On Marrying A Ticking A-Bomb Partner


“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

-Mark 10:7-8, NIV

On Marrying A Ticking Adultery-Bomb

From my own personal and painful experience, I have arrived at two important things I would advise Christians to consider when they are looking to get married:

1. Is this person quick to take responsibility for his or her own choices and actions? 

This is akin to seeing whether or not a person is quick to seek forgiveness or prone to blame others when caught doing something wrong. Since we are all going to sin against our spouse at times in a marriage, it is vital the person we are marrying is willing to own their junk.

Furthermore, you do not want to marry a patsy or martyr-type. This person is on the other end of the spectrum from the blamshifter. This person–i.e. “the patsy”–takes too much responsibility. Their problem is a lack of healthy personal boundaries (see point #2 below), which leads to undermining healthy patterns of confession and forgiveness. Plus, it can lead to an eruption of resentment and bitterness as the patsy continues to take wrongful blame while knowing it.

2. Can this person set reasonable and appropriate boundaries in relationships? Do they respect other people’s boundaries? 

Are you marrying someone who looks to you to set healthy boundaries for them as if they were a teenager and not an adult? You should not have to explain to your fiance that getting gifts from another suitor is unhealthy for your relationship. It is important to be able to trust your spouse’s commitment and ability to make wise choices in setting boundaries protecting the (future) marriage.

Another clue of potentially boundary problems:

Can this person be alone or does she/he always need to be in a sexually-charged relationship (e.g. dating)? This is not an extrovert thing, by the way. One can have lots of healthy same-sex relationships to feed one’s extroverted social needs. The problem comes when only a romantic relationship (or two) will do. That suggests to me that this individual is not okay with himself/herself and seeks outside romantic attention to convince himself/herself that he/she has personal value.

Going into my first marriage, I missed these two points:

I knew I was setting boundaries for my first wife going into our marriage, and she proudly told my mother as much (as I recall). This is unhealthy. You want to marry someone who recognizes their own values and has the character to stand by them without relying on someone else to tell them how to do so. When the later happens, it is a set up for future rebellion–e.g. adultery–and brokenness for God did not make either partner to fill that role for the other.

Second, I missed that my first wife was a serial romantic-relationship type. I was so hell-bent on marrying an attractive woman that I did not pause to think that gals that are always in a romantic relationship–or nearly so–may have unresolved issues. The second-time around I was wiser in that matter. Pain can be a good teacher in such matters if you are wiling to listen 😉

Hindsight is 20/20. I do not write this to beat my old self up over choosing my first wife. However, I do write this to share some pieces of wisdom that I learned through going through such a painful marriage dissolution.

I am convinced when these two markers are not present that one is marrying a ticking Adultery-Bomb. 

Without the ability or willingness to take full responsibility for one’s own choices and actions, one is unable to repent and find godly forgiveness. 

Without the ability to set healthy personal boundaries and respect others’ boundaries, one is destined to violate boundaries or find one’s own space violated.

Adultery or infidelity–i.e. major boundary violations–are coming in just a matter of time.


4 thoughts on “On Marrying A Ticking A-Bomb Partner”

  1. Yes, this is so true! At the beginning of my relationship/marriage to my ex, he mirrored what I said – so agreeable with my opinions and boundaries. But later, I felt like a had another child, having to explain the difference between right and wrong (when it would be obvious to most people) and how to be a good example for his children. I didn’t like feeling like HIS parent. He was like a chameleon who would change depending on who he was around. I increasingly saw him as not having a sense of self. And like you write, he needed the butterflies/romance all the time. He was somewhat child-like and awkward that I even felt sorry for him at times. What I found out was that he was covertly manipulative and the child-like behavior was just his schtick to avoid responsibility. I found out he was a serial cheater from when a newlywed (we were married 25 years) and was shocked to read emails to women – lying to them and charming them. I contacted most of them and his true character was revealed. On the surface he looked responsible (professor at a top medical school), but he led a secretive double life. He has never taken responsibility and apologized to me and the kids for all the lying, but rather jumped shipped to his latest OW. She doesn’t know what she’s getting into – I suppose without some serious introspection, he won’t change his ways. What I feel mostly for him is pity.

  2. I missed these things with my ex-wife as well.

    At the beginning of my relationship with her, I found out that she had been talking to an ex-boyfriend, sometimes right in front of me on the phone. Because they spoke Spanish I had no clue. More on this later. After the discovery, I told her that I was uncomfortable with this and it would be difficult for our relationship to grow with this going on. She told me this was an ex-boyfriend whom she left 6 months prior and who wouldn’t leave her alone. She made him sound like a stalker of sorts and she “didn’t know how” to get away from him. But something was amiss. It took several more weeks before I was able to convince her to change her phone number and email address so he couldn’t contact her whenever he wanted. I had to literally tell this guy to leave us alone and afterwards she changed her contact info.

    I found out after the divorce that her relationship with him never truly ended and even though she moved out of his house, they were still seeing each other but she was also dating me. I was the other man. Had I known what I know now, I wouldn’t have known I shouldn’t have had to set that boundary for her. Hindsight is surely 20/20. It’ painfully obvious now and I feel silly just mentioning it.

    Plus, everything Savannah said. The childish schtick, the lack of self, the chameleon-ness, the secret though life, covertly manipulative, the mirroring, being agreeable. It was all there. Even took on my faith for a time. And she played the victim.

    1. You’re right. I felt like I shouldn’t have to explain to my ex-husband that he shouldn’t have sleepovers at other women’s houses. He was not that overt before we were married unfortunately. He was a serial relationship type. Aren’t there a lot of people who can’t seem to be without a partner though? I thought I was unusual for being able to be single for an extended period of time. Don’t some of the serial relationship people remain faithful?

      1. Seems to me the serial relationship types have made relationships their idol. I don’t think that means they are also the cheating type but i would go for someone who has had few long term relationships, rather than someone who has had a lot of short ones.

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