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I am supposed to be writing about sex this week. In a way, I suppose that I am, through the topic of infidelity. In this article I am sharing the answer that I gave a friend early this week. My goal, then and now, was to provide an attentive ear to the situation and hopefully sound advice as to her role in an adulterous relationship.
Sex was created by God, to share between a husband and a wife, and it is good. We should all be able to agree on these points. However, it is clear that whether we agree or disagree, some parties in a marriage fail to represent these factors, thus leading to questions such as, “if sex was created for marriage, and it is supposed to be a good thing between a husband and his wife, then why would a husband seek sex somewhere else?”
There are four global reasons that men cheat. The reasons can obviously be reduced to a number of subsets based in traditions, culture, circumstances, and physical or psychological disorders. Yet, from a global or macro perspective, I strongly believe that all excuses will lead to one of the following.
- Opportunity or Convenience
For a large number of men that have committed adultery their motivation was simple opportunity. The goods were literally thrown in their face. This is typically the case with workplace affairs where two people become comfortable with each other in a manner that was completely unintended. He did not set out to have an affair, the door opened and he floated right across the threshold.
Let’s face it – some men have insatiable appetites. So, he hunts ferociously. Frankly, a woman married to this man already knows his tendency and is not often surprised by an affair.
- Lack of Quality
This is one of those measures that only mean something to the person having to describe it. Kind of like, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ Only he can tell you what he expects from sex, and what he is not getting at home. The range is extremely broad – ranging from frequency to diversity to freakiness. Unfortunately, there are no exclusions, including medical issues or physical limitations.
This is likely to be seen as the weakest excuse of the four, yet, it is the most frequently given. This is far different from the quality issue. Quality is inherent to the spouse. Satisfaction is dependent upon the man. Dissatisfaction will have very little to do with the act of sex. It may come from the physical changes of a spouse, the stress in the home from finances or differing parenting styles.
Do not allow any of these factors to cause concern that the odds of a faithful marriage are unreasonable. Let me attempt to ease your concern. There are four types of men that will never cheat.
- He is Dead
I do not mean physically dead, although that would certainly eliminate the threat; neither am I insinuating that he cannot perform sexually (limp). I am suggesting that he is oblivious to world. This man is dead to the poison of lust, which leads to infidelity. He was either reared in a certain manner, or conquered those demons long ago. Or, this guy felt the sting of infidelity, and vowed not to put anyone else through a similar form of grief.
- Low Self Esteem
Well, this guy would not take free sex from a super model. He would spend way too much energy trying to figure out why anyone would want to sleep with him. He considers himself a lottery winner to be chosen by his spouse, and still questions his fortune of her vow. Frankly, this is not a bad thing. It would be better for the institution of marriage if more men felt swept away by their wives, rather than feeling like they capture their brides in some ancient fight to death ritual.
He is totally and completely enamored with his spouse. Outside of his mother, no other woman even exists on this plant. Life as he knows it would end without her. Any other woman would literally be an insult to his integrity and character.
- Totally In Love with Jesus Christ
My absolute favorite- this guy has made a lifelong covenant with God. His cord of marriage is strengthened with the woven thread of Jesus Christ. Even if he struggles with any of the character flaws in the first list, he would remain faithful and committed to serve as an example in and outside his home. He could not break his covenant.
Sex is meant to be good. When it is not for whatever reasons, people struggle the possibility of infidelity. Some commit the physical act. Others fall only in their lustful thoughts. Yet, still others remain strong and committed to the vow of marriage.
This is certainly one of many perspectives on infidelity, and from a man’s point of view. Ironically, the conversation helped my friend make the decision to cut ties with her lover with hopes that he could repair his marriage. And that she would be in a better position to support her unknown future husband in his quest for fidelity.
Here is my thesis. Life is about giving, and love is at the top of the list. In fact, I believe that all of creation is about the revolving, interconnecting circles of Light, Life and Love. Genesis 1 and 2 support my thesis. The Sanskrit poem Bhagavad Gita supports my thesis. Therefore, success or fulfilling our purpose in creation, in my opinion, comes through the velocity of how we give.
You have heard that you reap what you sow. Some of us are familiar with the parable of the fig tree where Jesus condemned the tree for not producing any fruit after being given adequate seasons to “let go.” How about: God gave His only begotten son, so that … we could have everlasting life? Giving is clearly a life principle.
So my argument begs the question, ‘why is it so hard to for-give or let go?’ I suggest we first consider the motivation for holding on.
We keep things mostly out of comfort or familiarity or fear. It is easier to work within the confines of our experiences or hold on to the successes that we already have – no matter how outdated these may be. Worse, we sometimes hold on to whatever it is because we fear that it will never be replaced, or we will not get anything in return.
For-give-ness is the extreme active of giving. The literally meaning is the most intense form of give. No wonder it is so hard for most of us.
For some it is challenging to give a greeting, like ‘hello’ or ‘good morning.’ Others find it hard to give a donation to a worthy cause or tithe to their religious organization. Forget about giving a thoughtful gift to co-worker, classmate, or acquaintance where there will likely not be an exchange.
Giving only seems to be easy when reciprocity is in order. It is much more likely to occur when the exchange will result in a reciprocal physical act, tangible item, or pleasant feeling. But, we know that forgiving someone of a past or present hurt, disappointment or betrayal will not involve either of the aforementioned.
We hold onto hurt as we do our greetings to strangers or gifts for a co-worker because we cannot see ‘what’s in it for me.’ We know, and do not care, that it makes no sense. It makes about as much sense as holding onto clothes that you don’t wear, rather than donate them to a shelter that houses battered women who escaped their abusive relationships – likely without anything but their lives.
Truth is we will benefit from offering forgiveness. The benefits are subtle and often overlooked and undervalued, but they are there for us. It is like saying good morning to strangers even though they seem to never respond. It is very similar to offering to purchase lunch for the person on the corner with the sign, even if they really just want the money. It is just as important as cleaning out your closets on a routine basis and donating the clothes to shelters or churches that provide for people you will likely never meet.
The benefit is greater than you, but for you also. When you forgive there is a burst of positive energy that envelopes you and everything about you. When you greet a stranger, I assure you they carry that throughout their day and will eventually bless someone else with your kindness. When you give that faded sweater, out of date jeans, or too tight wardrobe away someone is grateful to have clean clothes to cover their wounds as they begin their life anew. The same goes for saying I forgive you- even if the person will never hear it from you.
Saying I forgive you means that you hear it and you become transformed throughout your day and life. The strange gesture as with the greeting will free you to bless someone else. Saying I forgive you provides a new emotional wardrobe, internal grace that reflects your outward act that says you cared enough about someone else to give what you could no longer hold onto.
For me, my thesis holds true. It is when we share our light, sacrifice the comforts of our life, and embody love that we are living out our purpose in creation. Forgive.
The early morning phone call was confirmation for the uneasiness he felt the night before. Everyone knew that he was not a morning person and his close friends knew his schedule well enough to consider he was still asleep on this morning and at this hour. He knew, eventually, this call was coming, so he might as well face it now. After picking up the receiver and beginning with “What’s up?” he heard an all too familiar expression, “We need to talk.” This was definitely confirmation of what he felt in his spirit.
Cheryl Pepsii Riley’s, “Thanks for My Child” was still playing in his head after only hearing it a couple days earlier in a friend’s car. Considering all of the young women that he had shared intimate moments with, in that year alone, the song only brought her to mind. He thought of the one girl that would never take no for an answer; would show up at his apartment with her overnight bag and barge her way in. This was the girl that declared after finding out he was involved in a long distance relationship, “I do not care if you have one, two, or three other women, as long as I can be in your life.” He agreed that she could come over later that morning, but he already knew what the conversation was about.
At least four months passed since these two last saw each other. The last time they were together he was celebrating his 21st birthday. She made it memorable by giving him everything he desired: clothes, shoes, cologne, money, and her body. For her, it was an opportunity to show him just how much he meant to her and win his commitment. She loved him. For him, it was purely selfish. There was no guilt or shame for him – ‘She offered and I accepted.’ After the celebration ended, he rudely demanded that they never see each other again. Wondering what could I have done differently or better to gain his affection, she obliged his request and did not try to contact him anymore after that night.
Four months later, the night before the phone call, they passed each other on campus and he realized that her journey continued beyond that birthday evening. She looked different and it was clear she was uncomfortable around him. Her appearance, her demeanor, and that darn song were all the evidence he needed. Therefore, he was pregnant with anticipation as he answered the phone the next morning and agreed to meet with her. As soon as she entered the room the words flew out of her mouth, “I am pregnant.”
The words hit him like a straight-forward punch. Although he did not turn around to greet her, he could hear a hint of joy in her voice as the words landed with brute force. ‘What does she expect from me? Does she expect me to be ecstatic about this news?’ He had not seen or touched her in four months. ‘That child could belong to anyone.’ He would never say these things out loud, but these were his thoughts. “Does she expect me to be that gullible? How could I be so careless to sleep with her, especially how aggressive she was, and not use protection?’
She sat on the edge of a chair facing his back; he never turned away from the television. His words were still ringing in her ear, “Why are you telling me? It’s not mine.” It took every ounce of her strength not to give into either of the emotions that were competing inside her. She felt enough rage to kill him in that instance, and so much heartbreak that she could have easily hurt herself. The coldwater reality that he wanted nothing to do with her, or any child she carried, was not the way she hoped this morning would end.
The pregnancy was obviously not planned, but far from a mistake in her eyes. This was her first year of college. She was her parents’ eldest child and the hope of her community. As a very bright young lady who earned a full academic scholarship to college this was not the hope of those who supported her. But, this pregnancy could never be viewed as a mistake, because she loved him more than he could realize, and she would love this child even more.
It took less than a week on campus for her to meet this guy. He stole her attention, distracted her from the dream, and redirected her desires. She could remember every moment they spent together from the first time he said, “Hello.” Yet, in that moment of rejection she thought, ‘How could I be so stupid to think that he would ever love me, even if I was carrying his first born child?’ The silent mental conversation ended as she realized that he was not going to acknowledge her or the pregnancy.
Surprisingly, both reached out to their parents for guidance that morning. Regretfully, each set of parents responded differently. His parents showed concern and support. They were willing to provide emotional and financial support for both. Her parents were not as receptive or supportive.
From their perspective, the burden would fall on them as their daughter would have to carry the child and stigma of a teen-aged pregnancy. Their 18 year old daughter left home as a heroine. She was the high school valedictorian, a youth leader in her local church, the protector and advisor to many young girls in her neighborhood, and an idol for her much younger brother. Her parents would not risk her or their reputation with an out-of-wedlock teen-aged pregnancy. Particularly her father, who was a deacon in his church and one of the first Blacks to hold a position of authority in law enforcement for their county, stood adamant against the pregnancy. Her family did not have the luxury of waiting for a paternity test. They would endure the hardship immediately.
Her father offered three options, “He can marry you; go straight to jail; or you will get an abortion.” She did not like any of those options. Despite her love and desire to share this child with him, marriage seemed too drastic. Jail also seemed extreme and improbable considering their encounter was consensual and both were “of consenting age” at the time. Her father assured her, “I will call in every favor I have in this state, and tell any lie that I have to in order to make sure he goes to jail for what he has done to our family’s name.”
“Abortion,” the last of the ultimatums was the worst option, but the only one she could control. She attempted reason. “It is too late for a normal abortion, and even if it were not too late I want to keep my child.” But she knew that her father did not make empty threats. She knew that he would follow through on his promise, even if it meant ruining his career and their family’s financial status. Marriage was not an option considering the father of her child went into hiding after her licensed-to-kill father sent word that he was looking for revenge. Al though the situation was unfair, no one deserved jail time. Regretfully, she resolved that abortion was her only option.
Her father escorted her to a facility that was far from their hometown. Anonymity was important. He had already devised a story for the inquiring neighbors and church members. “She came home from college to help care for her little brother, so that my wife and I could continue our careers.” This was just another lie to add to the many that this family carried for the sake of prestige. He was not prepared for the words of his only daughter and first born child, “I hate you with everything in me and I hope you DIE!” She exclaimed these words as she awoke from the anesthetics used for the surgical procedure. She was stubborn like him and he knew she meant every word. He thought briefly, ‘What have I done? Could there have been another way? Were our family’s reputation and my pride that important to sacrifice my first grandchild’s life? Did I just sacrifice a relationship with my daughter?’
The abortion ended three relationships. The blood stain was on three lives. There was no turning back and the only things that grew were tension, resentment and guilt. Each person voiced forgiveness for the other, and each internalize their role in the saga.
Less than a year after the incident, she forgave the father of her aborted child. He called randomly to apologize. It was too late to save their son -the surgeon told her the sex of their child -but it felt good to know that he cared enough to find her, risk the wrath of her father, and apologize. He, too, moved on after that conversation and forgave her for whatever means of persuasion used on him during their relationship. Yet, she had not shared any of the details of the pregnancy, so for nearly 25 years he wondered what really happened to their child. Imagine how wide the roots of un-forgiveness can spread in a 25 year span.
It was her father’s cancer that finally broke the silence. The cancer was rare and aggressive. He was not a candidate for any of the routine treatments. The doctors advised that he, “Go home and live out the best quality of life that you can.” He had been so harsh on the people in his life that not many would offer to care for him in these difficult times. It surprised everyone when his daughter volunteered to be his caretaker.
She was a trauma nurse by profession, but it was her compassion for life in general that would not allow her to abandon her father in this moment. She still hated him for pressuring her. Yet, it was the guilt of agreeing to the abortion that held her most captive. She discussed her feelings with her father first, and they shared an emotional moment. He shared his fears, which did not ease her anger, but she could see his fear in her own concerns for her daughters. Their new relationship helped him forgive himself allowing him to approach his remaining time with the liberty offered through forgiveness.
As she finally shared the events that led to the abortion with the child’s father, he could not speak or stop the tears. After 25 years, she broke the silence and to open up to him. He had no idea that she endured such a great trauma in order to save his life. A son and a friendship were sacrificed for what? His college career? His reputation? To keep him out of jail? It all had the potential to increase the guilt that he carried for 25 years. However, her words were liberating and infused with forgiveness. She talked about the freedom that came with being able to care for her father without malice, and how she was able to forgive herself. Her bravery was inspiring.
Narrow views make things appear isolated or independent. We see events and activities from the perspective of how it affects self. When we magnify our perspectives, we begin to see the interconnectedness of our journeys. Like a map of roadways that cross our nation, or the blood transport system of our bodies – the passages of freedom are intertwined in the various degrees of forgiveness. The route that is just as important, but often overlooked, is forgiving oneself. Live Free.
The following weeks in January, Thursday night at 7pm is dedicated to forgiveness. This week, let’s discuss forgiving our parents.
Confronting our parents is one of the most challenging obstacles for “letting go.” We can share the pain without being disrespectful. Let’s start with those we hold in high esteem.
Listen live online or dial in 347-237-4648. Press 1 to join the conversation.
Our special guest this week is Shanedria Wagner.
A graduate of Texas A&M University, Shanedria Wagner earned a Bachelor’s degree in French and a second degree in speech communication. Mrs. Wagner went on to earn her Master’s degree in bilingual education from the University of Houston. Her studies also include superior-level French courses at the University of Caen in Normandy, France. She is a linguist who speaks, reads, and writes in French and in Spanish. Additionally, Mrs. Wagner is an acclaimed author currently penning under the pseudonym, Author Moi. You can learn more about her at www.shanwag.com or www.authormoi.com.
Just wait until you hear her testimony on forgiveness!