Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thoughts On Fidelity

"I never worry about things I can't affect, and with fidelity . . . that is between Barack and me, and if somebody can come between us, we didn't have much to begin with." Michelle Obama, Ebony, March 2006

That definitely offers food for thought. The impulse to stray or to seek more fulfilling companionship outside of marriage comes from a variety of sources and the provocations are as diverse as humankind itself. However, as Michelle Obama says if there is something truly substantial between two people, an outsider will not be able to create a wedge between them.

Her words were on my mind when I offered my two cents to a friend struggling to come to terms with her husband's infidelity :

If you forgive this man and take him back, it may be going down a slippery slope specially because you have young daughters and you will be their female role model. While you may think you are doing what is in their best interest, not standing up for yourself and claiming collateral damage for how you have been hurt is not the way to do it. Whatever the circumstances leading up to the definitive event where he had been unfaithful to you for the first time, a man with any real love and respect for you would have told you at once and accepted the consequences. Clearly, he has failed that test.

You are likely not feeling your strongest at this time. The road ahead with your girls and yourself is all unknown and mostly scary. You will want to cling to anything that offers hope of a return to normalcy which includes taking him back. This is therefore the worst time to make that decision. You will be negotiating out of fear and not out of strength.

Five years later after the girls are older and able to fend for themselves, when the immediacy of now has faded along with the wounds if you still feel like you must forgive him and give this marriage another shot do it by all means. That would prove that you have between you something stronger than one act of infidelity no matter how close to home. That would be a good decision - since you would have seen the worst of being alone and would be headed on a path where being single was no longer the end of the world. You would be in a position of strength then.

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