Sunday, May 18, 2014

Trust and Faith



If you’d ask me 15 years ago whether I could ever forgive a cheater, I would have self-righteously laughed in your face. Of course not! Completely unforgivable, and who would do that to me my ego would add. If you would’ve asked me 10 years ago I would still laugh, though probably a little less loudly. And as the years pass that laugh sounds less and less confident, perhaps even a bit hesitant. The years have taught me not to judge too harshly, for those “problems” might affect me quite personally one day.  


Many of us have probably created a long list of relationship expectations in our twenties, a list which with time dwindles and is modified, elasticized to the point of completely morphing into a whole other set of ideas. Some changes are understandable – what was important at 25 is not an issue at 35. Say perhaps you only dated tall, dark, handsome men, only to discover that they left you mentally unsatisfied and confused. Then you learn looks are not quite as important as other traits such as sense of humor, responsibility, a little domesticity. I’ve always had a penchant for men who could make good coffee.



But, what happens when you commit to someone you thought met your expectations, only to discover years later that they really weren’t what you thought? What do you do if you discover this after you combine your finances, set up your home, and make a family together? And what happens when you look around and see that monogamy as you thought existed is virtually disappearing all around you?



Are we kidding ourselves to remain faithful, and to also expect the same from our partners? Should we all have open marriages? The logistics of that seem exhausting. What if finances are tight and family time scarce? Jealousy aside, how can one be chill about their partner dating when they’ve been gone at work all week and cash is too low to be spending it outside the family? What if we just hook up to procreate, commit to raising the kids together, but really continue living as a single person? How would that work out in terms of the million things a child needs on a daily basis? And what are the implications of that as a society on a whole? Would we break down, completely eradicating all previous notions of civility or would a whole new order – maybe even a more satisfied one – be established?



It is interesting to note that evolution theories on social monogamy find it more common for birds to be monogamous than mammals. For the creationists reading this, you might want to stop now. In essence we are but animals, a highly evolved mammal as some would like to think, though as impressive as the Polyergus Amazonian ant, I’m not quite sure. Regardless, it makes biological sense for us to pair monogamously, and as related to men specifically, the chances of producing his own offspring are increased by shielding his woman from other masculine advances, plus he gets the added benefit of being guaranteed that the kids are truly his. I write this with one eyebrow raised, but essentially it is biologically legitimatized. However, humans are a complicated bunch, we are often guided by emotions – or the illusion of emotions, vanity, and a desire to spice things up.



I can wholeheartedly understand wanting to have an affair. Who doesn’t miss the thrill of a chase, and the sexual tension of getting to know each other? Have you ever wanted to run away with the cute guy at the supermarket? Oh. Me neither. Though if you’re asking me whether I would risk losing everything I’ve worked so hard for; just for the thrill of something I am sure would not last 3 months, then the answer is undeniably no. Am I just limited by the construction of social reality? Probably.



As one might expect I’m at the age now where couple friends around me (myself and husband included) are facing mid life crisis; people I thought would never be unfaithful have crossed that threshold without regrets. Is it disheartening? Of course. Is it surprising? Not really.



So my question is, are we meant to be faithful? If we forgive an indiscretion do we automatically become doormats? Marriage predates written history and we can hypothesize its purpose was practical for many reasons. Whether those reasons remain valid today, are questionable, though some deserve merit. Getting separated is a pain in the ass. Let’s suppose there are no children in the unit, most marriages have cemented their vows by merging their finances, buying a bunch of crap together, and forming emotional ties with each other’s friends and families. Add children to that mix and separating seems almost impossible.



Thus barring extreme reasons such as abuse, or destruction of some kind, we age, we learn, we forgive, and we become way more lax in our marriages, the imperfections and an occasional lack of good judgment included. Do we still love? Of course. Undeniably, we love fiercely and even passionately. Staying married is almost like running a marathon, in that you alternate between feeling proud, almost smug, and then you want to shit on yourself, but you keep running. The thing with this marathon is that the goal is never to reach the finish line, to keep extending it until it’s no longer in your point of view. Some of us continue to run other marathons, while for others once is enough.

16 comments:

  1. Patri, I really like this. At this point in our lives many don't believe in real love, long lasting marriages and faithfulness. But there are some of us that still do. I'm lucky enough to have my bestfriend/boyfriend /father of my children /lover as my husband. The thing is that luckily we have the same belief that you need to keep being boyfriend /girlfriend as well as bestfriends to keep a healthy marriage. But not everyone shares the same beliefs. I can tell you this, I wouldn't lose everything I have for a 3 minute quickie with anyone when I have what I have at home.
    Great boots, sweetie. Hope many people read this and like it!

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    1. It's wonderful to hear couples who are still in love and feel passionate even after many years and kids together! Perhaps it's not so rare as I sometimes feel it is, but it's good to hear of happy ever afters too!

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  2. Life is full of marathons... we keep going and going, even when it is to our detriment. We have to ask ourselves, "How much of this am I willing to endure, without compromising the essence of who I am?" (Even when there is so much at stake, i.e., the children.) Thank you for your meaningful expression, Patricia.

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    1. This is absolutely true. I think there are limits we all have in a relationship but most importantly we should not lose ourselves especially with kids involved, they deserve to see two highly functioning parents as role models. But can you forgive something now that perhaps you thought you wouldn't before?

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    2. Perhaps. True and whole-hearted forgiveness is most difficult, as we are sort of hard-wired to retaliate or seek revenge (for infidelity). The older we get, the wiser we are? Or more realistic? Forgiveness is achievable, but to what extent? I am not sure, for I just don't know.

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    3. That is exactly it oh wise Elizabeth! Whole-hearted forgiveness is almost impossible for many, but perhaps we can forgive in stages without seeking revenge in the process.

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  3. Congrats on your first blog post, you never choose the easy topics! I am interested in what makes a person stay after infidelity, you touched on some really important points. You forgive the best way you know how, but how do you maintain a civil relationship while wondering will he/she cheat again?

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    1. Thank you, that means a lot coming from you! I feel like there should be a trial period where one is allowed to be uncivil and raise hell. Then you have to decide to either move on, and (A) Really move on, or (B) Torture yourself and your partner endlessly about it. But I suppose the wondering might remain...

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  4. I'm at work and can't cry, but I really want to. This touched so much for me right now. Oh thank you for writing this! I hope to one day get to that point of forgiveness, even though I've chosen to move on.

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    1. Thank you so much. I respect you tremendously as a woman and a writer so it's an honor to read your words. I trust your journey will be a positive one no matter what.

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  5. Patricia, you are a fabulous writer and I love how broad your scope is- going from evolution theory right into the heart of your own feelings with some great metaphors in between. I have a friend who is poly amorous and it's quite interesting to hear her take on these things. It's definitely got me thinking more about these concepts of monogamy. http://www.polyamorysociety.org/ I'm planning to read some stuff on this website. Interesting indeed. Love you! Amelia

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  6. Thank you Amelia. You've inspired me so much as an artist. A poly amorous society is fascinating one. I don't know if it's for me but perhaps I am not awakened completely spiritually yet. I can imagine it's a lot more fun then monogamy though!

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  7. Hi P! It took me a while to comment on your first blog (Yay!!!) partly because I was uncomfortable with the topic. Of course 'cheating' runs counter to my efforts to build a life with my partner and my concept of a real intimacy. My respect to you for finding an edge and tickling it...And with that I have to admit that recently I have begun thinking regularly that I could hardly blame my partner if he cheated on me. This betrays my lack of confidence in my prowess and creativity in the sexual arena more than any kind of open-mindedness, but still, it's interesting how thinking can develop.
    Another reason I was slow to write is because I think something is wrong with me. I don't have that urge to cheat, or if I do it's so muted and repressed so as not to entertain me at all. You mentioned the logistics being exhausting-that's all I feel. And, no, I can't blame this on having a toddler, that would be dishonest! As a consequence, reading your article, I felt a bit lonely and isolated. So I want to participate in this conversation and perhaps start to jostle some things around in myself.
    I find intimacy difficult and the thought of a fling only builds up what I, with my limited capacity, feel is another hurdle to intimacy. Working on it with one person is plenty for me. I recently heard a Buddhist saying that goes 'Accepting that which is different in another person helps us accept that which is different in all beings' or something like that. I have embraced that and use it to help me through my relationship challenges. And it can be applied to every situation I encounter.
    Lastly, I like about your article because it helped me think about what I can do that will challenge others' comfort zones. It nudged me towards some clarity on where my strengths and talents lie.
    It's even better when I re-read it! Thank you for sharing, your writing is powerful.
    -Michelle

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    1. Wow, wow, wow!! Thank you for such an insightful, thought provoking comment. There is so much to consider after reading your words. Can we blame our partner? My first gut instinct is of course, but that's probably a superficial response. I like to think there are complicated reasons on why a person goes down that path. Also, does a person have a right to cheat? There is an article in this month's Psychology Today that deals with this. When I first read the title I got so mad, I couldn't read it straight. To be honest, I find intimacy hard too. Especially emotional intimacy. But shouldn't it be hard, aren't all good things worth it in the end? I have no idea. And is it possible to ever reveal your most intimate self even after you've worked through the issues? Thank you Michelle for your wonderful words and thoughts of wisdom.

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  8. Patri preciosa...me encanta tu modo de expresarte. Tienes un maravilloso talento lo qual es raro expresarse tan elocuente. Hablando sobre la fidelidad en un matrimonio estoy de acuerdo de lo que tu dices si es bien deficil o sea para la mujer o el marido ser fiel por que pasa el tiempo y experiencas fuertes entre la relaction que aveces las heridas hechas del uno al otro borran los tiempos ternuros que han probado. Pero si sigue aviendo amor entre los dos si ay possibilidad de seguir adelante. Pero tambien ay que considerar ..what you can put up with???? Each person is different. There are some burdens such as finances, faithfulness, addiction, etc. people can work with and say okay I can work with this, but there are others that can be the straw that broke the camels back...because one puts up with all the other flaws, but just this one I can't seem to pull through for the team. But each person is different what one person can work through it, another merely can't. Como mi papi dice y mi hermano a puesto en sus escrituras Cada uno vive su propio mundo y escoje su propia locura...escoje la tuya, vive la tuya. Personally, at this moment I would say I would not be able to stay in a relationship where my partner has been unfaithful, but then again because life is life one never knows how one will react to a situation until it arrives...so I may something now, but then my reaction may be different depending on the scenario. Who knows??? But I'm trying to live in the moment and grateful for the now...I love you Patri que bien por ti de hacer esto. Tienes una persona bien especial y esa persona eres tu. Sigamos adelante no estamos escribiendo se demuestra que esto es saludable para todos...

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    1. Gracias por tu comentario amiga de mi corazon!! Estoy completamente de acuerdo que si ya las quejas van acumulando entre la pareja y sucede una traicion, Bueno ese el colmo carajo. (ja!) Pero que tal si todo va super bien (bueno de lo que pensabas tu) y te encuentras en que hubo una infidelidad del cual no lo sabias? Estaras dispuesta a perdonar? Nunca se sabe verdad. Y el miedo es, que si perdonas, que tal el o ella lo sigue haciendo porque bueno ya me perdonastes una, porque no me sigues perdonando? Cual es la diferencia? No se nada excepto que las relaciones son dificiles en todo el sentido, llenas de amor y alegria pero complicadas tambien, verdad. Un abrazo!! Gracias por tomar el tiempo a leer mi blog!!

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