In Melissa Kruger's book, The Envy of Eve, she discusses a very sensitive, yet important issue: coveting romantic relationships. It is an attitude that can begin even before we are married.
When we are young and single, we may covet the romantic relationships we see our friends engaged in. We may think that all of our happiness is tied up in getting into that romantic relationship. That is a sign that we are covetous. If God does not have us in a romantic relationship at some point, it is because it is simply not meant for us at that moment. If we covet a romantic relationship, we may not fulfill the responsibilities that God has brought our way. That is often a difficult thing to accept for many young people, because God has designed us to seek a partner in life.
Equally serious, and potentially destructive are the occasions when we as married women begin to covet the romantic relationships of others. We may experience struggle in our marriage and start to believe that we'd be happier with someone else. It is a mistake right from the start if we look for fulfillment in romantic relationships. No man can ever be the sole source of happiness and joy. If you think about it, putting that kind of expectation on a man is absolutely unreasonable. What kind of pressure results from laying all of that at the feet of a frail human? When our expectations are not met, we start to look elsewhere.
Kruger points to the danger of the "if only" game:
Married women can also suffer from the sighing if only problem. If only my husband could fix things, then my life would be so much easier. If only my husband could get a better job. If only my husband could help me more around the house. If only my husband was more engaging with the children. If only my husband didn't travel so much. Married women play the same if only game and spin a web of discontentment. If we blame our lack of joy on our husband's failings, then it is a sure sign that coveting has grown in our heart.
The next step after coveting is taking, and that's where things get really bad. One does not have to cross physical boundaries to be adulterous. It begins with the heart, and if we begin to have fantasies about what it would be like to be married to a different man, we are on dangerous ground. This is where the unfortunate reality exists that male-female relationships must change once marriage has occurred. I always had more male friends than female friends. I had brothers, and I knew how to talk to boys. When I was in the workforce, in an corporate lending environment, the majority of the employees were men. It is especially dangerous in a work environment where we see the same men every day. Sometimes, we arrive to work frustrated and having argued with our spouse that morning. It can be oh so tempting to sit at the desk of a male co-worker who will sit and listen to our troubles and seem so much more sympathetic than our own spouses. Once we start to covet, it is an easy thing to start putting our loyalties with a man who is not our husband. It can be so subtle.
I have had disagreements with other Christian women over the issue of male-female friendships, and often been in the minority. Some of them see no reason to change how we conduct ourselves in those friendships, but there must be boundaries. I think the general rule ought to be that I am friends with no man who is not friends with my husband, and I need to be friends with that man's wife. Marriage always has conflict; it is just too easy to transfer our loyalties to another man, and not even see it.
The solution is, of course, to look upon our husbands as gifts from God, the exact one he would have for us. Instead of looking to another man for what we think we need, we should trust God that we have the right spouse. While we were at T4G, there was considerable teasing directed at me because I happen to be "verbally generous," as Mr. Thirsty Theologian says. Now, some people may erroneously think that the reason why my husband is not as chatty is because I am. Actually, it's rather the other way around. I talk a lot because he is not a real talker. It's always been that way. He's like that everywhere. We have gone on car trips where there is absolute silence for hours at a time because he just does not like to talk a lot; he finds it tiring. Should I grumble because he's not as chatty as I am, and sometimes he just wants quiet? No. I need to understand that it is for my benefit that I have a husband who is less talkative, because that causes me to consider my own tendency to chat.
Kruger gives the example of David's sin with Bathsheba to demonstrate the deadly consequences of coveting someone not our spouse. It all began for David with a look. That is where we need to put it to rest. If we have struggles with our spouse, instead of looking at another man, we need to look to God and ask for him to give us right desires.