Have you ever cheated? Ever thought about it? And what constitutes “cheating” anyway? What does it mean when you flirt with your co worker, check out the person in front of you in line at the grocery store or hug a member of the opposite sex a half second longer than necessary? With over 50% of marriages ending in divorce, I’m betting more often than not that there are more people in involved in the crumbling marriage than just the two that said “I do”. Which makes me wonder…At what point does innocent flirting cross the line and turn into a full blown affair?
I made the terrible mistake of going to Wal-Mart this past Sunday afternoon, the day before Valentines’s Day. The place was packed. Balloons were strung from what seemed like every possible post, offensively large teddy bears were overflowing from numerous bins and you could forget about even trying to maneuver your cart down the card aisle. I grabbed my emergency supply of cookie dough and quickly made my way to the check out line. So there I was, pretending to mind my own business while making a mental note to never discuss my personal matters on a cell phone in a crowded area, when I noticed him. Standing a few feet in front of me was a man. He was your typical run of the mill guy whom I doubt often gets a second look. He was average height, average weight and beginning to show slight signs of male pattern baldness; just an ordinary guy with a ring on his finger. (I can spot the married ones a mile away. It’s a gift.) But in his hands were two sets of everything: two bouquets of flowers, two balloons, two boxes of chocolate and, upon closer inspection, two of the exact same card declaring his profound and undying devotion to the love (loves?) of his life. Huh. Well lookey there. I’m sure they were for his wife and his mother. Right? Insert your own conclusion here.
With modern technology it’s easier than ever to have an affair. From Facebook to ashleymadison.com, a website that caters specifically to married people wanting to cheat, all it takes is a click of a mouse to start the downward spiral. Say you find an old high school sweetheart on Facebook. You start to catch up with your long lost love and before you know it, you’ve got the butterflies in your stomach that you had when you were 16. The butterflies your spouse hasn’t made you feel in months, and sometimes, years. How do you handle it? Do you continue to not so innocently flirt or do you turn it into something more? End it immediately or follow your heart (or your libido) and see where it leads? I guess it depends on how much you’re willing to risk. One of my dearest friends is dealing with a husband who had an affair. Not only did he choose to cheat, he had a month’s long affair with their neighbor and supposedly, one of her closest friends. And all it took to start the situation was a text message with a picture attached. One dirty little message from a conniving woman and the conscience decision of both parties set the path for my friend’s marriage.
I would love to be able to say that I am completely innocent. That the sparkle of my halo is blinding and I have never been involved in a situation where there was a third party involved. But I can’t say that. I fell for a married man. Married for ten years, he and his wife had legally separated. And while it was never physical between us, mentally and emotionally I connected to this man in ways that I never thought possible. And I would like to think he felt the same. Yet in the end that wasn’t enough. He went back to his wife and they are seemingly well one their way to being one big happy family. Isn’t that how it always works? We all know that woman who has had an affair with a “happily” married man. And we all also know that married men never leave their wives for the mistress. It just doesn’t happen. Tiger Woods, anyone?
I am obviously not a relationship expert and by no stretch of the imagination am I a marriage expert. But there are a few things that I know to be true. I know marriage is hard. And I know that while you can present a strong front to the outside world, there can be cracks in a marriage that are just big enough for another person to slip through. In the hustle and bustle of the hectic every day (work, kids, bills, etc) people forget to really see and appreciate the person down there in the trenches with them. And when you’re not looking, your partner can become your roommate instead of your lover. When the right man comes along I can only hope that we take that extra time to truly appreciate each other. Because for me, the idea of spending an hour in some seedy hotel room with a stranger isn’t anywhere near as appealing as spending the night in my own bed with someone who truly loves me. And just for safe measures, we’ll have a joint Facebook account.0