July 19, 2011

{Affairs in a Marriage}

In the last few years, there have been quite a few instances where the topic of "affairs in a marriage" has come up in discussions with my friends. The discussion usually follows one of three directions:

1. Shared blame: In this perspective, couples view the affair as a mutual fault. It is not just the fault of the person who had the affair. Both partners must look back at the void created in a relationship which sets the stage for a third person to enter the relationship. Instead of only blaming the person who had an affair, the other partner looks at his or her role in the marriage as well, examining how it might have possibly contributed to the onset of an affair.

2. No Big Deal: This perspective comes from couples who support open marriages. Even though this is a small group, this group is quite passionate about their belief that marriage is a partnership where open connections with others takes the stress off each other. They believe it strengthens the relationship in the process.

3. Die Mr. Bond!: This perspective is taken by the spouse not involved in the affair. The blame is one sided. There is anger, hurt, and disbelief. Even though it is not admitted openly, the desire to get even with the betraying party exists deep within.

I do not know the right way to approach this situation.

Talking about Arnold Schwarznegger's affair with friends, I realized his take was totally different than mine.When one takes a job, one must be committed to the job and understand the consequence of failure. If you hire a baby sitter for three hours, you expect all three hours he or she will attend to your child. It does not matter if your baby sitter has to go to the bathroom or make a phone call, the expectation remains that he or she still has the responsibility to watch the child.

The same rule applies in a marriage with children. One must understand the commitment he or she has made to the children. The individual should not undermine the consequence of failure by thinking that he or she can most likely get away with it. In fact, by talking to a lot of parents, I learned a simple rule that helps one be in the present and make the right decision. It is,

 “Behave in the same way away from your spouse as you do when you are around them. That way you have nothing to hide and no worries about getting caught.”

I believe that each of us act differently in various situations. Our actions are driven by different reasons. For example, it is not that I do not like to drive faster than the speed limit. We all know it can be fun. However, I do not know if it is the adrenaline rush I get from speeding that is more tempting or the feeling of control I have by knowing I can possibly prevent myself from getting caught due to my car radar. Either way, one day I did the math and I woke up. I realized the consequence of getting caught is not something that I want to risk. There were a lot of reasons for this, but the biggest one was that I needed to be a good role model to my daughter, Raka.

I also realized that I was not smart enough to guarantee that I would not get caught. As a result, I automatically committed to a more mature lifestyle. I am still keenly aware of my temptations to drive faster than the speed limit but now I always have a plan to overcome this temptation.

This evolution of self did not come because I think speeding is wrong. It was a result of wanting to be more mature, and understanding the bigger picture of life.

I completely realize the temptation for an affair can be a much, much stronger urge than the temptation to speed. However, having a plan of action ahead of time in either case is what makes the difference.

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