But when Mr. Cain admits that he gave Ginger White money for a long time, and even recently,
“because she was out of work, had trouble paying her bills and I had known her as a friend…. I’m a soft-hearted person when it comes to that stuff. I have helped members of my church. I have helped members of my family.
“And I know a lot of other people who had done the same thing. She was asking me to help her, and sometimes, quite frankly, it was desperation,” Cain said….
And, he acknowledged, “My wife did not know about it, and that was the revelation. My wife found out about it when she went public with it.”
Not only didn’t his wife not know about the financial assistance, he said, but she also “did not know we were friends until she (White) came out with this story.
“My wife now knows,” Cain said. “My wife and I have talked about it and I have explained it to her. My wife understands that I’m a soft-hearted giving person.”
He said his wife “is comfortable with the explanation that I told her.”
then I’ve got to write something. He’s laid out the nature of an affair for all the world to see.
Since I deal with affairs for a living and one of the big issues is helping the couple get on the same page regarding what is and is NOT an affair so we can deal with it, these statements by Mr. Cain can help us clear the air.
There’s a widespread belief that you only have an affair if you’ve had intercourse with someone. That’s a bunch of baloney. Any seventh grader can tell you you can do a lot more things sexually than just intercourse and you can do a lot more things in an affair then just not have sex.
Over the years I’ve dealt with hundreds of trust issues around people outside the marriage from clandestine meetings with coworkers and texting and emails and “chatting” and calls about issues other than work on the one hand and repeated sexual encounters with people of the opposite sex over a long period of time: emotional involvement on one end and sexual involvement on the other. The spouses of these folk on both ends of the spectrum sound the same when they describe how they are taking their spouses’ actions. They use the same words. They use the same inflection. They convey the same despair. How could this possibly be?
The reason? They were having the same experience. They were just as upset when their spouses were involved with others emotionally as they were if they were involved sexually. In fact, most people would tell me it hurts them more if their spouses were involved emotionally than sexually because the plumbing works. You can do it with anyone. But in order to be emotionally involved with someone you have to LIKE them! You have to give them your HEART.
That’s led to my definition of an affair:
Any time you meet someone else’s needs when you should meeting your spouse’s needs or any time someone else (or in the case of pornography, something else) is meeting your needs, when your spouse should be the only one meeting those needs, that would be an affair.
Obviously this includes sexuality. The only person meeting your spouse’s sexual needs is you and the only one meeting your sexual needs is your husband or wife.
But this also includes affection.
And emotional needs.
Needs for companionship.
Needs for fun.
Needs for friendship.
Needs for someone to open up to, to talk to, to share.
Needs for recreation, fitness.
Needs for tenderness, compassion, a listening ear, banter, acceptance.
And yes, financial needs.
NO. We’re not going to go exercise with someone of the opposite sex at work during our lunch hour. Recreation and exercise are major doorways to sexual affairs. It connects the couple (yes, they are acting like a couple) in their experience, when they should be having those experiences with their spouses.
NO. We’re not going to be texting co-workers about personal stuff or even texting and asking if they are having a good day. Texting is doorway to an affair. It is intensely intimate and private and intimate and private things lead to places that play with our heart stings and the hearts of those on the receiving end.
NO. We’re not going to call our “friend” and talk about our day and check up and tell each other our concerns and worries. You should be doing that with your spouse. A good rule of thumb is to NEVER talk about your personal concerns with others of the opposite sex except your spouse.
NO. We’re not going to eat lunch alone on a regular basis with an opposite sex coworker. That’s too intimate and sends the wrong message to your spouse (most important), your co-worker you are having lunch with (if you do this they are probably nurturing a secret crush on you and/or you on them) and your other co-workers (tongues will wag). Everyone is going to doubt your integrity on that deal and it’ll just bite you in the butt.
NO. We’re ESPECIALLY NOT going to give a needy person of the opposite sex money! Crap. Are you kidding me? It’s NOT our job to meet someone else’s financial needs. As a couple OUR money is OUR money and WE decide who to GIVE to. This is a subject for discussion and prayer. This isn’t anything either of us does alone. Too much is at stake.
NO. If he is having financial problems and you feel compelled to help him, you need to bring your spouse on board and the two of you discuss how you want to handle the situation. Maybe give to him anonymously through your church or other non-profit group? If you give her the money directly, especially if it is more than once, you create a very questionable and dependent relationship.
Finances are particularly dicey. If Mr. Cain gives money to this gal, it creates an unbalanced relationship. The key to long-term relationships is keeping them relatively balanced, with a fair give and take. You borrow your neighbor’s lawn mower. He borrows your ladder. If he never borrows your ladder, the relationship is unbalanced and won’t work and every time you want to borrow his mower, he’s going to resent you, unless you give him a nice Christmas present or something to balance it out again. If Mr. Cain gives Ginger White money, what is she going to give him back? Over and over he gives her money and she doesn’t give anything back?
That’s just weird.
And frankly unbelievable.
Really, really unbelievable.
And if it’s true it’s a decided lack of good judgment on both their parts.
And he didn’t tell his wife?
I can tell you that I’ve had people in therapy for a lot less than this and I would guess that anyone who found out that their spouse had a “secret” friendship for YEARS and on top of that gave this person money for YEARS and never told his spouse about it, that when the spouse found out about it, she would feel a tremendous amount of violation of trust on that deal and would be screaming mad and if she didn’t I’d be trying to goad her self-respect into gear.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: As married people we don’t have secrets from each other. Period. No secret activities. No secret friends. No secret spending of money. Married people don’t have secrets unless they want to be unhappily or formerly married.
The whole advantage of being married is checking in with each other about whatever and getting some feedback so that you don’t do really stupid stuff, like give money repeatedly and secretly to a needy woman. If he would have told his wife of this needy woman years ago his wife would have put a stop to it and Mr. Cain might still be a presidential candidate. Really. Accountability works, folks. Secrets and marriage don’t mix.
Here’s how I think of it: If you are single you can do whatever you want. You probably shouldn’t, but no one cares.
If you are married, somebody cares. So you touch base.
If you have a secret relationship with somebody and you also give this person money over a long period of time and you DON’T tell your spouse, then what you are telling your spouse whether your spouse finds out or not is that you don’t need your spouse in your life and you can do what you want and you are basically living a single life. If your spouse doesn’t figure this out and she is “comfortable with the explanation that I told her” then somebody isn’t telling somebody the truth or somebody isn’t dealing with reality and we’re living in fantasy land and we aren’t calling a spade a spade.
I don’t believe for a minute Mr. Cain’s wife is “comfortable with the explanation that I told her.” The normal reaction in a situation like that is extreme violation, abandonment, fear, worry, insecurity, and what the crap other things is he not telling me? Secrets in marriage = a lie, because the idea of marriage is we run things by each other and neither of us just does our own thing. So if you’ve been doing your own thing with this other woman for 13 years and giving her money and not telling me, how do I know that you what you are telling me now is the truth? You just got done lying to me for 13 years. And I believed you. Now, just like that, I’m to believe you now when just a few days ago I find out you’ve been lying to me this whole time? And be “comfortable?”
This is just crazy stuff.
If you have secrets from your spouse you need to come clean. If you can’t come clean come see me and we’ll chat about it and figure out a way. Or tell your spouse and then bring him or her in and we’ll talk about building trust back. It takes a long time. It can be done. But you don’t just say you are sorry and expect everything to be Okay. That is decidedly NOT the way back to healing.
That would be insulting.
Check out all of these materials (here) to get a better grasp of the Model.
The Development of the Model:
The Model arose after hearing from clients the stories of thousands of individuals and adults about their relationships. Most of these were married. Many were cohabiting or had cohabited before. Others were single or divorced, some several times. These people would tell me, often without prompting, the key elements that were missing in their marital or romantic relationships or the types of things they felt were important to making a marital relationship worthwhile. The six elements of the Model are the six things these people brought up in sessions, over and over again.
While some researchers might question the wisdom of creating a Model of Marriage from people who are hurting, I would counter, that people who are hurting know instinctively what is missing and can articulate very convincingly the things they need. A person in the desert knows he needs water to survive. A person who just finished a 32-ounce Coke may be upset because his iPhone doesn’t have reception. They both need water to survive, but the person in the desert is much more aware.
Priorities in the Model:
As you look at the graphic of the Model, note that it is built from the ground up. The item lower on the graphic trumps the items above it. This is a very helpful way to understand, as a couple and a therapist, what priorities are needed to improve the marriage.
For example, Commitment trumps Trust: it won’t matter if you are having an affair, if you are going to leave me. Trust trumps Communication: I won’t believe a word you are saying if I think you are lying to me! Communication trumps Sexuality: Why would I want to be sexual with you if you never talk to me, or all you do is criticize me?
The Elements of the Model:
The Model has six layers with two concepts in each layer. The two concepts at each layer are complementary to each other and necessary to the complete understanding of that area. For example, we can’t just communicate. We also need to be able to solve our problems. In addition, you’ll note that all of the concepts at each level are interactive and dependent on the teamwork of both spouses. You don’t communicate alone or you aren’t affectionate alone. This helps couples see the character of their Marriage depends upon both of them working for the common good of the family the two of them started.
Marriage and Commitment:
When I use the word Marriage I’m referring to a husband and wife who have made a public pledge to leave their father and mother and start a new family. In my view, Marriage is NOT about loving, romantic relationships. Defining marriage as simply a romantic relationship has reduced marriage to feelings, leading to our horrendous divorce and cohabiting rates and encouraging anyone to be “married.” This watered-down view has taken away from Marriage its intrinsic worth, and devalued it to the point where 50% of our married people throw theirs away. Marriage has historically meant the complementary of a man and a woman, who are one in their uniquely, sexually, monogamous relationship, who promise in a public way their mutual commitment to each other in their new family. Their family has the potential to be intergenerational, forming the safest and most tender place for the next generation to be raised. Anything less reduces marriage to a loaf of bread: buy a new one if you feel like it.
Commitment is the idea that the vows of Marriage are continually reinforced throughout their lives together, because they’ve formed a new family. Neither partner does or says things to call their Commitment or their new family into question.
Cohabitation does NOT offer the security of Married for Life and because the couple doesn’t know if either is in or out for sure, insecurity lurks beneath the scene. Married couples who threaten the Marriage by saying things like “I can’t take this any more” or “I deserve to be happy,” also create insecurity and if either party thinks the other might leave, they start protecting themselves from the other spouse. Either scenario (cohabitation or threats to leave) causes people to see their partner as their roommate instead of a husband or a wife, leading to marital problems and chaos and, for many, divorce or breaking up.
Trust and Accountability:
Trust is the idea that what spouses say matches what they do and they both keep appropriate boundaries with others. There is an invisible boundary around their marital relationship and neither does anything to call that into question. In Accountability both partners willingly tell each other what is going on because they each want the other in his or her life! They do this because they want to compare notes and pool their wisdom and look out for one another. They can’t protect each other, unless they both know where the other is.
Couples that don’t practice this end up keeping secrets from each other and not telling each other what they need to, which introduces insecurity into the relationship and makes one or the other feel controlled or totally unimportant. This also leads to couples living as roommates. Roommates DON’T tell each other what is going on! Married people do, or at least should!
Communication and Problem Solving:
Wise couples will BOTH Communicate their concerns with each other and they BOTH will work together to solve both their concerns. No relationship is perfect and will need to be tweaked now and then. The relationship will not improve, if one or the other or both cannot or will not share their concerns or every time differences are brought up, anger, fighting, or shutting down are a threat. Couples who are not able to resolve their differences or at least work them through to a satisfactory level will find their relationship deteriorating over time. Couples who can’t work through their differences become roommates and either fight or become indifferent. If the relationship can’t get better it will get worse. Over time this can lead to Trust and Commitment issues.
Fun and Friendship:
Couples that enjoy their marriages enjoy each other’s company and they enjoy each other’s company because they spend time alone together and have a relationship on their own accord, apart from their children and/or friend or other family members. This is difficult to do in modern society due to our busy lives, but Thriving Couples understand this and will make special efforts to spend time alone as a couple, enjoying each other’s company and developing their common interests throughout their lives together. Couples, who end up as roommates, develop their own individual private interests only and invest in their careers and children, putting each other on hold. Over time they will grow distant and, if they are not careful, will just pass each other in the hall. This lack of time and effort on both parties’ part will be interpreted as an affront or indifference by each other and will bleed into other areas of the marriage, creating other, more serious problems. For example, why be married to someone who won’t spend any time with me having fun?
Warmth and Affection:
Couples need Warmth and tenderness and one of the easiest ways to convey that is through Affection. By Affection I mean non-sexual, non-demand touching. There is a public and private aspect to this. The public aspect conveys to the children and society at large and to each other that the two of them are an item. The children see mom and dad holding hands on the couch and giving each other a hug and a meaningful kiss at the end of the day. Privately the couple is close in the privacy of their own bed. Their bedroom is a sanctuary with a lock on the door. The couple cuddles, again, without sexual overtones, on a regular basis, keeping the relationship Warm.
Couples, who end up as roommates, avoid Affection and use excuses to keep from doing it. If one is more affectionate, that spouse may give up pursing it because it doesn’t seem reciprocal. Or one may say, I’m just not the affectionate type, leading to neither touching each other, publically or privately. Affection that is one-sided feels forced and lacks Warmth for both. The couple may rarely touch each other in bed (or anywhere else!), have a child or dog in the bed between them in bed or not sleep in the same bed at all! Without Warmth and Affection the relationship grows cold and it is not long before they are both living as roommates and the couple is dealing with many other problems as well.
Intimacy and Sexuality:
There are four purposes for Sexuality: 1) to bring the next generation; 2) to ensure the spiritual connection between a husband and wife; 3) as a creative force in our lives to be a blessing to our families and the wider community (e.g. work, art, service, giving, volunteering); 4) as spiritual energy directed toward God in worship. In any other contexts sexuality becomes a force of chaos, abuse, perversion and death.
The wise couple understands this and makes sure that the Sexuality between them has Intimacy, by which I mean it is mutual and meaningful. Without these two elements Sexuality feels forced or inappropriate or hurtful or selfish. On the flip side couples that ignore sexuality end up losing their love for each other as the spiritual energy between them leaks away. Still other roommate scenarios include one or the other or both getting their sexual needs meant elsewhere or the introduction of other people (e.g. swinging) or things (e.g. pornography) into the sacred marriage bed that is just meant for the husband and the wife. These extremes (coercion, indifference or perversion) cause couples to become roommates, raise marital problems in other areas and may lead to divorce.
Importance of the Model:
All the elements of the Model are necessary for a Marriage to be strong. Weakness in one area can quickly trickle into other areas. Just like a house wouldn’t be much of a house if it is missing a roof or a furnace or a kitchen or windows, so, too, marriage without all the elements will suffer. The Model suggests starting with the most basic foundational area before working on the areas above it (looking at the graphic of the Model: work on Trust before Communication, etc.). Knowing what the weaknesses are helps couples set their own goals as they seek to improve their marriages and can give them tangible places to start going forward. Marital therapists can use the Model to assess the couple and create therapy goals.
Other Issues and the Model:
Money and Children:
Most other issues (e.g. money and children) can be subsumed under the Communication and Problem Solving section. Nevertheless, any issue can become a Marriage and Commitment issue, if the couple can’t work it through, one or the other makes threats to leave or, in frustration, either makes unilateral decisions. For example, quite often in cohabiting couples and step-family situations, money and children become Commitment issues! For example, in a step-family situation, if you don’t warm up to my birth-child, I’ll divorce you! YIKES! Unilateral decisions and threats to break up or divorce in these kinds of settings are common. The major concern here is “how” a couple handles their problems.
When I was first thinking through the Model I considered having protection as one of the major components: safety first, right? After some reflection, I decided that protection is one of the assumptions and purposes of the family and it is germane to each level of the Model. We could speak of protection at each level. Protection is one of the key reasons the family exists in the first place. Protection will be a theme at each level as I write about and develop the Model.
The Thriving Couples Model can help you as a couple determine areas that need work for you to make the most of your Marriage or your relationship. If you are a potential marital therapy client or marital therapist the Model will help you focus on priorities. The Thriving Couples Model provides a philosophy and a structure for improving your Marriage, when both parties realize you exist in the Marriage, not to make each other or yourselves happy, but to sacrifice for the benefit of your new family. Your family is bigger than either of you, is worth sacrificing for, and both of you are key players in making it all it can be.
This blog Copyright by Dr. Bing Wall, Heart to Heart Communication, LC, 2011
To listen to the one hour podcast explaining the Thriving Couples Model in more detail, click here.
To check out the Graphic of the Model, the Chart Contrasting Living as Roommates vs. Husbands and Wives or to download a PDF of this blog today click here.
One of my readers suggested to me that I expand upon my last blog and discuss how an affair develops. You’ll remember in that blog I presented how affairs start, using Proverbs 7 as a template, where Solomon tells a story of how a young, naïve man (who becomes a fool that night) is tempted to succumb to a prostitute. He tempts himself by going near where she hangs out and then in a matter of moments she seduces him by her flattering looks, her flattering words, her touch, her reference to spiritual things (yes, spiritual!), her promise that she will be there for him (you’ve got to be kidding me!) and that everything has happened to prepare for this moment (The spiritual again: Happenstance? No. NO. NOOOO. Providence!!): My Husband just happens to be gone. He took lots of money for a business trip and we have all this time on our hands. The implication is even God wants us to PARTY! Careful about praying about having an affair. God won’t answer that prayer, but you can bet the other guy will happy to oblige!
You’ll note that I also suggested that abusive relationships and affairs use the same behavior patterns. An abusive male or female uses the same technique as a seductress or seducer. The only difference is that in affairs, they are BOTH using each other for their own ends, making each other abusers of the other. In a strictly abusive relationship, one can take advantage of the other, but more often than not, they are both abusing and using the other for their own ends.
You’ll note, also, that instead of discussing a young man I turned the story around and discussed how it would look if it was a young woman being tempted, not just in one day but over a period of time.
That story of Solomon’s gives us the nature of a one-night stand with a woman of the street, but the temptation can happen over time for either gender and it certainly doesn’t have to be prostitute, nor married, to qualify for selling your soul to the devil. That hot co-worker two cubicles across or two classrooms down or two doors down or two pews over will work just fine. No money need change hands. Both parties are trying to get something for nothing and both parties tempt each other. Yeah, yeah, yeah, in the story, she’s the one that seduces him, but she doesn’t have a literal affair that night without a willing partner. What’s he doing out looking? He had no business being there in the first place.
You’ll remember from my story that a seducer or seductress uses words to entice.In the King James Version the verse specifically says, “With her much fair speech she caused him to yield (vs. 21).”That is pretty instructive.It’s the words that entice (curiously, not attraction).Combine that with the look and the touch and the vague references to God and then boom:“all at once he followed her.”
All at once.
Affairs are subtle. The example in Solomon’s story occurs in a few minutes. For most of us, if we’re going to break the 7th Commandment (Thou shalt not commit adultery), we prefer the subtle, slow cooking, frog in a pot method.You put a frog in a pot of cold water and it’s groovin’, swimming around and have a grand old time.Unbeknownst to the frog, we put the pot on the stove and turn on the heat and while the frog is groovin’ and a chillin’ it boils to death and it never knows the difference.Affairs are subtle.If you think you can play with fire and not be burned you are sadly mistaken.
A single person getting into an abusive relationship operates the same way. They may or may not be sexual before marriage (more often than not they ARE). Their emotions got involved before their brain. If they are sexual, this is double blindness (Triple? Sex combines them physically and spiritually, and then add the emotional?). This is why it is so important to go slow in courtship and to meet someone through your loving friends and relatives and coworkers whom you trust. This is why online relationships are fraught with danger. There’s NO ONE vouching for your potential spouse’s veracity. You go into it blind. Wait. Wait. Wait to open up emotionally until you know the other person shares your hopes and dreams and values and is a person of integrity. If you get involved emotionally before you know these things you may get too close to break it off when you discover deal breakers. Your emotions get ahead of your brain. Keep in mind that love is patient and the person you have to be most patient with is yourself! You don’t want to be married at ANY cost. It’s better to remain single than to marry the WRONG person. Don’t frog-in-the-pot yourself.
Cohabiting couples end up with the same risk. They move in together before they’ve learned enough about each other to see if they other really fits in with their respective life goals and aspirations and by getting sexually and emotionally involved BEFORE this information is on the table, they end up deluded and in the zone. Then they find all this crap out about each other that they hate and now they want to change each other and they fight, but now they are pregnant or have bought a house together or who knows what and their lives are filled with chaos. Love is patient. Cohabiting is selfishness on demand. What a mess.
Here’s a true story: A man and women meet each other in the bar while drinking and getting drunk. They have sex the night they meet. She gets pregnant. They get married right away. Their life is a disaster. Marriage isn’t going to fix this mess. Patience people.
Shirley Glass, in her classic study of affairs, calls this “the slippery slope.” In my office I draw a slide from a playground and call it “the slippery slide.” I tell my clients you have to stay off the slide altogether. Every step up the ladder you become more deluded and emotionally fooled and it becomes harder and harder to say no until you get to the top and you are ready to take the plunge and once you let go, you are a goner. Some people dance around on top of this slide on a regular basis and wonder why their lives are in chaos. It’s not a wonder to me. At all.
In answer to my reader’s question: What happens after the affair starts, the point in my story last time, where she opens up her heart and tells this wonderful, interesting and caring serpent, who comes as an angel of light, her problems?What happens then?All at once she follows him.All at once.
There’s a decisive moment in every affair, where a person reaches a point where he crosses the Rubicon. People who work with those in addictions call this “the zone.” Believe me: affairs and abusive relationships are addictive. When you are in “the zone” you are totally deluded and lose all track of time and reality. If you happen to come see me when you are in the zone and I mention it or try to rattle your cage enough to help you get out of it, most of the time you will chide me (or even yell at me!) for not seeing your wisdom and delight and all the joys of your little zone. I just don’t understand and I’m being so judgmental. You’ll describe it to me in such glowing terms that it sounds like nirvana. It’s enough to make me puke, but you’ll think the vomit is the wellspring of life and there’s no talking you out of it, for most, until the whole delusion comes crashing down and then you’ll be all repentant and everything, but meanwhile you’ll have already destroyed your integrity, reputation, loved ones and oftentimes your career all in one fell swoop. Some of this behavior is downright illegal and you can also get your sorry butt arrested. You won’t be seeing me then. You’ll be visiting with the prison chaplain or social worker. I’m sure he’s a nice guy.
This decisive moment for most is the moment they open up their hearts to this wonderfully kind and generous co-worker. Or that person from church (yes, church!). Or that understanding neighbor. He seemed so genuine! The word here is “seemed.” Every seducer knows if he gets you to open up and the rest is a highway. They can tell you are lonely or hurting or resentful of your husband. You wear it on your sleeve. You talk down about your husband. You make a caustic remark about your wife or fail to compliment her when you have the opportunity. You come across as needy. And here is the vulture, all pretty or handsome and engaging and interesting and kind and loving, asking you all these personal questions (My husband never asks me these questions any more!) and it’s so flattering to be listened to, to be heard. And he doesn’t insult you, or scoff or roll his eyes, and I haven’t felt like this in, who knows how long, and so you open up more and more and then you start to feel a bit sheepish that this relationship is so one sided, with you talking about all your problems all the time, so you start to ask about his relationships and all of a sudden the seduced becomes the seducer and unbeknownst to you, you are now the temptress and he knows he shouldn’t be telling you his problems either, but you are so nice and you laugh at his jokes and you tease him and you don’t roll your eyes at him either and pretty soon the two of you are dancing on the top of the slide and the both of you plunge down it together and you wake up at the bottom and asked, “wa happened?”
But now, it’s not just your emotions that are involved. You had your heart in the mix and your feeeeeelings (you know how important your feelings are!!! Let them lead you all the way to hell.), but now your bodies have intertwined and you’ve dined on each other’s private delights and dang, it’s new and it’s exciting, and it’s dirty and dang, and dang, I’ve never had sex like that………………….EVER, so this is another one of those God leading me to break one of the Ten Commandments kind of spiritual moments where your pleasure just makes some sort of believer out of you (not sure what church that is). Sex was a spiritual experience! (Well, duh!). And now you are really hooked. And you have to lie to cover it up. But it doesn’t seem like lying, because you are in the “zone” and to you your feeeeeeelings are what’s most important. And of course his feeeeelings and as long as your and his feeeeeelings are so wonderful you’ll be in the clouds. Whoopee!!!
But the strange part is: When anyone else finds out about your little cult that you and your affairee have started, they will fail to be converted. You’ll know that what you are doing is WRONG, when your loved ones find out about it, they are appalled, hurt, frustrated, and angry (By the way, this is a good test of whether porn is right or not. If you can’t do it front of your wife or kids, it’s not right. Right? Well, I guess for a child pornographer that wouldn’t be a test. He’d be in the zone and totally deluded that showing a kid porn is cool. But for most of us….). But that won’t matter to you, at least while you are in the zone. You’ll justify it. You’ll explain it away. If you are really crazy, you and your affairee and fellow worshipper will dump your respective spouses and go off together, leaving a trail of tears and never be the wiser. You’ll blame everyone else for not sharing in your delusion and cut off your loved ones. They’re all crazy anyway, you’ll think.
A sad, sad, state of affairs, no pun intended.
“Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chamber of death.” (Proverbs 7: 25-17 KJV)
Recently, we’ve been looking at communication in the ancient writings of Solomon that have been handed down to us. He wrote a lot more than we see in the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, so we’re getting the cream of the crop. We’ve noted that Solomon uses the word “fool” to describe someone who has no internal restraint and let’s their baser self control his life and has no regard for what God has said or demands, and, indeed, could care less. The fool makes up his own law and the law of a fool is whatever he thinks or feels is right. This means that if you have an opinion that would differ from a fool that they will immediately be offended.
Imagine, then, a family where everyone is living according to his or her own internal feelings without any outside moorings and we have a family that will be in chaos and in therapy. I’ve had to tell more than one person over the years, that unless they get a little dose of morality here, there’s not a lot I can do. For example, if someone has convinced himself that his affair is fine, anything I or anyone else will say that would counter that (like maybe, ah, it’s WRONG) will cause the person who is having an affair and thinks it’s fine and dandy to rant and rave and have a little temper tantrum and act all self-righteous and persecuted and storm off in a huff. So much for communication. Now if the person who had the affair believes that it was wrong and that he shouldn’t have had the affair, then we can start communicating positively and maybe even get somewhere.
The proverb at the start of this blog explains how this scenario plays out in people’s lives. God gave us his Word and continually pricks our consciences and if you ignore both, you do so at your peril.God’s Word is not there to take away all your fun.It’s there to protect you and your loved ones from destruction, because sin and selfishness lead to places you wouldn’t want to go were you to think it through.
For example, our society ignores the biblical notion that nakedness outside of the privacy of marital sexuality between a husband and a wife (i.e. a male and a female) is shameful and wrong and idolatrous and a scandal and we’ve made pornography a legal and socially protected right.Here’s a young man exposed to this stuff at a young age and his baser self says wow, that felt great, because God gave to him the gift of pleasure when he looks in the future at his wife in the privacy of their own bedroom.This fire of desire was designed to stay in the fireplace, but as soon as this young man starts looking at the hundreds of naked women and men out there on the internet doing unspeakable acts with whomever and with whatever gender the fire starts to burn down his scruples and his ability to think clearly and make wise choices.Meanwhile, as he’s looking at all these naked people his conscience kicks in, too, because God has left His imprint in our souls and his, too, and this young man has conflictual thoughts.He thinks, wow, this feels good and holy crap, I feel like crap when I do this.
So what does he do with those bifurcated thoughts? Society keeps touting it’s fine, it’s fine. Porn keeps yelling come in here, come, my son, and feast on my delights, and his conscience says to him, you are one selfish prick. If he’s wise he’ll listen to his conscience and stop the nonsense and figure out a way to keep the fire of his desire in the fireplace and if he’s a fool he will continue to feed the flames of his desire, which, he quickly discovers, is unquenchable. The fire wants more and more fuel.
So he looks more and more and eventually he gets married and while he’s courting or maybe after his marriage to his young and very beautiful bride, he stops the selfish porn thing for a while, but then his baser self starts calling to him again and saying to him that he’s not getting enough sex from his young and very beautiful bride that he promised to be faithful to till death us do part and pretty soon (about six months after the wedding) he starts doing porn again and he has this renewed battle with his conscience and his baser self: It feels great and I’m a stupid fool and these conflictual, internal messages make him feel angry with himself and surly with everyone else, especially his young and very beautiful and desirable wife, whom he starts to not desire so much because she’s starting to irritate him, mostly because he has no sexual energy left over for her or he’s upset with her she doesn’t do all these insane and often immoral things that are broadcast in his pornified mind, but also because she has some really good ideas on how to make their lives better, because God gave her to him to bless his life, just as he gave him to her to bless her life, but instead of seeing and being a blessing, he sees a curse and becomes a curse, because he’s looking at her through the eyes of the sewer in his brain and when he does that all her longings are laced with demands and so he has these unexplainable blowups and she can’t understand why he’s so self-absorbed and ignores her and now he rarely wants to be sexual with her because unbeknownst to her he’s thinking of, and acting upon on average, a 1000 other naked men and women a week, so his mind is going 1000 miles an hour on all his selfish thoughts and they won’t stop long enough for him to even notice her concerns let alone the flowers or the dishes or the rainbow or the laundry that needs folding, so they start fighting and not having sex and he starts not coming to bed because he’s off taking care of his needs instead and she’s feeling lonely and neglected and getting madder by the day and this all at the hand of his believing the lie that porn is fine and whatever he does in secret is fine and there is no morality and the baser things get, the better, and his conscience gets quieter and quieter and the search for eternal pleasure gets louder and louder and more demanding and then one day he comes home in humility, early from work and she’s surprised to see him home already and she notices his head is hanging and he’s a young man, but he looks somehow old and defeated and his sail unfurled and he sits on the couch with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands as he weeps and sobs and tells her he was just fired for looking at porn at work.
So much for the notion that porn is fine. Turns out his conscience wasn’t lying after all and that his baser self was the one that was lying and he played the fool and now he’s got folly as a result.
You think you can plant seeds of selfishness in your heart day after day and a bill will never come due?
Of course, this story doesn’t end when his folly is found out. Now his still young and very beautiful and desirable wife has to deal with it, the lies, the deception, the rejection, the anger, the competition from people neither of them will ever know, the constant images in his brain that circle round and round if he will let them, the character flaw, the disappointment, the embarrassment, the financial stress, the heartache, the unrelenting nagging anger and resentment, and the disheveled mess of a husband. He was on a pedestal and she’d bragged about him to her mom and girlfriends and it’s all a ruse and his image in her mind has come crashing down and shattered in a million pieces all over the floor. And how’s he supposed to stop? You’ve been doing this since you were 14? And now you are 24 or 34 and you’ve been doing this on a regular basis for 10 or 20 years and now all of a sudden you‘ve got a conscience and you are going to stop? And I’m supposed to believe you? You think I’m crazy, too, right?
The folly of fools is folly.And chaos reigns.
Or, you could listen to God’s still voice in your heart and stay away from this stuff or if you’ve played the fool, stop it NOW altogether and save yourself a ton of grief.
But that would mean you’d have to start filling our mind with wisdom instead of foolishness.
Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
What is your soul filled with?
For a scary view of how temptation works, take a look at this amazing animation. Temptation looks so inviting and in the end it sucks us in and consumes us.
Hang on to your hat. We’re in for a wild ride. This is part of a larger series On Healing From An Affair. For the first click here. For the entire series click here.
I don’t think I will ever be able to trust him (her) again. I don’t believe anything he (she) says.
Many clients after finding out of their spouses’ affair
(For the purposes of simplicity, person A is the one violating trust and person B is the spouse NOT violating trust. The person or thing that A is violating trust with is C.)
When trust has been violated in whatever form (lies and secrets about affairs, pornography, homosexuality, alcohol, drugs, and money, to name a few) insecurity and chaos ensue in human relationships.This is an axiomatic law of the universe.If B and A trust each other one-day and then B finds out that A violated trust (lied about something they did or didn’t do or said or didn’t say), then B loses trust in A.It will now take A quite a while to earn that trust back.
The moment that B finds out that A has broken trust, B won’t be able to trust A and B will be AUTOMATICALLY INSECURE about B’s relationship with A.If B is insecure, B will NOT be in B’s best behavior.Insecurity does not lend itself to chillin’ and 8 hours of restful sleep!
I call B’s behavior in a situation like this (e.g. B finds out that A is having an affair with C) “freaking out” (e.g. emotional craziness, yelling, snooping through A’s things, kicking A out of the bedroom or home, telling everyone and their mother about A’s violation, etc.). In an insecure situation, this is normal. However, freaking out is not a relationship enhancer either. It’s understandable. It’s not helpful, but it’s understandable. If B doesn’t freak out, that would mean to me that A’s behavior is fine to B: That A’s affair with C is acceptable, or that A’s love affair with pornography is normal, or that A’s affair with a same-sex person doesn’t matter or that A’s lying about money or whatever else is, well… that’s just who A is. A, for example, is spendy.
No.Please.Come on B.Grow some backbone.If A does secret, lying things and doesn’t tell you about them, then you should be frickin’ upset.Okay?For a long time.
This doesn’t give you the right to tear into A like you are a lion and A is a zebra. But it gives you the right to be a basket case and to cry your eyes out and to not be able to concentrate and to have sleepless nights and to wonder profusely about your future with A and to doubt if you want to be with A or not or fear that maybe A will leave you and other thoughts too numerous to mention racing through your head like debris from a tornado. Scary thoughts. Fearful thoughts. Conflicting thoughts. Up and down. All-over-the-place thoughts. Normal. Normal. Normal, any time A violates trust with B and B finds out.
Sometimes B freaks out so much that B does hurtful things to A to get back at A for the pain that A has caused B (such as B lashing out at A, B trashing A’s stuff, B snooping and going through A’s cell phone, emails, receipts, physical violence, B having a revenge affair). This is NOT helpful and it is NOT acceptable.You are NOT justified to hurt your partner if your partner has hurt you.This is how relationships self-destruct. For example, if A has an affair, A hurts B.Now let’s say that because B is hurting due to A’s affair, B hurts A in revenge.Now what’s A supposed to do?A will be really tempted to hurt B back, too, and on and on we go until there’s nothin’ left but lawyer bills for years and years.So B: Keep a lid on your anger.A’s behavior does NOT give you the right to hurt back.You have a right to be angry.You do not have the right to do angry things.
Repeat this to yourself: I have a right to be angry. I do not have the right to do angry things. I have a right to be angry. I do not have the right to do angry things. I have a right to be angry. I do not have the right to do angry things.
Now let’s look at something that sometimes happens in these situations: Let’s say A has violated trust and B is freaking out. Let’s say that A is sorry that A did whatever with C and doesn’t want to be involved with C ever again. If B gets a lecture from A at this point, that B is being unfair and that B needs to trust A, because, after all, A has admitted (hopefully!) that the behavior that A was doing was wrong and has declared and promised and sworn an oath and vowed and testified that A will no longer do whatever with C anymore, that B should trust A and if B doesn’t trust A, that the problem is no longer A, but B!!! This is A’s logic. Now, all of a sudden B is the problem!!
If you are B, I hope, if you hear this from A, after A has violated trust, that you are pissed.
Can I say pissed in a blog?
If this happens to you, here’s what just happened:
A does something selfish and hurtful in secret with C
B finds out somehow about A’s secret life with C
A apologizes and says A won’t ever do whatever with C again
B is hurt and says as much
A is mad at B for “not trusting” A because A said A was sorry and wouldn’t do C again.In other words, A has turned this around and made B the problem!!
Whoohoo for A.
Solomon wrote about this sort of craziness 3000 years ago, before Freud and all the fancy therapy psychobabble words we throw around today:
Rebuke a fool and he will hate you.
A making B the problem will NOT work.Certainly B will have to be careful to not be hurtful back to A.This will be a temptation.But look.Someone has to have some self-control here.A showed that A has no self-control with C.B needs to have enough self-control to not hurt A.Someone has to STOP the cycle.
But the bottom line is that B shouldn’t trust A until A proves to A and to B that A is trustable about C and everything else!
And this will take some time.
You can lose trust in a moment.It takes a long time to EARN back.You shouldn’t be trusted unless you are trustable.
If A thinks what A is doing with C is fine and is going to continue to have intimate contact with C, then trust will NOT be built, even if A is honest about A’s involvement with C.As long as A is involved with C we are NOT going to be doing any marital therapy.I call it “Chaos Management.”As long as A is involved with C, B will be in perpetual freak out mode and NO healing will take place.This is a common scenario with men who do porn and want their wives to be fine with it or spouses who fall in love with their affairee and want all their family to love C, or spouses who announce they are gay and want their spouses (and children and other loved ones) to be Okay with it and if everyone isn’t Okay with it, then A turns B into the problem: You are persecuting me.In scenarios like these chaos ensues throughout the entire family.It doesn’t matter WHAT C A is involved with: The results are the same.
But, if A is done with C, here’s the formula to earn trust back:
Trust equals what you say matches what you do over time as long as the relationship is improving (including A no longer being involved with C).
Trustable = what you say = what you do + time + relationship improvement (including A no longer being involved with C)
If what you say matches what you do, but A violated trust yesterday, it is too soon for B to trust A. Once trust is lost, trust has to be EARNED back.
If what you say matches what you do, but the relationship is not improving it will be difficult for B to trust A.
If what you say does not match what you do, then B won’t trust A.
If what A says matches what A does, but A is still involved with C, or stops being involved with C and then goes back to C, but all along is honest with B about A’s involvement with C, then trust will not be built.
If any of these elements is missing trust will not be forthcoming.
NOR SHOULD IT. And A has no business making B feel guilty for not trusting A, if the elements of the formula aren’t all there.
If B trusts A and any of the elements are missing, then what we have is, at best, wishful thinking. You can’t build a relationship on wishful thinking. You build a relationship on both parties (A and B) being trustable and both parties (A and B) trusting the other party over time.
Now, if what A says matches what A does over time and the relationship between A and B is improving over a long time and A is no longer involved with C, and B is still madder than a pistol or still freaking out and losing it, well, then, B may need some guidance on how to put B’s life back together. That certainly can happen, but I’m not worried about B being upset for quite a while.
How long is a while?
This varies from person to person, but I usually would say:
For six weeks to 3 months B will obsess about what A and C did 24/7 from the moment that B finds out that A’s involvement with C is over.
If A lied about C for a LONG time or A’s behavior with C is with B’s sister or brother or best friend or pastor (!), then B will think about A and C for longer than 3 months.Six months?Maybe longer.
Why so long? What A did is create an emotional wound for B. Emotional wounds take time to heal, just like physical wounds. A broken leg takes a long time to heal. So does a broken heart. This is NORMAL!
After the 6 weeks to 3 months, B will think about it randomly for a year, like when A’s behavior with C is on the news (such as Tiger Woods’ recent problems) or in a song on the radio or a TV sitcom. The first year will have some rough spots here and there. The second year should go better. This is assuming A’s behavior and contact with C has STOPPED, the couple is in therapy learning how to deal with all this hurt in helpful ways and that they are growing and reconnecting as a couple and that A’s behavior matches what A says over time.
If A has a relapse and does whatever with C again, well then, B’s healing will take longer.Much longer.Not additionally longer, but multitudinally longer.Some B’s cannot take a second violation for fear that A has an habitual problem and that B will never be able to trust A again.It would behoove A to not do C ever again, if A wants a long-term relationship with B.Sometimes, if A goes back to C in whatever manner, B says, Okay, I can see what is important to you and B divorces A.This can be particularly sad, if A was having a hard time ending A’s involvement with C and then A finally gets it and breaks off contact with C for good, but by then A and B are divorced.Too little, too late.We could say that A did not learn A’s lesson soon enough.That would be a bummer.
The key to the relationship healing after A has violated trust is for A to be trustable over time, for A’s words to match A’s deeds, for A to tell B what A is doing and thinking, for A to stop all contact with C and for A and B to work on improving their relationship.This isn’t an easy thing to figure out on your own.
This is where a therapist like myself can help.We can give you a road map through this scary wilderness.
If your therapist doesn’t give you a road map and just nods and says eh-ha, then fire his sorry butt and give us a call.