When we first got married my husband was a hottie. He was charming and intelligent, …..and built. While I was on a date with him, a woman mistook him for a professional football player. With his charm, he also brought along a long list of names we couldn’t use when naming our daughters. So I made it very clear what I considered cheating (everything past a handshake). We even revisited Bill Clinton’s definitions of “is” and “sex.” My husband would not get the benefit of the doubt and there would be no second chances. I would be gone. Zero Tolerance.
After the first two children, I added that not only would l leave him, but that I would take the children. After the 3rd child, I informed him that I would not only leave him, but that I would leave HIM the children. Let’s see how easy dating is when you have to find a babysitter for three kids. Knock yourself out, Stud! Now, after almost 2 decades of marriage and 5 (five) kids, I don’t bring it up anymore. Not that I don’t bring up divorce, or his many failings, or all those other things we argued about over the years, I just don’t hold cheating as the absolute, final act leading up to our divorce.
Women have been led to believe that cheating is the penultimate insult in a marriage. I disagree, though it took many years of marriage to accept this. No! Abuse, manipulation, unrighteous dominion, coercion with the promise of money, and SERIAL cheating, those are the penultimate insults a woman might suffer in marriage. And, those issues, thank goodness, usually present themselves early on in a marriage. If this is you…Run Away! But do you always run away from someone who cheats? Do you set aside 3, 5, 14, 35 years of life together because of an indiscretion?
If you have done much genealogy with DNA you know that being unfaithful was a temptation even our ancestors struggled with. You may be surprised at how many cousins you might have that are from indiscretions by grandparents and great-grandparents. Yet, how many of our grandparents and great grandparents, stayed married and happy? Not everyone was unfaithful, of course, but it happened perhaps more frequently than we realize or will admit. But, couples moved on and were happy.
Today, most women tow the zero tolerance line, not because it’s the best avenue for the marriage, or the kids or even for women themselves. I can threaten it, but in reality a real divorce where my husband moves out and finds a new wife would be devastating to the way our family operates and the goals we’ve set. Obviously we, as humans, and more so for men humans (we’ll discuss this in many other further articles) struggle with fidelity. There wouldn’t be a commandment against it if it weren’t something with which we, as humans, struggled. Our favorite ice cream flavors, football teams, and salad dressings change over time because we like variety. Like these temporal partialities, our attraction to our spouses can wax and wane over the years, as well. Of course, how we address these phases of our lust are critical. We would all like to think or hope that our spouse is strong and their hearts will stay “true” but that isn’t always reality.
I now realize that the reason a man cheats after, say, three years of marriage is different than the reasons a man cheats once after 20 years of marriage, or 30. The sexual decisions made by a man in his twenties are far different from those of a man in his forties or fifties. And the simple fact is that a man that has been married for years and years doesn’t cheat if he is happy with his marriage. Remember, married men are simple beings (see Men Only Want Three Things). If the husband is happy for 18 years, then unhappy in year 19, then there is something missing. Refer to the list and adjust accordingly. Yes, YOU could be the problem despite all feminist theory. For too many women, the first reaction to cheating is be offended and demand divorce. The wife may go along thinking the marriage is going along great, then boom, he cheats, she divorces him and now she is alone with three kids and marginal support. Why is the first response the most damaging, reactionary and irrational response? Remember, finding a second spouse who is willing to take on rearing another man’s children with sincere devotion is difficult. Working and taking on the responsibility of giving the kids the attention you AND your spouse gave is near impossible. And unless the kids are enjoying the plentiful gifts divorced spouses lavish on their kids in order to buy favoritism, children do not like the “Wednesdays and every other weekend and holiday” arrangement.
Before you make a bad decision, take a deep breath, ask the bishop for a marriage counselor referral and for Goodness sake, don’t go blabbing to your girlfriends. They will only make it worse.
Now as far as where I left the threat with my husband, if he cheats, he takes the kids, the dogs, sheep, cats, mortgage, the ten year old car and he’ll have to get off early every day to pick up the kids from practice…..’cause “I’m outta here!” (but I don’t mean it. Sssh, don’t tell him.)