You know that famous line, “If you don’t want to see it on the front page of the New York Times, you shouldn’t do it”? Twenty-one members of the U.S. Secret Service and the military should have remembered that advice. Unfortunately, their less than professional behavior has landed them in that very public spot.
I don’t pretend to know anything more about this unfolding scandal than the next person. What I know has come courtesy of the public airwaves and reputable news organizations. My point is not to address this particular series of unfortunate events, but to ask the broader question, “What the h*ll were they thinking?”
The odds are that some of these men were married. Even if none were, I am well aware that other married persons (women as well as men), engage in this same unrelational behavior while traveling, or otherwise engaged, on business.
Is there something about going through security at the airport that makes these people forget the spouses they are leaving at home? Is it due to spending time at 35000 feet that causes this amnesia? Maybe they just forget their marital status because their bedroom suddenly seems so unfamiliar that they don’t notice their partner is different as well?
Truly, this is not a subject I take lightly.
I have seen the devastation this type of betrayal causes repeatedly over the years. It ranges from the impact of the offending partner losing their job and putting the financial stability of the family at risk to the complete loss of ability to trust one’s beliefs about what kind of relationship they were in.
The unsuspecting spouse suddenly has to question every belief they have ever had about their love, marriage, and assumed fidelity. If there are children, the betrayed spouse now has to weigh the impact of ending the marriage on the family against whether they can forgive the transgression and try to repair the trust so essential for a marriage to succeed.
The betrayed spouse is deeply confused by how their partner could “forget” about their existence and the life they have built together. When, why, and how did they cease to exist in their partner’s mind and heart? At what point did their spouse make the decision to cheat? Just what was their spouse thinking that let them do this?
Make no mistake, marital betrayal doesn’t “just happen”. You aren’t just innocently walking down the street, or eating dinner in a restaurant, and suddenly find yourself in a sexual encounter with someone who is not your spouse. Unless you have had a Jason Bourne experience, you are there because you chose to be.
Each step of the way, you made a choice that led to the ultimate outcome. At each juncture, you had the choice to behave in a way that honored your marriage or harmed it. Unless you were drugged or kidnapped, you were in charge of the decisions at every step. Instead of walking away, you put yourself in that headline.
You chose to drink too much at dinner. You chose to go out with the singles and players in your group after hours. You chose to flirt with the attractive client. You chose to make or accept the physical advances. You chose to go past the point of no return. You chose to believe “no one will ever know”. You chose to put your marriage last.
Maybe your marriage wasn’t all you wanted it to be. Maybe you and your partner have been disconnected and distant. Maybe everything is actually okay and you really love your partner. Maybe no one will know, except for you. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
It doesn’t really matter because your marriage will be changed forever. The consequences will come. The only real question is, “What the h*ll were you thinking?”
- Monogamy in Marriage: Is It a Matter of Choice?
- Men and Women Have to Eat Not Cheat
- Facebook–the Madness or Just the Method
Learn more about Lesli’s book and how you can affair-proof your marriage.
Photo: Bjorn Frank