Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tolerance and Learning from Each Other

I am in the middle of an interesting experience that has taken me a bit by surprise. Let me tell you how I got here and where I am.

Last Friday, I published a post (I Am Not Your Wife) that brought some interesting responses.  Most came through email from readers or online chat with friends.  Marcus left a comment to that post that read:

Lots to think about here Kat, great advice, and I'm not sure if you meant it this way , but another way to look at this, is this is how a man could treat his wife, and if he did, maybe she'd act more like the woman you wanted to have the affair with, either way, great advice. 

That got me thinking about  how I've written about how women can work to prevent their husbands from having affairs (10 Tips for Wives to Keep Your Husband from Cheating), but Marcus is right. If men would treat their wives the way they would treat their mistress, things would definitely be different at home. And just how can a husband really prevent his wife from cheating?

I was percolating on that idea when I read a blog that I have been following for a while now - Married Man Sex Life, authored by Athol Kay. Married Man Sex Life is not an infidelity blog; in fact, it is a blog written for men to help them find happiness and fulfillment with their wives and to help them prevent their wives from cheating. Athol shares some excellent advice and I respect his perspective very much. And yes, I have learned some things that have been helpful with my own marriage.

Then I read this post - Girls Night Out (Final GNO Post for the Moment at Least). I encourage you to read it yourself, but the premise is that Girls Nights Out are cheating traps for women.  We are surrounded by alcohol and divorced friends and, as a result, are more likely to cheat. I had a few things to say while I was reading that post, but I let them go because I assumed that my perspective would not be welcome.  I was correct, by the way, but keep reading for more on that....

I resisted the temptation to comment, that is, until I read comments like this:

It seems to me the biggest concern is preventing access to divorced friends. As long as the divorcees are in the minority, divorce is less likely. When you have a strong group of divorce culture women palling around, there's a far increased likelihood of them convincing their friends to consider behavior dangerous to marriage.(By Ceer)

But the social engineering that for the last century has percolated throughout ALL western countries leaves females with all the Jokers and men with none.
You have to find a saint and have the luck of her friends be saints too, to not be in constant danger of a ruined life through divorce.
(By Hans)

The author of the post (not Athol) wrote:

...NO woman who claims to be in a relationship or married is to ever........and I mean EVER be trusted without her man for "grrrrrrls night out" (By Anonymous...of course)

Okay, I had to make a comment.  I commented in a positive and polite tone, but what came back at me was a bit shocking. The venom and anger coming from some of those folks was very revealing.

One man even wrote:

Different folks have different numbered lists of rules to follow in the relationship arena, but really really high on any decent list is "don't take relationship advice from women."

Seriously, don't. Ever. Whether you are a man or a woman. Most women simply don't understand themselves or their motivations well enough to have any real insight into why they feel the way they do (the Hamster). It's a cosmic irony that the old joke about men not understanding women is actually the opposite. Men understand women just fine (though modern indoctrination tries like mad to confuse us). It's women who don't understand themselves.

Which is why nothing they say about their motivations can be trusted
. (By Jack Amok)

Wow. As I continued to pursue the conversation, I was told that I was not credible at all because I didn't have a happy family (how could they possibly know that?), because I am not pro-marriage (not at all true), and because I am a cheater (this is, of course, accurate). I thought I might be able to share insight on why women cheat (and no, it's not about alcohol, GNO or divorced friends, or a whole bunch of other reasons that get thrown around on that blog) and maybe even how we do it, and that this information might be useful to others.

As a woman who actually does care very much about her marriage, I thought I'd join a conversation with other folks who also want strong marriages. What I learned is that I'm not welcome there.  I learned that because I've cheated, there is nothing I know about keeping a marriage together than has any value to them (in spite of being married for over 20 years with no end in sight). Someone also actually said that I was not credible at all because by marriage was not appealing to him.  Seriously?  This came from someone who knows nothing about my marriage, except that I have been unfaithful.

As I sat with my thoughts and feelings about the experience, it became clear to me that it's really about tolerance and learning from each other. Why is it that we have become so intolerant of people who have a different perspective and point of view? Why is it that we immediately assume that we have nothing to learn from someone because they have done something (and continue to so something) that we disapprove of? When did it become okay to be rude to others because we disagree?

I am absolutely no threat to any of the folks following that blog, but it sure felt like they were attacking.

I was not planning to "play the Christian card," but I am aware that many of those folks are people of faith, as am I. What happened to "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. (John 8:7)"? What's with the self-righteousness and intolerance?

I wasn't asking for understanding, and I wasn't asking for approval or sympathy, just a little respect that is due anyone who comes to a conversation respectfully and politely.

You don't have to agree with me, but that kind of intolerance and poor treatment of others is just wrong. Apparently, there are people in this world who think that is perfectly ok, as long as they are not a cheater. I think there are moral issues with both.

I am very pleased to say that none of our Prowling with Kat readers have demonstrated that kind of intolerance or rudeness in their comments. Yeah, we are not perfect.  We may be cheaters, but we seem to know how to behave in a public forum.  Thank you, Prowlers!

All of this started with Marcus' comment about how men could treat their wives like the mi stress they want and, perhaps, avoid infidelity.  I still have some thoughts on that to share....another day.

21 comments:

Dave said...

Reading the comments you made and from a logical view they make sense and are helpful.But then again some of those people have probably been wounded by infidelity and still have raw emotions.In their heads they put the face of who ever wronged them onto yours.So sometimes unfortunately we just have to accept some people will never be tolerant based on thier experiance and it's better not to engage them at all.Just how the real world is, which is unfortunate

Cara Janes said...

WOW!!! Unbelievable...

I just have to take one tiny little exception and that's to your comment about us not being perfect. I happen to disagree. And, well, if you're only speaking for yourself, then I still have to disagree!

Ethan Lambert said...

It's sad when rational thinking is dismissed because of knee-jerk preconceptions. On the flip-side to that, I never know what to say when people who will never know this part of my life fawn over my "happy" marriage and ask for my "secret." What do I say? I don't imagine "Sleep with other people until you work your issues out" would go over very well :-P

Elle said...

Wow. Kind of speechless. You're awesome, don't let this get you down! Keep up the good work!

Ryan Beaumont said...

A lot to think about....

You know sometimes you have to steal a base to get in scoring position. But a good team will move you ahead on an infield grounder to second and then perhaps a sacrific fly.

In the end success can come from the unconventional and conventional.

Anonymous said...

Tolerance is not a requirement other than leaving people alone. By posting on the thread, you opened yourself up to the replies you got. Also, respect has to be earned. I NEVER respect a person until they prove to be worthy of it. As a cheater, you are automatically removed from the respected list for many people, including myself.

You can complain it isn't fair or claim it is my loss, but it wont change anything. But please don't preach about tolerance and respect while being disrespectful to others. I know, you posted in a respectful manner. But you disrespect your husband, your family, and the vows you took to be faithful to them.

And please stop with the Christain thing. No one that has faith can take you seriously while you continually, willfully, and knowingly go against one of the primary commandments of Christianity.

Kat said...

Dave-- You're right. It is usually better not to engage them because it's unlikely that they will change, but I just have trouble with that. Something for me to work on....

Ethan - I have exactly the same issue. People ask about our marriage all the time, and it's difficult to answer. I tell the truth, without revealing my infidelity. I try to always be encouraging.

Elle and Cara-- Thank you for the encouragement, You're the best! And Cara, you know I love you. :-)

Ryan -Huh? I totally get the baseball reference (thanks for speaking my language), but I don't understand the link to this post. Help? BTW-- I didn't miss U2 at all last night. ;-)

Anonymous -- Welcome! Feel free to use a name (even a fake one) when you have something negative to share. It shows a little courage and class. To respond to your specific comments...I wasn't "preaching" about anything. I am simply sharing my views. As for tolerance and respect, I believe that there is a certain amount of respect that everyone is due as a human being, even before you know them or they have "earned" it. For example, don't you show strangers in a public setting the respect of not calling them names or assaulting them? I'm sure you do. Have they "earned" that? Only by merely being human. I ask for nothing more or less.

As for tolerance, I don't believe that tolerance is no longer required simply because I posted a polite, albeit controversial, comment on a blog. That does not give people the right to be abusive. I welcome a spirited exchange of ideas, but we should never forget that we are all real human beings. It's easy to allow the anonymity of the medium convince us that poor behavior in interacting with others is ok. It's not.

You and your friends seem to be very concerned about my husband.I find that interesting, since you don't don't know him at all. And by the way, you know nothing about the vows I took so you really can't and shouldn't comment on them. Oh, the same is true for my husband and family. Discourse is more productive when folks focus on those things they know something about.

Stop with the Christian thing? I barely mentioned it. Your comment about people of faith is completely off base. People with *real* faith reach out to those they consider sinners, they do not verbally abuse them. They understand that we are all sinners and that Christianity is all about love. Real Christians also would not presume to know the status of my relationship with God or the true condition of my soul.

Kat said...

By the way, there has been a spike in page views since I posted on the pro-marriage blog. I assume folks from there have been heading over here to check me out, which is fine, of course. The interesting part is that the pages and posts with the most increases are the sex posts and the HNT photos. Interesting, no?

Tim said...

Wow. You're a devout Christian...who cheats. Just wow. Then you play the "diversity and tolerance" card. Double wow. My God, I have you figured out: you can't afford to divorce, and you're too stupid and too weak of a person to do it anyway. You're an aging woman who has birthed children, so your sexual market value is the equivalent of a balding middle aged man, with a beer belly. You are a total failure. Buh-bye.

Kat said...

Hi Tim-- Your comment actually made me smile. I'll respond to your misconceptions one at a time:

1- I never said I was a devout Christian. I make many mistakes. I have many shortcomings. My sins are no worse (or better?) than yours. I clearly have more fun than you, but that's beside the point.

2- I don't know what you are trying to say about my discussion of diversity and tolerance. Why? because you didn't say anything except, "Double wow." Does that mean you agree? I suspect not.

3- Yes, I can afford to divorce if I want to. I choose not to because I love my husband and my family.

4- No, I'm not too stupid (hahah...if you knew me at all, you wouldn't have made this comment).

5- Too weak to divorce? Hmm...I've always thought of divorce differently. I am weak in many ways, but sticking with my marriage is a strength, not a weakness.

6-Aging woman? Yes, I am. My birthday is this weekend and I'll officially be in my "late-40's." Will you be sending a gift?

7- My sexual market value is the equivalent of a balding middle-aged man, with a beer belly? This part made me laugh out loud. First of all, the whole concept of "sexual market value" is so demeaning that I can't even imagine how to respond to it rationally right at this moment. Don't worry, though, I will. But let's imagine I believe in the concept for a moment....You must be high. I have a long list of playmates who will attest to my "sexual market value." You can't say I'm a whore with one breath and then say I am totally undesirable with another. Unless of course, you make no sense....ohhhh....yeah, that's it.

8- I'm a total failure? Well, since I have a lot of living to do, I suppose the jury is still our on that. I can tell you this - When I look at my children and how wonderful they are, IO know I must have done and be doing something right. Thus, I can't be a TOTAL failure. Sorry. I know that must disappoint you.

Finally, welcome to Prowling with Kat! Feel free to linger and check out the hot sex stories and naked photos. Wait....I think you already have.....

alex - anon a few posts back said...

Ummm. If you were married in any Christain church, I'm pretty darn sure fidelity was in there somewhere, unless of course you broke with tradition and changed it to leave yourself a moral loophole. All good.

We all worry about your husband because what you are doing is directly bad for him, and Athol's blog is primarily read by married men. Even if you treat him like gold in person, you show how little you value him by your conctant cheating.

Being Catholic, I can agree that my Christain views are way more conservative than your average christian in modern society. I don't presume to know your relationship with God, but I know my teachings said that sin is ONLY forgivable when you repent, and you certainly aren't showing any remorse. I wish you no ill will, but I also believe in karma, and I sincerely hope you get what you deserve. In the end, you and only you will have to answer for your decisions. Good luck!

Eric said...

Kat,

I am the individual who commented that your marriage is not appealing to me, and therefore I don't put much stock in your marital advice.

I just wanted to clarify: IF I understand correctly that your marriage is only held together by an illusion your husband holds that he is married to a sexually faithful wife, then I know enough about it to judge it as unapealing to me, because I would not trade any amount of domestic tranquility in order to be deceived by such a heinous lie. I'd rather my wife confront our issues or leave me than pretend our marriage and famly is strong while screwing around. Whatever dynamic you and your husband have that makes your behavior feel rational and acceptable, I'm quite sure I'd rather be divorced than to have that dynamic as part of my life. And that's not only out of my own sense of self-preservation, but out of respect for my wife, who I would never want to see engaged in such dishonest behavior, becasue I want her to be a better person than that. Hiding is only a step away from crawling, and the thought of a strong woman like my wife being reduced to such behavior saddens me more than I have words to describe.

Maybe you have special circumstances. Maybe you and your husbnad have an understanding. All those things are fine and good if they work for you, but they are unapealing to me personally.

As far as tolerance goes, I think you are setting your expecations a bit too high. Most people are going to see your behavior as atrocious, and your seeming lack of empathy or repentance makes you look, honestly, emotionally psychotic. I'm not a Christian and don't for a minute buy into the idea that all transgressions ("sins") are the same. What you are doing is a lot worse than what some people do, and not as bad as what others do. To me it rates somewhere between armed robbery and a dishonest used car salesman. I'm "tolerant" enough to admit that my opinion of your actions shouldn't really matter to you... but you should be "tolerant" enough to see why it seems shocking and outrageious to so many people who clearly hold to very different values than yourself.

Athol Kay said...

I'm not sure what you expected Kat. A very large number of my male readers have been cheated on. You started off your comments by expressing offense at how some of them appeared angry at women... then explained clearly that your were cheating on your husband and blogging about it. Obviously you were going to get a very negative reaction.

Your husband will eventually find out about what you are doing. The fallout will be immense I can assure you.

Again I challenge you to visit the Talk About Marriage forums and see the true aftermath of cheating.

www.talkaboutmarriage.com

Dark Sparkles said...

I read your blog but have never commented, but WOW! Kudos to you Kat for trying to have a rational conversation on that blog.
I also have to say that even before you wrote anything, the hatred of women was glaring from the post to the first comment about GNO. Tolerance is not in their vocabulary. I find that profoundly sad for them...Love your blog BTW!

NateM said...

ok, Kat. Honest Question: what would your reaction be if your husband confessed to you (without knowing you had cheated on him at all) that he had carried on a number of affairs? How would that effect your feelings for him, and how would that effect your relationship with him?

Madame Bovary said...

Hi Kat-- love your blog!

Please be careful with these religious nutcases, most of them are fanatics. Sadly, you will never be able to reason with them. They are not looking for a faithful wife, they are looking for a submissive maid.

Marcus said...

Thanks for the shout out. Tolerance is good. Love is good. Hate is bad. Looks like things got complicated here with the comments but hopefully things will settle down. I've been enjoying your blog, it is very real.

Kat said...

Eric- Thank you for your clarification. I particularly appreciate the respectful tone with which you presented it. That's how we do things here at PWK. Part of your argument (and Athol's too), though, is flawed. You seem to think it is acceptable to totally discount everything a person may have to say because you strongly disagree with some of their actions. It's ok to discount everything a cheater may say because they are immoral and, therefore, not credible, right? However, I'm sure if I got to know you better, there would be things you do that are immoral. Should I therefore discount everything you have to say? I find Athol's concept of treating a woman as a personal fuck toy (because he can buy all other widely services on the legal open market) to be highly destructive and immoral. I also think that the assertion that women are incapable of really knowing what they want is ridiculous. Does that mean everything he says should be discounted and I should not only ignore him, but be rude and condescending to him, too? I don't think so.

Alex-anon - You're a Catholic who also believes in Karma. Ooookaaaay..... I'm really touched by your concern (and that of your comrades) for my husband. How sweet.

Athol -- It's just irrational to be angry at all women simply because one cheated on you. Is misogyny ok because a man has been hurt by a woman? Of course not. To encourage that attitude and behavior is irresponsible and immoral. By your standards, I should totally discount everything you have to say now. Do you get it yet?

Dark Sparkles -- Thank you so much for the positive encouragement. I, too, find that kind of hatred of women to be very, very sad. Those who hold onto that will never really know true intimacy with a woman. And THAT is very sad.

Nate-- I really don't know.

Madame -- I know, you're right. And you're right about needing caution. I have definitely run into folks who claim to be walking with God who completely lack any semblance of a conscience or moral compass, yet they are quick to judge me. Let me also say, though, that I know many very GOOD people of faith. I try not to lose sight of the beauty of the forest because of the ugliness of some of the trees.

Marcus -- Thank you! And back at ya, Handsome. ;-)

Alex said...

Kat - I was raised Catholic but don't practice now. I have some ideological issues with the church, but still believe in the teachings. I have seen karma in action, so I do believe what comes around does indeed go around. And of course I am concerned for your husband, as I am for you. However you clearly admit that you know what you are doing, what the risks are, and don't care. So, I don't feel the need to worry about you as much. Your husband however does not have all the info and cannot make any decisions based on the truth.

All that being said, I've spent some time on your site and agree with a few things I've read. However I still hold firm that cheating is a horrible thing to do to someone you claim to love and care for. I understand that your husband is not meeting your needs, and that is why you cheat. But, the proper and honorable thing to do is work with him to fix it, work with him to have an open arrangement, or divorce him and move on.

I will also say this. I think every man should visit your blog and read. My grandfather like to say that some people were put on this earth to show everyone else what not to do. Your site clearly shows men what NOT to do if you want a faithful wife. For that I say thanks.

ExtremeBalance said...

Kat -

I found this thread at Athol's a couple days late and just caught up on it. The anonymity of the internet certainly leads to rudeness and screeching and the feminist/manosphere blogs can generally be pretty bad about it since they do take on emotionally charged issues. I generally find Athol very hospitable although all comments there may not be.

Anyway, as someone who was definitely lied to and deceived in his last relationship and likely cheated on I will say that the topics of honesty and cheating do create a visceral reaction in me. I am at Athol's and other places to hopefully learn what I might do to prevent those things from happening again.

I think the worst part of my previous experience for me was something that some commenters at Athol's mentioned and that was that my ability to make well-informed decisions about/for my life was taken from me by her decision to not be honest with me about something she *knew* would be important to me (the only reason I found out was she was upset later and accidentally spilled the beans). I was particularly hurt by it because, while I'm sure I was not 100% honest about everything, I had worked up a significant amount of courage to reveal things about myself that I felt were important for her to know in order for her to make her own best decisions about our relationship but she couldn't find the courage to reciprocate. By the use of the word 'cheating', I'm taking it that your marriage is not open and you believe that your husband has an expectation of monogamy on your part. I did not read through your blog so I haven't seen any posts about 'why' you cheat. I personally believe that the concept of 'love' for another means that you want them to make the best decisions for their life and in order for them to do so one cannot withhold critical information. From what you have said it seems that your other family members may be happy but if so they are happy in a delusion, not with the most complete reality you could give them. My perspective, judgmental, yes, but maybe not disrespectful.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to clarify: IF I understand correctly that your marriage is only held together by an illusion your husband holds that he is married to a sexually faithful wife, then I know enough about it to judge it as unapealing to me, because I would not trade any amount of domestic tranquility in order to be deceived by such a heinous lie. I'd rather my wife confront our issues or leave me than pretend our marriage and famly is strong while screwing around. Whatever dynamic you and your husband have that makes your behavior feel rational and acceptable, I'm quite sure I'd rather be divorced than to have that dynamic as part of my life. And that's not only out of my own sense of self-preservation, but out of respect for my wife, who I would never want to see engaged in such dishonest behavior, becasue I want her to be a better person than that. Hiding is only a step away from crawling, and the thought of a strong woman like my wife being reduced to such behavior saddens me more than I have words to describe.

Why didn't you address that part of his statement? It's a good exercise in philosophy. If your happy marriage is built upon a deceptive fidelity, can it really be happy?