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Guard Against Workplace Affairs

By Nancy C. Anderson
Guest Columnist If you work with a Flirty Frank or Tempting Tina, here are some ways you can stand strong against temptation.
Coworkers often are required to work on projects or solve problems together, and the resulting closeness can build teamwork — but it can also build a feeling of intimacy. Be honest with yourself. If you’re dressing to please someone at work or lingering in the parking lot hoping that person will ask you to lunch, stop now, before you’ve gone too far.

If you’re in doubt as to what conduct is inappropriate, ask yourself, Would I do this in front of my spouse? And if you’re still not sure, ask yourself, Would I do it in front of the Lord? (You are, you know.) Here is a simple rule to keep you on the straight and narrow: If you’d have to lie about it – don’t do it!

If you feel an attraction to someone in your office and have romantic or sexual thoughts about them, consider a transfer to a different department, a different site, or maybe you should quit. No job is more valuable than your marriage.

I wish I would have followed that advice because I didn’t resist the temptation. Twenty-five years ago, I had an affair with a coworker. My relationship with Jake started innocently when I noticed that he laughed at the same things I laughed at, and he noticed that we both liked similar music, so we started sitting together in the lunchroom. We were just friends. . . until we weren’t.

I remember the first time we went out of the friendship zone and into the danger zone. We were sitting next to each other at a sales meeting when his leg brushed up against mine. I felt a spark at the contact point and was a bit disappointed when he moved it. A few minutes later, he shifted slightly in his chair and his leg, from knee to thigh, pressed gently against mine. I liked it, and didn’t pull away.

I should have. I sent him a signal that I was unguarded. If I’d moved my leg and not responded to his flirtations, I’d have avoided the biggest regret of my life.

After a few months, I “came to my senses” and confessed my adultery to God and my husband, Ron. I knew that I could not continue to work with Jake without being tempted, so I quit my job.  Ron forgave me and we rebuilt our marriage. However, the damage was devastating, and our recovery took several years.

For the whole story, read my book Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome.

Codes of Conduct

Many Christian companies have codes of conduct that are safeguards against the temptations of emotional or physical affairs with coworkers. Here are some examples: 

1. People of the opposite sex should not ride in a car together without a third party present.

2. Don’t make personal (non-work related) phone calls to a coworker of the opposite sex.

3. Don’t have lunch with the same person every day. Move around the lunchroom or break-room and if you go out to a restaurant, go in a group.

4. Make sure that your e-mails and other correspondence are not suggestive, inappropriate, or flirtatious.

5. Talk about your spouse in positive terms, making it clear that you’re married and intend to stay that way.

6. Be careful not to make any lingering eye contact. (Also know as “bedroom eyes.”)

7. The only appropriate touch between business associates of the opposite sex is a handshake.

Business Travel

And here are a few guarding hedges to plant around your business travel:

1. If your job requires traveling with another employee of the opposite sex, do not get adjoining hotel rooms. If possible, request a room on a different floor.

2. If you have to meet with that person, get together in the coffee shop or the lobby. Not your room.

3. Call your spouse every night at a designated time and give him or her full permission to call your cell phone — anytime.

4. Block out all adult TV channels. Most hotels give this option on the remote control. But if they don’t, call the front desk and ask them to disable those channels.  If this is a big temptation for you, don’t even turn on the TV.

Discuss these lists with your spouse and add any other things you feel are necessary. Then, give your mate permission to correct you if you go out-of-bounds. Also, know that the best defense against an office affair is a healthy marriage. Be aware of other ways your workplace or career could be a stumbling point for the general health of your marriage and then resolve to address those potential areas of weakness.

According to an Orange County Register article titled “Workplace a Hazard to Marriage”, working with people of the opposite sex can be hazardous to your marriage.  If you, as a woman, worked with all women, your chances for a divorce would be much lower than if you worked with mostly men. If, however, you’re a married woman and you work with mostly single or newly divorced females, your divorce risk is much higher than if your coworkers were married.

If you’re in a workplace that’s a landmine of temptation or if many of your coworkers are swingin’ singles, be on guard.

Set Specific Boundaries

Many years ago, my husband worked for a company that was rife with temptations. The owner hired receptionists and secretaries who were usually beautiful, young, and single; consequently, it was not a healthy environment for married men. In addition, some of Ron’s male coworkers ate lunch at a “gentlemen’s club”—a fancy term for a strip club.

They often asked Ron to go with them, and even though he was tempted, he never went. They’d try to entice him by saying, “We won’t tell your wife. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.” He would politely decline and say, “No thanks, I have a deal with my wife. I don’t go to female strip clubs and she doesn’t go to male strip clubs. They’re dangerous places.” His co-workers all knew that Ron was a Christian, and if he’d gone, they may have discounted his faith and labeled him as a hypocrite. I know that several men admired Ron’s commitment to me, because they privately asked him for advice about their marriages.

Your relationship could be an excellent example to other married coworkers if you stand strong. Talk to your spouse about your weak spots and set specific ways to guard against physical and emotional “land mines” that could destroy your marriage.  Be bold and fearless when you’re defending your marriage at work. Resist and flee temptation before it overtakes you.

1 Cor. 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Adapted from Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome by Nancy C. Anderson.

Nancy C. Anderson is an award-winning author and speaker who loves to teach women and couples to avoid the “Greener Grass Syndrome” by watering their own lawns. Nancy and her husband Ron teach at marriage seminars, banquets and retreats. For more information about their speaking schedule and other marriage articles:

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