The old flame. Most everyone has them. The nature of dating is that we learn about ourselves and learn about others and either decide to start dating, keep dating or stop dating.
The problem comes when we don't extinguish the old flames. There are probably great memories with that person. You shared a period of your life with them. There is also a reason or many reasons that they are exactly what they are, a PAST flame. They are now a part of your past and wherever you are in your present life, those memories are a part of your past. Social media has opened up a world for past flames to rekindle.
I recently watched "Flattered" from the Pressure Points marriage series, created by Phil Stevens. My son and I were extras in the film and I knew the subject matter and never really thought much about its relevance in my life. It was not until I saw the complete film that I realized how much this paralleled an event in my life. I was brought to tears remembering what had happened. Although I was widowed two years ago and cannot get his permission, I am confident that Glen would not mind me sharing our story about how a past flame almost came in between us and the unconditional love that saved us.
The Pressure Points Flattered
During the summer, I was visiting home in Michigan and because of work my husband, Glen, was unable to come with me and the kids. We talked every day and were in constant contact. I was on Facebook one night and I saw that an old flame had liked another friend's picture. Enter my first mistake, I wrote him and just said "hey it's been a long time. You really working in Michigan?"
A conversation ensued. One that I felt was harmless. At some point he said something like, "I have always wondered where you were and how you were doing. I'm glad that you are doing well." I felt him pushing into the past and tried to just make a comment like "yeah you cross my mind every now and again. How are you doing these days?" We went on to talk about families, work, and faith and he complimented me a few times and I just said thanks not thinking any more about it.
Later that night, an email from my husband...
"I was planning on surprising you with a massage for tomorrow afternoon/evening so I called your mom and left a message for some spas. After not hearing back, I figured I'd shoot her an email on FB... your account was still logged on when I opened it. I then thought it would be "cute" to leave a status saying how madly in love you are with your husband only to come across some suspect conversations with you and some dude."
We trusted each other and always left Facebook open. We had nothing to hide so we never logged out. For a lack of better words, he was furious. I knew he had dealt with infidelity before and knew that those experiences had broken his spirit. I swore that I wasn't even thinking like that. I told him that I had talked about my marriage and being happy and about my faith. That is how I saw. the conversation. Glen saw something entirely different. I read the conversation back from Glen's perspective and saw it totally differently. There is no way to describe the way that my stomach bottomed out. The idea that I had caused Glen to question my devotion to him was the ultimate betrayal and I have never wished to undue something more in my life.
Glen's email was forward, straight to the point and did not attack me in any way, but explained how furious he was that I would put myself in a situation like this.
"Either way it's clear he has feelings for you ("gorgeous"), and part of me thinks you might have assumed that when you emailed him...At this point, I've got so many emotions stirring in me right now I honestly don't know what to think...my heart is in my stomach right now. Not only do I feel disrespected, but I've always looked at our marriage as sacred and I feel like you gave away a little piece of it today."
I honestly don't know what my intention was in reaching out to him. It doesn't matter. I had put my marriage in question over a past flame who had no bearing on any part of my current life. The aftermath of it was incredibly painful and incredibly beautiful. Yes beautiful in the way that Glen handled the situation. I am so grateful to have experienced love and life with a man that gave me grace, forgiveness and protection from myself. I realized that being "flattered" by a past flame was not at all the motivation for saying hey to him, but it was a dangerous starting point perhaps to feel "flattered" and to feel noticed when I had a husband that was already doing those things each and every day.
"I'll never be able to recreate the memories or fun times you had back in college... Life with me is filled with paying bills, changing diapers, old carpet, broken fences, etc...while not glamorous I KNOW none of these dudes would do a better job at being a HUSBAND that will love you like I do...faithfully and hand in hand in Christ."
Speechless. How right he was. Any fun time in college was far outdone by SingStar battles with my husband, SEC football games, and trips with my family. Hell, every day was better with Glen. Being on social media alone makes us susceptible to these types of interactions. I can't control what others say to me, but I can chose who I interact with and why. I am grateful that my husband did not just act out. I am grateful that he brought it to me and addressed it. I am grateful that he gave me grace in the interaction and I am grateful to be able to bring this issue to the forefront through Phil Stevens' Pressure Point Marriage ministry. If you are always seeking and never serving your spouse, it is destined to fall apart. We can all be self serving. We can all allow ourselves to be "flattered" by past flames or we can communicate with our spouse. Love each other well and when a past flame comes to the surface, because they will, communicate with honesty, with grace, and with love. Please take the time to watch how easily we can be the demise of our marriages/relationships, but how unconditional love and open communication can bring you closer together and make you stronger than ever.