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Do Not Be Influenced By Those Who Can't Remain Faithful

I just want to express words of hope (romantic head that I am), in a world that is flawed, where pressures of life lead people astray... yea yea yea.... Tiger Woods this week. Some stats say 60% of couples cheat on their spouse. It is so hard to watch public figures who are so admired face the ungodly wrath of public scrutiny... I've written on this topic many times before. Even though infidelity is rather commonplace, American culture gasps to learn of it and the pain is felt among the afflicted...deeply personally, and friends and relatives, and even vicariously by those who know of other's affairs. But we can face this thing with the heart and soul of a grown-up and understand how such things happen and how to CHOOSE the path in the future through deliberate effort and care. I believe that love can last if people want it to. I believe there is something called "strength of character" that exists in all of us. And I also believe that people can change, even if they never cared a rat's ass before now and want to love rightly today.

If you google, "monogamy" and look at the studies done by anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists and other behavioral scientists, the research is overwhelming that monogamy is NOT natural (for the evolution of the species), yet exclusivity is a prized and aspired thing by most people when they fall in love. But chances are in every romantic pairing, it's just a matter of time before temptation presents. Seems humans "forget" their morals when they need them the most... humans are drawn to novelty and love the attention and power associated with liaisons of the sexual kind.

An article last year gives a wonderful spin on infidelity, recognizing the powerful force of temptation. I love this piece of reality and am reprinting it here.

Comments? Please post.

The Washington Times - August 31, 2008
Honesty best way to prevent affairs
By Cheryl Wetzstein

When it comes to extramarital affairs, Peggy Vaughan may have heard it all. Since 1980, she and her husband, James, have spoken publicly about how they saved their marriage despite his infidelities. Now 72 and married for 53 years, Mrs. Vaughan has written several books and talked with thousands of people about the cheaters in their lives.

Not surprisingly, she has some advice for couples - especially those who think they are immune to affairs - and for an American culture that thinks it bears no culpability for the steady stream of betrayed spouses stomping off to divorce court.

Couples should know, "the only actual way to prevent affairs is by complete honesty. There is nothing else," says Mrs. Vaughan, whose latest book, "Preventing Affairs," came out in May.

Most people think other things will protect their marriage - being in love, being religious, taking wedding vows seriously, trusting each other, she says. But none of those things are as important as being honest with each other, which means both sharing private feelings and "not withholding relevant information."

People can be tempted to have an affair for myriad reasons, but the only way someone will act on a temptation is "if they are willing to be deceptive and lie to their partner," she says. "That means the trump card is honesty."

Mrs. Vaughan advocates honesty even though "it sounds counterintuitive" to tell your wife you think the neighbor lady is hot, or tell your husband you're flattered when that guy in the office flirts with you.

But it's impossible that spouses will go through life and never be attracted to other people, she says, and if spouses talk with each other about these attractions, they can pop the "fantasy" balloons and keep attractions harmless.

If you don't talk about temptations, she warns, "You're starting to keep secrets, and the fuel for affairs is secrecy."

Confiding in each other about private things keeps a couple connected, she adds.

"People don't grow apart because they do different things or have different interests," she says. "They grow apart because they stop telling each other what they're thinking."

Mrs. Vaughan has a few candid observations about the American culture, which she believes aids and abets extramarital affairs. "We're positively schizophrenic" about sex, she says. Marital sex is downplayed, while extramarital sex is glorified in TV shows, movies, books, fashion and advertising.

This is buttressed by a "code of silence" that says philanderers have privacy rights, and people shouldn't tell on each other. But let former Sen. John Edwards get caught in a hotel visiting his former mistress, and condemnation and outrage come pouring out as if he were the first husband to get caught with his pants down, she says.

Mrs. Vaughan wants to see less hypocrisy about sex, but she sees it starting in the home, not the movie theater. Her provocative message to parents is to "stop training your kids to have affairs."

When teens have sex - but can't be honest about it with their parents - they already are associating sex with secrecy and lying, she says. Later, when they're grown, married and tempted to have an affair, "they have already been conditioned [to] do what you're not supposed to do and pretend you didn't," she says.

Mrs. Vaughan recommends parents have lots of honest talks about sex with their teens - emphasizing its beauty with one loving partner - and not harp so much on avoiding sex. Kids may get information about "the plumbing" or "the basics," she says, but they get very little about loving relationships and having sex in a responsible way.

To prevent affairs in the next generation, she says, parents should raise their children "so they can talk about sex with you."

Cheryl Wetzstein's On the Family column appears Tuesdays and Sundays. She can be reached at
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Jilly said...

that is an interesting article and i agree with the woman, but i don't think i'd be as forgiving as she was. people don't accidentially cheat, they usually set out on a course that leads to cheating, and they could have jumped off that runaway train lon before the sex happens.

i don't think i could forgive the sexual cheating, or all the other things that led up to it. when i was little, i didn't understand why my mom was angry and bitter that my real dad did things like sent flowers to his mistress. my mom was mad at the sex, don't get me wrong, but i think him doing romantic things like sending flowers, just plain hurt her like lemon juice in a wound. people cheat in many ways, it's not just the sex.

it's like going to lunch with your best friend, and s/he spend the entire meal texting/talking on the phone with a friend or telling you crap about his/her other set of friends you don't care about. This person is no longer your friend, because they don't value you or want to emotionally vest anything in you.

romantic relationships are the same way. When you put more emotional energy into someone who is not your spouse, then you've already cheated on your spouse, the sex is just icing on the cake. sure that wouldn't hold up in court, but that's where all those nifty warning signs come from that everyone sees but no one points out until after the fact.

i feel bad for tiger woods' wife and children, and i don't blame her for her temper tantrum. but in the end, model/famous/rich or not, she's still human with human problems and will probably go through all the emotional issues that all people in these situations go through. People are so shocked when the "pretty/famous/rich" people have real human problems, as if being on the cover of vogue means that a man won't do you wrong. we're such silly creatures sometimes.

doreenmary said...

Jilly, loved your thoughts on this... agreed that forgiveness is difficult. What I liked about the article is it takes a preventive approach... if you're always HONEST, then there the relationship is fair and respectable and good.

It's sad to hear about your parents situation.

And on Tiger Woods and his wife... sad. They should seek counseling. As you mentioned about fame/beauty... it always seems to me that the lover often isn't better looking or more exceptional than the spouse, interestingly enough... Sadly, the spouse who has been cheated on tends to look at herself/himself as if they lacked something to keep the spouse interested, which is rarely the case. The psychological effect of all parties is significant and life altering. It takes therapy or really good friends and courage to weather the storm, especially if the marriage ends and the couple has to adjust to singlehood.

Infidelity is epidemic. Education is needed for people to understand human dynamics. People need compassion and help and strength.

Jilly said...

Doreen, i agree about the honesty thing, but people have to be willing to trust too. some people aren't willing to say "i find so-and-so attractive" because then the other person may doubt them. it's one thing to find a famous person attractive, but what are the real chances of your celebrity crush showing up? sure it happens, but not often. You'd have more of a chance of winning the power ball. The real issue here is known individuals. If a man admits that he's attracted to the neighborlady, then the wife can feel a threat close to home and act accordingly or work talk to her spouse about the attraction to the neighbor and move on to a point where nothing would come of it. I know few women that are mature enough or able to deal with their spouse admitting a real-life crush, especially on someone in their day-today lives, without it becoming an issue. The article was right in that people like to pretend that when you're in a relationship with one person, our brains shut off all attraction to other people. It doesn't work like that at all though. I love my spouse and I can imagine myself cheating on him empotionally or physically, but a few weeks ago I drove passed the marine marathon and there was a lot of eye candy. I did go home and tell my guy what I saw and that I looked, but I don't get mad when he looks at other women. hell if looking were a crime then hollywood would be shut down.

i liked her summary about honesty and education about sexual relationships not just plumbing issues. too many people act as if talking to their kids is a sin or a great feat like climbing mt. everest. i hope that i'm open with my daughter when she's older.

doreenmary said...

You're already an awesome mom, Jillybeans!