20 April 2010

Good Guys Cheat? Great.

I read a thought-provoking article in O Magazine the other day called "He Cheated, She Stayed: One Women's True Story of Getting Over Infidelity." It is written by an anonymous woman in a 12 year marriage with three children whose husband confesses to her that he had a three year affair. Shocking. The article goes on to detail how she moved on with her life, dealt with a wide range of conflicting emotions, and ultimately decided to stay married to her husband. They are currently trying to make it work despite definite low points and obvious trust issues.

This article really moved me. For one, it was interesting to read about a marriage that survived a pretty devastating affair. Staying together is not for everyone, but it worked for them. But really I think I was most drawn to her story because of the way she discusses her relationship with her husband.

He was a good guy.

By good, I'm saying that he wasn't one of those shifty eyed guys. I once dated a shifty eyed guy who stared at other women so much that I became an expert at noticing cleavages and long legs well before he did. Then I would attempt to distract him from the set of D-cups heading towards us by trying to get him to look the other way. Needless to say, it was exhausting. If that guy cheated on me, I might not be as surprised as I would be if L cheated on me. In my mind, the shifty eyed guy can't even be compared to L. Even when all the chips are down, and we are at each other's throats, I have never lost trust with L. If my husband cheated on me, I can't say exactly how I would feel with any real assurance, but I think I can understand how the author was completely blindsided. She never expected it. They had a pretty "normal" marriage filled with weekly date nights, open (but, obviously, not that open) communication, and family time. He was a good father and husband. She writes,

"When I told one friend about Sam's infidelity, I said, 'I know it's not like he's literally the last person on Earth you'd expect to have an affair....'

'Nope,' she cut me off, 'he pretty much is.'

And honestly? I'd thought so, too. I fell in love with Sam with the kind of total trust and joy a child feels when she jumps off a table into a grown-up's arms. I knew with utter certainty that he would catch me...

Sam's cheating on me was inconceivable..."

That passage has been in my mind for days, because it is exactly how I would describe my relationship with L.

The author freely admits that the crumbling of their marriage wasn't all his fault. She didn't cheat, but was guilty of taking the relationship for granted, and for resenting her husband for years. They had issues under the surface that weren't obvious or even noticeable in their day-to-day interaction. She describes it as,

"We were in a standoff—neither of us getting what we really needed, and neither of us willing to perform the first act of generosity. It felt easier—kinder, even (for the fight it avoided)—to give up, to just not care."
This article has helped me to connect with the fact that infidelity is alive and well, and can happen to anyone. Good guys (and girls, for that matter) cheat. Solid marriages can slip away slowly and sometimes without a good excuse. The daily grind wears on all of us, and we forget that relationships take maintenance and attention. Having been married less than a year, I'm definitely no expert. I am continually on a quest to figure out the secrets to a fulfilling marriage, and in contrast, what can kill a marriage.

So far, I have very little figured out. But stories like this help me in this quest. Apparently you can never say never when it comes to infidelity. You just have to hope that you are doing and will do everything in your power to maintain your union.

Any newlyweds ever think about these things - infidelity, trust, fulfillment, etc.? If you have some spare time, go read the article. There is a lot that I didn't discuss above!



6 comments:

  1. Great post!

    My fiancee and I went through this 2 years ago. He was that person who I would never ever believe would cheat and yes he was drunk and it happened. We worked through it and I believe we're a better couple now. We'd been together 4 years at that point and I just didn't think it would ever happen but it did and now we are through it.

    I read somewhere once that the best advice an old couple could give to newlyweds was to forgive and forget. Thats what we've done.

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  2. Great post Carly! There is a Foodie blogger I know who just found out her husband was having an affair. She been blogging about it (password protected, I have the password) since the beginning. How she felt, how it was also her fault in that she wasn't being the wife she could be, how they're getting through it etc.
    When I first read about his affair my reaction was "dump his ass" but the more I read about what she is going through the more I think it is good that she is fighting for her marriage... and I think I would to.
    J is also the last guy on earth I would think would cheat, but if this teaches me anything its to never take him for granted or our marriage. Because he is so wonderful I need to treat him that way and make sure he feels special :)
    Wonderful reminder, thank you!

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  3. i echo Ali's gratitude for the reminder to keep working hard and stay appreciative!

    I don't want to dwell on the possibility of that wrong acts we could both commit against each other, but we shouldn't dismiss them entirely either!

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  4. My ex husband and I seemed the perfect couple for a long time. We were the ones everyone envied because of our awesome relationship. Until he cheated on me... 3 times... in 4 years... Emotionally once and physically twice.

    As a woman who suffered through MULTIPLE infidelities of every kind - you'd think I would be the last person to cheat. But when a friend offered the help me even the score, I'll admit - I considered it. For a FULL 6 hours, I considered it. In the end, I knew I had to look myself in the mirror at the end of every day and know that I had lived honorably.

    I don't really believe that good men cheat. Sorry. I just don't buy it. Was my ex a "bad" man? No. But is he the marrying type? Probably not. By being in a monogomous relationship, he was trying to fit himself into a shoe that just didn't fit. He'd always been surrounded by women and when things got rough or felt distant, ect, he lacked the communication skills to discuss it. I don't want to say he's a "bad" person because of it - but he is a "person" and he is who he his. Sometimes he treated me great! Other times he treated me less than great.

    But do "good people" cheat?

    Well, if you define "good" as a person with a strong sense of moral integrity, devotion to their commiments and their family, and the discipline not to give in to the temptation to cheat, then my answer would be a resounding "no".

    Are "good people" tempted to cheat? Sure. All the time.

    But it's like anything else in life. Things don't "just happen" when it comes to a relationship. Even in a one night stand, someone made the descision to act on something and continued to make decisions to continue to interaction/affair. It didn't "just happen". It was a decision process and therefore everyone is accountable for what they did.

    I'm glad this couple is coming clean and working through it. The "good" thing he did was come clean about it. The "bad" thing was continuing to make decisions for THREE YEARS to continue in an affair (and we still don't know who ended it - did he man up and have the guts or did she finally move on from a dead-end relationship?).

    Communication skills are VITAL in all relationships. In the future, I'll be choosing a man with the guts to let me know when something's not right. ;)

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  5. Oh - and in the begining, I took a look at myself to see what I could do differently. I realized I wasn't being a very good friend. So I combatted that emotional affair by being very present for him. Eventually the affair ended.

    When I suspected the first physical affair, I made myself more physically available and attractive (lost 70lbs and initated sex more and more). That affair eventually went away.

    But when the 3rd one kicked in, I finally put my foot down.

    Each situation is different, but I believe as long as couples stay on the same page with one another, show each other grace, and leave the door open to share feelings w/o getting defensive or offensive about it, you've got a great chance of avoiding affairs. Marriage is one of the last accountability relationships there is. It only survives if both people are equally as devoted to it. ;) Cheaters CAN recover, don't get me wrong, but it's vital to learn from the experience and move on.

    ;) Sorry for the rant! lol

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  6. Heavy Stuff!
    I feel the same way about my husband. He is the "safe/good" guy and I cannot imagine anything more surprising and devastating.

    Though we don't need to start worrying about our men, I do think it is good to be aware that our marriages take work. It is so easy to get into a pattern. It is so easy to get disconnected. I think there are so many reason's why "good people" cheat. I suspect that when a lot of people find themselves in unhappy marriages, that it was a long and slow process to get to that low point. Being married less than a year, I am really aware of how much work it really does take to stay connected. We don't even have kids yet and with work and school it can be hard enough sometimes.

    I want to have a long marriage. I think I am just now really grasping what a lifetime of work and effort it will be. Too many people just take their partner to granted. I want to try really hard to make my marriage a good one.

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