This morning Ryan Beaumont sent me a link to a blog post he thought might interest me:
Here's How to Cheat Proof Your Relationship - Stay Attractive, written by Amy Glass.
Essentially, she blames the non-cheating partner in the marriage for not being more attractive and desirable.
There are several things in the piece that I can agree with. Have more sex, keep yourself physically and mentally attractive, be nice, prioritize the romantic side of your relationship. Yeah, yeah, yeah. These are good tips; however, they fall way short of actually helping someone.
My biggest beef with Amy's post is that it oversimplifies the whole issue. This is likely because she doesn't fully understand the issue. It's pretty clear that she's either unmarried or very newly married and what she knows about infidelity and its causes she has learned from the older men she knows. She doesn't seem to understand the biological issues that work against fidelity. She doesn't understand the nuances of the issues that impact people involved in long term marriages.
Here's the line that proves it. "Cheating is a sign that you picked the wrong person and stopped caring."
Whoa there, cowgirl!
In most cases, if the cheating spouse had really stopped caring, he/she would have left. As for picking the wrong person, that's just crazy. Most folks who cheat don't want to leave the spouse because they genuinely love him/her.
No matter how much you may want to make infidelity a simple issue, it's not. The challenges that couples deal with over decades are staggering, if you really think about them. There are money issues, children (with new challenges at each stage of development), mid-life crises (for both men and women), and the hormonal roller coaster that women experience at all stages of life that puzzles both genders. There's the loss of friends and sickness and the death of parents, and more and more often there is the long term care of an aging or disabled parent. There are new jobs and job losses and natural disasters and, god forbid, the death of children. There are broken down cars and teenage drivers. There are religious differences, mental health challenges, and legal issues. Sometimes there are drug and alcohol problems in the family, with the couple or their children or both. And the bills! There's daycare and insurance, and the mortgage, and car payments, and taxes, and college, and weddings and.......the list goes on and on and on. And then there's the big X factor - the fact that people change and you and your spouse may or may not change and grow in the same direction.
If your marriage makes it over 20 years, surviving all of that, cheating or not, I don't know how it could be said that you picked the wrong person. I love my husband of 26 years. We have dealt with just about all of the issues I just mentioned. I am 100% certain that I picked the right person. I'm also certain that neither of us stopped caring.
And we both have cheated. I'm currently cheating.
And we're still together with no plans to separate.
Keeping a marriage together is about much more than going to the gym, putting on makeup, and reading books so you have something to talk about. Yes, it is also about much more than blow jobs and hot sex (although who doesn't love those?!).
If you want to think about how to prevent your spouse from cheating, I have written 10 Tips for Wives to Keep Your Husband from Cheating which is much more nuanced and realistic than Amy's suggestions. Still, no matter what you do, you cannot stop a spouse who wants to cheat because it may be much more about them (the cheater) than you.
Human beings are complex. When we enter into lifelong commitments with others, the complexity multiplies. Preventing or recovering from infidelity is not simple, but being serious about "'til death do us part" is.