The Surprising Way The Tenth Commandment Can Actually Prevent Infidelity

Thou shalt not covet.

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Many people are well-versed in the concept of the Ten Commandments and the idea that you’re not supposed to “covet” what someone else has. This can mean anything from a new pair of shoes to someone else’s wife — as it’s typically used in the biblical sense, anyway.

But the word “covet” can often be misconstrued to mean that you’re not allowed to want something other than what you have — a misconception that Dr. Stephen Snyder addresses in the YourTango Expert video above.


So what does covet mean? And how can a commandment against it save your marriage from infidelity?

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Coveting, says Dr. Snyder, isn’t just wanting something. In fact, it’s perfectly normal for our brains to see what someone else has, determine that it’s better than what we have, and then scheme ways to get ahold of it for ourselves.

However, most of us can set these thoughts aside and use our better judgment to understand why it’s not possible for us to have whatever the item is that we want, whether this is due to expenses, the situation, or simply working out for ourselves that it’s not a good idea.


Coveting, however, is another problem altogether, and it is this distinction that can cause infidelity in your marriage.

According to Dr. Snyder, your sexual mind doesn’t have any ideas or understanding of the concept of monogamy. All that part of your brain understands is that there’s something that it wants, and that’s pretty much the extent of reasoning with it. 


So if you find yourself considering cheating on your spouse and having an affair that could ruin your marriage, it’s a good idea, says Snyder, to remind yourself of the tenth commandment: “Thou shalt not covet.”

Wanting something is a feeling that you can’t attempt to fight against. Coveting is not the simple act of wanting something that isn’t yours. You can rationalize why you feel that way, but it’s not a bad thing.


Coveting is a complex decision-making process where you believe that you’re entitled to something that isn’t yours.

It’s when you begin to tell yourself, “I deserve to have what I want, and what I want is what someone else has.”

There’s nothing wrong with wanting things, but there are times that you’ll need to set limits on yourself and your behavior. Just because we want something doesn’t mean we’re entitled to have it.

And this is what the tenth commandment can remind us of. It’s a gentle way to put boundaries down for ourselves — especially when what we think we’re entitled to is having a relationship with another person when we’re already involved with someone else.


So when you’re feeling like you might start thinking that you deserve a relationship outside of the one you have, or that you’re entitled to cheat for whatever your reason is, think back to the last commandment to remind yourself that what you’re doing is wrong.

It might even just save your marriage.


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Stephen Snyder, M.D. is a sex therapist, psychiatrist and author of the book, Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship, who helps committed, long-term couples regain passion, sexual intimacy and closeness in their relationships. Connect with Dr. Snyder at for more information and to get started on your journey of sexual fulfillment today.

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