I’m no saint.
I have caused my share of heartaches. And the winds of despair have blown my life to pieces a time or two as well. I’d like to think I’m the better for it. I’d like to think that reparations were made in how I have lived my life in the aftermath of these unfavorable behaviors: How I act now and my state of mind. For I have become the product of these trials and tribulations.
Perhaps, certain topics are vexing due to this “ancient history” of mine. It is difficult to remain dispassionate with some subjects. Case in point: Cheating.
Cheating is a deliberate act. No one forces the hand of the perpetrator. It is cruel and harmful to oneself and others, unnecessary, and an intentional act.
Let me further convey my feelings in two parts: Boyfriend/girlfriend relationships and marriage. With regard to cheating, both may seem similar, but they are not the same.
When dating, one may wish to take the relationship to another level; a pledge of love, or even an engagement. If the promise leads to the latter, this means two people plan to marry – right?
As a result, by taking this pledge – these marriage vows – a commitment is made.
Humbly, I insert a few reminders:
Commitment: The act of committing; a giving in charge, or entrusting. Something pledged: The state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to some course of action.
Marriage: To enter into a close relationship; unite.
Unite, what a great word. What a great way of describing the frame of mind one should have as he/she stands before the altar of love. There is no mistaking its meaning.
Unite: To bring together so as to form a whole.
Hence, if one desires a life of promiscuity, why commit? If monogamy, as understood and practiced by both parties isn’t part of a serious relationship, why say, “yes” to:
“Do you want to just date each other?”
“Will you move in with me?”
“Will you marry me?”
Why not just say “no” or “I need a little more time?”
Surely, one knows that these questions contain an unspoken implication. In accepting these proposals one infers that:
You want to be with me – only me; no one else.
You must love me as much as I love you.
Assuredly, one does not expect the other’s thoughts to include:
Okay, for now.
I will, but only until something better comes along.
Fine, but I need more than one partner to satisfy me.
Building a life with another person is not easy. One is thrust into the arms of a co-inhabitant relationship with someone who has little knowledge of one’s idiosyncrasies, childhood scars, the wounds of past loves, and the countless supplementary quirks that exist. Indeed, it is very difficult.
So then, let us presume that one initially intended faithfulness and monogamy. But somewhere along the way, one’s attitude changed. What then? Does one slip away into the night in order to fulfill the desires of his or her changed heart? By day, does one deceive his/her significant other with bogus plans or meetings in order to spend time with a lover?
Why? Why bother? Why not approach these matters by being straightforward – before any deception occurs? Why not confront one’s mate long before it becomes an issue?
A hard lesson for us to learn is that in the long run, the truth is easier – less painful. If for no other reason than one can recall the truth without much difficulty: A lie is less easily remembered.
Yet still, illegal love affairs run rampant from one family to the next. There seems to be no end to the increasing number of divorces; this “storm” leaves a wake of broken hearts, split families, inconsolable misery, and lonely lives.
Keep in mind that even if one chooses to live in the shadows – ultimately, one’s companion will become aware of his or her deceptions. The waves of the storm mentioned in the previous paragraph begin to rock the boat. One may soon be blown out of the water and marooned on the island of despair – alone.
So why then, do so many of us attempt to deceive our other halves?
Loving someone – really loving someone – has its price. It takes work – hard work. Other costs come to mind: Sacrifice, giving, and selflessness. But a multiplicity of rewards awaits those of us who can endure such hardships.
In the past few years, I have discussed these ill-fated scenarios with both men and women.
I’ve heard stories that could curl one’s hair (Naturally, one’s hair has to be straight).
Women who have slept with other men on their wedding nights, had a different affair every week – for months, and have had sex with their husbands’ best friends, bosses, or co-workers, for example.
Men who have made bets on how many women they could sleep with the night of their bachelor parties. They have had sex while their wives were out on requested errands, or even while they lay sleeping in the next room.
In the presence of these men and women, I’ve heard remorse, a longing for forgiveness, of missed opportunity. All stared into the distance, sorrowful faces drawn and haggard from the despondency born of their acts.
Comparably, I have spoken with couples that have been successfully married for many years: Some celebrating silver anniversaries, others golden anniversaries, and those in between. After requesting “the key” to a successful marriage, many answered:
With a loving gaze and taking hold of each other’s hand, they responded. Each expression was filled with contentment – a silent joy: As different as night and day from the previous examples.
So when I’m asked: “Why shouldn’t I be with him? My husband no longer makes me happy”; “She makes me feel good – is that wrong?”; “I have never known love like this before – that tells me it’s worth it – right?”; or “It’s only one time, what could it hurt?”; my answer must be:
If one is married, then yes, it is wrong. If one is married, then, at some point he or she took this vow:
“Do you, ___ take ___ to be your (wife/husband)? Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and protect her/him, forsaking all others and holding only unto her/him…”
Several may have taken this vow in a church. For those who have, there is this “little thing” called the Ten Commandments. Two are mentioned here:
“Thou shall not commit adultery.”
“Thou shall not covet thy neighbors wife.”
Marriage is a choice. One ostensibly made with love, affection, devotion, willingness, and delight.
However one attempts to justify one’s infidelity, it is still wrong.
Adding to the destruction of the relationship is the devastation imposed upon a husband or a wife.
If the affair is with a person who is married, other lives stand in the balance. What if he or she has children? Even more lives.
And for what?
A few moments of bliss? Another relationship, which will probably follow the same cycle?
Now I’ll ask, “Is it worth it?”
Can we not keep our pants up and our skirts down long enough to finish or fix what we started?
Commitment, dedication, and loyalty are all character traits: Traits that transcend relationships.
One of my dearest friends has lost trust in an employee because he cheats on his wife. Another acquaintance of mine shuns business with a salesman who frequently pays for “favors.” A previous business associate would never socialize at his colleague’s house because he couldn’t bear to look at his wife knowing the “free lifestyle” her husband lives.
One is defined by one’s actions. Our reputations are at stake. Do these mean so little?
Sadly, these days more and more of us openly speak of our deception, our pretenses. The “norm” seems to revolve around our justification of infidelity. There is no justification. It’s wrong.
I’ve seen the ramifications of these acts too many times in my life.
I have seen lives destroyed, children displaced, and immense sorrow – unfathomable anguish.
There are still such things as honor, merit, morals, and principles – plain, old-fashioned ethics. These are the elements of human nature I want in my life.
Despite all that has transpired in my life, despite my youthful frame of mind, I have come to realize what is dear to me, how I want to live my life, how I want to be remembered, and what kind of legacy I leave behind for my children.
Therefore, I’ll stick to my beliefs.