Wednesday 25 April 2012


How to resist and overcome the allure of office affairs 

By Carmen and Dr Lim Poh Ann

A young lady in her early 20s’, Jen See (not her real name) seemed to have it all. She amassed all the C’s which many young people strove for: cash, car, condominium and club membership. Her hard work and sterling performance in the office rewarded her with awards and great perks. However, putting in more than 42 hours a week at work slowly affected her marriage. She hardly spent time with her newly-married husband, Jonathan, who often fell asleep on the sofa while awaiting her return from work.

A French-Chinese young man named Steve arrived in Jen See’s company to assist in an upcoming project in the Asia-Pacific region. His exotic looks coupled with cash, calibre and charisma made him the hot guy in the office. Many female colleagues were disappointed to learn that Steve was married with two lovely kids residing in Hong Kong.

More than colleagues

Steve and Jen See were assigned to the same team for the project. They worked   late through the nights and went out for supper together, sharing life stories and mutual interests. There was an extraordinary chemistry between them. With such good rapport, they came up with brilliant proposals for the project, which turned out to be a huge success.

Steve started to develop feelings for Jen See. He would find excuses to meet up with her. Later, he declared his affection for her and wanted to be more than a colleague. Jen See was speechless. Although her marriage lacked intimacy, an affair had never crossed her mind. Steve was every woman’s dream guy, but she was not ready to become his lover.

Dismissing Steve’s advances, Jen See continued to invest her time and energy in her career. As time passed, her marriage began showing signs of breakdown. She forgot to celebrate Jonathan’s birthday. She did not call him or even return his call, leaving her husband waiting in vain at home. Jonathan was hurt and ended up drinking.

Meanwhile, Steve was not a quitter. Slowly, Jen See gave in to his advances. From just colleagues, they became secret lovers. They often sent intimate SMSes and e-mails to each other during office hours. Candlelight dinners and overseas assignment trips brought them even closer. Jen See began to lie to her husband and seldom went home.

A rude awakening

“Liam is sick and asks for you. Can you come back as soon as possible? The children miss you.”
“Daddy, Daddy. Liam and Melissa here. When will you be back?”
 A woman’s plea, followed by a young boy’s query could be heard from the telephone answering machine in Steve’s apartment.

Jen See felt as if she was given a hard slap on her face. It was a rude awakening for her. Suddenly, she realised she was ruining Steve’s family as well as her marriage. She knew there was too much at stake if she did not end the affair.

“Steve, what we did was wrong. Let’s end this. I don’t want to hurt anyone anymore,” said Jen See as she picked up her bag to leave the apartment.

She knew she was to be blamed for her icy cold marriage. Ambitious and career-minded, she had allowed work to take priority over her marriage.

She cried as she drove home, praying that it was not too late to make it up with her husband. Unfortunately, Jonathan had already left the house and filed for  divorce. Remorseful and teary, she pleaded with him to forgive her infidelity, but to no avail.

Jen See could not avoid meeting Steve in the office. Uncomfortable and troubled, she couldn’t work with him as before. They often argued and Steve frequently shifted the blame to Jen See whenever they encountered problems at work. Their colleagues wondered why such good co-workers had become terribly antagonistic.

True colours

Steve was still mad about Jen See. He did not wish to end the affair. He threatened to tell their colleagues that she had slept with him to climb up the corporate ladder. Jen See was helpless as Steve’s words carried more weight than her good track record in the office. Moreover, Steve was the nephew of the Managing Director of the company. Her final resort was to resign, but he stopped her from doing so. He threatened to harm her husband if she chose to leave.

Underneath Steve’s charming exterior was a violent and possessive personality. He constantly checked her whereabouts and insisted that she spent the nights at his apartment. He forced her to have sex with him and when she refused, he would hit her. Jen See was at the end of her tether. She often wished that the sordid affair had never happened.

Be vigilant

Workplace is where we spend most of our time besides home. Can we truly say  we will not fall for office affairs like Steve and Jen See?. Can we really trust ourselves?

The allure of office affairs lies in the fact that people of the opposite sex are exposed to the best side of one another in the office environment. Their spouses at home often appear unkempt (wife is in curlers and pyjamas; husband snores and his socks smell) and harassed (screaming at the children). At the workplace, people appear well-dressed, courteous and polite. They display positive qualities like competence, efficiency and reliability which foster mutual respect and admiration. All these factors make the office an excellent “breeding ground” for affairs.

Temptation often catches us off-guard. But when we are tempted, it does not mean we have sinned: “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can prevent it from building a nest on your head.” Evil thoughts may arise but this is not sin unless we choose to yield to these thoughts and allow them to grow and fester within our hearts and minds.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. How then can we resist or overcome office affairs?

 How to resist/overcome office affairs?

1.    Build intimacy with God. Study and memorise His word and pray (Psalm 119:9).

2.    Build intimacy with your spouse, if married (Proverbs 5: 15, 18, 19, 20).

3.    Beware what your mind and eyes feed on. Know the dangers of pornography (Psalms 101:3).

4.    Never think that you are incapable of moral failure (1 Corinthians 10:12).

5.    RUN from the tempting situation. It may even mean asking for a transfer or getting a new job (Genesis 39:12).

6.    Recognise the body is God’s temple. Fear God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

7.    Recognise the consequences: undoing a wrong is not the same as having a clean slate; irreversible negative effects result, including betrayal of trust, divorce, financial loss or venereal disease.

8.    Mix with good company. “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

9.    Be accountable. Share your problem with a trusted friend of the same sex and ask for his/ her prayers.

 The above article was first published in Asian Beacon magazine, February 2010, issue 42.1.


Building your defenses before temptation strikes

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