
who really cared about me."
14. Petting and high indiscretion.
"At this point my glands took over. I forgot reason altogether
and was willing to risk everything for more."
"It was like I was a teenager again -- going too far,
then repenting and promising to do better; then just as quick
I was hungrily seeking more sin."
"When my husband and I were dating we struggled with
'how far to go.' Well, here I was again struggling over the
same issue. Friendship with this guy didn't seem so wrong.
But now were we're going further than I ever intended. But,
I felt curiously justified going exactly as far as I had with
my husband when had been dating. In a way, I think some of
my resentment against my husband's constant pressure on me
started coming out. I'm not saying that it wasn't wrong. Just
that I kind of felt justified."
"At about this time I began fooling myself into thinking
I was heroic for not going "all the way." That's
what I wanted to do. But by doing "everything but"
I fooled myself into thinking I was successfully resisting
temptation. What I didn't realize was that, not only was what
I was doing wrong, but that eventually I would take the next
step. It's just not possible to freeze a relationship -- you
have to go ahead with it, or break it off totally."
15. Sexual intercourse.
"Soon I quit resisting and was swept into outright adultery."
"One thing led to another and finally we ended up in
bed with each other."
"Though we never intended it to go that far, we eventually
went all the way and had sex."
"One night we couldn't seem to stop ourselves (at least
we didn't want to) so I completed my journey of unfaithfulness
to my husband -- I had sex with this man."
Whew! Can we learn from these testimonies?
What are the common links you discover from these recollections?
What words keep popping up repeatedly?
What lies were these people believing?
What generalizations would you make from their testimonies?
If you summarized the advice these people would probably
give, what would you say?
Taken From: Money, Sex, and Spiritual Power
by Keith Drury
(c) 1992 Wesley Press, used by permission. All other rights