Thursday, September 15, 2011

To Cheat or not to cheat... can be a dilemma

I've posted a lot of interesting articles on my Facebook Fanpage and gotten some heated discussions about infidelity, so I wanted to write one of my own, and ask a different question. Do you indulge your needs and desires, or go a lifetime feeling like you missed out on something.

Of all the friends I know who have personally cheated on their significant other, or been cheated on by a significant other and KNOWN ABOUT IT, I would venture to say that all of them are happier people, whatever the direct result of that infidelity was. Some got divorced and remarried, some worked through their situation, some were never discovered, but found a new appreciation for their marriage after the fact.

So the dilemma occurs when the opportunity to cheat presents itself and the person making the decision is unsure of what they want, or should want to do. As "good" married folk, of course the answer is NOT CHEAT. But for a person who feels like something is missing in their life, the answer isn't as clear.

The true answer lies somewhere in the question. Who are you cheating? Are you cheating your spouse from a honest relationship with you? Are you cheating yourself from all the pleasures this life has to give? Or are you cheating the relationship itself from being everything you want it to be.

Most of the women I know who have cheated do it for reasons outside of sex. They crave attention. They want to feel desired. They want to escape the realities of their boring lives. But sometimes it's also about the sex itself. They want different sex. They want better sex. They want sex with someone other than the person they've slept with for the past several years.

It's not much different for men. While it can start as a simple physical attraction to a stranger, it can also provide the same emotional benefits that come from an affair. Both sexes want to feel desired again, they want to know that they are wanted on a purely physical level. Lusted after. Not needed, but wanted.

So there are three answers to this question:

1. Cheat your partner-Indulge in a one-night stand with a complete stranger or a past lover. Experience the needs you so desperately desire, but know that it may not end there. That you've most likely just had a temporary fix to a much larger problem.

2. Cheat yourself-swallow your pride, and suppress your longings. Your relationship is the priority, and your partner's happiness is more important than a few moments of ecstasy. But don't be surprised if you find yourself having to make this decision again later in life.

3. Cheat your relationship-This is accomplished with either 1 or 2. So instead, why not take a chance at honesty. Bite the bullet and talk to you spouse. What if we could discuss the desire to cheat with our spouses, wouldn't it lead us to discovering the desires and needs that are buried beneath years of marriage? I realize that for some people, cheating provides an easy answer and solution to this problem. But nobody said marriage would be easy. It must be infinitely harder to deal with the guilt, shame, and loneliness of being caught, than to deal with the honest conversations that would come of us sharing our most intimate thoughts. The thoughts that we would share with a best friend, and yet, can't share with our life partner.

Would our husbands and wives really rather not know that we have needs? Would they rather we worked out our issues on our own? Do you think the really would rather not now about a torrid love affair than just hear a few painful words of truth? I realize for some of you, the answer is yes. Your husbands and wives would rather live in oblivion that find out about a one-night stand, or long term lover. They would rather not rock the boat, and keep life less messy and continue in deliberate denial.

Food for thought:
I interviewed a man several years ago who has an internet talk show all about the subject of living life to it's fullest. Part of what he preaches is that people should do what they want, WHATEVER they want. He doesn't believe the sanctity of marriage, or even the other person involved should make impact on your decision to live for your pleasure. I had a hard time with this. While I think people should live happy, fulfilled lives, I think you give up some of that autonomy when you commit to another person who expects you to be monogamous. I think there is something to be accountable for when what you do affects other people. This is his point however. He believes that you shouldn't be responsible for anyone's happiness but your own.

He is married, by the way. And his wife also lives according to the same creed. Marriage, like divorce, is different for everyone. CHOOSE how your marriage will be.