Monday, July 23, 2007

in a perfect world, we wouldn't have to
think about it...

another post on an unpleasant subject

We were away for the weekend hanging out with family and I've been pondering this topic on and off the entire time. I'll post a bunch of photos of all our adventures, but first I have to jot down a few things on the topic of adultery and divorce. So I've been thinking...

After I hit the PUBLISH POST button on liar, liar pants on fire, a blog regarding some feelings I had about cheating, A 'n me talked about it...and I heard a whole other side to the story. The side of the affair with extenuating circumstances.

In the ongoing dialogue between M and people posting blog comments on the blog that started it all, my first blog response, and my blog about divorce in regards to adultery ,and blog hopping dialog on divorce, plus the conversation with my husband, A, I now have a broader opinion on the topic.

If you're just joining in on the conversation, please take a minute to click on the bold highlighted words in the previous sentence to be re-directed back to the beginning.

Firstly, I'd like to respond to M's assessment of my opinion on adultery and divorce. I am in no way saying that if my husband cheated I would leave period. I most likely wouldn't, it would suck, for a long time, but I don't think I could leave. But, I have left a relationship before with an "it's over, period" mentality, and the story goes like this...

I was 17, going on 18. In college, dating an older guy. I straight up would not have sex with him...not even a little bit. He met a girl. He started having sex with the girl. He started bringing her around OUR friends. My good friend, J, called me and said, "hold on" then she handed him her phone and demanded that he, "tell her you're cheating on her."

Basically, it went like this...

Hey, what's going on, where'd J go?
Um, I guess I need to tell you something.
Oh kay...what?
I'm really in to you and I still want to be with you.
What's going on?
It's just sex. Listen if you'd have sex with me there wouldn't be an issue, but you won't. So...I'm having sex with her. But I still want to be with you. Not gunna work for me. And, that's gross. And also, don't ever call me again.

Okay, so that's not totally, exactly how it went, but notice I'm not quoting anyone. Forgive me, it was a lifetime ago and seriously, that's the jist of it. He still wanted to be with me, he just couldn't not have sex and so he wanted the best of both worlds. I did not find this to be the best of both worlds. To me the best of both worlds was: commitment regardless of carnal needs, wants or even desires...but, I was 17, unmarried, and our two worlds didn't fit nicely together. I felt betrayed and a bit worthless. I hated feeling that. I left and didn't see any other option.

If this happened to me now, with my husband, I couldn't just - hang up and leave it all behind. And this brings me to the rest of M's post and a similar point that A brought up and I do agree, somewhat. I do agree, there can be extenuating circumstances that lead someone to an affair, emotional/spiritual or sexual. And I also agree that this does not give you an "out" if you do have an affair. I also believe an emotional affair can even be more devastating than a sexual affair.

M brought up the point that her husband may not have their vows in mind, make a rash decision, have an emotional reaction, that effects the family and that this is similar to how an affair may happen. I believe that this "momentary lapse in judgement" thing is somewhat, in a way, possible, but only in regards to a decision that's not having an adulterous affair.

Perhaps I just don't like this term. Because, to me, it has a sort of pre-amnesia, I'm-not-responsible, it-just-"happened", out-of-my-control sort of connotation. And, I think that's bee-shit. I get irritated with the excuse. We're all adults here. Let's own up to our sin. I'm not saying it's worse than any other sin. I'm not saying it's unforgivable, I'm just saying it's something that needs forgiveness. It didn't "just happen." You made a choice, a decision and it's wrong, period. I don't like the "option" of the excuse.

So in conclusion. I guess what I've learned is, affairs are stupid...but, just because someone has an affair it doesn't necessarily mean that they're an all-around bastard (as I implied in my previous post). I've known a few of these types personally that have really f***ed up the people around them and ruined families. And I apologize for lumping everyone into that catagory.

I've also learned that life is tough and shit goes down. And everyday, I need to thank God for giving me an amazing husband that had a lot of reasons other people have used to have an affair and instead of making that choice, he stepped up, took unbelievable care of me and became an insanely dedicated husband.

This is an amazing conversation. Please keep it going. I love it. I'm learning, changing my opinion and becoming more thankful for my husband and the husbands and wives around me that continue to walk the hard road and stay married no matter what.


sufferingsummer said...

I totally agree that each situation is different, part of us being unique individuals, so giving each it's own examination is only fair. However I do have to say I think it is far more possible than we would like to think that the momentary lapse that M speaks of in regards to her husband's judgement could in fact be applied to having an adulterous affair. I do not see this as any kind of excuse and still believe that when the offender is faced with the fact that their momentary lapse in judgement was actually a decision they made that they do have to step up and take responsibility for the decision made. I guess the distinction I'm making is that I do think in the moment of what would seem to be an obvious right and wrong decision (to have an affair or not) it might not be so obvious. It may be as simple as entering into a conversation you feel a little off about or going somewhere that there is the potential for something to happen but thinking you have far more self control than you actually do. It is the flirting with the sin that leads to the sin itself and I think for some that slippery slope is far steeper than we realize and before we know what is happening we are sliding completely down the hill rather than just looking over the edge as we had so intended.
Anyway, don't know if I'm making much sense but that is what was on my mind as I read your post.
Oh for the record, in the situation you mention of your own experience I think you did the only thing you possibly could have done and I would have done the exact same...a prime example of how each situation is truly different.
Again, thank you for continuing the conversation...

meg said...

i love what you're saying, and it's definitely something for me to think more about. thank you

Andy said...

Conveniently for me, I'm not accountable to anyone or thing so I can say that (IMHO) having an affair is pretty high on the shit list and much "worse" than plenty of other horrible things you can do to someone, short of maiming or molesting them.

Sure, maybe it could be forgiven, but for me, why would I want to? The relationship would never be the same, be damaged/fucked up/betrayraped/etc., so why spend the rest of your life trying to cover that over? IT WON'T HEAL. NA-AH, SORRY, that jerk will always have cheated on you, and it will probably always be on someone's mind. Maybe not, but show me the person who could really put that behind them (on either side), and I'll show you this freaking awesome bridge I'm building from Arizona to South Dakota. And then I'll slap that person really hard.

OK, MAYbe if one party was in a coma for 5 years and the other party was really lonely...yada yada insert super extenuating circumstance here...THEN I could see people moving on, because that's pretty much like a break in the relationship. But if there is no break to start with...congratulations, you someone just made one!

Keep in my mind that this is all my opinion and does not reflect the opinions of my sponsors, Clark Utilities. They think everything is ok, and even better with beer.

amemarie said...

So I finally got to read all of these articles. It was a rather interesting and thanks M for opening up the topic. I just wish my mom had left after she found out, if only for the possibility of having someone who would honor her and cherish her. But I think she didnt have the self esteem or hope that she could have better. That is what truly saddens me. The affairs not only ruined what they had, but in many ways took away who she was and her self esteem. And from what I have seen it was nearly impossible to recover from. Thanks for keeping the topic alive. It has given me many things to think about on how to "relate" to her in this situation.

Ryan said...

I've already left a lengthy post on Marianne's blog but felt like expostulating a bit more as one who had an affair a few years ago but is reconciled to my husband. I like what summer has to say because she does a good job of describing the "momentary lapse of judgment" that can lead to an affair. Rarely does a person wake up in the morning and say "i think I'll have an affair today" and go out and do so. Momentary lapse of judgment seems to connote a momentary sin, which most affairs are not - they are usually a bit more complicated than a one night stand, but I think the phrase can refer to entertaining a look, a conversation, an email with someone other than your spouse that is the definable moment or catalyst for an affair. For me, it's hard to pin point when the affair began because it started long before ex-boyfriend re-entered my world. It began months prior when I got in the habit of discontent, anger, and choosing my needs over my husbands and choosing not to address and work out issues we had. All of that laid the groundwork for me to more readily ignore healthy conviction when the conversations and flirtations did begin, so that I could easily justify them, thinking I had mastery over what was going on. By the time the affair started, I was already well down the path, much deeper entrenched then I was even aware, and I think that is what summer could be referring to. It's funny, my husband probably told me, "this is not who you really are" and in a way he was right and in a way he was wrong. That adulteress is who I really am without Christ and without my submission to Him. That is not to say I am a habitual adulteress. The point I am trying to make is that the root selfishness that leads to all kinds of destructive choices is in all of us. I want to strongly say that this is not in any way shape or form an excuse for the choices I made, but more by way of an explanation for how someone who never would have thought she'd have an affair, did. When people talk about sin overtaking them, it sounds like an excuse, and I suppose some might use it as such, and I don't intend for that, but it's important to see that all of us are vulnerable to the worst kinds of sin and depravity. We say that "yes, we are" but do we really believe that? It sucks that many family members and friends probably look at me and automatically think "adulteress", and that's too bad, but God and my husband's view is what is really important and the amazing thing is that neither of them view me like that at all. I do agree that in cases of couples pondering divorce, each scenario should be looked at individually, and what I do know is that God loves marriage and wants to see us not just "stick it out" but really work through the hard stuff and learn the true definition of love as He who is love defined it.

Anonymous said...

Some decent writing here, about a subject which many people usually don't discuss in a serious manner.

My own two cents:

Adulterous affairs are a dead-end. There is no potential for anything permanent. The cheating partner always says that he/she's going to leave her/his partner. It never happens. I have a friend who was burned this way.

An affair with someone who's cheating on their partner is a lousy investment of one's time and emotions. I mean, he or she is stepping out on his/her partner, right? If you get with that person, guess what that person is eventually going to do to you? One guess.

Some relationships can recover from an affair, depending on who, what, when, where, why and how much. It's like crashing a car. If it's a minor crash, you might be able to fix the car. If it's a severe crash, the car is often what insurance people call "totaled", IOW, fuhgeddaboudit.

If a relationship isn't working, sexually or otherwise, I say either fix it or junk it. Anyone who says that a relationship should just cruise along effortlessly and comfortably, like riding in a chauffered limousine, they lie. Of course if the bad times outweigh the good times for inordinately long periods of time, one should actively assess where they're at and what is to be done. Sometimes there is some heavy lifting or major remodeling involved. Sometimes what's broken can't be fixed even if you give it 110% of your best efforts. That's just the way it is. If a relationship really is beyond repair, bail out. None of this clandestine, me-and-Mrs./Mr. Jones bullshit.

I shall conclude by mentioning three very important word: Do not settle. There's one thing which is worse than being alone - being with the wrong person merely for the sake of not being alone. That road goes nowhere. That IMO is what leads to a lot of clandestine affairs not to mention misery and yes, divorce. (If you are single, do yourself a favor - stop listening to "love-song"-polluted commercial radio and put something more uplifting on your Ipod or Walkman. Stop watching happy Hollywood couples on TV. If you need a video chill out, fire up your DVD player or VCR and watch something that's not an advertisement for couplehood.)

Bethany said...

I love the idea of people NOT talking about adultery before it happens. It's like going into battle with no ammunition.
So despite being a virgin when I got married, I was never even emotionally faithful to a boyfriend prior to Josh. And don't get me wrong, I don't see that as a problem. Case in point: something is different with him. I think it's my father's adage: you're single until you're married (assuming you're not bogging relationships down with sexual-which-leads-to-emotional complications which of course many people do). But being that I naturally felt a commitment to Josh, I have been known to say that adultery equals the end, plain and simple. It's weird but becoming more mature in my Christianity actually made me rethink that. 1) because I know my husband. I know that something would have to be horribly wrong/overlooked/what have you for that to happen in the first place. Yes, it would suck and no I can't promise in general that I'd stay but I know I feel differently. I also realize that - as someone above mentioned - without God, I'm pretty much perpetually in danger of being the offender, not the victim. I guess my point (find it if you can) is that you can't really believe in Christ's power and then say "once a cheater, always a cheater". I know I don't want to be forever branded with my mistakes or predilections.