Is “Cheating” A Get Out Of Hell Free” Card?
I just watched “It’s Complicated”—great movie. In it Meryl Streep’s character admits the divorce wasn’t entirely “his fault”. (Sadly, this is full of irony in and of itself. But more about that later.) Then she says “but I didn’t have to admit it because you cheated”.
This is one I have heard over and over—people are getting a divorce because “he cheated” with an occasional “she cheated.”
It’s actually fairly hard to suss out how many ways this belief system-–this shibboleth—makes me crazy.
Let’s see if I can pull apart the tangled threads:
1. 99% of these people had multiple partners before marriage—and sex before marriage.
2. Studies show a HUGE number if partners ADMIT to having additional sexual partners after marriage.
3. Many scientific studies sow that it is built into both man and, yes, women, to have multiple sexual partners.
4. It is IMPOSSIBLE that in ANY of these cases no other betrayals of any sort had taken place.
5. Some of these people consider internet sex to be ground for divorce. (This seems to me but one step removed from fantasies…)
6. If the relationship had any real basis the fact of a sexual encounter would be something to discuss- not an automatic “You’re fired” --surely!
7. As far as I am able to determine none of these people sat down and disussed the ground rules for their marriage before—or after—they said “I do.”
8. Many women consider men continuing their lifelong self stimulation to be a betrayal.
Something is wrong with this picture. Now I am not saying “anything goes”—in the best marriages there is agreement on values and both parties stay true to what they took an oath to do. This is what we are asked to do by all the spiritual leaders of every religion I know of.
But it seems unlikely that any of us becomes a saint-- magically-- the moment we say “I do.” So what gives here?
Now I hear women out there howling “What if it happened to you?
Well... ladies—it did. My husband imported his girlfriend (that I did not know about) from out of the area to work for him--and I was tipped off when he put her Christmas present on his credenza instead of mine. (He later divorced me and married her. He seems happy now.)
Well—wasn’t I livid? Didn’t I consider this grounds for divorce?
No, I was not really angry. No, I was nit thrilled--but I considered this situation to be what is was – humiliating as to the gift—a symptom as to the marriage. And it was. Our relationship was ghastly. I wasn't finished working on my part in it—I want "done". But he was.
Every relationship has problems-the "little lies" Meryl Streep speaks of in “It’s Complicated”—ALL OF THEM. (See also David Snarch, "Passionate Marriage." Only one is a automatic “game over”?
Why? WHY IS THIS GAME OVER???
I beg to differ, ladies and gentleman. This is when the game needs to START!
I’m just saying…