How’s that for a attention-grabbing  title??? Now…I know I didn’t specify WHAT I might have an affair with. Maybe I am talking about a love affair with chocolate…or peanut butter…or chocolate AND peanut butter…Ooh! Like in the peanut butter chocolate silk pie I just had at Baker’s Square a few nights ago…

Yumm….OK sorry, let’s dial it back in.

SO…what if I went even further and said, “I could have  an affair with another man?”

Do I have your attention yet? Well, if you’re waiting for the punchline today, there actually isn’t one. This is a more serious post (I just HAVE to do it sometimes!)

I was reading an entry from another blog that I just discovered and LOVE…and she has been writing for two days about marriage. I am so passionate about this topic, so I wanted to sound off about it too. And afterall, marriage and motherhood USUALLY go hand in hand so I think it’s fitting here.

The basic point of her post was that too many marriages end too soon without a real effort from both parties. And that we should FIGHT HARDER to keep our marriages in tact. She also believes that, even after infidelity, it’s possible to recover your marriage.

I believe all of these things too…but reading about that got me thinking about infidelity. How do we get to a place in our marriage where infidelity even  happens in the first place?!

There are a ton of theories on this…everything from the “cheating gene” that men supposedly have (puh-LEEZE!) to the fact that the other spouse just wasn’t “pulling their weight” (so the offending spouse sort of had a RIGHT to cheat)…to the excuse that it’s just too hard to be monogamous in this day and age.

Of all of these theories, I agree strongly with the last one.  Except for one word: “TOO”. I agree that it’s very hard to be monogamous these days…we’re kidding ourselves if we say anything different. The world presents opportunities EVERYWHERE and, with the invention of the internet, cheating has never been “easier”.

But I don’t agree that it’s “TOO hard”…as in impossible. I would think most of us hold tight to the idea that a monogamous relationship is POSSIBLE…if we didn’t think that, I don’t think many of us would have gotten married!

But Statistics are showing that  infidelity is on the rise. Why is it so hard to actually have a faithful marriage these days? What is going on??? How do we keep from becoming the couple who thinks it will never happen to us only to find years later that we’re staring right into the face of a dirty little secret in our marriage?

Well…from my experience, PART of the solution lies in that last question itself. There are many ways to affair-proof your marriage, but a VERY important one is to realize that it CAN happen to any one of us. If you are thinking “I would never do that” or “I’m so glad my hubby would never do that”…or, as I’ve heard some women say, “He knows better not to do that or I’d cut his (fill in the blank here) off”, then you might be even more susceptible to an affair than you think.

I AM capable of having an affair. And so is my husband.

Knowing that much and being OK with admitting that is POWERful stuff. Here’s why:

1) Just because your husband “loves” you, doesn’t mean he won’t cheat (and vice versa).

Listen, I know I could be pushing some buttons for some of you, but hear me out. I ALWAYS used to think “if he really loved me, he would never do that”. And, in many ways, that’s absolutely right. TRUE LOVE is absolutely selfless and would NEVER hurt another person.  That makes sense.

The problem is that none of us loves perfectly all the time. All of us are capable of being selfish sometimes, aren’t we?  Sometimes, I am more focused on my own emptiness and I start looking for my own fulfillment. Love is an action that must constantly be acted out…and I am not good at doing that all the time. Many times, when I am presented with something that gives ME quick relief, I will make that choice over what’s best for my husband. I see that in the littlest things…when I don’t apologize for something when I know I should, when I’m stubborn in an argument (even though I know he’s probably right), when I hold a grudge…all of these “NORMAL” things that happen in all marriages proves to me that, when the heat is on, I am capable of putting my own needs over his. And this is true for my husband as well. We love each other, but it takes WORK to really do that well. And we both just  fall short sometimes.

2) We are more vulnerable than we think.

This goes hand in hand with the first statement. Not only do we assume that loving our spouses will cause us to always make the right choices on their behalf…but we also underestimate how alluring the idea of an affair can be and how vulnerable we really are to the temptation. The more affair-proof you think you are, the more vulnerable to it you become.

Because you won’t see it coming.

Life is full of ups and downs and in ANY marriage, you have good days and bad. Some marriages can go through seasons that are extremely rocky…or you might be going through a rough time individually. Especially in this season of our lives as mothers, we can have moments where we feel ugly, unlovely, empty, LONELY, bored, passionless, trapped, overlooked, under-appreciated, sad, fill in the blank here. You all know what I’m talking about right? We’ve all experienced those emotions at one point or another.

So what happens when I am experiencing these emotions and am suddenly offered a “quick fix” to help them all go away? It is TEMPTING! We are extremely vulnerable in those moments. Remember, we already decided I am capable of putting my own needs before my husbands…if I do that in the little things, what do you think I am going to do when the stakes are even HIGHER?  You mix a little selfishness with a little loneliness and you’re brewing the perfect storm for infidelity.

Now…I know that not EVERYONE falls into this category. My 86 year old grandmother might feel lonely at times, but I’m sure she’s not going to go pick some guy up at the bar. I understand that I’m not speaking to EVERYONE here.  But for MOST of us,  UNLESS you have actions in place to safe-guard your heart and your marriage, you are at risk.  The alluring thing about an affair – and why so many people do it – is because (though it is a GIANT LIE)  it appears to offer relief. In the moment, an affair can feel exciting, alive, risky…you will feel beautiful, loved, pursued, appreciated. An affair promises to fill in all of those empty spaces, if only for a moment. Almost always, affairs have nothing to do with sex. They are emotional…even for men. Affairs simply offer to fill an unmet need. Don’t underestimate how GOOD that drink of water can taste to a thirsty heart.

3) Affairs usually don’t start off that way.

All of us know the damage infidelity will have on our marriage. None of us start off WANTING that for our marriages. So why are so many people doing  it???!   I mean, we all saw with COMPLETE clarity the TRAP that Jon Gosselin fell into right? This man got tricked into thinking he was “in love” and left his entire family and everything that was important to him. And his reason? He felt like he was missing something in his life and the affair promised to give it to him. I’m not saying he didn’t have legitimate complaints in his marriage (um…starts with “K” and ends with “ate”), but getting a new girlfriend wasn’t going to solve anything.  He lost sight of his love for Kate, put himself first, and took off. It’s the same story every stinkin’ time. How did it happen???

Many times, we don’t see an affair coming. We don’t pursue them. They find us. We don’t recognize our aching needs until someone comes along and offers to scratch the itch. Then suddenly, our hearts are ignited and set on fire by someone else and we feel completely blindsided. We think it must be something about THIS person and we then become willing to risk EVERYTHING to hang on to that feeling. An affair ALWAYS promises us something that we desperately long for.  It feels so good in the moment…and we walk right into the trap. Like a lamb led to slaughter, we are oblivious to the destruction we’re walking into.

I recently finished watching Oprah interview Rielle Hunter, the woman who had an affair with Senator Jon Edwards, and in explaining WHY she pursued this relationship with a married man (and self-admittedly went against her own morals), she stated “What’s so hard about it is that the power of the love does override all the issues that come up and all the judgments and all my: ‘This is wrong. What you’re doing is wrong.'”

Oh no she didn’t! I would like to suggest that it’s something even more intoxicating than “the love”  that starts running the show. There is a power at work here but it’s not always love. It’s our own neediness and desire to BE LOVED. There is a difference. But no matter what you blame it on, I agree that at some point your head stops making the decisions and your emotions take over. When that happens, you’re a dead man (or woman).  

How do we know when it’s happening? How do we catch it before it goes too far? I’m glad I asked. This leads me to my fourth reason why we are susceptible to infidelity.

4) We don’t safe-guard our hearts.

As soon as we begin to understand just how vulnerable we all really are, we’ll work MUCH HARDER at safe-guarding our hearts. If I think I am not at risk for an affair, I will not be as careful to avoid certain situations that might prove to be tempting. MOST people (I’m sure there are weird exceptions to this) don’t just wake  up one day and say, “I’m going to have an affair!” It’s a series of choices and compromises that we make that eventually lead us in over our head. Many times you won’t find out until it’s too late that you’re in a dangerous situation. You won’t recognize that you’ve made a shift from logical thinking to emotional thinking until it’s too late. It’s hard to make a leap from a committed spouse to a cheat…but it’s not too hard to do it one baby step at a time. As a line from one of my FAVORITE songs says, “It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away..families never crumble in day”. .

I could paint a thousand scenarios in which a situation turns from harmless to dangerous so fast that you’re left asking yourself “how did this happen?” If you hear nothing else I say, here this: All affairs have to start somewhere. You can pretty much trace ANY affair back to the beginning and you’d find “harmless flirtation” or “a lingering look”. If you think you can flirt with the boundaries here and stop things before they go too far, you might be surprised how quickly you get carried away. I know it’s a game I don’t want to play.

Because my husband and I know our risk, we are very careful to avoid the opportunity for compromises.  We don’t allow close friendships with the opposite sex, one-on-one lunch/dinner meetings, relationships that the other spouse is unaware of, or private email addresses. Some people I talk to say, “Well that stuff if harmless – don’t you think you’re being a little extreme?”,  and to that I say “YES.” Again, most affairs start out harmless, so safe-guarding begins with the harmless.

We are also very open with each other about our struggles, and we talk about when we are feeling tempted or vulnerable. I know that my husband’s vulnerability is not because he doesn’t love me, it’s because he’s HUMAN. Giving him permission to talk about it actually helps us become closer. We work to recognize our emotions and needs and deal with them so we aren’t tempted by someone else’s quick fix. We  remind each other often of the “lie” of an affair and work HARD to remember the TRUTH about our marriage.

I am not saying we have it all figured out. And we don’t live in constant fear of infidelity either. We are just aware of our “human-ness”…and that’s OK. My husband loves me. I love my husband. But we all do stupid stuff sometimes when we’re feeling lonely. RECOGNIZE that. RUN away from the lies. REMEMBER what’s important to you.

I know this doesn’t solve all marriage problems…but I am positive it’s already saved mine.

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9 Responses to “I Could Have an Affair…”

  • Thanks, good job!

  • THANKS!It is so interesting!

  • I found this post while looking for song lyrics. Thanks for sharing will be sure to follow this blog regularly.

  • Motherhood Confessions:

    Great! I’m so glad you stumbled on it! :)

  • Thanks for sharing, I found this story, while searching for some downloads and ran across this website, thoughtful comments and great points made.

  • Motherhood Confessions:

    That’s two people now that found my site while searching for music lyrics – strange! Thank you so much for your kind words – glad you enjoyed it!

  • I think you hit the nail on the head when you identified the pride factor as the danger trigger for an affair. Thinking “it’ll never happen to me” means that we give ourselves a pass when it comes to remaining vigilant.

    Well stated, Nicole!

  • J'Lynn:

    Thanks…there’s some great wisdom wrapped up in your post…one of the resources I’ve read on the subject of new marriages mentioned that the author sets up a scenario asking how each will respond when they learn their (soon-to-be) spouse has had an affair. That kind of thinking helps us realize that it can happen…we are imperfect individuals and it is a real problem. None of us is immune from the possibility. Thanks for sharing.

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