Thursday, August 14, 2008

Infidelity


The news has been littered with John Edwards affair and the aftermath that is his life. Yesterday, in fact, there was an article on MSN that was titled "Edwards' wife in anguish after affair." This struck a chord with me in the fact that even if we do not deal with infidelity directly, the odds that it will touch our lives in some fashion is likely.

Over at "On the Flip Side" Kellan posted a question "What would you do if you Found out your husband was cheating?" After all the comments were in, most people agreed their first instinct would be to kick him to the curb, but in the end would rather attempt to work it out and stay with their husband.

For me, I've seen the issue from both sides. I've been the friend who's watched a marriage crumble because my friend made a mistake. Her husband never did trust her quite the same, nor did she trust him. She always thought he would 'cheat' just to get even with her and he always thought she was cheating, even though she wasn't. Their relationship didn't survive and now they have moved on with their lives.

In my own personal life, years ago (before my husband and I were married or had discussed marriage) we went through a rough patch. I have always said relationships are hard work - this one is no different. We had been together for about 2 years and had endured living together, working together, ex-spouses, very young children, natural disasters and just all around really bad times...we had finally reached our breaking point and yet, neither one of us said "lets walk away, lets call it quits." Instead, we moved our families into separate states and attempted to carry on some semblance of a long distance relationship. I felt that things were wrong between us, but I wanted to believe we would come out of it ok, perhaps some time and distance apart would make the heart grow fonder. (I am a bit of a romantic) The hub (then boyfriend) also knew things weren't going so well and had decided to go his own way, one little problem, he 'forgot' to tell me. So yes, he cheated on me.

I never knew. I went along in my own little cocoon because that is what I wanted to know, needed to believe despite all the other signs. To this day, I doubt I would have ever known had he not decided to tell me the truth. Shortly before he 'popped' the question, he called me one night and started with the dreaded "I need to tell you something..." My heart stopped - I knew what was coming even before he said it. It didn't matter the reasons or the who or any of the rest - in that instant my world cracked, but it didn't shatter. Yes, I was hurt, I was angry - how dare he do this to me after the time and energy we've invested into this relationship. If he wanted out, why didn't he just say so?

Those were the questions I wanted answers to...why didn't he just leave? In the end it came down to one thing...Do I love this man? Do I love this man enough to forgive him?

Yes.

No I wasn't married to him so we could have gone our separate ways without much hassle, but personally I couldn't imagine my life without him in it. Doing some of the things I've done in my life, especially from a military standpoint, I've watched men and women alike throw caution to the wind and follow their desires. I know first hand that we are only human and we make mistakes. I believe the key to getting past this however is forgiveness for yourself and your partner.

I don't believe there are things we can do to prevent infidelity despite what some say is the reason behind it. If we gave them more attention, showed more love, praised more - I don't think these things will actually prevent someone from cheating. It might delay the process, but I believe that if the lines of communication are broken in a relationship and you can't talk to your partner about what is bothering you, then how could you ever expect them to make you feel better? I am a firm believer that no one is responsible for your happiness but you and if you are not happy, no one person or one thing will be able to fix it but you.

Trust is a fragile thing and once it's broken it is never quite the same. For my relationship though, I loved this man enough to work through it and today we are stronger - however if he ever does it again...

11 comments:

J & J Acres said...

Mr. C cheated on his girlfriend (they dated in high school and partially through college) many, many times. (Not with me) And since we were friends while he was cheating on her, I saw him lie to her, I saw her show up at his house in tears, with his shit in tow, and him convince her that she was crazy, he wasn't cheating on her. So when Mr. C and I started dating, I told him that I didn't want him to lie to me, ever. And so far he hasn't. But sometimes I still wonder if he would go back to cheating. (Even though he has given me no reason to doubt him)

A Buns Life said...

It's so hard....I can see how it happens...especially if a couple is not as emotionally connected as they once were. I've often wondered to what extent would I be able to forgive...a one time drunken offense if we were having a rough patch? Maybe. A long time affair with emotional connections? Not so sure. But ultimately I guess you never really know what you would do until you are faced with the situation, do you? Thanks for sharing.

GoteeMan said...

personally, I know so many who have... without having a "made up mind" in advance, and "keeping relationships" in our lives, it's a real serious threat, unfortunately.

Before Kim became ill, I used to counsel guys with issues with sex addictions, and I have heard it all... what should have been (but wasn't really) amazing to me is the number of those in ministry and leadership positions who fall into this trap... secret lives of internet porn, dangerous liasons and all...

I have seen some make hard decisions and really deal with things, but most are not really willing to put and end to it, believing the short term gains are worth the risk and loss... that part, I could not really sympathize with... the damage done to wives and kids, or husbands and kids, not to mention friends and extended family members and those who look up to them, is a pretty heavy casualty, in my opinion.

Let me be frank... for a man, an orgasm produces the same reaction in the brain as a hit of cocaine... and whatever he's looking at when it occurs is imprinted and is associated with the "hit"... and it's every bit as addictive as cocaine...

Better to never even light that match than to try to put it out - I've seen it destroy homes, lives, careers, relationships and the list goes on...

I am thankful to be the faithful husband of one wife, whom I dearly love, and I do not take that for granted at all...

J/

April said...

Da-yum, Kel! Your posts ALWAYS get me thinking!!

I certainly can not say what or howI would react if Big D cheated on me. We have obviously talked about it and I have told him myself I would kick his ass out in a heartbeat if he did that. Granted, I know it would not be that easy. I love the man to pieces. But I do believe that marriage (and relationships) are hard work and it takes BOTH people to keep them going. Everyone's story is different and how they handle it is their own choice. I know I personally would never cheat on my husband (or boyfriend) becuz I have too much time and energy and LOVE vested into the relationship to take the chance of ruining it.

Jojo said...

If my husband cheated on me...as much as I do love him, I don't think I could just forgive and move on. It's just the way I am...and I just could never trust him, our life would be filled with paranoia and fear. The only person this would absolutely devastate is the children...I'm not going to be pretending to be a martyr and stay together for the sake of the "children". If I have to pretend to be happy in front of my children for the rest of my life, that is no life. and I don't think i could "fake it till you make it". That kind of thing is something that rips a relationship.

GoteeMan said...

I believe that marriage and the transitions it brings are difficult enough without bringing the betrayal of infidelity into the picture...

and what most men do not realize is that because women are very intuitive and sensitive to picking up on issues, it will eventually come to light, and when it does, the wounds of betrayal are very deep, if not unrecoverable, at least for the relationship.

it's not just men, though... many times women cheat as well, and I have seen many men devastated by their wives' betrayal...

I guess, because my parents divorced over this very issue, it made me determined to be faithful and true. I saw what it did to my parents, our home, and the lives of me and my sister. The cost is just too damned high... but I did something else that was damaging, by carrying a secret into our marriage. Thankfully, when I revealed it, it actually strengthened our marriage, because K is an amazing, forgiving and loving person. She actually trusted me more after that, because she said she always felt something there was hidden, but couldn't identify it. Since that day, I keep no secrets from her.

I also developed a way of thinking that has helped to safeguard our relationship... I keep it above reproach to the best of my ability, by not allowing myself to be in compromising or tempting situations, and my view is - no offense intended by what I am about to say, but from a "more than friends" standpoint, every woman except for my wife is to me either to be viewed the equivalent of:
A) a man
or
B) death to me, when anything more to me than a friend

In no circumstance EVER will another woman be closer to me than my wife. Especially, this has to be true of our mutual friends and her friends, but also true of all other women I have relationships of any kind with.

Before we were married, I had two events - one in real life, the other in a dream - which solidified this for me... both changed my life and my view of the dangers, and importance of placing boundaries around relationships.

DYSFUNCTIONAL MOM said...

I'm sorry you went through that. Like I said on the Flipside, I have went through it too, with my first husband, and we are now divorced. I was willing to work things out with him, but in the end it just didn't work and he's now married to the girl he cheated with.
I don't think I'd even consider trying to work it out again with my current husband. As much as I adore him, he knows my feelings on this and if he STILL did that...it would be the ultimate betrayal and act of uncaring.
Fortunately, he has earned my trust (a VERY hard thing to do) and I don't think we'll ever have to go down that road.

Jenn said...

I don't think I could move on in the relationship if I knew G cheated on me. I'm too obsessive; I'd never get over it. Ever. But that's just me.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I have seen many couples struggle with this. While it has not been the case with Mr. Mayhem and I.....I was in a terrible relationship in college where the cheating was off the charts.

It's a slippery slope...but I have to believe that love can conquer most, if not all, things...if you work hard enough at it.

Semi-Charmed Wife said...

I haven't dealt with infidelity in my current relationship, but I have in past relationships and it was absolutely devastating. It takes a strong person to react based on the whole of the relationship rather than just on the one event, so I really admire you for sticking it out. I'm sure it must have been so hard...

zandria said...

Trust is definitely a tenuous thing. It's hard to regain once it's been broken, but sometimes it's possible (as you've certainly seen). Great post, Kel. :)