Recently I've been a little stymied on the blog and I just could not get a grasp of a topic that was relevant to affairs but something personal that I also wanted to write about. Now I've been a writer my whole life and I know that these "dry patches" happen so I knew life would drop a topic into my lap eventually. My Dear Hubby's ex actually dropped the topic for us.
My Dear Hubby and I have unusual relationships with our exes, I believe. We are in touch with them both and neither one of us has animosity toward our ex or toward our spouse's ex. Would we have made the life choices that they made? HECK NO! But people have to learn the way they have to learn, right? Anyway, yesterday my Dear Hubby had to be in touch with his ex about another topic, and she said something to this effect, "Boy I was a hard person to live with! How could you stand being with me?" and his answer was "I just decided to love you." BAM! There's the topic I've been waiting for (and hopefully the end of my dry spell). In one sentence my Dear Hubby was able to sum up years of what I've learned by studying marriages and affairs. It is a decision.
Unfortunately here in the USA we are inundated every day with the message that sex is love and that infidelity is a love affair. People search earnestly for "happiness" and "true love" and for most of their lives they are fed the wrong message. Our TV programs show tawdry sex in the afternoon soaps, and the evening shows like "Desperate Housewives" and "The Bachelor" show that love is an emotion or something you win by being catty and conniving! Staying faithful is a marriage is something to be laughed at in most of the sitcoms, and people are routinely portrayed as finding their soul mate and then living forever in the state of wedded infatuation and steamy hot passion. But it's not only TV that shows us these values. Everywhere you look, it's in magazines, in the news, and on the internet--even one christian forum I post on had to ask GoogleAds to stop the sex ads showing "Girls from (your city) want to have sex with you right now!" Furthermore, our celebrities (being human just like us) over and over again fall into the trap of infidelity, and their affair is portrayed as a "love affair"...as if two people met and fell so desperately and deeply in love they could not resist each other. That is the way affairs are idealized!
But after studying, investigating, researching and working with couples in troubled marriages for more than a decade, I have come to the conclusion that the messages that we are getting on TV, magazines, news and internet are just not true. Love is not sexual passion, nor is it a feeling or emotion that floods over you that you can't resist. Love is a decision. And being faithful is a decision.
When we marry, we contract with another person to be faithful to them and live with them through all that life offers for a lifetime--hopefully that's 50, 60 or even 70 years. I don't think there is any way to expect to be so passionately deeply in love for 70 years that you can't resist each other--and yet that's what people pursue! At some point over almost a century together, life is going to throw you some curves: health problems, lost jobs, moving across the country, death in the family, having a child. All these things are difficulties that can affect a marriage and make one or both of the partners "unhappy." So at some point love is a decision. You just DECIDE to love the person to whom you are married despite the fact you're not happy right this moment, or despite the fact they are not handling their family member's death so well. So love is not "chemistry" or that emotional feeling that overwhelms you when you feel intimately connected to someone. Love is a conscious, conscientious choice--a conclusion that you reach--a determination. True Love involves the mind.
In fact, just as my Dear Hubby did with his ex, you may even decide to love your spouse despite the fact that they aren't behaving in a particularly loving way! Just like True Love, being faithful is a conscientious choice. The difference between Love and being faithful is that when a person is faithful, they get to know them self and their personal weaknesses, and they put up hedges to protect their marriage and their spouse. Not only is there the decision to use will power and not stray, but also the decision to stop a temptation before it even hits you! And if a temptation does hit--there is the decision that it is more important to honor the commitment made to one person than it is to pursue "happiness" or that emotional feeling.
So we decide. And if we make a mistake and choose the wrong thing we decide again! We can decide to admit we were wrong and get back on the right track...and that's honorable and the way back to reconciling and recovering after an affair.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Yesterday I wrote on my Portland Infidelity Examiner page:"Save money by saving your marriage after infidelity" and it got me to thinking about this recession and our marriages. When the main breadwinner loses his/her job in a family, and prices go up, it's natural that there would be tensions in a marriage, and yet statistics indicate that whenever there is a recession, the divorce rate lowers. What can we learn from the generation that got out of The Great Depression about getting out of this recession and saving marriages? The Greatest Generation seemed to be willing to do something that most current citizens and politicians seem unwilling to do, and that's sacrifice.
Now this is not going to be a big "Rah! Rah! The military is great!" post, but rather a post about sacrifice: foregoing, abstaining, surrendering, releasing, letting go of, delaying gratification for the good of the future or the good of another. If that's not what love is all about, I don't know what is! Loving our spouse means that we forgo or surrender ourselves and our wants and our selfishness for the good of the one we love. To get out of the Great Depression, that generation willingly "did without," saved money, cut down on their expenses, put their noses to the grindstone and worked, kept within their budgets and rations, and any blood they could squeeze out of the turnip they didn't keep for themselves but used it for others--AND THE GOVERNMENT DID THE SAME! When the citizen was asked to tighten their belt, they didn't take the money and use it to expand spending and add programs. These qualities were exemplified over and over again in practical and personal ways. I know from personal experience that my Grandmother lived through the Depression, and she cooked in coffee pans, grew her own vegetables her whole life, and learned how to darn and repair her clothes. She recycled, reused and saved EVERYTHING decades before it was "cool" to do so. The Greatest Generation sacrificed for the good of the future and the nation.
This same principle that would pull our marriages out of a "marital recession" after an affair. If your marriage has been rocked by an affair, you can save it fro mthe brink of disaster by foregoing, abstaining, surrendering, releasing, letting go of, and delaying gratification for the good of the future or the good of spouse. Now I am not advocating becoming a doormat or sacrificing forever. Sacrificing for too long can lead to resentment and make your Taker stronger and stronger. No I mean foregoing what you need to offer to your spouse what they need. I mean abstaining from Love Extinguishers that are putting out the fire of love in your marriage. I mean surrendering "what you want" and thinking instead of the other person. I mean releasing your selfish desires and embracing selfless desires. I mean letting go of the bad spirits and pride in yourself, admitting the places where you were wrong, and working on yourself. I mean delaying the gratification of knowing "if there's hope" for the good of the future or the good of your spouse. You married your spouse until death parted you, and hopefully that 50 or 60 years or more! Even if you two do spend a few years wrestling with and growing from this affair--it's well worth a few years work for a 60 year investment!
Sacrifice. Tighten the belt and give for the good of the future. It will bring us out of the recession -and- it will save our marriages after an affair.
Monday, January 11, 2010
In a recent article on my Examiner.com page, New year--New infidelity "cure"?, I let my readers in on a shocking discovery. Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, compared the genetic makeup of the prairie vole--a monogamous rodent--to the genetic makeup of its cousin the meadow vole--a promiscuous rodent--and discovered that the more promiscuous animal had decreased amounts of a hormone called vasopressin. Just as seratonin is linked to pleasure, vasopressin appears to be linked to happy monogamy. Further, human researchers at the Karolinska Institute, in Stockholm, asked twins to take a Partner Bonding Scale test which shows the strength of a person's attachment to his or her spouse. Those twins who lower score on this test had a variant of the "334" gene--those who did not have this variant had significantly higher scores and more satisfying marriages and spouses!
My article raises the question of whether or not infidelity is genetic. Previously, a person's faithfulness to their spouse was considered to be in the realm of social sciences or a person's religious views. Morally, in Judeo-Christian society such as we have here in the USA, it is considered "wrong" to be unfaithful, and the only grounds for divorce granted in many churches is "sexual impurity." Speaking very generally, it's considered a virtue to remain faithful to one spouse for your whole lifetime, and that's usually at least part of the vows in marriage ceremonies. But if being faithful or unfaithful is genetic--does that change things? Will people be able to go to their doctor, in the future, and say, "I'm about to be married and would like a prescription for fidelity pills please?" And what if your spouse then lets their fidelity pill prescription lapse or secretly decided to not take them? Do modern science wonders like this change the dynamics of marriage in the 21st century and possibly even change morality itself?
Honestly, I think not.
As much as we'd like to think that curing infidelity would be as easy as "taking a pill" there really is a lot more to the marital loyalty than genetics. These kinds of medical discoveries may help explain why a person might lean one way or another, or help us understand the physical reasons behind the choices. For example, after researching the biochemistry of affairs, we know that chemically an affair is very similar to being high on drugs, and that the addiction to the affair partner can be just as strong as any addiction to drugs. This is why disloyal spouses find it so hard to end all contact with their lover--they miss the high, and in order to actually end all contact they have to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Understanding "why" in no way changes the moral and societal implications though. Being unfaithful is still a choice that's made (or really several very little choices) by the disloyal spouse, and the disloyal spouse still is personally responsible for the choices they make. Things that are considered sin by G*d would still be considered sin--we would just have a medical reason to explain our propensity to sin. Now, we just medically know WHY some folks say "Once a cheater, always a cheater" or why disloyal spouses find it hard to end the affair: because they have to go through addiction withdrawal. Knowing "why" does not change the morality of faithfulness in marriage, or shift the responsibility for the actions to genetics. Can't you just hear promiscuous people everywhere saying, "I couldn't help it! It's in my genes!" Well maybe there is a genetic leaning one way or the other, but part of being a godly spouse is choosing to struggle with temptations, protect our marriages, and choose to love our spouses!
Monday, January 4, 2010
Usually when I create a blog, it's a blog about some marriage tip or a small series, and I thought for a change of pace it might be fun to tell my blog readers my story so you'all can get to know the Affaircare Lady better.
I was born and grew up on a small farm in the Great White North of Wisconsin. I have two younger sisters, so I'm the eldest in my family of origin and thus "the responsible one." I think I grew up in a fairly typical "That '70's Show" life, with the added advantage of having had farm animals to care for and horses to ride. We had a large garden and a football field for a yard, so in many ways life was good--yet in some ways life was not so good. My father was a Lutheran and a happy alcoholic, and my mother was a Catholic and mentally ill, yet she refused to acknowledge it or seek any treatment. Thus, I was raised "christian by default" (meaning I wasn't Jewish or Buddhist so in the USA we're christians, right?) When I was about ten years old, my parents heard the gospel and told me, and at that time the Holy Spirit worked in me for salvation. Although my parents also professed to be Believers, my dad continued to drink, and my mom would go between periods of depression (where the house was darkened and we had to be quiet) and periods of intense "christian" zeal. During those zealous times, she would have us stand at attention for hours to listen to "christian radio" and rage at us for being "rebellious." Yes even in the context of the 1970's when spanking was more accepted then it is now, she would hit us with broomsticks until she got tired...and even back then I knew that it was physical abuse and just focused on surviving.
As soon as I graduated high school and became an adult (18 years old back in those days), I left home. I went to college and was roommates with my best friend. After college she got a job offer in Denver, Colorado, and I didn't get an offer so I continued to look for a job. Six months later, she was promoted and recommended me to fill her position! So at the tender age of 22 years old, I moved 1200 miles away from home to Denver. There I met the man who was going to one day be my husband. I was a single gal in a studio apartment in a complex, and he was the security guard for the complex. I would frequently go to watch TV or football games in the complex main building, and at night he would close up and sometimes shoot a little pool...and then one night he asked me out. He was cute, charming, and funny, and I was young and fell in love easily. Naturally though, I did everything the wrong way. He was not a Believer--in fact he wasn't even a christian! He did not want to get married, so we lived together and I became pregnant. Even then we didn't get married until our son was two years old. Our personality types were not compatible--for example he was an extrovert and I'm an introvert. But still I was young and hopeful, and shortly after being married, I had our daughter.
Our marriage was tumultuous at best, but now looking back on it, I believe that's because I didn't follow God's will for myself or for marriage. There were many things stacked against us as well--I had to deal with my past, and he had to deal with his mental illness, abuse, and unfaithfulness. Finally, finding him in the arms of yet another woman and trying to reconcile thereafter, he was no longer willing to try to work on it, and we divorced. I had two small children, our family-owned business closed, and I had NEVER even pictured myself as divorcing, so I was DEVASTATED.
Thankfully, God is faithful, and my own divorce was the event that propelled me into learning about recovering after infidelity, Love Kindlers and Love Extinguishers, the usual cycle of an affair, and how addicting they can be. As I was educating myself on characteristics of a healthy marriage, I began to also learn about the characteristics of an abusive relationship. I began official training in the coaching field, specializing in marriage and infidelity coaching. I completed a one-year certification process to become an Marriage Mentor; qualified as a Rebuilding After Divorce support group leader; finished extensive training to become a rape crisis hotline volunteer; and trained with leaders in the field focusing on love addiction and betrayal bonding. I am currently a founding member of the Salem Coaching Association. I am continuing my studies into nouthetic coaching at the Institute for Nouthetic Studies, and I'm always continuing my education in marriage coaching.
But that's not all! I personally do enjoy being a married person and sharing my life with someone, but I thought "Who would want an older woman with two kids and an instant family?" and figured I would just be a happy single raising my children. But in the midst of all my studying and training, I met a man on a forum who had custody of his children himself--a man who was a Believer, who was smart, funny and charming, and who amazingly loved me! This time around I knew much more about what traits to look for in a marriage partner and what kind of personality would be compatible with my own, so God blessed me with a new, godly Dear Hubby. Now we are happily married living in the Pacific Northwest with seven children: four are all grown up and moved out and three still living here at home.
So now you know about me. I would LOVE to hear more about you and hear YOUR story! Want to share with me so I can get to know you?
~Cindy, the Affaircare Lady
Posted by Cindy J. Taylor at 11:44 AM