We know from experience that marriages and relationships don’t end in a day. Usually, it’s a slow fade of little things that chip away at the relationship bit by bit until there’s almost nothing left.

While some of these slow fades are easy to spot, there are others that you don’t often catch until it’s too late.

A slow fade can often include small breaches of trust before they become something like a full-on affair. But over time, these little things add up and can drive a wedge between you and your spouse.

Dangerous Steps to the Slow Fade of Naiveté

Years ago, after one of our Hearts at Home conferences, a young mom came up to me to chat, “Have you ever thought about having a conference for dads?” Before I could even reply, she continued, “There’s a stay-at-home dad in our neighborhood and he’s become my best friend. We take the kids to the park together, shop together, and even do our once-a-month cooking together. He’s a great guy!”

Alarm bells and red flags were going off inside my head. I wanted to scream, “Please don’t be naïve. Remove the blinders! Please put some boundaries in place and build a hedge of protection around your marriage!”

This mom was taking dangerous steps toward the slow fade of naiveté. This slow fade can be any action we take that knowingly places us in a position of relational danger or downplays the possibility that it could lead to compromise.

In the past, that mostly meant being careful about not being alone with someone of the opposite sex other than your spouse. Today, social media has opened up a whole new arena of relationship circles where seemingly innocent connections can lead to not-so-innocent relationships.

Some of the slow fades of naiveté may be subjective or even controversial depending on your upbringing, background, and relationship with your spouse. For some, these may be a huge breach of trust while for other people they may not pose a concern at all. This is one of the reasons why it is important to discuss these with your spouse and express what is or isn’t a crossing of boundaries for your relationship.

When Innocent Turns Not-So-Innocent

We hear it from couples all the time in our marriage coaching: the unfaithful spouse developed a relationship that started innocently as someone to talk to, someone who listened and cared. In most of those stories, naiveté allowed the interaction to happen in the first place.

Most people who end up in affairs didn’t set out to have one. Infidelity usually begins with an innocent relationship with someone of the opposite sex that, in time, moves to an emotional depth that draws us to cross the line of fidelity. This is why we need to be vigilant to place hedges around our marriage and avoid the slow fade of naiveté.

Practical Examples of the Slow Fade of Naiveté

It’s important to remember that not everyone will see these examples as a breach of trust in their relationship. However, what is certain is that whenever you are hiding or keeping these things a secret from your spouse, you are most certainly on the slippery slope of naiveté.

Here are 10 examples of what that could look like:

  1. Sending a message to someone of the opposite sex on social media without your spouse knowing.
  2. Meeting with someone in person without your partner knowing.
  3. Complaining about your marriage to another person.
  4. Starting or maintaining contact with an old boyfriend or girlfriend on social media.
  5. Sharing a flirtatious joke with someone of the opposite sex.
  6. Creating a profile on a dating app.
  7. Sending someone of the opposite gender photos of yourself.
  8. Allowing yourself to constantly think about someone other than your spouse.
  9. Looking forward to going to work to be around a certain person.
  10. Keeping secrets from your spouse.

When we allow a fade to begin, it is fertile soil for the enemy to begin to divide what God has brought together. If the drift continues unnoticed and unattended, the divided relationship heads in a direction toward slow destruction.

We recommend couples are intentional about making decisions in advance to protect their marriage. It may be that your spouse doesn’t have an issue with you meeting up with your friend from work for coffee or texting someone of the opposite gender. However, it is important to know your own heart and where something innocent could prove to be a temptation if it were allowed to grow.

We talk even more about the slow fade of naiveté and the 6 other slow fades in our No More Perfect Marriages Home Edition Seminar. You’ll learn how to understand these slow fades, how to combat them, and how to strengthen your bond as a couple.

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