Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will even be worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t make time stand still.
Here is the my poor attempt at justifying current behavior. Nah, not really, just some introspective pseudo-intellectual bullshit that most of you would be better off skipping if you are tired of hearing me beat up on myself, but if you can’t get enough of that, read on.
When I started this blog, I tried to put myself in the shoes of someone reading it. I knew that my goal was to be honest and not hide my flaws and bad decisions, nor my true desires as lecherous as they may be, nor to hide the fact that I revel in the sexual experiences I’ve had and want to remember them, every moment, every detail, every feeling. I write this blog for me, to get it all off my chest, to confess and feel naked before the world, to stop hiding. In a way, keeping it to myself is closing my eyes and hiding my head in the sand. It doesn’t seem like the actions I take are real, they are just faintly remembered dreams of another man. But when I write them down and publish them for the world to see, they become real again, and I have to confront them. I stand condemned, walking through the world as a contradiction. Knowing what I should be doing, yet doing nothing about it. Is that better than being in denial, or worse?
One thing I’ve tried to do, is to be hard on myself, hopefully harder on myself than my readers would be, in hopes of perhaps evading some of the more trollish comments by letting people know that I’m not trying to excuse or justify my behavior, I know it is morally abhorrent. I hoped that would steer people to providing more thought provoking and constructive comments, and perhaps it has, the comments on this blog have helped me immensely understand myself better.
I’ve been turning some new ideas over in my brain. Can anything justify or excuse cheating? Perhaps, perhaps not. Perhaps there are only reasons, not justifications. I think most everyone has a limit. On one end of the spectrum you have folks with a practically perfect marriage, spouse, and children, who just feel the need to cheat for a little fun and excitement, just to spice things up. On the other end of the spectrum you have the spouse that makes no attempts to hide their pure, unbridled hatred and contempt, who denies sex and intimacy in all its forms, is deceitful, manipulative, controlling, abusive in every sense. Most folks’ situations fall into the middle of this spectrum somewhere, and I think most people draw their line somewhere on that continuum and say, this is where it would be justified, this is where it would be ok. I realize there are alternatives to cheating, you can try to work things out with your spouse, you can divorce, you can just check out hold your love within yourself in vain hopes of protecting it, but there are always mitigating factors, like ‘my spouse will make my life a living hell with the divorce, they’ll take my kids’, or ‘I’ve done everything I can to work it out’, ‘or we just aren’t compatible’. You begin to see the line doesn’t work, because there are a million factors and situations which are at work interplaying with one another. You need a circle perhaps, or a sphere, and you realize that models are pointless to try to show the magnitude of the complexity involved in all the different situations in someone’s marriage and home life.
I’ve heard it said by certain people that if only their spouse told them they were having feelings for another person, it would have been so much better, they could handle the cheating, just not the deceit. Others that say it would be better if they never knew and could just go on. I tried telling my wife several times I’ve been tempted to seek out and have an affair over the past year. It has only resulted in pain and anger that I’d have such feelings, and who can blame her? As you can tell in this post, I have few answers, instead mostly questions.
Adultery is wrong because it violates an agreement between two people, whether informal as in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, or a formal vow as in a marriage. It is certainly the easiest vow to prove has been broken and I think that is why it receives the most focus, it is so easy to prove when there is physical evidence and thus condemn. Perhaps it isn’t as binary as the wrong penis ended up in the wrong vagina since it can take other physical forms, but we know it instantly and universally when we see it. Many of the other vows we associate with marriage, like having/holding and loving/cherishing are not things you can point to easily in an objective way and say “you asshole/bitch how could you!” The line for adultery is clear, the effort to reach it is clear. It is an easy target, and an easy question to answer. Honestly, it is hard and not fun talking about those folks who violate the other vows, who stop having and holding their spouse (supporting them in all of their physical needs) and who stop loving and cherishing them (supporting them in all of their emotional and sexual needs). Ok, well, maybe the first one, dead beats and spendthrift spouses do get some attention from time to time, but loving and cherishing, that’s not one we deal with much. How can you prove something so intangible? A spouse certainly knows it when they see it, but how can they prove it? More importantly, is the spouse that is guilty of violating this vow any less guilty than the spouse who commits adultery? I believe so, yes, all things being equal, there is a violation of a vow taking place regardless of how you look at it. I think the violation of loving/cherishing is far more insidious (not to say worse, just more deceptive) than adultery. It isn’t a conscious decision in some cases, it perhaps is just a lack of discipline or just a byproduct of selfishness. Plus, doesn’t everyone violate it? At least from time to time? So that makes it ok, right? At what point is the violation of it gone so far as to equal adultery? Some may even argue that adultery is by its nature a violation of the loving/cherishing vow. Maybe, but I’m not convinced it is in all cases.
I believe to this day that I love my wife, I know that I falter with cherishing but I’m trying. I suppose it depends on how you define love, but for me love has always been an attitude towards someone: you want the best for them, you want them to be happy. Sure, romantic love is a part of it, no question, but where that piece fits is so hard to see sometimes. I know I want that for my wife, I want her to be happy, healthy, and to have her dreams fulfilled. I know love isn’t something you can easily quantify with a checklist. Sure, I grab a blanket for her and turn on the furnace when I see her shivering on the couch, I’ll cook and clean by myself if she’s had a rough day and needs to put her feet up for a while, I’ll get up to care for our crying son so she can sleep in in the morning, if I see a sale on her favorite wine I’ll stock up for her. Love isn’t a checklist, but it is the fuel to take loving actions. I know more often than not I’m probably not doing the actions my wife really wants, love tells me I need to find out what those actions are and do them if I can. Cherishing is so much harder. There is a lot of overlap with love, so I feel I’m part of the way there, but it also seems to carry the idea of valuing, even to the point of valuing above all others. I can’t in all honesty cherish my wife fully. For me, the pain and hurt she has caused me is too great for me to hold her so dear as to merit the word cherish.
I believe strongly that my wife abandoned the love and cherish vow a long time ago. It just melted away like a wax seal because she decided that I no longer belonged in the frame of the picture of our life. She’s told me as much with regularity, though always in anger, maybe that means she doesn’t really believe it (or maybe that means she really does), but she’ll tell me that I don’t belong in this family, that she and my son are fine together until I come home and fuck it all up. That she has no love in her heart for me, only hatred. I don’t believe it completely, I know that love isn’t a binary thing, and that she has some basic care and concern for me. And it isn’t always like that. Perhaps it is always lurking below the surface, but we have days where we do things as a family and we forget. I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty, I know I am far from innocent. Still, it is evident to me that she doesn’t hold this vow as binding. She tells me it is because I abandoned my vow to love and cherish her first. There is not much I know in this world, but I know that I still hold that vow sacred, and I could never see myself abandoning it. But to her, it doesn’t seem to be a big deal, the vow only held, after all, as long as she saw that I was measuring up to her standard. From her perspective, as long as she doesn’t cheat, she can never be considered unfaithful.
So the question remains, am I justified in what I do? If my wife doesn’t make a conscious decision to not love me, but I make the conscious decision to go out and fuck other women, doesn’t that make me more culpable? But hasn’t she put me through the better part of a decade of her own unloving infidelity, before the seeds of my own infidelity even took root which she is still unaware of, doesn’t that make her worse, or at least just as unfaithful as me? The fact is none of us can color perfectly within the lines of this coloring book called marriage. My wife’s and my life’s book is a smeared ugly page like a four year old grabbed every crayon in the box and after trying to color within the lines and failing, scrawled with uncontrollable rage until the tips were blunt and the crayons lay broken in a heap. And all we do is keep adding more color to the horrendous mess like somehow it will do some good. Who is more guilty seems irrelevant at this point. This isn’t an attempt to diffuse my own responsibility, I sadly own up to it, but if adultery is black and white, then so is the betrayal caused by unlove and hatred for a spouse. Or is it all shades of grey? How many of us blind children groping in the darkness really know for sure? I’m sure some of you do, but not me.
So many have told me to call it quits on this marriage. Move on. It is the right thing for me, the right thing for my wife. They are probably right. But I haven’t gotten there yet. I don’t know if it is a lack of courage, if in my heart I’m unconvinced that it would be the right decision, if perhaps deep down I believe I can come back from this and make my marriage work, or maybe, in my darkest thoughts, I have fallen in love with the lifestyle, the thrill of having an affair and it wouldn’t be the same if I left my wife and sought a new relationship. I’m sure the more morally upstanding among my readers are all sick of hearing me falter between my options, agonizing about the decision to be made, while each moment I continue my infidelity in my heart, willing at any moment to consummate it. While my more morally flexible readers are thinking, stop beating yourself up and go fuck a girl. All I can do is sit here in the middle, keep my eyes open through my writing, and breath.
Here’s the TL;DR: