You’ve probably never heard the statement that an affair is like a shiny new car.
Have you ever bought a brand new car right off the car dealer’s lot?
Do you remember that feeling and the excitement you felt when you first started looking at all the new cars available for you?
You finally pick one out. It’s the perfect shiny blue color you were looking for. There’s the thrill of discovering how each feature worked- the power windows and door locks, the radio with its tape player and the new car smell was all so exciting.
After driving it off the lot, you’re beaming with pride. You vow to yourself to faithfully wash it each week, and you consistently park far away from other cars to avoid getting dings.
This is easy to do at first.
Yet, eventually you stop finding time to wash it and polishing it takes too much time. You’re in a hurry to pick up those few items at the grocery store, so you fail to get that parking spot at the end.
Then it happens….that first scratch, ding or stain on the seats.
The day you stopped by the fast food joint and dropped a french fry between the seats, only to find it a dried up version of its former self, months later. Or the time you spilled soda on the front seat, or felt the effects of that shopping cart that careened down the parking lot only to leave evidence it was there by the dented mark on the passenger side door.
It didn’t stay shiny and new for very long.
Our relationships are a lot like that. Our spouse was once just like that shiny new car. We took care of the relationship. We were excited and proud of it. We protected it and made sure to ‘park’ far away from danger and other threats that could damage it.
Then life happened. We got busy. Words were spoken harshly to our spouse, carelessly left behind without thinking of the damage caused.
Familiarity has moved in-giving way to laziness, and carelessness in our words and behaviors started to erode our most prized relationship-our marriage.
Kids come and, if we’re not careful, the stains on the carpet of our relationship becomes stains on the seats and we begin to give up trying so hard to keep things clean. It takes too much effort.
Anger and resentment grow as the expectations of our spouse and marriage go unmet.
We learn coping mechanisms to communicate and some are not healthy ones. The effort to buff out scratches becomes too much as we start to give up. They’re only small scratches, we think. The paint becomes dull and we start to wonder if it’s worth all the effort to wash it again. It’s just going to rain and get dirty again soon, we reason.
Our marriage relationship can be hurt with our lack of effort, too. We may start to slack off on making the effort to work things out with our spouse. We may wonder “why bother trying to resolve this argument, my spouse is just going to get defensive and we’ll end up fighting again”. Or, we neglect the date nights or time together with our spouse we used to be so diligent about.
It’s always the little infractions and the small neglects that eventually add up. Each little grudge builds up without talking about it. Every day without connection is like another ding in the door of our marriage.
Until one day we wake up to find an old beat up, junky car in the garage where our pride and joy once was. Rusted on the bottom, where nobody else can see it. The blue paint is hard to see beneath all the layers of grime and filth. It’s easy to be discontent with such a mess and wonder how could you ever have liked this beater?
The effort to get it washed, repaired and restored is too much now, you think. It’ll cost too much. It’ll never be like it was when it was new.
It’s easy to grow discontent with our marriages and neglect the relationship we used to make more time for. It’s easy to take each other for granted, like an old car where we know how everything works and are familiar with its features.
Many marriages relate to the struggle. We all need to push through the rough times and reconnect with our spouses. But sometimes, if we’re not diligent to guard our marriages, we grow vulnerable to a different threat.
But if we’re not careful, the discontentment grows in our hearts and we start to think another new car is the answer. You tell yourself you’re just going to stop at the new car dealership down the street, just to look. You’d never buy another car, you know it’s not in the budget.
The rows of shiny cars are appealing, but one in particular has caught your eye, a beautiful red convertible. You tell the salesman you’re not buying but he convinces you to just look. Sitting in the drivers seat makes you feel like a kid again as the smell of leather reminds you of your younger days. It has so many new features and gadgets to learn.
The salesman convinces you to take a test drive. You figure one test drive wont hurt.
That test drive only whets your desire to own the car, which is exactly what the salesman was counting on. Other drivers stare with envy as you speed past them
Suddenly it happens so fast. You’re sitting at the table negotiating a deal. It seems like a good deal, even though your heart is feeling uncomfortable. You reason with yourself that you could afford the enormous payment, if you just shuffled some financial obligations around. You justify to yourself that you deserve this. You’re worth it. You work hard and should have a better vehicle. You figure the old one will take too long to repair.
This new one is what you need.
The deal is signed. You drive off the lot in your new vehicle that costs more than you really can afford.
Getting into an affair is as promising as a new car. This new person appears to be all the things you thought you needed.
Life soon feels better and you’re having fun in your new car. Feelings of guilt and worry over the monthly payments creep in but you just repeat to yourself that you deserve this shiny new car.
While your old beat up blue car still sits in your garage-ignored and collecting dust.
Our lives can be a lot like that. We grow dissatisfied with our marriage and our spouse and can begin to imagine that life with someone new will be better. It’s easy to get complacent in our marriages and not try anymore to take the time together that’s needed to keep it running well.
The double car garage houses both cars, representing the double life you now lead trying to keep both an affair and a marriage going. But the marriage is no longer the priority. The new relationship takes all your attention. It’s what you really should have had all along, you silently reason. The other car no longer meets your needs and you’ve outgrown it.
Then the first payment comes due.
The payment you really can’t afford while still being able to eat the rest of the month.
But the payment will always come due. It may not happen right away, but it’s going to cost you eventually. Perhaps you were able to keep it a secret for a while, but the payment (consequences) will eventually come calling.
Soon, It’s time to pay up with money you really don’t have.
Then it inevitably happens. The new car gets a dent. The leather gets a rip. You try to cover it up, but the rips grow wider. It’s not looking as new and shiny as it once did. You notice quirky things you didn’t notice at first. It idles rough in neutral. It leaks oil and is making a mess of your garage floor.
You start to realize this shiny new car is not as appealing as it once was. It’s costing more than you realized and the problems are adding up. There are different issues than with the old car, but the problems are still there.
You begin to see you’ve made a mistake. The old car isn’t looking so bad anymore. Yes, it needs some major work, some repairs and some washing. But it was paid for. After all the repairs, it’ll still be cheaper than this new car is costing you.
Aren’t we often just like that? We like things that are new and exciting. But when it’s time to work on it, we want a new model.
Marriages take work. Sometimes we need major repairs to be done-in the office of marital counseling, personal counseling, prayer and humility.
However, it still costs less than having an affair. The grass is not greener on the other side. The new car only stays clean and scratch free a short time. But the cost of a new one is greater than it seems on the contract. Hidden fees show up, and the debt collector shows no mercy. He will gladly rip your heart out and tear it to shreds for payment. He’ll go after your family, your kids will be heartbroken and your marriage will be ripped to pieces as payment.
There’s always payment. There’s always consequences. The debt collector does not care if you’re a Christian or that you didn’t think you would ever do such a thing to trade.
So, take those funds you would have used on a new car and work on the one you have that’s sitting at home in the garage. Fix it up, make it clean. It may take time and it may be a slow process.
But at least you’ll walk away with your integrity and family still in one piece and you won’t have to face the debt collector later.