Recently I’ve been a little stymied on the blog and I just could not get a grasp of a topic that was relevant to affairs but something personal that I also wanted to write about. Now I’ve been a writer my whole life and I know that these “dry patches” happen so I knew life would drop a topic into my lap eventually. My Dear Hubby’s ex actually dropped the topic for us.
My Dear Hubby and I have unusual relationships with our exes, I believe. We are in touch with them both and neither one of us has animosity toward our ex or toward our spouse’s ex. Would we have made the life choices that they made? HECK NO! But people have to learn the way they have to learn, right? Anyway, yesterday my Dear Hubby had to be in touch with his ex about another topic, and she said something to this effect, “Boy I was a hard person to live with! How could you stand being with me?” and his answer was “I just decided to love you.” BAM! There’s the topic I’ve been waiting for (and hopefully the end of my dry spell). In one sentence my Dear Hubby was able to sum up years of what I’ve learned by studying marriages and affairs. It is a decision.
Unfortunately here in the USA we are inundated every day with the message that sex is love and that infidelity is a love affair. People search earnestly for “happiness” and “true love” and for most of their lives they are fed the wrong message. Our TV programs show tawdry sex in the afternoon soaps, and the evening shows like “Desperate Housewives” and “The Bachelor” show that love is an emotion or something you win by being catty and conniving! Staying faithful is a marriage is something to be laughed at in most of the sitcoms, and people are routinely portrayed as finding their soul mate and then living forever in the state of wedded infatuation and steamy hot passion. But it’s not only TV that shows us these values. Everywhere you look, it’s in magazines, in the news, and on the internet–even one christian forum I post on had to ask GoogleAds to stop the sex ads showing “Girls from (your city) want to have sex with you right now!” Furthermore, our celebrities (being human just like us) over and over again fall into the trap of infidelity, and their affair is portrayed as a “love affair”…as if two people met and fell so desperately and deeply in love they could not resist each other. That is the way affairs are idealized!
But after studying, investigating, researching and working with couples in troubled marriages for more than a decade, I have come to the conclusion that the messages that we are getting on TV, magazines, news and internet are just not true. Love is not sexual passion, nor is it a feeling or emotion that floods over you that you can’t resist. Love is a decision. And being faithful is a decision.
When we marry, we contract with another person to be faithful to them and live with them through all that life offers for a lifetime–hopefully that’s 50, 60 or even 70 years. I don’t think there is any way to expect to be so passionately deeply in love for 70 years that you can’t resist each other–and yet that’s what people pursue! At some point over almost a century together, life is going to throw you some curves: health problems, lost jobs, moving across the country, death in the family, having a child. All these things are difficulties that can affect a marriage and make one or both of the partners “unhappy.” So at some point love is a decision. You just DECIDE to love the person to whom you are married despite the fact you’re not happy right this moment, or despite the fact they are not handling their family member’s death so well. So love is not “chemistry” or that emotional feeling that overwhelms you when you feel intimately connected to someone. Love is a conscious, conscientious choice–a conclusion that you reach–a determination. True Love involves the mind.
In fact, just as my Dear Hubby did with his ex, you may even decide to love your spouse despite the fact that they aren’t behaving in a particularly loving way! Just like True Love, being faithful is a conscientious choice. The difference between Love and being faithful is that when a person is faithful, they get to know them self and their personal weaknesses, and they put up hedges to protect their marriage and their spouse. Not only is there the decision to use will power and not stray, but also the decision to stop a temptation before it even hits you! And if a temptation does hit–there is the decision that it is more important to honor the commitment made to one person than it is to pursue “happiness” or that emotional feeling.
So we decide. And if we make a mistake and choose the wrong thing we decide again! We can decide to admit we were wrong and get back on the right track…and that’s honorable and the way back to reconciling and recovering after an affair.