No, the Affair Didn’t Cause the Divorce

fractured glass

(Image/quotesgram.com)

Sometimes, a married person has an affair, and everyone screams: “Oh my God, Roger and Beth got divorced because he/she had an affair!!!”

Wrong.

And that’s bad because everyone sits around thinking: That was so stupid of [Insert Name Here] to do that. And now they’re divorced. I would never cheat on my spouse, and he/she would never cheat on me. So we have nothing to worry about.

No one is afraid of what ACTUALLY ends marriages.

Hurt, scorned spouses suffering from the fallout of betrayal hurt about as bad as humans can. Let’s not trivialize that agony, nor act like it doesn’t matter. But in the end, people burned by marital affairs fall into one of two camps:

1. Spouses Who Repeatedly Fail Their Partners Until the Pain of Feeling Neglected Outweighs Any Guilt They Might Feel From the Affair (By far, the most common.)

2. Spouses Who Were Excellent at Marriage and 100% Innocent Victims of Con Artistry

I’m not defending people who have affairs. Betrayal is a horrible thing to do to anyone. To do it to the person you vowed to love forever (and/or your child(ren)’s other parent, is next-level wretched).

The affairs make the headlines. The affairs are big and dramatic. The affairs are gossip-worthy.

So many people then think affairs end marriages, thus concluding: “If I simply don’t have affairs, I won’t get divorced!”

The root cause of the marriage failure goes ignored or undetected.

No lessons are learned. No one grows.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

NOTE: Regular readers of this blog are about to be bored with another overly wordy recap of things I always write, including the most recent post on Married Men Taxonomy. (Much of what’s below is stuff that spewed out of me while trying to write that post.)

Your time (and the time of any reader truly interested in improving relationships and marriage) would be better spent with this gem from Dr. Brent Atkinson which helps explain WHY couples struggle so mightly with communication, called “Core Differences in Ways of Maintaining Emotional Stability (Legitimately Different Ways of Navigating Life).”

It’s brilliant and important, and I’m certain you’ll recognize yourself and your partner in the words, and God-willing, maybe even find some answers you’ve been searching for.

The Everyday Divorce

Two adults voluntarily marry one another. Thousands of times per day, on average. Good people, too. They promise with all the sincerity they possess to love one another for life.

Five to 10 years later, half of them divorce and a large percentage of still-married people are sad, angry, scared, frustrated, having affairs, and often only still married because they feel trapped.

In the context of what’s at stake for all involved, and what people invest to be part of it, I’d call marriage (the institution) the biggest societal failure we have.

I also call it the biggest social crisis of our time, and I don’t think it’s even close to being an exaggeration.

The inability of human beings to functionally coexist with those they profess to love, have children with, and share homes and other resources with; and then the negative trickle-down effects of all those broken people and relationships and behavior models for the kids involved, causes damage to humanity and society that can’t be calculated.

It’s very bad.

Evil people aren’t causing this very bad thing. It’s a bunch of good people accidentally making mistakes — and because it’s not common knowledge that these things are mistakes, there isn’t enough awareness to solve the problem.

How the History of Cigarettes Can Save Marriage

Just in my lifetime (I’m 37), we’ve gone from smoking in airplanes and restaurants, and in the car with the windows rolled up and our kids in the backseat, to very little public smoking, and essentially ZERO people who don’t realize that smoking causes major health problems.

All it took was enough people giving a shit. Once a critical mass of people get it, everything changes forever.

I think the bad things that stem from broken families and divorce cause infinitely more societal harm than smoking does.

Hell, all I wanted to do in the midst of my own divorce was smoke and drink vodka.

People are getting divorced and breaking their marriages for the same reasons people used to accidentally die of lung cancer — they were making lifestyle choices based on incomplete or false information.

They simply don’t realize what they are doing has dire consequences.

So, Roger and Beth get married. Roger starts leaving a glass by the sink each night before bed. And each morning, Beth finds it sitting by the sink and wonders why he won’t just put it in the dishwasher. For a while, she puts it in the dishwasher or washes it herself.

But then other things like this start happening. Leaving shoes on the living room floor. Leaving damp towels on the bedroom floor. Leaving the toilet seat up (with the added bonus of pee stains on the toilet rim).

Beth finally speaks up.

Roger laughs it off, telling her she’s making a big deal about nothing.

The next time they have the conversation, Beth shares that it hurts her when these things happen — when even after asking him to do things differently, he continues to do it his way, regardless of the hurt she feels.

What Happens Next is Why Our Marriages End

(Note: These things don’t always manifest as husbands doing this, and wives doing that. There are exceptions. But it looks like this MOST of the time.)

She tries to explain why these things hurt her. A dish by the sink. Leaving laundry on the floor. Spending hours and hours playing video games or watching sports but being unwilling to spend 15 minutes replacing the lightbulb above the kitchen sink. For months.

Dishes and laundry and lightbulbs don’t matter to him. He doesn’t care and never will.

There’s no switch he knows how to flip to make himself care, not that he’d ever want to anyway. It all seems too minor. Life would suck if I let petty crap like this bother me!

Beth says it matters. But he “knows” it doesn’t.

The problem is not with me, Roger thinks. The problem is Beth’s emotional calibration! It’s wrong!

She lets inconsequential things negatively affect her, he thinks. And it all adds up to a simple fix: All I need to do is show her how silly and meaningless these things are. Once she learns how to feel like me, everything will be awesome.

He tells her: “That’s a stupid reason. Stop making such a big deal out of this. What are you going to do someday when something that’s ACTUALLY bad happens?”

That’s not theory. That’s pretty much exactly what I used to say to my wife every time I told her all of the things she said and felt didn’t matter.

Beth hears her husband, for the thousandth time, say her feelings don’t matter, aren’t real, are not his problem or responsibility, and that the quality of their relationship rests solely on whether she’s willing to start accepting things she finds unacceptable.

Because he has no intention of changing.

That’s when it gets scary. Because Beth realizes: Oh my God. He’s never going to change. This is my life. Where I must feel hurt and unloved every day until one of us dies. How did I get here?

She feels trapped and betrayed. She agreed to build a life with someone but he’s not keeping his promises. She withdraws.

She’s been hurt so many times, she can no longer carry on like she normally does. He asks what’s wrong. She drops the hammer: “I don’t feel like myself anymore. I feel like a stranger in my own life. I don’t know if I love you anymore.”

They start sleeping apart. Spending little time together. Hardly speaking.

He jerks off to internet porn, justifying it because she doesn’t want to touch him anyway. Beth knows it, too.

She fantasizes about the guy at work who is always so nice to her and actually listens to all the things Roger does not. This man really understands me!

When Home Stops Being Home

Everything they used to think, feel and believe about love and marriage morphs into something else.

They dread coming home at the end of the work day. It feels so much freer when they’re not trapped in that prison.

Gone are feelings of love. Gone is any sense of the values they grew up believing in and committed to when they married.

When every moment of every day hurts, and the rules people have always followed led them to the misery, then people start writing new rules.

When people feel dead inside, they just want to feel alive.

More months go by in the loveless, sexless marriage.

Beth or Roger finally crack, and take the marital affair plunge with someone they’d built an intimate relationship with, either at work or online.

That’s usually where the story ends.

But Then Everyone, Including Divorcees Themselves, Get it Wrong

“Oh my God, Roger and Beth got divorced because he/she had an affair!!!”

Everyone who knows them writes off another relationship due to heinous, inexcusable actions of the person who had the affair. No one really sees how everything poisoned and fractured along the imperceptibly slow march toward their deaths.

All those smokers were dying of respiratory illnesses, but the doctors just kept smoking their cigarettes and scratching their heads about their patients’ cause of death. Everyone stood around the funeral parlor smoking cigarettes and saying: “Frank was so young and healthy. This is so sad and unexpected.”

And for the longest time, no one ever learned anything.

It’s NOT okay that the affair happened.

But intellectually honest people recognize that the affair never, ever comes close to happening without the smaller marital indiscretions slowly eroding the relationship leading up to it.

Our marriages don’t fail JUST because we’re shitty at marriage.

Our marriages fail because everyone just keeps on metaphorically smoking and blaming the resulting lung cancer on anything and everything except the sick person’s choices.

Our marriages fail because we’re shitty at marriage, and even with a failure rate of more than half, nobody realizes it.

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139 thoughts on “No, the Affair Didn’t Cause the Divorce

  1. Jeff Strand says:

    Matt,

    I get your point. You’re saying little thoughtless things add up, like leaving the glass out. Over and over. Perhaps you’re right, it does seem to have a certain logic to it.

    But the flip side of the coin, is that thoughtful acts add up too. Even little ones can make someone’s day. I’m reminded of the time I wrote in erasable marker on the master bath mirror how much l love and appreciate my wife. Then I left for a biz trip. When she found it later, it made her day. Or I’ll pick up one of her fav treats when I’m at the store, to surprise her.

    Or I’ll set up a weekend away for her at a nice hotel (with an in-room jacuzzi!) so she can get away for a couple days, take a break from all the household chores and child-raising, and get some good R&R and catch up on her Netflix que (make sure to tell her to feel free to order room service). And bonus – it gives her time to miss her family, so she’s extra happy to get home at the end of the weekend. Husbands, try this one out and see how special it makes her feel, and hear it in her voice when she brags to her girlfriends how her wonderful husband is gifting her with this weekend getaway…just because he thinks she’s such a good wife and mother. All of a sudden your husband status is at rockstar levels, because you show her you care about her.

    Of course she does similar thoughtful things for me – little love notes stuck in my travel bag, the master bedroom immaculate when I get home from a biz trip, a cold beer delivered to me while I’m relaxing in front of the TV, a daily whispered “thank you for working so hard to support your family”, etc. After awhile, it just becomes a habit, like any other routine, to be showing your spouse you care through these thoughtful little gestures. And it seems to me that intimacy continues to build as a result.

    And lastly, 2 things: compliments are always great, but remember that a compliment has 10 times as much power when said in front of others (by the same token, NEVER criticize in public…especially husbands should remember this because they may forget how sensitive theirs wife’s female nature is). And secondly, don’t forget to laugh together.

    Hope that wasn’t rambling there. Just some thoughts.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Matt says:

      This is my favorite comment you’ve ever left. Thank you.

      I agree completely. The guy obliviously leaving dishes by the sink for months and years is the same guy who does NOT demonstrate love and thoughtfulness and gratitude in the way you describe here.

      Being mindful of doing positive things (and not just avoiding doing negative things) strikes me as an equally important element to this conversation.

      Liked by 2 people

    • gottmanfan says:

      Jeff,

      This was a great comment with many good things in it!

      Intentional thoughtful positives go a long way to smoothing over the inevitable negatives. It’s much easier to just see a glass as a glass when there are many other thoughtful things happening.

      Gottman’s ratio for good marriages is 5 positives for 1 negative. The more positives the better.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Matt says:

        Five positives for one negative.

        That’s the first time I’ve seen that. And if Dr. Gottman’s math ratio here is rooted in big data, it really illustrates just how powerful these negative moments (which we sometimes don’t recognize as being negative while happening) really are.

        I seriously need to buy his books. Not that there’s ever time to read.

        Thanks for this.

        Liked by 1 person

        • gottmanfan says:

          What I found surprising about the 5 to 1 ratio is that it’s literally the ratio that counts not the least amount of negativity.

          There are different types of couples that can have equally successful marriages. Volatile couples can fight a lot but if they can make each other laugh or have great makeup sex and the overall ratio is 5:1 it works out.

          It’s about being able to know how to connect with your spouse in a way they respond to. And being able to “repair” when things are starting to turn into a hurtful direction.

          That’s why knowing about the “vulnerability cycle” that you describe in your dishes example is so helpful. We’ve given ours a name (the Bear after that great Anthony Hopkins movie The Edge where a bear relentlessly hunts and tries to kill him).

          And so we “repair” by giving each other claw signs or making a joke about bears when the typical cycle begins.

          Now it’s us against the Bear not us against each other. Just one example.

          Here’s a quote from an article about the 5:1 ratio.

          “Along with a team of mathematicians, Gottman has developed what he calls bilinear influence functions. These describe a person’s ability to affect his or her spouse’s mood, a kind of emotional contagion. Good couples routinely influence each other’s moods, in a positive direction.

          Some couples, are “volatile”—they often unleash anger at one another but they offset that anger with even larger doses of warm feelings. Despite the volatility, such couples tend to be stable and successful. They not only influence each other with anger but also with affection.

          Another critical dimension is the attempt to turn a difficult conversation in a positive direction—what Gottman calls repair attempts. These typically include jokes, soothing comments or changing the subject when things are too hot. Some couples, on the other hand, are skilled at “damping” conversations—they add more negative fuel to the fire. They may make hurtful comments even when their partner is clearly trying to be positive.

          In the mathematics of marriage, certain expressions of emotion carry a disproportionate amount of emotional weight. Expressions of contempt, Gottman has found, register at -4. Displays of disgust each count for three points in the negative column. Whining comes in at –1. On the other hand, a display of affection—a smile of sympathy, a touch—registers 4 on the plus side.

          The good news is that you don’t have to be a math whiz to have a happy marriage, and there’s no one right answer. Every couple is free to write their own positive equation.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Matt says:

            I’m fascinated.

            I lean heavily on data for my work in digital marketing. This really got my wheels turning. Hopefully in a good way.

            This was a gift. Thank you very much.

            Liked by 1 person

            • gottmanfan says:

              Plenty more Gottman good stuff.

              Love and Relationships can be understood. That data can be used to learn to have a good marriage like any other skill.

              I find that very comforting and we’ve used it to change out marriage from close to divorce to a much better place and still improving.

              It takes a LOT of willingness to look in the mirror and see all you’ve done to screw things up. So painful!

              But if you have the right diagnosis of the problem and you know what you need to change and how to change it and you’re willing to keep working even when it gets HARD…

              Things can change.

              So many people get divorced because they can’t figure out what is happening or how to change it. And the information is out there. In your blog in many places like Gottman.

              Like

  2. zombiedrew2 says:

    Touchy subject, but one I agree with 100%. Affairs are rarely the “cause” of the marriage failing, instead they are a symptom of it.

    I’ve argued this countless times, and suggested that perhaps people should look at “why” the affair happened. What exactly is it that was broken in the relationship that made the affair a feasible thing for someone to do?

    My concern is that once the affair happens, because of the strong emotional response to it the affair becomes the scapegoat, and people stop looking at what they may have done to contribute to it, or at least to lay the groundwork for it.

    When I’ve brought this up in the past I’ve been accused of “victim blaming”. And geez, that is REALLY not my intent.

    Affairs are bad. Always. They are the ultimate selfish act, and I don’t think there is ever an excuse for them.

    But you know what else is bad? Checking out on your partner, and allowing your marriage to devolve into a loveless relationship where you are more roommates and coparents than anything else. And usually BOTH people are responsible for that.

    I figure we usually start as friends and lovers before we get bogged down in the responsibilities of life. But we still need to find time for that, and make it a priority. I don’t care who you are, what your job is, how many kids you have etc; men and women NEED to be making time for their relationship. They need time to be a couple, to have fun, to be intimate with each other emotionally and physically (and physically doesn’t have to always mean sex – it can be a hug, a kiss, curling up together on the couch).

    When that stops (no matter what the reason is), usually the relationship soon follows. And then one day people wake up and realize they are nothing more than roommates. And that sucks for all involved.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Matt says:

      Scapegoat is a great word here, and one I probably should have used.

      It becomes the big, easy, dramatic thing to point to. Someone straying in their marriage. Because it IS bad.

      But let’s be real about it. We don’t have a rash of young, happy newlyweds executing best relationship practices who are also have secret extramarital affairs.

      People get married. They don’t know what they don’t know. Years go by and pain and sadness and resentment build.

      Eventually, many people break.

      I agree with your take 100%. I would never ask a victim to accept BLAME. But in most instances, I think I’d ask them to accept responsibility.

      Without personal responsibility, nothing ever gets better.

      Good to see you, Drew. I was wondering earlier how things were going. Hope you’re well, sir.

      Liked by 1 person

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Hey Matt,

        Things are reasonably good.

        Responsibilty, accountability – two really big and important ideas (in my mind at least), but two things that we tend to not practice as well as we preach.

        And I think I get that, when we’re hurting it’s easier to lash out – either at ourselves or at those around us. Some find out their partner was having an affair and become overcome with guilt, feeling that it was their own fault and it wouldn’t have happened if they have been a “better partner”. Others absolve themselves of all blame and use this as a new reflection on their partners character – they did something bad so they are now a “bad person”, so it’s alright to hate them.

        Yeah, there are some serial cheaters out there who are narcissistic jerks (the “bad” guys/girls from your post a few days ago). But more often they are normal people, with good sides and bad sides who were hurting inside to the point that this seemed like a viable outlet for their internal pain.

        I see how it happens, but for the life of me I can’t understand the mindset that lets it happen. Like yourself, I believe in marriage, and I believe in commitment. But if someone is at the point that they really don’t want to be there anymore – why the hell do people stay? Don’t cheat – get out.

        I don’t care about how many years you’ve been married, or how many kids you have, or hard it would be financially on your own. Those are NEVER reasons to stay in a loveless marriage. They are pretty damned good reasons to actually WORK on your marriage, and to honour your commitment, and to make your marriage the best it can be. But if you don’t WANT to?

        Marriage is a two sided commitment. It’s not some guarantee where you work to get in and then you can stop putting in effort and think there are no consequences to that. There are. When everything *except* the marriage becomes a priority, then yeah, it’s going to suffer. And often it’s going to fail.

        I really feel for people who want it to work and are willing to put in the effort, but have a partner who is checked out and apathetic. To me there is no worse feeling in the world than loving someone who seems unable or unwilling to make you a priority in their life, and to love you back.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Matt says:

          While I don’t want to trivialize the YEARS of emotional neglect some spouses endure before they arrive at a place of apathy and indifference, I certainly share your empathy for the spouses willing to give but are denied the opportunity.

          It’s a unique sort of torture.

          One I view, in my specific case, as my simple comeuppence.

          Liked by 1 person

          • zombiedrew2 says:

            Well, I think I totally get wanting to feel valued again, wanting feel loved again. Hell, just wanting to feel some sort of emotional or physically intimacy. That stuff’s the lifeblood of a marriage, so when it’s gone? Yeah, I get wanting it.

            I just think that an affair is never the answer. If the marriage has eroded to the point that you’re seriously thinking of an affair, maybe it’s time to end the marriage. And then be able to hopefully find that stuff again with someone else.

            But people often don’t. They treat it like a job – where it’s alright to actively look for a new one while you’re in your current. Then once you’ve landed a new gig you put in your notice and move one to the next.

            I don’t think relationships should be like that. You should stay or leave on it’s own merits.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Ali says:

              I agree with you, it’s best to get out first. However, it’s not like (most) people in this situation plan for it to happen. Years of emotional neglect and continuing to try when your partner won’t hurts very badly. You find an outlet in someone else, totally intending it to be just a platonic friendship, but with someone finally listening to you and actually hearing you, it’s like a wake up call for what things could/should be like. By then, it’s too late to get out because you never knew what you don’t know: how much you were missing that connection. It’s like a drug and you don’t think about anything else, except how great it feels to be connected again because you had no idea how far away you have fallen from that until it happens.

              Liked by 2 people

  3. Jeff Strand says:

    I have also heard it said its much harder for the marriage to recover if it was the woman who cheated. Reason being, there’s usually big problems in the marriage (at least from her POV) if she’s willing to go there. There’s something missing – usually some emotional intimacy or connection is lacking.

    By contrast, a man is more likely to cheat if he thinks he can get away with it (like on a biz trip or night out with the boys), even if he’s happy in his marriage. He can think his wife is great and be in love with her…but his buddies take him to the nudie bar, he gets a lap dance from that one stripper that really trips his trigger, she’s rubbing on him, he’s had a few drinks and feeling good, she offers to take him to the private VIP room, he thinks what his wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her, and….well you can guess what happens next.

    So this is not to excuse the husband in that case, he still did wrong. But he was coming from a point where there was nothing wrong in his marriage. So if his wife doesn’t catch him, it will probably have no impact on their marriage. And if she does catch him, there’s good hope of patching things up because they had a good, stable marriage marriage to start with.

    Plus, forgiving is easier for the wife, who can console herself with the thought, “Well after all, boys will be boys”. Versus the opposite case, where the husband is going to constantly in the back of his mind hear a little voice wondering if he married a slut. And that’s devastating to his respect for her, and lack of respect just kills relationships.

    Women often have trouble understanding how the male brain works, so I give them this analogy: for a man to respect a wife he believes to be a slut, is as difficult as for a woman to respect a husband she believes to be a spineless coward. Because a man NEEDS to see some virtue and purity in his wife, just as a wife NEEDS to see some bravery and courage in her husband. It’s just how we’re wired differently as men and women.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      And then you wrote this.

      Damn it, Jeff.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Donkey says:

        I think more recent stats are showing women are catching up to men when it comes to infidelity. Could be wrong about this.

        “forgiving is easier for the wife, who can console herself with the thought, “Well after all, boys will be boys”. Versus the opposite case, where the husband is going to constantly in the back of his mind hear a little voice wondering if he married a slut. And that’s devastating to his respect for her, and lack of respect just kills relationships.”

        Yeah, I must say, this does very much oppose my value system. Somewhat excusing bad behaviour by men (whether that’s cheating or something else) with “boys will be boys” (while, from what I understand, labelling women as sluts for the same behaviour in this case) is one of my least favourite parts of the patriarchy. :p

        If there’s a similar saying that excuses female bad behaviour (for instance “girls just wanna have fun, no biggie if a woman cheats”) I’d find that equally distasteful. At least I hope I would, and if I didn’t, I’d have some work to do on my unfair double standard. :)

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL! Jeff, Jeff, Jeff, what ever are we going to do with you?

        Here’s the truth lurking behind what he is saying. Men are different, they are far more able to have a casual affair while believing 100% “I love my wife” at the same time. Men are far more able to compartmentalize and disconnect sexually. When women resort to affairs, she is usually done, broken, it is finished. Not always, but it leans in that direction.

        It is not that women are not hurt over affairs or that we must just accept them as “boys will be boys,” it is simply that sex usually has two different meanings for men and women. I know a few men who have had affairs and looked me right in the eye and said, “I love my wife, I don’t understand why she doesn’t get that.” You’re cheating on her and they’ll say, “so, it doesn’t mean anything.” It is unusual for women to have emotionally detached sex that is not a declaration of loyalty, fidelity, on some level.

        Like

      • linds01 says:

        Matt,
        I know you may not get the impact of the words like “slut” and “whore” and the stigma they bring, because you likely have never had to be shamed like that.

        We carry too much shame for our bodies, for our demeanor, for our needs and even for our sexual desires.

        Jeff’s words piss me off, but have also inflicted pain and hurt on some of your readers.

        I’m asking for you to delete his comment, and add that he needs to start taking responsibility for his words and start apologizing for the damage they can and do inflict.

        Liked by 1 person

        • linds01 says:

          And then he needs to say 5 nice things about women for every one insulting or demeaning comment.
          Seems like just penance.

          Like

          • linds01 says:

            Matt,
            You have really hurt my feelings, not that you really care.

            Like

            • Matt says:

              Goodness. I care a little bit, Linds.

              I’d probably care even more if I had even a fraction of an idea how that could be possible, and to what you’re referring.

              You’re, like, one of the kindest, most helpful people around here. I’m sorry if I haven’t done an adequate job of conveying my appreciation for that.

              One thing I’m totally certain of is that I haven’t written anything to you that could be considered shitty by even the loosest of definitions.

              So if you will kindly tell me what happened, I will respond in whatever way I consider appropriate to whatever the thing is.

              Like

    • Suzzy says:

      I was right there with you right up until the part about “boys will be boys” somehow makes it easier for the woman. REALLY???? no woman wants to be married to BOY. She wants a MAN who is able to honor is commitment to his wife, no matter what BS lapdance just happened on his crotch. A real MAN isn’t going to let that happen to being with, let alone be tempted by an opportunist looking to make more money. Hello, spineless coward (your words)…..I’ve completely lost respect for a man that is tempted by such a situation… .particularly if he thinks its ok because he thinks he can get away it. UGH

      I do agree that affairs only happen when there is discontent in the relationship.

      Liked by 3 people

    • gottmanfan says:

      Jeff, Jeff, Jeff.

      SMDH

      What shall we do with you?

      Please bring the part of you that wrote the first comment. We could learn a lot from him.

      The part that wrote this NEEDS to write those comments on a slut sub Reddit.

      Reddit is wired for those. Matt’s blog is wired differently.

      Like

  4. Trisha W says:

    SPOT ON again Matt!!
    By the way, have you ever read “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggrichs? You often hit upon his theory :)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Matt says:

      Thanks for the note, Trisha. I don’t know Dr. Eggrichs’ work. I am appallingly not well read in terms of identifying the thought leaders in the whole Love & Relationships space and trying to learn more from them.

      Which might explain why they’re successful and actually help people, and why I’m a hack blogger with a day job. ;)

      Thank you for reading, for the kind words, and for the book suggestion. There are never too many of those (for myself and others), especially if they can help someone make sense of things.

      I really appreciate it.

      Like

  5. bee says:

    My husband cheated after suffering a TBI. I stayed because we had 13 good years of marriage and one crappy one. Recovery was not easy, and four years later, I do struggle with my decision from time-to-time. We’re very open about what we’ve been through, and my husband will say that he strayed because he was unhappy with himself, not necessarily our marriage. He felt he had no self-worth so he searched it out elsewhere. Anyway, cheating happens. Relationships can grow and move on. It is possible. You just have to be ready to really dig at the root cause and accept your passible role in the mess.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Matt says:

      Hey Bee. Long time.

      It’s awesome to see your name and face pop up here.

      Thank you A. for stopping in, and B. for sharing vulnerable parts of your personal life in an effort to help others.

      I appreciate it very much.

      Hope you’re well!

      Like

  6. Dar Dawson says:

    First, thank you for just putting this right out there, in front, where it belongs.

    Second, I hate this post. Why? Because you’re right, because reading it put me right back – RIGHT BACK – in that super-craptastic place of being a really good friend/wife/partner who spoke up repeatedly (or, equally, swallowed/left unsaid what bothered her, because she knew he was not ever going to actually hear her), so she gradually wondered if she was still worth anything. Anything at all.

    I sought friendship – ANY responsive, social or creative connection – at the most benign and platonic level, on the Internet. And, I found it. I named him Crowbar and he literally lifted me out of am abusive marriage I’d been denying I was in for seven years. Two years later I left wasband (former husband), but not for the arms of my near-virtual lifering.

    I will re-read your post and weed out exactly smacked me across the conscious today.

    Good writing, kid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      Thank you, Dar. I don’t like contributing to the negative feelings of others, but I’m guilty of wanting to be someone who writes things that make people FEEL.

      I appreciate you reading and caring enough to feel something and leave this note.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dar Dawson says:

        They’re not negative feelings I’m having; more like refresher courses in authenticity. Yeah, I went there as a wife. Yeah, I picked a partner I probably should have not. Yes, I was afraid, stuck, cornered and, at times, afraid. “Out” was not an option I considered until it was the only one. *still thinking*

        Liked by 1 person

  7. allisonlovereynolds says:

    I needed this today .. I was ” the cheater”.. however I was the one being neglected in the relationship and swear to this day that it’s not the cause of the end .. it was the neglect that led to the fallout .. which then led to the end .. he doesn’t see it that way .. but then again why would he if he wasn’t paying attention to me then.. I can’t expect him to now ?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s somewhat funny, Matt, I use to care about things like that, affairs, betrayals, I thought that was about the worse thing that could happen to a marriage. Then I grew up and I faced some real challenges, some marital tests we survived, that actually left me laughing at my younger self, the one that was naive and foolish enough to believe that something like affairs cause divorce. Death causes divorce, spiritual death, and after gasping for air so many times, I can now genuinely look back and laugh about the things I used to think were important.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. sambucaqueen says:

    You are bang on Matt.
    When my marriage ended, some friends found out about my ex multiple cheating habits and some friends did not (frankly, it’s none of their business). What was sad was the never-ending comments and judgements: “but he’s such a nice guy”, “how can you not know that he was cheating”, “but he was drunk”, “but you guys looked so happy”
    Rose colored glasses my friends.
    When I found out about the fling, I said “Thank you. You broke our vows. Now I can leave you”. Yes, it was a shitty way of leaving a marriage that was slowly falling apart for years but it’s like you said in a previous post, Death by 10,000 paper cuts. The affair sometimes becomes the last straw but it’s not the main cause of divorce.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jeff Strand says:

    Couple things.

    First, I’m glad so many liked my first comment. It really is all about letting the other person in the marriage know you care for them. That they are special. You can do it with thoughtful little gifts and gestures, and you can do it by living up to the responsibilities of your state in life without complaint. It also helps to let the other person know you want them as a man or as a woman, not just like some generic human person. Everyone wants to feel desired. When I joked in a prior thread of treating my wife like my personal sex toy, throwing her on the bed every now and then and ravaging her, like Rhett Butler did to Scarlett, some of you female commenter’s were offended by that. Like I’m treating her like a slave or being “rapey” with her.

    But re-read my first comment on this thread. You can see how much I love her and care for her, and that I do try to be thoughtful. So what you missed is that when I take control and throw her on the bed like that, it’s as much for her benefit as mine. Men, I would recommend you try this with your wives, IF you have a decent marriage with no big problems going on. You’ll probably find your wife may act like “what has gotten into you?!” but deep down she will like it. What wife doesn’t want to feel so desired by her husband, that he can’t control himself around her? What wife doesn’t like her husband to let out a little of his inner cave man once in awhile? You don’t think she’ll then hear tales form her girlfriends how their marriages are pretty dead between the sheets…then she’ll remember how her own husband couldn’t stop himself from grabbing her and ravaging her….and then she smiles and thinks what a lucky wife she is? I’m telling you, it works! And if your wife is a nagger, I guarantee this will help with that – I firmly believe a lot of wives nag out of sexual frustration. You don’t have to answer Matt, but I’d be curious to know if you did this with your wife.

    Secondly, for those who took exception to my second comment. To be clear, I wasn’t excusing the husband’s behavior. Just pointing out that it’s a flaw in men that they have a hard time resisting sexual temptation in the form of a pretty girl, even if they are perfectly happy at home. It’s really hard for men to say no, and sometimes they will succumb to the temptation. Since I know the male brain, if I were a woman and found out my husband cheated while on a biz trip, I would be disappointed in him, but I wouldn’t necessarily think there’s something majorly wrong with the marriage.

    As the wife I would expect an apology from him, a promise to work harder to resist temptation, and I would urge him to go to Confession to confess and be forgiven by God for his mortal sin of adultery, lest he be so unfortunate as to die suddenly in that state and find himself condemned by the Just Judge. And then I would just get on with the marriage, and yes, I think I really would say to myself “boys will be boys”. Is that wrong of me? Not for me, it’s not. Maybe for you it is, I don’t know. (Also as the wife I’d be thinking “well if I majorly screw something up in the future, I definitely have a get out of jail free card now!”, lol)

    To Donkey’s point that this is a double standard, my response is the same I gave earlier – it’s only a double standard if men and women are identical, with no differences between them. Which I don’t believe. To give an example that favors the wife, if a wife gets out of control with her credit cards and online shopping, and blows $10k, I think the husband is probably more understanding of this as a version of “girls will be girls.” Overspending is more of a woman’s vice, IMHO. Doesn’t mean either spouse should do it, just that it’s somehow more overlook-able when the wife does it.

    As far as how women can be “sluts” and men can’t, that’s due to a fundamental difference between the two. For the average man, getting a woman to sleep with him is hard work and success here is an achievement. That’s why in spite of his immorality, people instinctively look up to a successful “ladies’ man”. But for the average woman, getting a man to have sex with her takes no effort it all – she is merely “giving it away for free” at that point. And that’s why most people (including both genders) instinctively view with disgust a promiscuous woman. Ironically, often it’s the women who will judge her harshest, i.e. “Did you see the way Suzie was dressed? And how she flirted with every guy at the party? What a whore!”

    Just my opinions.

    Like

    • gottmanfan says:

      Jeff,

      I think it would help us understand your points better if you would use different nouns than “sluts” or “whores” for women.

      If you could present your ideas in less vulgar language that would go a long way.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Emery says:

      “What wife doesn’t want to feel so desired by her husband, that he can’t control himself around her?”

      Me. I’m not interested in a man who can’t control himself. I don’t feel safe around him. A man who’s passionate, yes! absolutely. A man who desires me, of course! wonderful. But a man who can’t control himself is a man I can’t trust.

      Like

      • Donkey says:

        Agree completely Emery.

        If a man really can’t control himself around me, and I don’t want to have sex with him and he doesn’t back off? Well, that’s rape now isn’t it. Certainly don’t want that in my marriage, no thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. anitvan says:

    Jeff, just a quick question re: boys will be boys/girls are sluts…

    Do you really accept that dichotomy, or are you simply describing what you see as a cultural “reality” in the world?

    Like

    • Jeff Strand says:

      Sort of both. In other words, it’s not acceptable for either sex to engage in adultery or fornication. In fact, I believe it to be a mortal sin in either case, with all the terrible consequences that implies.

      Having said that, I believe there are differences between the sexes. As I said earlier, people tend to look up to a “ladies’ man”, in spite of the immorality involved, because it’s such a difficult achievement for the average man to get hot women to sleep with him. So “slut shaming” doesn’t work on men, unless you can shame him on the physical appearance of his sexual partners, i.e. if he’s “slumming it”.

      So it’s hard work for a man to “score” with a decent looking female partner. But that’s not the case for a promiscuous women, who, if even just average in looks, has merely to spread her legs. And that’s why people (including and probably ESPECIALLY women) tend to recoil in disgust from her. As I said earlier, it’s most likely a woman you’ll hear saying “Mary Jo will sleep with any guy who comes along, what a whore!”

      One of the ways to visualize why it’s different for men and women is the analogy of the lock and the key. It goes like this: a key (representing a man) that can open many locks is a master key, but a lock (representing a woman) that can be opened by many keys is just a shitty lock.

      Hope that helps.

      Like

      • gottmanfan says:

        Yes that is so helpful to see inside your thinking. I especially enjoyed your crude lock analogy.

        I hope you don’t use this vulgar language around your kids.

        Like

        • Jeff Strand says:

          Oh sweetie, that is so kind of you to be so concerned about my kids not being exposed to vulgarity. And I can see your sincerity, it really shines through.

          Like

          • gottmanfan says:

            Jeff,

            Buddy, I’m really trying to find a way to coexist. I sincerely thought your first comment was great.

            Sincerely, it shows that you have some ideas that can be truly helpful.

            Your second comment had some ideas that I could agree with. The idea that men may be more likely to have an affair even if happy in their marriage for example.

            But it’s presented in language that’s hard to hear the message that was my point.

            Distracting from the point.

            Your alpha male idea was worth discussing. But the Hitler as dating role model was distracting from your point.

            We may disagree on many things but it would sincerely be great to get to the stage where I could read your comments and not be distracted by the language and metaphors.

            And where we could discuss ideas.

            So I can see your good points. And that first comment tells me you have a lot of good points you could contribute.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Jeff Strand says:

            “We may disagree on many things but it would sincerely be great to get to the stage where I could read your comments and not be distracted by the language and metaphors.”

            The metaphors (like the key and the lock) are meant to help illustrate the point. Sorry to hear you found them distracting. As far as off-putting language, well I already try to avoid profanity as much as possible (but perhaps not entirely). I’ll try to keep your concern in mind, sincerely.

            Glad you found some of my comments interesting. Have a great night.

            Like

        • LOL! He does need to go to charm school, doesn’t he?

          So women don’t like to be compared to cheap locks, sluts, or assorted other analogies, Jeff.

          What he’s trying to say is that sex for men is a conquest, an accomplishment. For women it’s just a surrender. I don’t fully believe that myself, but that is a cultural perception that often shapes our attitudes.

          This is important to me because there are a lot of women having sex with people they don’t even like for reasons they can’t even fathom. We’ve created this culture that wants to declare women are totally the same and equal in how we approach sex and that just isn’t true at all. Actually it’s pretty hurtful to women, because we’re pressured into denying our own worth and value.

          Like

          • gottmanfan says:

            IB,

            As I said in my other comment to Jeff it would be nice to be able to discuss the ideas you just presented without the vulgar language.

            There are valid points to discuss.

            How men and women approach sex differently and how they are judged with different standards would be an interesting discussion to have if we could refrain from disrespectful language.

            Like

          • Jeff Strand says:

            “This is important to me because there are a lot of women having sex with people they don’t even like for reasons they can’t even fathom. We’ve created this culture that wants to declare women are totally the same and equal in how we approach sex and that just isn’t true at all. Actually it’s pretty hurtful to women”

            Once again IB, I find myself agreeing with you completely.

            I really don’t think modern women truly understand or appreciate the value men place on female virtue and purity. It’s something that comes from deep inside the male psyche. If a man finds that the woman he falls for is pure and innocent, it triggers something deep and primal in him. It makes him willing to move mountains for her, fight tigers for her. It reminds me of the picture of the medieval knight, kneeling before his queen and receiving her blessing before going out in battle to fight for her honor.

            But when he see she is “loose” or “easy”, his image of her is imploded. She goes from his queen to just another slut. (Sorry for the language choice there Gott, I really feel the shock value is needed to make the point – this is how men actually think). At this point he’s just thinking how he can “get some” from her. She has just sabotaged her MMV in his eyes, big time. Huge mistake.

            You don’t have to agree with it if you’re a woman. Just realize you have to deal with things as they are, not as you’d like them to be. So realize this is how men are, and use it to your advantage. That’s what I’d do if I were a chick. For example, some guys will “shit test” women in this way – they will push for sex early on, just to see if she goes along with it. If she agrees, she’s disqualified as anything more than a goodtime girl. Because he wants to judge her by her actions, not her words.

            Now you can object that he tricked her, but I don’t agree….he wanted to see what her character is like, and the only way to know is to put her in the situation where she has to make a choice. Surely other guys have pushed for sex with her – if she allows him, she must have allowed them too. And from his perspective, he needs to know what he’s dealing with if he’s going to consider marriage and family with a girl. He needs to see BY HER ACTIONS that she’s not “that kind of girl”. This is why when guys talk amongst themselves, they refer to two kinds of girls – girls you sleep with, and girls you marry and have a family with. No man wants to be seen as wifing up the town….well, let’s say “promiscuous woman”. (See Gott, I’m trying, lol)

            I wonder how many girls are shocked to see the guy lose interest in them (or lose interest in anything serious) once she sleeps with him? Are they really this ignorant of the male psyche? Did their fathers really not teach them?

            Like

            • Matt says:

              Two questions:

              The framework for this conversation was rooted in whether the modern sexual culture is healthy for women. Whether it’s “good” for women.

              To that I ask, Jeff, why should they care what men think? Especially some douchenozzle who might go to a strip joint on a business trip, have too many drinks in the champagne room, and bang a stripper, even though he has a wife and/or family at home? (BY THE WAY. On what planet is that even almost, KIND OF, an okay thing to do? And is that guided by The Torah, or does the stripper-banging side convo live in the secular plane of existence?)

              My point being…

              There is Truth out there. Things that are right and wrong. Things that are good and bad.

              What a bunch of dudes think SHOULD NOT be the measuring stick for how women think, feel and behave (save only for a “How to attract a guy,” convo, and even THAT would be crap because no one should ever think about marrying anyone who doesn’t respect their boundaries, or whose boundaries they’ll be violating simply by being themselves.)

              Let’s use God here, Jeff. Just because.

              In the framework of both this conversation AND your purported belief system, women should behave in ways that are good and righteous in the eyes of their Creator.

              They should live by their values. By the principles that equal lives well lived.

              What men as a collective group think of these women afterward couldn’t be less relevant. Other people’s opinions of us have very little relevance at all outside of our personal comfort levels in a given situation, depending on how much we care what others think. (Healthy people rarely care.)

              And if you want to know why so many of your comments don’t just seem, but ARE, overtly sexist and offensive, it’s because of things like this.

              There are things that give human beings value (much of it is inherent).

              I find it disturbing that you immediately jump to how women’s behavior is perceived by men as something that matters, while giving men a free pass under the guise of “boys will be boys.”

              I can’t emphasize enough how dangerous, foolish, hypocritical, and damaging I believe that type of thinking and expression to be.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Jeff Strand says:

              Matt,

              I wonder if you’re familiar with Evan Marc Katz? He’s a relationship counselor and matchmaker who works with a clientele that’s almost all women. He’s based in NYC and LA, and as you might have guessed from his name, he’s a Jew. So he doesn’t apply Christian principles, but still applies basic morality…to some extent. (For example, he encourages couples to cohabitate before deciding to marry – as a Catholic, I know you’re aware that this is a mortal sin).

              I bring him up for two reasons. First of all, if you google him and go to his site, he has a lot of interesting material in the form of questions from women about relationships, finding a spouse, issues in marriage, etc, He answers the question, but then there is a comment thread for each question, that can get pretty lengthy. Some of the stuff on there is very interesting, and I think some of the female commenters on here in particular might enjoy reading some of that stuff. As a man, I found some of it pretty interesting too.

              But the bigger reason I brought him up, is that your comments reminded me of him. Especially when you talk about how women shouldn’t care what men think. Evan Marc Katz definitely does not agree with this! And here’s a professional matchmaker who gets paid thousands of dollars by women to find them husbands!

              He is one of the main characters in Lori Gottlieb’s book, “Marry Him”. Largely because Gottlieb ends up becoming one of his clients. So here’s the thing – Katz tries to explain to her that she can’t change men, she can only change herself! That’s the point I was making also, which you objected to, Matt. And Katz says he runs into this problem all the time with his female clients – they say, why do I have to change? Why can’t the men change? And Katz answers them: Fine, go ahead and try to change men, as a gender. Good luck with that. Or…you can accept that men are the way they are, and you can adjust yourself accordingly. After all, isn’t it men that you’re pursuing, in your quest to find a husband?

              Katz is on the money here. He tells these women: Look, I can sit here with you and bash men all day…but afterwards, what have we done to improve your chances of landing a good husband? And of course, he’s right.

              I would give the same advice to a man: you can’t change women, so learn what you can about them and use it to your advantage. That’s why in earlier posts I said I would advise a young man to work on becoming an alpha male, because this tends to be what attracts women who have options. Is that being sexist and unfair to men? No, it’s just acknowledging that a man cannot change women as a gender, he can only change himself (to a certain extent) to better appeal to them. Common sense, really.

              Quality men As A WHOLE (and yes, you can always find exceptions) who are good catches and have options, tend to want to marry girls who are pretty and in-shape, feminine and soft spoken (not loud or sarcastic), caring and nuturing, mentally stable and balanced, giving, decently educated but not overly aggressive about a career and therefore willing to prioritize family life, not materialistic, have compatible religious beliefs and values, has a good sense of humor, will look up to him and respect him as the head of the family, has good maternal qualities and wants children, and has a lot of chemistry/passion with him and is sexually desirous of him….but does not have a history of promiscuity (this is a biggie, as it all by itself can disqualify her). And then as a practical matter, he’d prefer she be never married, with no kids.

              Now I’ll tell you, a young lady who possess those traits can write her own ticket. Her MMV is near the top of the scale, and she is a rockstar in the dating/marriage market. Quality male prospects will flock to her – her main task will be to sort through them and choose the best mate she can for herself. Now is this “sexist”? No, it’s just how men and women are..,and how the mating ritual works. But as a father, since I want the best for my own daughters, why would I NOT encourage them and raise them to turn out like the young lady described in the paragraph above? Wouldn’t I be failing them if I didn’t do this? Don’t I want them to marry well?

              To wrap this up, once again I highly recommend both Lori Gottleib’s book, and Evan Marc Katz’s website/blog (even though I don’t agree with him on everything – for example. he says couples should date for several years and then cohabitate for several more years before marrying, while I think a six month dating period and then a six month engagement (no cohabitation!) is sufficient)

              Like

              • Matt says:

                I didn’t catch this comment earlier. Busy day.

                I’ll say this, and be done with it.

                You are OBSESSED with how to “trick” or “pretend” or “wear a mask” or “conceal” (or any other word that means INAUTHENTIC) others into into wanting to be with us romantically/sexually.

                Maybe you don’t understand what I mean when I write things.

                Unless we are VERY SPECIFICALLY discussing dating for the purposes of casual sex exclusively (which is unlikely to ever happen here), then all this stuff you’re saying has zero value, relevance, or merit.

                I. DON’T. CARE.

                I don’t know why you do care. Feel free to explain it.

                I put absolutely NO VALUE WHATSOEVER on a person hitting the genetic lottery or having huge bank accounts or having skills designed to deceive and manipulate other people into having sex with them.

                At the risk of sounding like I’m personally attacking you or pretending to understand the dynamics you have at home (because I promise I’m not trying to do either), my heart BREAKS for your daughter because you’re teaching her that the value of her life is rooted in how well she marries.

                And if I believed you measured that in the integrity and character of the person she chooses to love, that’d be fine and dandy.

                But you don’t.

                You measure it in physical attractiveness. You measure your daughter’s future worth by what a bunch of strange men (many of whom will be stupid-moron assholes) think of her “market value” as a good little sandwich-making, back-rubbing wife who buries her real, authentic thoughts and feelings to appease this guy.

                I mean. Fuck.

                Our children DO NOT require the approval of others to be worthy of love and respect.

                Your daughter needn’t meet some arbitrary standards threshold contrived by a bunch of self-serving, morally bankrupt frat boys to be “enough.”

                She was born “enough.”

                And I pray you’ll tell her over and over and over and over and over again.

                People matter because they matter.

                Not because any of us gets to decide who does and who doesn’t.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Jeff Strand says:

                Matt,

                I raise my daughters to grow up to be like their mother, who I love very much. Why would I not? After all, why would I raise them to be the kind of woman that I myself would never marry?

                And don’t worry about the quality of the suitors they will have to choose from. I’ll make sure they know what to look for. After all, they have their Dad as a role model. ;-)

                For example, you take me to task by saying “you measure it in physical attractiveness”. Well, yes, those of us who live in the reality community know that a women’s physical attractiveness is one of the single most important attributes a prospective mate is looking for. What decent young man with a lot going for him will be looking to marry a 300 lb woman, or one who’s ugly with bad hygiene? In the real world, it’s just not gonna happen.

                Impressing upon my daughters the importance of keeping themselves fit and attractive is no different than encouraging them to get good grades in school. It will pay them dividends later in their life. And will provide them with more options. It’s that simple.

                Like

                • Matt says:

                  I don’t disagree that being one’s best physical self is healthy and pays dividends.

                  But there is also MIND and SPIRIT to round out the human trifecta.

                  Your children are not my business, and I don’t feel good about even commenting about them.

                  I take seriously the parent-child relationship, and it’s truly not my intent to dishonor it, even in blog comments.

                  Being attractive and being a person people want to be with and marry is great. I totally agree. Everyone who does that will make their lives better.

                  But aren’t you putting a little too much stock in prospective mates?

                  Why is the “quality suitor” ratio more valuable than how many books she reads, or how many people she helps, or how many academic subjects she masters, or WHATEVER the thing is that sets her heart on fire in life?

                  Whatever SHE is passionate about strikes me as the thing to assign value to, and then helping her achieve THAT.

                  Perhaps she does value “scoring a good husband” more than anything else. If that’s the case, and she lives a long and happy life, then that will be a good thing.

                  All I’m saying is we mustn’t live in a world where we measure human beings by something as arbitrary as the collective opinions of strangers about how we look or about how “quality” the person we choose to love is, or any of these surface things.

                  What if she wants to be a nun, Jeff?

                  And serve God and the poor from a convent?

                  Would that somehow make her a failure?

                  How much value does a bunch of guys’ opinions of her mean if she chose that path?

                  And, simply following through to the logical conclusion, if it doesn’t matter in that situation, then how can it EVER matter?

                  Spoiler Alert: It never will.

                  Value. TRUE, substantive value is in no way related to what strangers think of you.

                  Like

            • monica poisson says:

              Thank God not all men think like you do Jeff

              Liked by 1 person

      • anitvan says:

        @Jeff

        “I hope this helps.”

        No, not really.

        I’m having difficulty understanding how you can believe, on the one hand, that adultery/fornication is immoral for both sexes, but then go on and characterize a man’s actions in this regard as an ACHIEVEMENT, while the woman’s actions are characterized as moral failure. That seems inconsistent to me.

        Putting aside the fact that I disagree that it’s harder for men to “score” (blech) than women – (I mean seriously, if there are all these sluts willing to simply spread their legs, how hard can it be???) – but even if that were true, SO WHAT? How, in any way, does the man come off as admirable??

        I know that you know better, Jeff. Sexual sin harms both sexes. It can do harm to us, our partners, and to our relationship with God. It can have harmful effects physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So it’s hard for me to understand how you can be ok with giving men an implied wink and a pass. Aren’t you basically enabling serious sin? In love, don’t you have an obligation to warn men of their sin as well? That THEY too are just a shitty lock?

        From my perspective, you are sinning against your brothers by your inaction, your failure to hold them accountable for their actions. I encourage you repent and receive Christ’s full forgiveness, and, so strengthened, turn away from this behaviour.

        I say this with Christian love and respect.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Jeff Strand says:

          Anita,

          I’m not being inconsistent. It’s just that more than one thing can be true at a time.

          It’s true that adultery/fornication is wrong (i.e.,”sinful” for those of us old timers who still believe there’s such a thing as “sin”). And it’s wrong for both sexes. Men do not get a pass here.

          And yet it’s also true that….

          Finding a nice-looking, attractive sex partner is a difficult feat for Mr. Average, but ridiculously easy for Miss Average. It takes no skill or “game” on her part, she merely has to signal interest and the men come running.

          That’s why I said that society in general looks up to and respects the successful ladies’ man IN SPITE OF his immorality…precisely because he’s showing a high skill level in pulling that off. But, of course, his actions are still immoral.

          So it’s wrong for both men and women, but if “feels” worse for women to be promiscuous. Just like it’s a character defect for anyone to be a coward, and yet it “feels” worse when it’s a man.

          We as a society hold our women to a higher standard when it comes to the vice of promiscuity, and we hold our men to a higher standard when it comes to the vice of cowardice.

          It is what it is. I think the take-away for young ladies is that you can’t change this, you have to deal with it as it is. Therefore, a young lady should be aware of how incredibly damaging to her MMV it is for her to be perceived to be “loose” or “easy”. It’s devastating, really. The equivalent hit to man’s MMV would be the social misfit who lives in mom’s basement and plays video games and smokes dope all day.

          Like

          • Matt says:

            Honest question, Jeff. Because this goes to the very heart of so much of what I’ve written on this site that was couched in Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus terms.

            There is some nuance here, so please bear with me.

            I’m mostly with you on this comment. There are many value systems in the world, and several of them frown upon sexual promiscuity.

            Setting aside values and morality, there’s a second observation you’ve made that I generally agree with.

            And that is the one where, mathematically speaking, Mr. Average has a more difficult time finding sex partners than does Miss Average.

            I think that is irrefutably true by every objectively observable measurement.

            You lose me a tiny bit on the “feels worse” stuff, because that’s pretty subjective, but I think I understand your point, and it too, is one I agree with. And that is that MOST people (even if it’s not us, or the people we know well) view female promiscuity as a bigger negative than they do in males, and that they view male cowardice as a bigger negative than they do in females.

            All of that, in my estimation, is true, and people who want to argue with it are ignoring reality.

            But THEN, you go full-on factually baseless sexist for reasons I can only assume are rooted in your life-long belief system you were taught, or saw modeled from your male role models.

            You say: “I think the takeaway for young ladies is that you can’t change this, you have to deal with it as it is.”

            That’s like saying Rudy can’t play football at Notre Dame. That’s like saying the Cubs (or Cleveland!!! Woot.) can never win the World Series. That’s like saying Beethoven can’t compose music. Or that a black man can never become President of the United States. That’s like saying humans will never break the sound barrier, or circumnavigate the globe, or climb Mount Everest, or fly safely to and from outer space, or be able to formulate alphabets that we teach billions of people who can then generate power, deliver it to the masses, who then use advanced software, hardware, and internet connectivity to exchange information.

            It’s a MIRACLE.

            Don’t tell me what humans can’t do.

            People struggle to lift themselves up, dream big, and achieve things previously believed impossible only when we stand on top of them to appear a bit taller.

            So, my question:

            Isn’t it possible, Jeff, that the leadership role men played as the bigger, more-powerful humans dating back to our caveman/tribal roots, evolved through the years with men inheriting the decision-making power, and implementing rules and structures which favored themselves at the expense of everyone who didn’t look and think and act like them?

            Isn’t it possible that many of the differences between men and women we discuss in the context of relationships aren’t inherently biological (though beliefs have been proven to influence our physiology on a case-by-case basis), and that they’re partially a result of generation after generation after generation after generation of men passing down beliefs to their sons and daughters?

            That many of these things we believe are taught to us?

            I used to believe that when white Europeans showed up to America, that the Native Americans and the Pilgrims were all friends and ate meals with one another and let their children play together.

            I used to believe a jolly overweight man magically delivered presents to me on December 25th for several years.

            I used to believe Tiger Woods was a role model.

            I used to believe having lots of money would make you happy.

            I used to believe in so many things Jeff that life has proven to be false. Over and over and over again this happens. There is NO WAY POSSIBLE you haven’t also experienced the process of learning new information, and adjusting your beliefs and actions, accordingly.

            Humanity has done it every minute of every day since showing up on this planet.

            We evolve. We hope. We grow — often painfully.

            But then we achieve. We overcome obstacles and do great things despite all odds, and despite a bunch of people telling us we couldn’t.

            So tell me, Jeff. Please. Convince me that young women can’t change these arbitrary beliefs people have about who they are, and about who and what they can and can’t be.

            What makes young women any different than any other faction of Life or humanity who used resolve and courage and strength and hope to, one small win at a time, change The Way Things Are into The Way Things Should Be?

            Cowardice is unfortunate, Jeff. I agree. But instead of pointing at people we believe to be cowards and telling them that’s what they always have to be, why can’t we teach them that fear truly is the only thing worthy of our fear.

            Why not help people PRACTICE courage in spite of fear, so that our sons and friends and brothers and teammates overcome this “character defect” or vice?

            I don’t accept that young women have to take it on the chin because nothing will ever change. Everything ALREADY has changed.

            I don’t accept that people who demonstrate a lack of bravery can’t be lifted up to discover a more courageous version of himself underneath all of the messy humanity he inherited from the world and behavior models he was born into.

            Lift people up, man. Don’t stand on top of them to try to look great.

            Actually BE great.

            Be the light. The world needs it.

            Like

          • Jeff Strand says:

            Matt,

            Thanks for the feedback. To your point that I shouldn’t be advising young women to accept how men are and adapt themselves accordingly, but rather they should demand the men change (and I guess wait for that change)…I just cannot agree.

            For the reasons I mentioned earlier when I discussed Evan Marc Katz. (Again, I really recommend you check out his blog). Namely, that telling a young lady that men as a gender are wrong and need to change, does nothing to help her. She cannot change men, she can only change herself. With this knowledge, there is power.

            Again though, appreciate all your comments. I don’t know how you find all the time in a day.

            Like

          • anitvan says:

            @Jeff

            I think you and I have a different understanding of what constitutes inconsistency.

            I don’t care how frickin hard it is for Joe Average to get laid. That it is harder for a man to commit this particular immorality than it is for a woman (and that is your subjective assessment, at best) in no way makes it worthy of admiration. It’s baffling that you would champion it when you proclaim that it is immoral.

            This is about more than just the sexual reputation of men vs women.

            Just because it is a cultural reality in the world (which is far from truth with a capital T) doesn’t mean you embrace it and it certainly does not mean you perpetuate it. Would you show admiration for the abortionist who safely performs difficult late-term abortions because they’re harder to successfully carry out than first term abortions?

            (Sorry for the inflammatory reference to abortion, folks.)

            Liked by 1 person

        • K. Martin says:

          @ Antivan

          I agree with you 100%.

          You pretty much summed it up. Your words remind me of 1 Cor 6:18, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.”

          The person who commits sexual immorality is not only sinning against God, but he or she is also sinning against their own body. That’s certainly not something to brag about or champion. It’s just evidence that the way fallen man views sexual immortality and the way God defines sexual immorality are polar opposites. That’s why it’s important for us as Christians to renew our minds, so that we can think about sexual relations with the mind of Christ rather than cultivating a carnal mindset.

          I find Strand’s assertion that it’s easier for women to “score” than it is for men unrealistic too (for reasons I hope to explain later). I also find his assertion inconsistent because it contradicts statements that he made earlier on another one of Matt’s posts.

          For brevity sake, I’ll post his SHORTENED comment here.

          Post: Why Divorce Hurts Men More Than Women

          Jeff Strand on Aug. 9, 2016 at 9:59 pm

          “My good friend Hank and his wife divorced after 16 years of marriage and 2 kids. She immediately had to snag onto the first guy who came along – Hank calls him Shamu cause the guy weighs like 300 pounds …

          Meanwhile Hank plays the field, dates lots of hot chicks, now has a steady girlfriend with a million dollar 401k who wants to marry him …

          I see this pattern over and over again. Look at Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat, Pray, Love fame. Her ex re-married to a hotter, younger broad and has made a family with her …

          Meanwhile, Gilbert married an old man in Indonesia who needed a Green Card. She brought him back to the States, and now they have divorced. She has no one at this point …

          My wife mentioned she sees the same thing with divorced moms at school here in our area of Texas. Their former husbands typically re-marry and end up with younger wives. While the wives are reduced to getting all dolled up in make-up and miniskirts every day (even just going to school or the market) in an attempt to lure some guy in. One of these divorced moms in particular is now in her 50’s and still sporting that pleather miniskirt all over town. But at that point, it begins to get a bit pathetic …

          We also have friends just going the thru a divorce now. The guy is already dating other (younger, of course) girls. His soon to be ex, on the other hand, is truly screwed. In her mid-40’s, and Mother Nature has not been kind – she looks in her 50’s. Her sex appeal is gone at this point, and she’s coming out of the marriage with no assets, no property, and a sick father to take care of. Her looks are gone. What can she offer a new husband? What are her prospects?

          So anyway, that’s been my experience. I have just about never seen a case where it works out well for the wife post-divorce. And if she has small kids in tow, it’s even harder – who wants to deal with that?”

          Therefore, what Strand states on this thread – average joe women have an easier time “scoring” than average joe men – is pretty inconsistent and contradictory with what he claimed on that thread – it’s much easier for middle-aged men to score than it is for middle-aged women.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jeff Strand says:

            The relative SMV of men and women change with age. Form the time people are interested in the opposite sex, in their teens, up to the mid 20’s the women have the power. Pretty young gals in their early 20’s are the rock stars of the sexual and dating marketplace. They call the shots.

            By the time you get to late 20’s, it starts to even out. And from early 30’s on, the power balance shifts to favor men. My friend Hank is an example of this. This is why it makes sense for a woman to marry young, to lock down the highest quality mate she can, by no later than her mid-20’s. This is akin to selling your stock while it’s high.

            But all the above notwithstanding, any relatively pretty and non-obese woman (let’s say, just your average chick) can still secure sex almost at will at almost any age. All she has to do is wear something sexy and go to the nearest singles bar. But keep in mind, this applies to sex only – if she wants commitment, that’s a different story and that gets harder for her to secure (from a good, decent man) as she gets older.

            Remember this: women are the gatekeepers of sex, men are the gatekeepers of commitment.

            Like

  12. ccsevents says:

    You are speaking to my insides that have been screaming for the past 14 and a half years. So genius. So nicely put. So right.

    Like

  13. Jane says:

    It’s like you’re outlining my life. I don’t know if I should cry, laugh, run or burn this mf’er to the ground.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      It’s not just you, Jane. This is THE Common Marriage.

      This is why it’s a crisis. Everyone just sort of accidentally finds themselves in it one day having done ZERO obvious wrongs in the context of what they were taught.

      It’s bullshit.

      And I’m sorry. Because I very specifically understand how bad it can hurt, and for how long, and how things I did caused many of the same things you feel right now.

      It can make you an entirely different person.

      Which is a bit scary. But perhaps, in the end, we can leverage that into something beautiful.

      Here’s to hoping.

      Like

  14. Anonymous says:

    Sometimes, too, the husband who has become the “shitty husband” goes so far down the path of believing that his wife’s feelings aren’t legitimate or real, that he sees her trying to tell him how she feels as criticism. And, although HE is the one who is emotionally neglecting the relationship, he believes that she is at fault. Because he doesn’t get it. And then he’s the one who goes and has an affair, since he’s seeking another woman who he (mistakenly) believes will be “easier” and not care about things like leaving dishes by the sink.

    Sometimes, the cheater is NOT the one who was suffering the emotional neglect.

    Sometimes, the wife gets burned at both ends – she has a husband who leaves dishes by the sink, and then loses him to an affair when he becomes apathetic/indifferent, as he seeks out someone who requires less of him, emotionally.

    This happened to me, and I think it’s a fairly common pattern that isn’t addressed in this post either.

    I’m not saying these wives bear no responsibility for the fallout of their marriage. I’m just saying that sometimes, the cheater isn’t the one who was suffering from emotional neglect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Strand says:

      “I’m not saying these wives bear no responsibility for the fallout of their marriage. I’m just saying that sometimes, the cheater isn’t the one who was suffering from emotional neglect”

      Thank you for this different perspective.

      Wishing you lots of hope, health, and healing.

      Like

    • Tina says:

      Amen Anon. I’ve been there

      Like

    • sl says:

      I could not agree more with this! Their ego is so fragile and they are so programmed into dismissing anything we say, that to attempt to convey our perspective in and of itself is critical (and burdensome) in their mind. My husband will sometimes belittle me for merely disagreeing and say I ‘attacked’ him first and deserved it (as if that were a valid response regardless). It took me a while to see it from his perspective, and why he was reacting that way. But the true problem lies in simple not listening to what I’m saying. Before or after I’ve pointed out his reactions. At all. There is just no effort, no self-reflection, no value in my perspective or thoughts. He thinks my getting input at all is getting my way, as if his “way” is the norm from which we begin and end. I just wish I could make him see that this does not make him happy in the long run. Hurting or neglecting people will not bring you happiness.

      This blog helps me b/c I assumed so much of it stemmed from his own family. I think a lot of it is marriage and societal gender roles and sexism. I think the overall dismissal of womens’ experiences on top of gendered roles at home are just setting marriages up to fail.

      Cheating. I don’t think men realize how sexual women are. We’re human as well, and the constraints are slowly slipping away, despite the shaming. If I’m honest the only thing that has stopped me at this point is not knowing how to approach it more directly with the person and the constraints that are preventing me from swifter divorce.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. zombiedrew2 says:

    Hey Matt,

    one thing that gets lost in some of these discussions is the base idea of individual emotional health, and I think it’s hugely important.

    Anonymous makes a point above about the wife who gets “burned on both ends”. Paraphrasing here, she talks about cases where a woman has a husband who emotionally abandons her, and then he is the who has an affair (in my mind because he wants the “easy/fun” parts of the relationship without the emotional needs).

    You are right when you talk about divorce being one of the biggest social crisis of our time – but just as the affair is a symptom of a hurting marriage, I think the hurting marriage is really a symptom of a relationship where at least one of the people is emotionally unhealthy. I guess emotional health exists on a spectrum and all of us are emotionally unhealthy to a degree, but I still think emotional health is the real issue here.

    There are SO many people in the world who are terrified of actual intimacy. I think it’s a basic human need, and we all crave it. But at the same time we are terrified of it – because it requires true vulnerability.

    If we want to help relationships, we first need to help individuals. We need to raise our children to be emotionally healthy, to accept their emotions good and bad. We need to stop telling little boys that being “strong” means never crying and hiding their pain. We need to teach them to respect themselves, while still understanding that the world isn’t about them and their needs.

    I don’t have any answers here, but I just see so much that seems wrong with how people are emotionally. And unhealthy individuals lead to unhealthy relationships.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. marilyn sims says:

    Hi Drew,

    Reading your comments about unhealthy individuals, emotionally healthy children has me on the verge of tears.

    I was almost 40 years old when I started attending Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings and read Melodie Beattie’s (name is probably misspelled) world-wide best seller by the same name. Here is briefly what I learned that saved my life and sanity.

    The rules in an alcoholic household are: DON’T TRUST! DON’T TALK! DON’T TOUCH!
    DON’T FEEL!

    Starting around the age of three, these were the rules I understood were “written in stone”.
    It’s taken me a long, long, long time to recover and I am still not completely well and healthy! My father was the alcoholic, I married an alcoholic and my daughter suffers from the affliction.

    My life has certainly been filled with challenges — and not without times of joy, peace and celebration. I am grateful everyday for the wisdom of the folks at ADCA.

    Liked by 2 people

    • zombiedrew2 says:

      Hi marilyn, thanks for sharing that. The rules of your household really strike me here:

      DON’T TRUST! DON’T TALK! DON’T TOUCH! DON’T FEEL!

      talk, touch and feel go hand in hand with trust. When people grow up believing they shouldn’t do those things (and many, many grow up with some variation on that) it seems there’s a really high likelihood that they grow up emotionally detached – with all sorts of walls built around them as “defense mechanisms” to protect themselves from being hurt. But those very walls that they have understandable built are also the walls that prevent them from being a healthy individual and then in turn having healthy relationships.

      I’m no expert here, but I see many addictions as outlets people turn to to escape the pain and emptiness that they feel inside. They are distractions, and/or ways to feel *something*, for at least a little while. And affairs can fall into the same boat here – escapes, from regular life. Into a world where you can feel loved and valued for a while, even though what people are feelings is usually far from truly being love – at least it’s something.

      It’s crazy, and sad.

      Liked by 1 person

      • marilyn sims says:

        Drew,

        You are right, it is crazy and sad.

        What I grieve about more than anything else, is that I’ve unwittingly passed on the dysfunction to my children. Amazingly enough, my daughter who is an attentive and loving parent did not start abusing alcohol until last year. At that time, her son was old enough to understand some of the dynamics of alcohol abuse and he was in counseling sessions recommended by his school.

        He is today (11 years old) a loving, mostly happy child who can verbalize his feelings relatively well. He is resilient and brave — his father died of a a massive hear attack in June. His mother is in recovery and has a way to go. She is what is referred to as a “functioning alcoholic”.

        We often make choices from places of pain, ignorance and desperation — I know I did. There are so many millions of us doing the same thing — its no wonder that our families are in crisis. I don’t know how we can stem the tide that threatens to drown us. Matt is trying and I believe he is having some success.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. StartingOver@45 says:

    Came across your website a couple of weeks ago & I love what you’ve written!

    A year & a half into our marriage (21 years ago), I was 6 months pregnant with our first child when my husband told me “I love you, BUT I’m not in love with you & I want a divorce.” At this point there was no emotional neglect or any of the little paper cuts you’ve spoken of that slowly damage the marriage over time. It was a case of he had run into his ex-girlfriend & was meeting up with her behind my back. Being pregnant, I couldn’t file until the after the baby was born, but then I got sick & delivered him prematurely. We worked through that episode, but it was the first major thing that happened in our marriage in which the trust was broken.
    Take the above and then add all of the little paper cuts you’ve spoken of in your writings, plus two more times of the “I love you, BUT I’m not in love with you & I want a divorce” speech (2nd time, a different woman, & the most recent 3rd time, the ex-girlfriend from 20 something years ago) and I have finally thrown in the towel. I guess I’m either hard-headed or a glutton for punishment…I haven’t figured out which.
    Over the years, I sought counseling, I read books, I researched the internet, I went to church…anything I could do to try & make things better. He on the other hand wanted no part of any of that. He didn’t need changing.
    I’ve realized that there are far worse things in this life than divorce. I have a 15 year old daughter who point blank told me that I deserve better & that he wasn’t going to change. She asked me why I was staying & putting myself & them (her & her older brother) through this…she basically begged me to put a stop to the nonsense. So I did. We are now separated & our divorce should be final in November. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done & I question my decision everyday about whether or not I’ve done the right thing, but I actually feel at peace now.
    Yesterday, I really thought he was a good person who just made bad choices. Today, I just think he’s a crappy person.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Matt says:

      Brutal.

      I don’t really know what to say. I hope my very general writing designed to encapsulate what I perceive to be the 80-ish percent majority didn’t make you feel dismissed because your situation certainly doesn’t fit neatly into my little generalization box.

      It’s not my place to comment on a man I’ve never met, you who you loved for more than two decades, and who is the father of the people you love more than anyone.

      I pride myself on trying REALLY hard to avoid the judgment of others, even when I know them well.

      The next time I meet a perfectly flawless human will be the first time. And I figure, until I get my shit together, I have zero business pointing fingers anywhere except in the mirror.

      That said, I’m pleased to hear you feel a sense of peace.

      I think I can understand that feeling. That you didn’t want your marriage to end, but the separation released you from a bunch of perpetual unpleasantness.

      Hard times. But if you read something here that somehow helped in a small way, I’m certainly happy to learn so.

      Good luck to you and your family as you navigate all these things between now and whatever great thing might come next.

      Like

      • StartingOver@45 says:

        I truly appreciate the well wishes, and I haven’t felt dismissed at all!

        You are doing good work here. I’m very glad that I found this website & I look forward to your future writings. I’ve actually had quite a few “A-Ha!” moments reading some of this & I even went so far as to tell my future ex about this website & encouraged him to check into because YOU GET IT. I’m pretty sure he won’t, but that’s his loss.

        Kudos to you for trying to help others.

        I think I’m going to follow suit with you…I’m going to work on getting my shit together & I’m going to try not pointing anymore fingers at anyone or anything except at myself. Just going to take it one day at a time!

        Thanks, Matt!

        Liked by 1 person

    • anitvan says:

      You’re not a glutton for punishment. You believed the best about your husband until his actions unequivocally demonstrated otherwise, and his actions demonstrated that he is not truly interested in being a husband to you. A husband, by definition, reserves his husbandry *for his wife*. He wasn’t doing that.

      You actually did the loving thing, my dear. You enforced your boundary and held him accountable for his actions. That takes an incredible amount of strength and integrity.

      No wonder you feel a sense of peace.

      Liked by 1 person

      • StartingOver@45 says:

        Thank you for your encouraging words. It’s funny to me that you used the word strength. Most days I haven’t felt very strong at all. In fact, I’ve often felt like a coward taking the “easy” way out, although there’s been nothing easy about this.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. ttravis says:

    A macro-level note here: this issue of how the conditions for an affair are created by a fundamental cluelessness about affairs and lack of tools to talk about them– before or after they happen– is addressed at length in Peggy Vaughan’s *The Monogamy Myth* (https://www.amazon.com/Monogamy-Myth-Personal-Handbook-Recovering/dp/1557045429/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475256882&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=mongamy+myth).

    For those who might be alarmed by the title, the book is not about how monogamy is a myth that we should shatter with casual sex, but about how it’s a myth that being monogamous is easy and that all that it takes to achieve it is saying “I love my partner and would never have an affair!” Vaughan talks in detail about the same need for honesty that Matt does (though, sadly, with less profanity and wit).

    She also discusses why it is more common/easier for men to have affairs, but without defaulting to junk science claims about male and female “natures.” For her, it boils down to the facts that men feel entitled, and are rewarded in most places in our society for their sexual “consquests,” while women are socialized to feel shame about sexual desire, and are rewarded in most places in our society (including some places in this comment thread) for “keeping their legs shut.” So folks looking for more information on the topic of how male and female experiences of affairs differ could look to Vaughan’s book.

    Folks who have experienced infidelity and are looking for non-judgmental support as they try and figure out what to do may wish to check the Infidelity Counseling Network, which uses Vaughan’s work to inform anonymous peer counseling devoted to personal recovery (as opposed to counseling aimed at saving or scuttling the relationship) from infidelity: http://www.infidelitycounselingnetwork.org/.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Matt says:

      Thank you for this, Dr. T. Mostly the information and resources, and a tiny bit for the laugh.

      I thought this might be a major trigger topic for a lot of people in a way I couldn’t fully anticipate, not unlike feeling abandoned during/after childbirth.

      Other than Jeffrey’s needless injection of sexism and hypocrisy into the conversation, it’s gone better than expected.

      Thank you again for your contributions. These are real things that can help people, and I really appreciate you going out of way to do that for others.

      Like

  19. Jeff Strand says:

    I wonder what the commenters here think about the idea of forgiveness after an affair? Even though it was almost 2 decades ago, I still vividly remember the pre-marital counseling my now-wife and I went through, in order to get married in the Church.

    One part of it was to take a survey. We went to separate rooms to take the survey, while at the house of our “sponsoring” married couple…so we could not influence each other’s answers. One of the questions was something like: You catch your spouse having an affair. How do you respond? Do you A) Declare the marriage over and seek a divorce B) Forgive your spouse and put it behind you and just move on in your marriage or C) Unsure what you would do.

    As it turns out, my fiancé (at the time) chose B and I chose C (as I explained to the counseling couple, I chose this option in large part because I just couldn’t picture her having an affair). But the important thing is, neither of us chose A. Our couple was so impressed – they congratulated us very heartily and told us we were the first couple they had counseled (out of many) who got the question “right”. Everybody else, they said, always picks A. My fiancé and I were incredulous at this – we felt like, if you have that attitude going into a marriage, then why even bother? If your kids make a screw-up, do you disown them as well? Cause it’s the same idea.

    Similarly, I was having some happy hour drinks with a male and a female coworker. The female was on her third marriage. She said something to the effect that if her husband cheats, she’s out the door. Marriage over, period. Me and the other guy were dumbfounded by this, but she was equally dumbfounded to hear that we so strongly disagreed. I mean you might have been married for many years, have kids involved, and because someone makes a mistake you throw it all out the window? And what do you think you’ll find back out on the dating market?

    So she got a little indignant and asked us, well, what if your wife cheated? You’d forgive her? To which my coworker said, “Of course I would. As I matter of fact, my wife has run up many thousands in credit card debt, it’s a problem she struggles with and it’s happened numerous times in our marriage. I always forgive her when she comes clean and confesses to me in tears. But I’ve sometimes thought…i’d prefer she had a fling, cause in that case after I forgive her I’m not still on the hook to pay back thousands of dollars!”

    So then she asked me if I’d forgive my wife of having an affair. I answered “I’ve already told her – there’s nothing she could do that I wouldn’t forgive her, with only a single exception – deliberately causing serious physical injury to our children (to which my wife had replied, well I don’t blame you). Short of that, she gets my forgiveness. Have an affair? Rob a bank? Spend our savings on something stupid? Anything. I forgive her. And of course, it works both ways.”

    Well, our female coworker left still shaking her head. I don’t know if we had an effect on her over the long term or not. I was very diplomatic with her though – I never mentioned to her that with her attitude of “he cheats and I’m out the door”, I would not consider her good marriage material. Personally, I would not marry someone with such an attitude.

    So anybody here agree or disagree with me on this? Do you believe in forgiveness after an affair? And if you were single, would you marry someone who had the attitude my female coworker had? Just curious…

    Liked by 1 person

    • ttravis says:

      On forgiveness in affairs (and other interpersonal harms), I recommend Janis Spring’s excellent *How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, and the Freedom Not To.* (https://www.amazon.com/How-Can-Forgive-You-Courage/dp/0060009314/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475266213&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=springhow+can+I+forgive+you)

      Spring does a great job of talking about the cultural pressure to forgive, and how a kneejerk investment in forgiveness as the only worthy response to a harm results in what she calls “cheap forgiveness.” Unlike genuine forgiveness, which requires that the wrongdoer acknowledge the harm done and SEEK the forgiveness of the wronged party, “cheap forgiveness” just papers over harm in the name of “keeping the peace.” If genuine forgiveness is not possible, Spring encourages “acceptance,” a coming to terms with the harm that can be achieved when the wrongdoer is not available to or interested in the shared–and difficult– project of repentance and forgiveness.

      Though it’s not a main line of argument in her book, Spring talks about the different ways that Christian and Jewish traditions view wrongdoing, restitution, and forgiveness, contrasting the Christian emphasis on forgiveness with the Jewish interest in Justice.

      I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is so superior in its recognition of the complexities of these issues to the masses of marital and divorce self-help books that it just blows me away. I think its insights are very salient to the “shitty husbands” out there who are trying to redeem themselves to their wives, even if the wrongs of the shitty husband are more low-level and banal than affairs, porn addiction, financial abuse, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Donkey says:

        Ttravis, this sounds interesting, thanks.

        I’ve heard other people talk about this, people doing something shitty to them and when confronted with it, they get pressured to forgive, they get labelled as the mean one if they don’t forgive. I certainly believe in forgiveness, but if you’ve really done something wrong, I think it’s adding insult to injury to expect to be forgiven, to explicitly or implicity shame the other person for being unforgiving/difficult/holding a grudge, if you at best make a half hearted apology.

        I’d argue though, that along with the pressure to forgive, there’s also a pressure to not forgive.

        Like Matt talks about, the affairs get the headlines. “Everyone” seems to want to put cheating as the ultimate Big Bad Thing that happens in marriage. I don’t know why. To feel more virtuous (“I’d never cheat”, “at least I don’t cheat”)? To make themselves feel better about the shit they keep taking from their spouses (“at least he/she doesn’t cheat, I’d never put up with that”)

        So infidelity gets almost this officially accepted status as the ultimate evil thing to do in marriage. So I think there is, for many at least, a kind of pressure to leave a cheating spouse, to show others you don’t put up with it, to restore your honor kind of.

        Now, infidelity is a huge deal in my mind. It’s a betrayal of trust, there can be a risk of pregnancy, you can catch and spread a disease, what’s supposed to be only between two people is no longer so, you’re leaving your monogamous partner hanging. And people are totally free to have whatever dealbreakers they want of course, like “you cheat once, I’m out”.

        I just agree with Matt (and others here) that cheating in my mind is not the only way to betray your partner/marriage, and while it may legitimately be the worst thing someone else can imagine someone doing to their spouse (apart from violence), I don’t think that opinion deserves to be accepted as the offical Truth.

        Like

        • Donkey says:

          Sorry Jeff, didn’t see you had posted a question I basically answered in my comment to ttravis.

          Personally, I believe I have a similar stance as you on this. If I were married and my spouse cheated, my default stance is that I’d want to work it out, forgive and move on. This would be my default stance whether or not we have children. But I think it would require genuine remorse, amends etc.

          I think my one-time-and-we’re-done dealbreaker is violence (against me or any children we have). Maybe some forms of crime too. If someone snapped one time and slapped me, I could probably deal (with true remorse, maybe counceling and probably only if it were a one time thing). But if I were with a man and he used his probably larger physical stature to inflict harm, to intimidate me etc? Even if they were totally honorable afterwards and reported themselves to the police to face the consequences of their illegal actions, went to counceling etc, I’m not sure that I would be able to continue the relationship. Because I couldn’t feel physically safe around them.

          I’ve expressed before on this blog that I believe the many small shitty things that express a disregard/disrespect for my feelings/needs/wishes/status as a partner worthy of equal influence would after some years add up to be worse for *me* than if someone cheated once, expressed remorse etc, but otherwise were a good partner. Certainly if the shittyness of it was not acknowledged, and I was labelled crazy, wrong etc, and it just went on and on. And I’ve expressed before that being left alone in the hospital after c-section/birth by the father of my child would be way worse for me than him having an affair.

          But people are allowed their legitimately different feelings on this. And people are allowed whatever dealbreakers they want of course. I imagine you’d not want to marry a woman with egalitarian attitudes, and I’d certainly not want to marry someone with your views on gender roles. :)

          I read a woman say that she found her husband’s affair more painful than the death of a child. I personally can’t wrap my mind around that, but hey, this is a personal matter and I don’t think I’m in a position to label her feelings on this as wrong.

          Like

      • Jeff Strand says:

        Donkey: ” I certainly believe in forgiveness, but if you’ve really done something wrong, I think it’s adding insult to injury to expect to be forgiven, to explicitly or implicity shame the other person for being unforgiving/difficult/holding a grudge, if you at best make a half hearted apology.”

        Yep. Plus, sometimes people can prove themselves dangerous to you or your family. This could be a friend or relative. At that point, you have no choice but to cut them out of your life.

        Sadly, I have experience with this. It’s not fun. Still, even they must be forgiven if one is to live up to the Gospel. So what I do, is try to mentally forgive them…meaning, not holding hatred towards them in my heart, not wishing them ill, not holding a grudge, etc. You just have to let go. And i do this even if the person involved has not even asked my forgiveness, much less made some kind of amends or restitution. But the forgiveness is something I freely give, just as I hope the Lord will forgive me my faults and sins.

        Of course, forgiving someone in the manner I described above does not mean you act like it never happened and invite them back in your life. That would be irresponsible…assuming they still are a danger to the family, they must be cut out of your life. If necessary, get a restraining order. That’s not refusing to forgive, that’s just protecting your family from a legitimate threat.

        Like

        • Donkey says:

          Jeff, I agree with pretty much everything you said here. :)

          Someone who has done something shitty and tries to shame the other person into forgiving them without making appropriate amends, they really just want the other person to move on as if nothing happened. And if you can’t do that, if you can’t forgive them in that way (say that all is well, I’m not mad at all, let’s move on and pretend this never happened) when they don’t make amends/acknowledge what happened , you can still work on forgiving them on your own. But that may involve a change in the nature of the relationship. That doesn’t mean you don’t forgive them.

          For me, I see true emotional forgiveness (in addition to forgiveness being something to strive for) as something that comes naturally at a certain level of healing. Dr Margarat Paul said that if you’re struggling to forgive someone for what they did to you, it’s really because you’re still doing to yourself what they did to you. I see a lot of truth in that. Now, to stop doing to yourself what someone else did to you can of course be a hard task.

          Like

    • I totally believe in forgiveness after an affair, I know people who have walked through it successfully. On the other hand, an affair is just a symptom of other issues, so there has to be something redeeming within the marriage, something worth hanging onto.

      Kind of interesting to me, I’ve never been a jealous person and not the least bit interested in competing with other women over men. I’ve actually had to learn how to fake a bit of mate guarding so hubby knows I value him. He is not like me at all, he is far more prone to jealousy. Given those conditions, he would be more likely to be really rocked by an affair than I would.

      Like

      • Jeff Strand says:

        “I’ve actually had to learn how to fake a bit of mate guarding so hubby knows I value him.”

        A LITTLE BIT of jealousy can be a turn-on, as long as one does not cross over into being a possessive jerk.

        For example, when some gal flirts with me, my wife knows to have some fun with it. She’ll say to me something like “She better stay away from my man! That little whore! I’ll scratch her and pull her hair if she tries that again!”

        Of course, it’s basically just said in jest and clowning around. But it’s kinda hot too, you know what I mean? In reality, my wife is also the non-jealous type (and perhaps even takes pride in seeing other women flirting with me…knowing that she’s the one who locked me down). But a little play acting like this is something we both have fun with…and I find it sexy.

        Maybe we’re just both weird. But since we’re equally weird, I guess that’s why we make such a great couple. Good thing we found each other, lol

        Like

        • LOL! I don’t think that’s weird at all. Or at least, hubby and I have some fun with it, too.

          “In reality, my wife is also the non-jealous type (and perhaps even takes pride in seeing other women flirting with me…knowing that she’s the one who locked me down).”

          This made me laugh. A while back a salesgirl got quite fresh with hubby, and I simply watched, rather delighted that he was getting all this attention.

          Husbands and wives who can play together, stay together. :)

          Like

        • Jeff Strand says:

          “Husbands and wives who can play together, stay together. :)”

          Yep, I definitely agree, Life is so short, why not have some fun with each other along the way? Like they say, laughter and smiles are contagious.

          Like

    • sambucaqueen says:

      Hi Jeff,

      Here’s my take on the idea of forgiveness after an affair (coming from a “been there, done that, got the T-shirt”).

      My husband of 13 years cheated on me.
      Did I forgive him? Yes. Did I leave the marriage? Yes. Why, did I leave you ask? For these reasons:

      – he expressed no remorse
      – he didn’t accept responsibility and blamed it on alcohol (which means he will continue to run from problems instead of facing them)
      – this was not the first time he cheated (which I found out in couples counselling)
      – the trust is gone (a single lie discovered is enough to create doubt in every truth expressed)
      – the last few years of marriage was verbally and emotionally abusive. It was taking its toll.
      – staying with him would go against my values
      – because I deserve better

      Would I have stayed in my marriage had he said sorry, and shed some tears? I doubt it.
      What I do know is that my life is a thousand times better.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Strand says:

      Ttravis: “Though it’s not a main line of argument in her book, Spring talks about the different ways that Christian and Jewish traditions view wrongdoing, restitution, and forgiveness, contrasting the Christian emphasis on forgiveness with the Jewish interest in Justice.”

      Of course, the thing about forgiveness in the Christian tradition is that the willingness you show towards forgiving others, is the same standard that God will apply to you on the day of your death, at your Particular Judgment. As it says, “Forgive us our debts AS WE FORGIVE our debtors.”

      Likewise, sometimes non-Christians will complain “I thought you Christians aren’t supposed to judge”. They are recalling the command of Our Lord “Judge not…”, but leaving out the concluding part “…lest ye be judged.” So it wasn’t a command not to judge…how could it be, when we all must make judgment calls all the time? Rather, it was a warning that by the same standard you use in judging others, will you be judged by God (and by that same standard should you judge yourself). So it was a warning not to use a double standard when judging, not a command to never judge (which is neither possible nor desirable)

      As far as the Jewish emphasis on justice (and even revenge) over forgiveness, this is well known and is, in fact, one of the reasons why they rejected Our Lord. Christians are called to something higher: “Be ye perfect, just as Our Father in Heaven is perfect.” The ultimate expression of this is Our Lord forgiving those who were in the act of crucifying Him, and this has been imitated over the centuries by many saints and martyrs likewise forgiving those that are about to martyr them.

      If we find it hard to forgive those who slight us or humiliate us, or a spouse who betrays the marriage vows, just imagine forgiving people who are torturing you to death! Yet this is what God asks of us and EXPECTS of us. After all, did not He Himself show us the way? I’ll conclude with two relevant quotes:

      “Can we expect to get to Heaven for nothing? Did not Our Blessed Lord track the whole way to it with His Blood and tears?” — St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

      “We must not look to go to Heaven at our pleasure, on feather beds. That is not the way, for Our Lord went thither with great pain and suffering, and by many tribulations was the path wherein He walked thither, and the servant must not look to be in a better case than his Master.” – St. Thomas More, in a letter to his beloved daughter Meg, shortly before his martyrdom at the command of King Henry VIII

      Like

      • Ken Mitchell says:

        “As far as the Jewish emphasis on justice (and even revenge) over forgiveness, this is well known and is, in fact, one of the reasons why they rejected Our Lord.”

        You might want to rethink this, because it’s completely wrong. Forgiveness for transgressions is a fundamental aspect of Judaism, and never more than right now. Monday, October 3, 2016 is Rosh Hashannah, the New Year. 10 days later is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. During the period between, all Jews must beg forgiveness from ANYONE that they have offended, in word or in deed. And all Jews are obliged to GRANT forgiveness to anyone who asks for it.

        Shana Tova, Happy New Year.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Matt says:

          I’m a raving fan of truth and facts. As I would have never known to make this clarification, I very much appreciate you doing so.

          Liked by 1 person

        • gottmanfan says:

          The Christian part needs to be rethought too. That’s not a COMMON interpretation of how Christians view judgement and forgiveness.

          Like

        • anitvan says:

          Affirmed. The themes of forgiveness and redemption are woven throughout Scripture.

          Like

        • Jeff Strand says:

          Ken,

          We will agree to disagree.

          Look at the Jewish holidays. The biggest one, Passover, celebrates the deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, but at the same time horrible retribution is visited on the Egyptians, culminating with the murder of their children (first born sons). After arrival in the Promised Land, the Israelites put to the sword all the Canaanites living there. Likewise, Purim celebrates the triumph over the Persians, where supposedly millions are slaughtered in order to teach them not to mess with the Chosen People again. Similar case with Maccabees, where the “bad guys” are played by the Greeks. In all these cases, it is considered right and proper that rivers of blood are shed, as long as the blood shed belongs to the “other”. The shedding of all this blood is even celebrated down to the present day, as with Purim where various treats are eaten that represent the body parts of the despised Persians.

          Such a thing is unthinkable in Christianity. The major holidays here, Christmas and Easter, have nothing to do with triumphing over an ethnic enemy people. Instead, they are about the gifts of God to the whole whole and ALL peoples. And Our Lord instructed His followers not to hold grudges against Egyptians, Persians, Romans, or whomever…but to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. This was unthinkable to the Jewish leadership and many others, who wanted a warlike leader for a Messiah, who would lead Israel in a military campaign to subdue the Romans and hand over the ruling of the world to the Chosen People.

          They completely missed the point of Our Lord’s coming to Earth, and what this signified – that God should become man and live among us. And that the Kingdom He would found would not be a political empire or nation-state, but would instead be His Holy Catholic Church, which would possess the authority to definitively teach people what they must believe (Faith) and do (morals) in order to save their souls. And that His visible Kingdom on Earth would dispense grace to mankind for all time to come, through the administering of the sacraments…and above all, the Holy Sacrament of the Altar, where the Second Divine Person becomes flesh and blood and is presented by the priest to the Eternal Father as the perfect sacrifice, the spotless victim, the Agnus Dei.

          When you think about it, this means that any humble Catholic priest who is validly ordained (and Eastern Orthodox priests, in those churches that have preserved valid Holy Orders), possess more power than any other men on Earth. Practically nearly infinitely more power than any president, prime minister, or king. Can President Obama call down God Himself from Heaven, to be made physically present right in front of us?? And I didn’t even mention that to priests of Our Lord is given the power to forgive men their sins – something none of the greatest prophets of the Old Law had the power to do!

          So Ken, I will stand by the words of my former post. You don’t agree, that’s your call. Sometimes people just have to disagree.

          Like

  20. monica poisson says:

    Thank You Matt for doing what you do !

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Ken Mitchell says:

    Sometimes the marriage disintegrates because of a myriad of little things that one partner did or didn’t do. Sometimes marriages implode because one partner or the other decided that one of the FUNDAMENTAL REASONS FOR MARRIAGE suddenly isn’t important. That fundamental reason is “sex”.

    Read some of the comment threads on the site https://www.reddit.com/r/DeadBedrooms/new/ and read the litanies about what one partner or the other has to say about the reasons why sex isn’t happening. The gender ratios seem to be fairly close to even; we could probably cut the divorce rate in half if we could wave a magic wand and ensure that people would talk honestly about their expectations about sex, BEFORE walking down the aisle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Strand says:

      Very good point.

      I have a friend who married at the age of 24 to a girl of 23. Right after the wedding, she cut him off from sex. The guys is 24 years old and is supposed to accept that his sex life is pretty much over?

      He ended up having multiple affairs, as you might expect. Which his wife must bear a good portion of moral responsibility for, since she refused to perform her “wifely duties” for him at home. They did however, have just enough sex to have a couple kids, so he stuck around for their sake.

      Finally he got to the point he couldn’t take it anymore – in addition to weaponizing sex, she nagged and bickered with him constantly, until he was self-medicating with booze and prescription pills and on the verge of a break down. So after almost 2 decades, they divorced.

      Now he is a strong advocate of never marrying, and that especially for men, marriage is a trap. I understand his bitterness, but I am more optimistic. I just think you must choose very, very wisely when picking a mate…which he did not. Of course even then, you are taking a chance – the person can change after you marry them. But what’s the alternative? Just play the field all your life? Never have a family?

      Like

      • Ken Mitchell says:

        Ah, yes, the “dog in the manger” approach to sex; “I don’t want any, so YOU can’t have any”. My first wife did something similar after we’d been married for about 4 years. It took another 6 for me to bail out, and my second marriage is now at 35 years. So I think I learned my lesson.

        Perhaps the “marriage contract” needs to be written a little more explicitly, in both senses of the term “explicit”. Or perhaps just specific expectations; “sex no less than once per week nor more than 3 times per week unless both parties agree to the variance”.

        Instapundit Glenn Reynolds’ wife, psychologist Helen Smith, wrote a book called “Men On Strike”, about some of the reasons why young men are refusing to marry. https://smile.amazon.com/Men-Strike-Boycotting-Marriage-Fatherhood/dp/1594037620/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475338496&sr=8-1&keywords=men+on+strike

        I think the number of “dog in the manger” sexless women are at least part of the reason, but there are a large number of sexless men in which the wife is the one clawing the walls trying to get some attention in the bedroom.

        One solution would be for parents and clergy to talk to the enraptured children BEFORE marriage, and get them to explain to each other how they’ll resolve marital disputes, and emphasizing that at least half of all marital disputes revolve around sex. Because when the sex life is good, it’s easy to work around the pebbles in your path. But when the sex life is bad, that IS the giant rock in the road and the pebbles pale into insignificance.

        Like

  22. sl says:

    I have thought this so many times over because if I had an affair and we divorced, I’d be the horrible one. Yet when you fight off some serious mutual attraction for years while your spouse keeps treating you like crap, well. Fighting it for so long and putting up with an unemotional marriage for so long took a lot of effort. But if I stop at any time… I’d be at fault somehow in everyone’s eyes, which shouldn’t bother me but it would.

    Though I don’t think cheating b/c you’re not catered to is quite the same thing (seems to be mens’ story sometimes).

    That not caring point is huge. It’s not just being different. It’s utter indifference to listening and my experience. I don’t think boys are raised to listen or respect women’s experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Strand says:

      Personally, I think boys should be raised to recognize how sensitive a woman’s female nature is (as opposed to their own) and to understand the need to be mindful of her feelings and to give her the reassurance she craves. Likewise, girls should be raised to respect the man’s headship of the family and to defer to his leadership role.

      This would definitely make for happier marriages! But parents need to realize that you need to raise your child with the intent of them becoming a good husband or wife. It doesn’t just happen! Sad that so many parents neglect to do this.

      Like

      • Matt says:

        Jeff. Please refrain from injecting wifely submission into your comments as you did here. This comment was gratuitous. I want to delete it on principle, alone.

        You have no idea how many emails I get from people about this shit. (None of which are coming from other commenters.)

        None of those people blatantly violate my honest attempts to keep order here.

        Please stop repeating this sentiment. Everyone gets it. You’re sexist.

        You think marriage was perfect and successful pre-1960s when the cultural norm was Father Knows Best.

        We needn’t keep having that conversation. Nor this one.

        Liked by 1 person

      • sl says:

        Thank you for confirming so well the precise problem I described upthread.

        Like

  23. gottmanfan says:

    I am appreciative of Ken and Ali adding a better understanding of their Jewish faith to these comments. Thank you! The more diversity of backgrounds the better to get a multidimensional view of marriage and relationships.

    It’s good to understand that people approach things in ways but because we’re human the needs and patterns are remarkably similar.

    I started reading and commenting here partly because while Matt talks about his faith it is not the focus of his blog. I am not anti-religious at all, in fact I am a Christian. I understand that faith informs me many people’s views of how relationships should be structured. It’s just that soooo much focus has been on that lately.

    And there are many religious blogs where that is the main focus for whatever religion or atheistic perspective you believe.

    But the less overt theology that is discussed here the more focus stays on the mission of this blog as I understand it.

    We are all here, I assume, because we care about understanding and making our relationships better.
    About learning from past mistakes and figuring out how to do better and be better.

    I so appreciate Matt’s humility to admit his mistakes that contributed to his divorce and his passion to be a better man. And his desire to create a place where we can learn together.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. marilyn sims says:

    To All– Food for Thought, “The Road Less Traveled” by M Scott Peck

    “Falling in love is not an act of will. It is not a conscious choice. No matter how open to or eager for it we may be, the experience may still elude us. Contrarily, the experience may capture us at times when we are definitely not seeking it, when it is inconvenient and undesirable. We are as likely to fall in love with someone with whom we are obviously ill matched as with someone more suitable. Indeed, we may not even like or admire the object of our passion, yet, try as we might we may not be able to fall in love with a person whom we deeply respect and with whom a deep relationship would in all ways be desirable.
    THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT THE EXPERIENCE OF FALLING IN LOVE IS IMMUNE TO DISCIPLINE (Caps mine) …The struggle and suffering of the discipline involved may be enormous. But discipline and will can only control the experience; they cannot create it. We
    can choose how to respond to the experience of falling in love, but we cannot choose the experience itself.”

    I chose this particular quote/paragraph because of these two sentences”….We are as likely to fall in love with someone with whom we are obviously ill matched as with someone more suitable. Indeed, we may not even like or admire the object of our passion, yet, try as we might, we may not be able to fall in love with a person whom we deeply respect and with whom a deep relationship would in all ways be desirable.”

    This is where Matt’s emphasis on boundaries, shared values and love seen as a conscious choice — not just a set of passionate feelings — can be most appreciated. (By the way, this book stayed on the NY Times best seller list for YEARS!!!!)

    Like

    • zombiedrew2 says:

      Hi Marilyn,

      I guess it really comes down to what someone understands love to be. If someone is looking for the “feeling” of being in love (and considering that to be love), then I guess that may be true. Even then, I would argue that there is MUCH more of a conscious side of it than people realize. You need to spend time around a person for that to develop, and even if you are around a person on a regular basis you choose how much of yourself you want to share.

      Earlier in this thread Ali responded to one of my comments about affairs with:

      “However, it’s not like (most) people in this situation plan for it to happen.”

      And I do think that’s often true. People commonly don’t plan on it, and maybe they don’t overtly “choose” it. But I remain convinced that people know when they are enjoying someones company and when they aren’t, and they know when they start to feel certain things. It’s when people actively choose to continue spending time with/communicating with the other person that they are now actively creating the conditions that allow things to deepen. So with regards to things like affairs, no, I’ve never bought the notion that it wasn’t planned, or it wasn’t a choice.

      Looking at the other side of things, yeah there are times that people look like good matches on paper but the passion never really develops. So it’s not as simple as saying love is a choice.

      I do think that people focusing on the feeling of being in love are making a huge mistake though. One of my favorite lines – “we fall in lust, and if we are lucky it develops into love”. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. The feeling is a part of love, but it’s not love.

      And for many of us here who are in long term committed relationships, that passion part of a relationship can be really hard to sustain. Doesn’t mean we should give up on it (I think men and women both need to actively work to keep romance and passion alive in their relationships), but over the years it often fades. So recognizing that love can continue (and even flourish) based on caring, mutual support, shared values, and respecting each others boundaries is really important. We just kind of need to redefine what love really means to us.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Felicity says:

    This! Totally on point.

    Like

  26. linds01 says:

    Matt, can’t go looking for the comment, so I’ll add it here.. Maybe you need to do a call in podcast? Sort of like a talk radio discussion sort of thing??

    Like

  27. NBRIJAY says:

    Well. I wont denied that I did felt like part of you share with us apply to me.
    Check out my blog and tell me what you think: https://nbrijay.com/

    Like

  28. WHAT CAUSES THE DIVORCE?
    While I agree with the author most of the time, on this article I mostly disagree. Here’s why:

    If there are problems in the marriage, those thing’s DIDN’T cause the divorce, as evidenced by the fact that they were STILL married at the time of the affair.

    The affair was enough to tip the scales in the direction of divorce.

    PRE-AFFAIR OPTIONS…
    “The smaller marital indiscretions slowly eroding the relationship leading up to (the affair),” if so bad, should be hammered out in counseling, before anyone turned outside the marriage. Affairs tend to limit the options of the one who strayed.

    SMALL VS BIG
    Plus, “the smaller marital,” annoyances are just that–small. Small enough to not warrant divorce.

    I’ve alkyd with hundreds of couples over the last 20 years, and sexual betrayal is so completely devastating; much more devastating than dirty dishes in the sink.

    EASIER TO FORGIVE
    What I’ve seen is those small annoyances are completely and easily forgivable, even once the offending partner decides to try harder.

    But the same can’t be said of an affair.

    But ultimately the author is correct:
    “Marriages fail because we’re shitty at marriage”

    … we don’t iron out our differences before irreparable damage is done.

    Like

  29. danigurlh says:

    I love this post. I had an affair and trashy news does make the best news. Happy people are to busy being happy within and usually won’t look for the happiness to be met from other places or people outside of the marriage. The affair was just the icing on the cake. It took a long time to bake it.
    Good people making mistakes.

    Like

  30. ifonlymommy says:

    All of this is true. I also believe more people are arrogant and spoiled and use to getting *their* way. Just being complete idiots, you know. If we could at least meet half way on everything and stick it out and commit to making it work we could all make our marriages work and be happy. Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Everyone has their own quirks and bad habits but why is everyone so arrogant these days that we can’t even try. We just blame the other person for being wrong. Cheat, decide that this new person is love and replace the old model. The problems arise again with this new person because nothing was ever resolved within yourself. Another divorce. Divorce rates are climbing and there are all the children left in the wake not seeing or having a model of how to love and maintain a marriage. They just have examples of how to quit and so the patterns continues to repeat. Pathetic. Too bad one person’s work and desire to work can’t save a marriage. Two people must commit to the work….rarely ever happens. One person is usually just done and thinks their partner is just wrong. Arrogant idiots.

    Like

  31. Lives Unfiltered says:

    Excellent post. It’s the small things in relationships that lead to divorce. Likewise, it’s the small things that lead to a life long marriage. We must pay attention to the small things.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Well done this is great! Last two points Oh YES!

    Like

  33. I agree, affairs do not cause a divorce in (I know this sounds hypocritical) healthy relationships.
    In healthy relationships there (in most cases) is no desire to completely obliterate the love and trust that another human being places in the care of the cheater.
    From my experience (I blog about high conflict divorce-I just joined WP) it is not necessarily both parties who are sleepwalking through the union.
    In many files that I work with mental health issues, and it need only be 1 party, move to the disastrous role of adultery.
    Kind of like the smoker, if you fix the addiction the craving dies.
    Depressing though is the couple who are both chain smokers but there is always the chance that they quit together.
    Thanks for the read :)

    Liked by 1 person

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