Marriage Without Guarantees?

Last week I read an article that was entitled 7 Rules Guaranteed to Prevent Infidelity. The article means well and has some good advice but the title made me roll my eyes. The list of guarantees also removes the element of trust from the marriage with rules like share all your passwords and cc your wife on all messages to females. The rules on the list are actually many of the guidelines I demanded after D-day so I see the value – but after D-day I had zero trust in my husband. I needed 100% transparency because I lost faith. Two and a half years later we’ve regained trust in our marriage. We may not ever have the same level of trust we once had but I don’t want to live in a world where my husband cannot have a conversation with another female without my knowledge or involvement. Frankly, it’s unrealistic.

I don’t believe there is a guarantee to prevent infidelity. Here is what I do believe.

Marriage is a commitment. It’s not just a promise but it’s keeping the commitment. Love is a decision and we make it many times every day. Marriage is when you commit to love someone even when you might not want to anymore. Marriage was the moments after D-day when I didn’t know what to do or how to feel but I stayed.  It means doing what it takes to make the relationship work.

The goal is happiness but there are going to be times when you aren’t happy. It’s kind of like the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities:

healing-after-my-husband's-affair

Even when I felt like I reach my lowest low after D-day there were still moments in my life that were good. Not just good, wonderful. Don’t let the bad be the defining factor.

There is bound to be disagreements in a marriage but conflict is a choice. Life is not always black or white; wrong or right; yes or no. There is grey space and sometimes we are both right (and wrong). My husband and I don’t argue often but when we do it’s often because one of us cannot concede there’s a possibility the other one could be right. I’m learning to be more accepting of our differences. We don’t need to agree on everything all the time.

Our friends (regardless of whether they are his, mine, or ours) are friends of our marriage. Our friends need to like and want us to be together. Before my husband’s affair he had a friend at work that was openly cheating on his long-term live-in girlfriend. I was aware of this guy’s behavior and my husband and I openly disapproved. But yet my husband was friends with him and had conversations about this man’s affairs. I think subconsciously his behavior gave my husband permission to cheat when the opportunity presented itself. It’s the if everyone else is doing it why can’t I? concept. Needless to say, that guy is no longer my husband’s friend anymore.

Marriage requires maintenance. Just like a car – a marriage may need a tune-up or require service after a few thousand miles. There may be moments you don’t know what is going on with your marriage but you hear rattling sound. Don’t ignore the rattling or check engine light. Before my husband even started his affair I was concerned about our declining sex life and considered going to a sex therapist. I could see the yellow check engine light and knew my marriage needed service but I ignored the warning signs.

Communication is key. Communication is not just talking and honesty, it’s also listening and being open to hear things you may not want to hear. There are times in my marriage that my husband tried to talk to me about his concerns but I felt criticized and shut down. It’s okay to disagree. I also learned (the hard way) it’s important to validate my husband’s feelings. Our emotional state isn’t always rational or a reflection of the love from our spouses, but they deserve validation.

L.L. Bean 100% guarantees your satisfaction with their products. That doesn’t mean their products are perfect and won’t fall apart. It means that I can buy a backpack for my son and when the zipper breaks I can go back to their store and exchange it for a new backpack. The guarantee is a promise that even when things go wrong L.L. Bean will stand by their product. That’s a guarantee I  believe applies to marriage too. Even when the relationship has a malfunction take it back to the beginning and try again. Perfection is unrealistic. Even the best marriages are going to experience failure on some level at some point.

The more I write this post I realize it takes more than just five or seven bulleted points to sustain a marriage. There are no guarantees for a perfect marriage and the more we learn to let go of the idea that we can control the negative elements in life and marriage, the better off we will be.

healing-after-my-husbands-affair

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11 thoughts on “Marriage Without Guarantees?

  1. I have read so many books offering suggestions for what to do after an affair to “prevent” another from happening. And I guess that’s the biggest fear that we have if we stay, right? That we will finally start to relax, to breathe, to trust, and then we will be blind-sided again.
    But I’m hoping we will both be different. At first I wanted to control everything and he wanted to promise me access to everything forever. He wanted to think he would never ever be in a situation where he would be alone with a female again. I don’t want a husband that I control and trap and keep on a leash. I never have. I wanted him to choose me and to always choose me. That’s what hurts so much. He didn’t choose me. He chose her. And he says he messed up and it wasn’t really like that, and that he never wants anyone but me. So I want to believe him because that’s all I ever wanted anyway. But if he chooses someone else again, I can’t stop him. He will be sneakier or maybe he will tell me this time.
    I read suggestions like doing a post-nuptial agreement, and I thought about it, until it occurred to me, if our wedding rings and wedding vows and family and just ME aren’t enough to make him think before cheating, I don’t want him to stay so he doesn’t lose money or property. I want him to pick me, but I can’t make him. I don’t even know if we will ever wear wedding rings again. Seems pointless.

    • There will always be a fear that my husband could cheat again and then what? Then I would have to react or just become a wife that knows her husband cheats and doesn’t do anything? No – I can’t be that woman. So then what? Keep talking. If you need validation or proof then ask for it.
      Take each day as it comes. Ask for what you need and you will find yourself understanding what is important and how or if you can rebuild your marriage. Trust is rebuilt slowly…. trust it will come again.

    • I feel the same exact way you do. I could have nearly written your post. I think one of the things that ate at me so much was the fact that he chose her over me….. that he didn’t seem to consider me or our life together…… The fact that our life together didnt mean enough to keep him from straying. It still bothers me and I try not to stew about it. I found out a little more than a year ago. We’re still together and I truly hope to be for another 20 years. I’m trying to move forward…….. But I still fear being hurt again. I have to truly learn and understand there are no guarantees in life, but he makes me happy and I truly love our life together. (except that one time……). Will that feeling ever go away???

  2. I liked this post except for the backpack analogy. If my backpack represents my husband, and the backpack breaks (husband has affair), I don’t get to trade him in for a perfect new husband, he has to fix himself and have the wound of his affair etched into the fabric. I would still have to wear the fixed backpack with the history of infidelity. Trading in is not an option if you want to continue with the same man in your marriage. Believe me, I wish I had a 100% guarantee there would be no cheating ever again.

  3. It’s been almost a year and not a day goes by that I don’t think about my husband and his relationship with her!! It still hurts. I’m still learning to trust but I have also learnt how strong I am. I gave over come cancer and let me tell you this affair was far more devastating and the pain far more lasting!! What you say about working on your marriage is so true and it’s something I have learnt a lot about since his affair came out!! Marriage needs tuning. It needs both partners to work together!! We hardly argue anymore and have way more respect for each other than we ever did. I’m still angry and pissed off that he could share my intimate things with her. And knowing he had more emotion for her still makes me angry and hurts. She thought of his as all hers because he allowed her to. Bagging me out to her and telling her he was going to leave allowed this to happen. I know the work we are doing now will help us get there in the end. I just wish it would hurry up!!

  4. I saw the same article and also rolled my eyes. Until you’ve been through it, you have no idea. I truly don’t believe there is anything I could have done to prevent what happened. We’re still working on building trust, but heading in the right direction. Thank you for your articles- they’ve truly helped me over the past year.

  5. This is my first reply. I sad to be here and happy to be here. Sad because I never expected to be and happy because I found your blog. Thank you for all your wisdom. My D-Day was 26th September 2014 and I found out when a string of text messages opened up in front of me as I navigated around our new laptop. My husband’s new iPhone had been synced to the computer and he had not realised. Many of the secrets of a nine year affair were all there in front of me. I know it is not necessary to describe my feelings or my reaction – it is documented in every blog and book I have read. We are committed to staying together. We are struggling. My husband has attempted suicide, but through it all love has prevailed. I have not told the husband of my husband’s AP, nor our children. I have tried to contain the pain and the colateral damage and this has taken a toll, but it has reduced the pain others have to endure, particularly the family of my husband’s AP. The quote you use from Dickens really hits home for me. I hope today will be one of the good days!! xx

  6. Thank you for saying 2 1/2 years . . . tomorrow will be 2 years & I’m hoping for greater improvement in the next 6 months. xoox

  7. Sometimes dealing with the uncertainty just does me in! About six months ago, though, I think I finally made peace with the realization that I would really be OK alone and that another infidelity might break us, but it wouldn’t break ME.

  8. I have always enjoyed reading you posts. It never fails to resonate my state of mind/emotions accurately.

    I truly agree with you. There is no perfect marriage. The more we learm to let go, the happier we will be. It take effort to maintain the commitment and to keep thing moving.

    “Marriage was the moments after D-day when I didn’t know what to do or how to feel but I stayed” – this thought blew me away. I have never thought of the decision I’ve made in this manner. But I guess you are right.

    @theothershoes – that is what I have been saying to myself too!

    Stay strong ladies!

  9. Wow!!! Since I first began following this website and requesting email notifications on new articles posted, this one hit the nail on the head for me!!! I have been with my husband for 30 years and I have endured numerous cheating issues and other abusive behaviors of his because of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, incarceration issues, and every other issue that goes along with this. I’m 45 years old he as well, he was my 1st lloveand I was his. Some where things went wrong and went in and out for about 15 yes. I’m still here forgiving him and loving him reguardless, sometimes I doubt my persistence to forgive him. when I read this article and poem it was confirmation for me that I am aloud to be this way inspite of his wrong doings. I am a Leo, I have a very loving heart, I forgive easy and continuously, I try to see the light through dark situations, I keep my faith consistently throughout. I have carried with me the saying “Love Endures All Things”!! No matter what he does u stay true to who u are, and the light will guide your next steps!!!!

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