Monday, October 18, 2010

A New Straitjacket

I've had and overheard a few interesting conversations I thought I might share- and yes, about marriage.

The first was a friend of mine told me he thought his wife was having an affair.  We talked about it and what it came down to was that he wasn’t sure- but he had a strong suspicion.  So I said- "So … what if she is?"  He answered- "I can't be with her anymore."  I had to ask why.  He was baffled as to why I would inquire.  He relied on the marital vows as a defense.  Again I inquired.  "Why do you think she had an affair?"   His response was- "How would I know?"

So Very Interesting- don’t you think?  This guy has no idea why his wife might have been having an affair- but I do.  I don’t know his wife very well, but I know him and I can think of a few reasons why she might have had an affair.  Again, don''t forget we've gotten into a whole new articulation of "affair"- now we have "intellectual affairs," "emotional affairs," "physical affairs."- It's becoming increasingly difficult to have any type of relationship with a person of the opposite sex- and that is a shame.

Now, for the same reason all of these different types of affairs exist- the holistic aspect of marriage is no longer being valued.  Apparently, no other person of the opposite sex is allowed to be significant in your life without it being "inappropriate."  Now, instead of this "strengthening" marriage by encouraging the man and woman to value one another first and most- it is tying their hands and making it nearly impossible to function within the intractable confines of marriage.  Marriage is becoming remarkably similar to a straitjacket- actually.  This figures prominently with my post of last month- "Are you COMMITTED to the INSTITUTION of Marriage?"
A man lies to his wife about finances and she wants a divorce.  A woman has an inappropriate exchange with a man and her husband wants a divorce.  A woman doesn't get along with the man's children from another marriage so the marriage needs to end.  Why do we bother getting married at all if the dissolution is so easy?  Are we less commitment-phobic now that it is so acceptable to divorce?

Last I checked- marriage was not one-dimensional.  So, if someone cheats- it is likely the symptom of a problem in the marriage. The best thing to do if you both still value the other person is to sit down with a marriage counselor and find out why it happened and what can be done moving forward to keep it from happening again.
It reminds me of some ethnic cultures that accept a "girlfriend"- the wives are exhausted, overwhelmed by the house and the children, and they are grateful they don’t have to put out as often as the husband wants- OR, the man likes to unload some perversion on someone without disrespecting his wife.  It happens. 
Marriage is not finite- it’s dynamic.  As the two people grow and change, the entity evolves and changes.  It's specious to think part of that evolution won't be intellectual, sexual or social. 

I have another friend from my hometown (which is VERY small)- he married his high-school sweetheart and they moved to a bigger city with more opportunity for him.  He hit his stride in business and has blown it out of the water.  She is no longer comfortable with who he has become. He’s sharp, handsome, charismatic, charming, winsome, successful and ambitious.  This new version of the boy she met in high school does not sit well with her.  She's wracked with fear and insecurity about whether he will outgrow her.  I see it happening, but only because she doesn’t evolve with him and embrace who he is becoming.  She is withdrawing and sulking- acting jealous and suspicious- he is growing resentful and contemptuous.  He hasn't cheated on her- of that I am certain- but her suspicion and desire to micromanage him will erode the relationship quickly. 

She's growing further away so their sexual relationship is on the decline. He might have an affair someday- if he is going to be punished for something, he might as well be doing it.  Her bitterness toward his work is pervading their parenting (alternate complaints about wanting more money and resenting the amount of time he is working) and their friendship.  I hate seeing it happen.

The fundamental problem is that we have stopped viewing marriage holistically.  Look at your spouse and put down all of their great qualities- and I mean defining ones- not "he takes out the garbage without being asked."  Now, think about fidelity- it is but one aspect of marriage and would you really throw away a fantastic father, a loving and dependable husband who provides a nice home and maintains it just because he was unfaithful?  And if he were- do you have the capacity to be introspective enough to ask yourself  "WHY?"

If a marriage is to be successful- it needs to continue to evolve, grow and change with the two people invested in it.  I honestly believe if a woman throws her husband out because he has a casual affair- she wants out.  Of course. if this is the last straw because he is not a good man, provider or father- he should have been kicked out long before. 
I've said this before- I have a ton of male friends and the wives of the ones who are not faithful are the happiest.  Weird. 

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't do well in a 'straightjacket'.

    I'm claustrophobic!


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