Sometimes I click on news article links that do nothing more than satisfy a morbid curiosity, such as one last week on Huffington Post about how a woman discovered her husband’s three-year-long affair (sorry, can’t find the link now but here’s a similar one). Articles like this are totally depressing, because it’s such an awful scenario to imagine finding myself in. The unbelievable question posed at the end of that article was what really got me: “Can an affair make a marriage stronger?” I choked on my coffee and nearly spewed it all over my computer. I couldn’t believe someone was actually posing that question. Stronger?! Seriously? To continue my disbelief was reading the responses. Many people said yes, it can and/or did make their marriages stronger.
I have to disagree — not from personal experience, I’ll quickly clarify — but based on my own common sense. Marriage is a deal, a contract. Marriage is most definitely not based on unconditional love. Unlike children, whom (normal) parents will love and defend to the end no matter what, there are many things a spouse can do to be undeserving of marital love and, consequently, continuation of the marital contract. Yes, I did marry my husband and promise to be with him through thin and thick, sickness and health, but there’s still an underlying conditional clause: my basic demand to be completed respected as his wife and never, ever cheated on — same goes vice versa — and if an affair ever took place, that would spell the immediate end of the marriage. I’m not alone in holding this opinion; my husband and I have discussed it before and agree that affair = divorce.
Maybe I sound extreme, or rigid, or unforgiving; granted, I’ve never been in that hellish position of having to choose between my own dignity or dissolving the family unit. But my interpretation of it is black and white. Marriage requires total trust, and as soon as that’s been shattered in the most brutal of ways, my husband would cease to be my husband, and more of a traitor than a life partner. Two wrongs don’t make a right, so how on earth could an act of betrayal serve to improve the overall health of a relationship? That makes no sense to me from both a logical and emotional standpoint.
I believe that an affair is an outward manifestation of much deeper issues within a relationship, so when someone goes off and cheats, it probably means that a lot of other things haven’t been addressed along the way. I guess you could say a person is ‘driven’ to do it for whatever reasons, but that doesn’t make it acceptable. In fact, it’s shameful that the necessary steps haven’t been taken to fix the relationship before it deteriorates to that point. By the time an affair happens, what is there to salvage in an already rotten marriage? Zippo. Ciao!
I’m extremely hardheaded on this subject, but what is a marriage without a sexual commitment? Once that most intimate of boundaries has been broken, you’re nothing more than two people who know each really well, and likely hate each other, too. The expectation of monogamy is not too much to ask (sorry, Germaine Greer, I don’t agree with your arguments on that subject!), so long as both people are open and communicative about how to keep it healthy, fun, and satisfying. So, take that, whoever you are who posed that question in the first place: my answer is a loud resounding, “No way! We both deserve better than that.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What do you think?