Infidelity

Spring Garden, 2010

Recently I visited a friend who has a straying husband.  This has been hard for her and her family,  for all the obvious reasons.

But there are reasons ‘unseen’ except with weeping eyes in the middle of the night, terrified thoughts and the greatest of uncertainty for the future.

Like  the concentric rings that ensue from a stone dropped in a pond,  people outside the marriage are involved, and usually because they are just  victims of current events.  Their lives are impacted by the hormonal behavior of others and they can’t escape the fallout.  Children as especially vulnerable to this.

I don’t have any real answers for my friend because I have escaped this with the grace of something in my 25 year  marriage.  Perhaps I was behind the door, or asleep or just too dumbfounded to take up the overtures and sing arias with a stranger.

I can sit with her, hold her hand, drink endless cups of tea and commiserate, but in the end,  it  runs an undeniable pattern.

So much hidden is lost because of infidelity.  After the fireworks -the outward things that caused dramatic grief are over…. I would think the ‘afterburn’ of infidelity is something that keeps rekindling.

Perhaps that is the real pain  of infidelity.  It chars  trust in a marriage, and  births an  anxiety of repetition.


Lady Nyo

POEM OF MY HUSBAND

“You’re all I have.”

Heard in the dark

Heart almost stopping

In an inattentive breast.

I dare not look at him

Too bald a sentiment

And too true to bear

A light, comforting answer.

What would occasion such words,

Such a piteous sentiment?

When one has lived

Within another’s hours, days, years,

The fabric of this making

Can be forgotten.

The warp and weave, the very thread

That appears as if out of air

(and it does)

becomes substantial,

it covers and clothes more than the body

and the life blood of sentiment,

Love-

Becomes the river within, unending,

Even transcending the pulse of life.

“You’re all I have.”

A whispered refrain

That echoes in the heart

And burrows deep.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009

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14 Responses to “Infidelity”

  1. Dangerous Bill Says:

    The first part sad, the poem beautiful. Infidelity is common enough, but now, with the end of the track nearly in sight, I feel immensely fortunate. I’ve never been tempted seriously enough to become just another pitiable guy trying desperately to inflate his box score or deny his age. I like to remind the Warrior Queen that I already have several mistresses: lover, best friend, homemaker, Amazon, companion, confessor, conspirator; they all happen to have the same Social Security Number. While time has thrown the occasional opportunity my way, I’ve always been able to fall back on the trust that’s grown between us, and the knowledge that nothing I could find in a motel room could come close to what I find in my own home.
    You can never be just a little bit unfaithful, or faithful.

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  2. ladynyo Says:

    Bill…

    You and the Warrior Queen are blessed, blessed, blessed.

    And knowing the duration of your marriage in years….the proof is in the pudding…

    And I agree: you can never be just a little bit unfaithful, or faithful. Jimmy Carter said something along those lines I remember. About lust.

    But lust takes a back seat to trust anyday.

    Lady Nyo

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  3. melove54 Says:

    Sweet,.. love your prose.

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  4. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you!

    Lady Nyo

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  5. Essemoh Teepee Says:

    “One can never be a little bit unfaithful”

    To have faith is to believe without the requirement of objective evidence (Go with me on this?) to support that belief. To be faithful is to adhere or cleve (such a nice word) to a belief or to someone. Mixing up those two, when does ‘faithful’ become ‘unfaithful’?

    Some of us write erotic fiction and poetry. If that writing is about other people than our partner and we have imagined, often in great detail various acts where we place ourselves in the imaginary POV, are we unfaithful?

    Most, apart from a very few extreme believers, would say no.

    What about those daydreams? Those passing thoughts of afternoons of passion with that attractive person on the train, bus or in the next car in the jam? Are we being unfaithful?

    A few less would say no. We have done nothing just had some idle thoughts. (‘Bless me Father for I have sinned, I have had some wicked thoughts.’ My upbringing has a lot to answer for!)

    What about flirting? Or the mistletoe kiss at the Christmas Office party? Does that make us unfaithful?

    What about e-mails with strangers, hot, spicy anonymous exchanges between Hornyguy89 and sexygurl55?

    What about phone sex?

    Skype with webcam mutual orgasms?

    All could be between people who have not and will not ever meet, may not know the real name or even the real location of the partner they have been intimate and emotional with. Is this unfaithful?

    In the ‘old’ days evidence of infidelity required that two people had to be observed, ideally photgraphed in the same hotel room together.

    Now total strangers can exist twelve hours apart yet can have intense emotional exchanges and mutual orgasmic experiences.

    Can one be just a little bit unfathful?

    You tell me!

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  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hiya T.

    Well, no. It’s all unfaithfulness. In degrees…some serious, some just not. To a marriage, to a conventional marriage which is what we mostly have. The purpose…or was…was to cleave to each other. Not to the outside world at random.

    I think the issue is this: what you do on this front can have profound disturbances in a marriage. We are talking about a marriage here. Hypothetically: If your wife knew your activities, how would she feel? Perhaps it is different if there is a mutual agreement that what you do wouldn’t impact the marriage? But it does…and I don’t believe it never does. But most work under the secret of lies and misinformation.

    There is that afterburn.

    A while ago a woman told me that she was aware of the many ‘friends’ her husband had…but she didn’t want to hear of them! She was in denial, citing that she was obligated by the terms of the marriage to ‘allow’ him his behavior (freedom, dominance, etc) but she was one sweet fucked up woman in the end. Over the course of the weekend, she revealed great anxiety about many issues…the behavior and conduct of her husband, the fact that she had been ‘seriously hurt’ by him a number of times over the course of a marriage, etc.

    His attitude was interesting: he told her she was the only one he ‘loved’ but what was the quality of that love? He justified his behavior because he ‘loved her only’. (in other words, he was using the other women, plain and simple. But they allowed this because of their own sad pathologies.)

    In the end, it was a pretty pathetic ‘marriage’, and I learned some profound lessons about this type of ‘love’. And fidelity. It bent the word to such a shape that it didn’t apply, regardless the ‘intent’.

    All of the above, T. All of the above….are somewhat part of the temptations of human nature…but more so….the advent of the internet compounds it all.

    But the bottom line for me is this: We can make all sorts of contortions on this argument, but it still bothers. In the end, perhaps the lost of confidence, security (I’m not talking about money…) trust is what is the very worse.

    It can undermine a marriage forever.

    How do you recoup from that? Only by realizing that we throw up so many justifications IN THE BEGINNING for our behavior….and some continue on because of a stubborn defense/ denial.

    If we were to stand in the light of ‘gotcha’….how would we see ourselves? How would our spouses see it all? And how would we change it all? And would it be forgiven?

    I once had a friend who did this a lot: he went through women like water. Although it says something about how he saw women, it says something even more about himself: ultimately a man who transgresses so much in a marriage is very unhappy somewhere. He just can’t do the hard work of finding out why, so covers it with affairs…perhaps one-night stands because that is just about sex for him, and then doesn’t ‘violate’ the marriage? He puts in nothing, so nothing is taken out?

    We should be mindful of what we are doing….in light of our marriage, our family, our better-selves..

    We all make a lot of excuses. And we all make a lot of pain for others. And ourselves.

    Lady Nyo

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  7. Essemoh Teepee Says:

    All so very true My Lady.

    Then the anwer may be that bald truth should prevail?

    That one partner should face up to a reality and make the break. Leave a partner of long standing, of shared experiences and mutual respect to pursue their selfish desires in open honesty?

    To do anything else is to be hypocrictical in the light of your words.

    However, this is all from the WASP monogamous POV.

    What of polygamy? Polyamoury? All are acceptable in different cultures, where is one culture wrong and another right?

    In the end where is the individual, the internal judge as compared to the judgement of society and peers? Which is paramount?

    I suspect that there is no answer to this, merely agreements to disagree.

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  8. ladynyo Says:

    But you and I aren’t from cultures of polygamy or polyamoury, and we can fool ourselves but in the end???

    And you would like to call it WASP culture, but the same moral issues apply to Jews (those that I know), Muslims, etc. It’s not just a White Anglo Saxon POV.

    And you and I friend aren’t functioning in these “other” (polygamy, etc…) cultures you write about. We are functioning in something totally else…and perhaps it isn’t the best answer, but fantasy aside….it’s not that bad.

    It is easy to fool ourselves thinking we are fooling our mates…but are we? And what does that say about us and our love for the other? What does that say about the foundation of any marriage? It’s a slippery slope, friend.

    But we make our choices and live with them until we can’t.

    IF you had the agreement from your spouse to pursue all the behaviors that you wanted ….this would probably be different: but how many men and women do this under the cover of darkness, deception and guilt?

    The bald truth is hard to swallow for most of us: but in the end?

    You and many others will continue your own paths. I say, that is fine for you, but for me and my marriage? We have been married for 25 years and I still find things about my husband that amazes me. A lifetime together is not enough for full discovery.

    Well, we will continue to disagree, and hopefully do it with respect.

    My best to you!

    Lady Nyo

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  9. Dangerous Bill Says:

    ET sez: “Can one be just a little bit unfaithful?”

    I think there’s a litmus test for unfaithfulness. It happens the first time you do something you can’t or won’t tell your partner about. It doesn’t require bodily fluids, or a musty hotel room, or the back seat of a car, or even a computer display discreetly turned away from the office door.

    Dangerous Bill

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  10. ladynyo Says:

    Exactly. It’s those little ‘secrets’…those betrayals….

    If you do something of this order you won’t tell your partner, then…

    it’s the slippery slope thing.

    Trust doesn’t come easily, but a marriage should be built on trust. It’s so easy for us to equivocate on these things. For many reasons, most of them bad. Selfish reasons, mostly it seems.

    I went through crap a few years ago and when I finally broke down and trusted my husband with what I was feeling, the influences in my life then….he stood with me and I couldn’t have survived without this. Only later did I realize in the act of revealing my trouble to him…trusting him with what was overwhelming to me….was the possible solution. I didn’t have to go it alone, I had a partner in my life…all of it.

    The good and the very bad.

    Lady Nyo

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  11. Essemoh Teepee Says:

    I of course respect and admire both you and Bill, My Lady.

    And I understand your POV. In fact I think that the ‘Litmus Test’ as described is pretty accurate.

    Where I possibly diverge is the reality of relationships as compared to an ideal. That one can preserve what is good sometimes by accepting that one or both may have unfulfilled needs that can be satisfied in a way that does not require the breaking of what is good.

    That may seem pragmatic or ‘convenient’ and ignores the potential for pain and betrayal.

    In the very many people I ‘meet’ I see so many shades and nuances of just this that I can’t accept the binary, god/bad POV. An analogue, shades of grey, appreciation is in my view a more realistic and flexible understanding of people and their relationships.

    Other wise we condemn so many to situations that the tearing sense of loss is forever being balanced on the piercing point of guilt, duty and obligation.

    My enduring respect and regards to you all

    E

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  12. ladynyo Says:

    E: since I am privileged to know you for a number of years, I do know how much you struggle to do ‘right’ in these things. I know you are a principled man. We have both been tested in this cauldron against forces that were not principled. No, in rereading this….in October, 2012, these forces were Sadist, crazy and of the nature of pathology.
    You and I both know the two people we are speaking of. I pray that we can forget their destruction but remember the lessons.

    Since I know something about circumstances, my heart goes out to you because you are so principled. It is not an easy road all the time. And we are all very human. We are hit with the usual issues of loss and denial, and perhaps it is best just to say that at least some of us are mindful of the potential harm and we strive not to hurt others.

    You have always been ‘mindful’ of your actions and results towards others. I can only have respect for that because there are others who haven’t any care at all but are only going for the basest of sensations.

    These are the men and women who cause deep pain. They probably are very shallow creatures, unable to empathize.

    You are right. Shades of gray are more realistic. But faced with the possibilities of hurt and deep emotional pain, we struggle not to do so. Those of us who have the humanity to do so. There are others, as we well know.

    My enduring respect to you, always.

    Lady Nyo

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  13. katiewritesagain Says:

    Oh, here is a post that sets everyone typing. We all have definite opinions about “faithful.” Bill gets it right when he says if you can’t tell your partner about it, then it gets the “unfaithful” label. I don’t care what culture you come from, we are threatened by the attention our partner gives to someone else.
    I’ve read accounts and talked to those I know who are from other cultures and they are also hurt by faithless partners. The truth is that wandering partners threaten the structure of their unions. Who knows when the passing fancy will turn into something more? We all know people who have been bitten by the lust bug and disregarded the feelings of everyone around them. Men in positions of extreme power and prestige lost it all for a few moments of physical release. To me, it seemd so…pointless! So silly. So high school.

    My ex asked me, in the death throes of our relationship, “So what? I came home to you!” I was so dumbfounded by his remark I couldn’t even find a witty retort. Well, I said “Of course you came home; your clothes are here!” I knew there would never be a time I could trust him or his declaration that he loved me. He truly could not see why dalliances with other women should have anything to do with our relationship.

    I guess what I wish more people would understand is that once you’ve strayed, you can’t “unstray.” And once your partner finds out, the crack in the bond will get wider and wider. A broken relationship can be mended, I’m told. Maybe. What I do know is that the pain (and humiliation) never completely heals. Even though I no longer feel the freshnes of that pain, the memory keeps me at arm’s length from anyone. Never, never will I put myself in such a position again. The funny thing is, once I realized that part of me had completely frozen over, I felt free to go on to other things, to being my own partner, to relishing a life lived alone and happy about it. Maybe the faithless partner helped me learn to love myself enough that I no longer yearn for that warmth in the night, that comfort of one other person. Oh, and don’t rush to assure me that “it will happen in time.” I no longer wish for it to happen.
    The point here is that if the partner seeking some kind of thrill or affirmation of his/her beauty realized all could be lost maybe the short lived thrill wouldn’t seem so alluring. Maybe not. I guess my own experiences leave me at a loss to understand the whole straying activity.
    When I was in love, I saw lots of attractive men everywhere and all I eve thought was “My, what an attractive man.” Period. I didn’t fantasize about what he was like in bed. It just didn’t happen. I had lots of things on my mind and I did not feel the need to be assured every attractive man found me equally attractive. Now, all that seems so, oh, just pointless! I like to think I have evolved beyond that. Can’t we all grow up? Is there nothing more to life than making notches on a headboard? Is it really so important to be sexaully attractive? Isn’t there some satisfaction in leading a life of substance?

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  14. ladynyo Says:

    Katie: You’ve said many things that get to the real issues of infidelity. They are things that double back and continue to hurt and hurt anew.

    I just got an article sent to me from another website that I sometimes read about Sociopaths and infidelity. Funny it should come at this moment. The title of the article was “Sociopaths as discarders”.

    We generally get the picture (or not…) about narcissistic personality disorders, or people who have them….but so much of our knowledge might be theoretical or distanced: perhaps the experience of someone else?

    Over the years I’ve come to see that infidelity and serious personality disorders seem to go hand in hand: there is an approach to the ‘other’ as to ‘how much can I use this person?’ How much can I get my immediate needs answered and how long can I keep this supply line pumping?

    This never really varies, and it is especially sorrowful when it is a member of your family who has such behavior towards others. If it is parental, it is a lifetime of sorrow and anxiety for the children who are the ones usually to serve as ‘fuel’.

    You would be (perhaps not) surprised at the amount of email and comments I had to delete on this particular blog issue. Every one of them was from a man defending his behavior. Those deleted were generally coarse or rude, but they all were of a common thread. One in particular: “Infidelity only hurts those who don’t play the game with their eyes open.”

    So, infidelity is a game?

    Bill Penrose is right. IF you can’t tell your spouse/partner about it, it gets the “unfaithful’ label. But beyond labeling, which is a nice way of categorizing extremely hurtful and destructive behavior in people’s lives….what are we really talking about here?

    It’s the ability to get our ‘way’ in things by deception, subterfuge, and lies. Perhaps a mate is told that ‘these are the terms of the marriage’ where the man gets to do as he pleases because the woman is either a submissive/slave, etc. In the real world, not a D/s, bdsm fantasy world…..it stinks. And in these fantasy worlds….it still stinks.

    There is an inequality in all of this: there is a destruction of a core, and not only the core of a marriage. Infidelity changes a person, on both sides. What can be seen as ‘getting away with something’ actually is a chipping away of integrity because it’s fabricated in a tissue of lies and deception. Or…”none of your beeswax”.

    The point, Katie, as you well know….is to be firm, confident and happy in your own company. Everything else….everyone else….is extra. But you are the foundation and base of your own life and happiness.

    And….as to this “is it really so important to be sexually attractive?” Some of the worse offenders of fidelity are the most unattractive men I have ever seen. And not only in the ‘looks department’ but in personality. They all seem to have a deeper failing of character than unattractive faces. In a word: they are shallow. And…they seem very desperate.

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