It is amazing just how adamant we tend to be whenever the issue of adultery comes up. On the surface many of us believe in the sanctimony of marriage and committed relationships, and are horrified whenever we hear of infidelity. Being loyal, faithful and true is what many expect our partners to be. The mere idea of them or us being unfaithful makes us uneasy, ashamed, guilty, petrified, to name but a few possible emotional responses.
Think back to your reaction when you heard that someone was cheating or being cheated on. Let’s assume that your best friend’s husband was cheating on her with his sexy work colleague, or that your mother was having some fun with her hot personal trainer, something your father of course had no clue whatsoever. For the sake of argument, let’s say that your mother is in an unhappy marriage and still having an affair with that same hot shot from the gym. How did you feel when you learned about it? Were you surprised? Outraged? Angry? Disappointed? Judgmental? Sad? Did you experience the same emotions regardless of whether your friend / parent / colleague was cheating or being cheated on? Were you being more understanding and supporting if your friend was “the guilty party”? Have you ever considered the whole picture, taking into account the relationships in question in their entirety? Were you truly privy to all pertinent information regarding a specific couple?
Yes, trust is essential if we want to have a successful relationship. In my opinion, so are fidelity and loyalty. But once trust is lost and doubt creeps in, it is difficult to open up, be vulnerable, share things, confide in our partners and rely on them. Because, how can we know we won’t get screwed again? Many couples don’t survive the infidelity, even if they don’t split up. It is the lingering mistrust that never goes away, erodes the relationship and prevents things to getting back to normal. Often many couples try to simply sweep the issue under the carpet and refuse to deal with it in an open manner, after the phase of mutual accusations has been completed of course. Hence, there is never any closure of the hurtful situation.
Yet, there are also couples who are in a rut and need a wake up call to realize just how important a relationship is to both partners. An affair usually is such a wake up call. There are also couples in an open relationship, to whom fidelity and exclusivity don’t matter much. Then again, there are happy couples where many elements in the relationship are great, yet others, sex in particular, are not. Imagine a couple where the need for intimacy differs significantly, or one where one partner is physically incapable of intimacy due to illness. Does that mean that one partner has to just give up sex forever?
What I am trying to say is that we shouldn’t be judgmental whenever we hear of adultery. We often don’t know what is happening in the couple. Plus, we are frequently biased, immediately taking the side of the “injured party.”
What surprised me was how many people actually cheat and think it is not that relevant. Even people who, I thought, were in a loving and committed relationship. Well, appearances can be deceptive.
Every couple is unique and so long as all parties are informed and agree, I’m not going to say anything. But I have also seen many couples where infidelity caused a lot of damage, not only to the adults in the relationship, but children as well.
Many adulterers claim that it’s all biology, that it’s in their genes, that it’s something unavoidable, necessary even if we want to make sure that mankind doesn’t die out. Maybe, but how come then that married men or women don’t’ have children with their lovers?
Cheating is often an expression of dissatisfaction in a marriage, an escape from the daily grind, an attempt to feel wanted and desired, an experiment to see if the grass is greener on the other side, a cry for help even. Some people just like to cheat because they prefer superficial relationships or lack responsibility. If you married one like that, don’t be surprised when it happens. Women in particular have a tendency to pretend to be ignorant when they know deep down that their partner is being unfaithful. Infidelity, like so many other forms of behavior, happens because we allow it.
Therefore, choose your partner carefully. Make sure you honestly talk things out. If you think that your viewpoints on relationships and life in general are too different, don’t settle for that person. Most of all, take responsibility for your life and your choices. Very few things in life are final, much can be changed if you know what you want. Choose a life and partner to your liking, because life is short and you don’t want to spend it with someone who wants you to share him or her, especially if that is not part of your plan.