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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Guarding Hearts

I have been thinking a lot lately about marriage and divorce.  No, not for the reason you think!  I found out the other day that another neighbor of ours (#4) got divorced.  I also had a neighbor tell me a story about how a former friend of hers, who knew my neighbor no longer wanted to be friends with, tried to ingratiate herself with my neighbor's family and gave my neighbor's husband a lingering hug, but didn't say anything to my neighbor.

I have been ruminating on the topic a while because I was thinking about how all these micro-circumstances, micro-thoughts, micro degradation of morals can all lead to marriage failure.  I am not sure I'm going to be able to articulate this well, but I'm going to try.

What do I mean by micro degradation of morals?  Well, I sometimes peruse a website quite well known on the interwebs for mom blogs.  It also has a community forum and a confessional.  When I first happened upon this site, I read the confessional.  It was a lot of funny, heartfelt, and sometimes juicy snippets of others' lives.  Quite often, you have people that confess to lustful thoughts and actions and out of those, many of them are confessing to having affairs or wanting affairs.  I used to read them with a bit of an ego because I had a marriage I felt was very workable and very good.  We truly care for one another and put each other first and I never for a second thought about doing anything that these people were confessing.

However, after so many times of logging on and reading these, I noticed a change in my thinking.  I started thinking about how easy it must be to get away with these actions, because there are so many people confessing to them.  I also thought about how this must be something that a lot of people did because there are so many confessions talked about masturbating at work, watching porn, giving people handies or blowjobs because you needed something from them, and yes, having affairs, with neighbors, friends, bosses, and coworkers.  

I told my neighbor (the one with the ex-friend hitting on the hubby) that I felt like, even if you would never do those things, and you know your spouse would never do those things, that sometimes allowing your mind to start seeing those things as natural occurrences could lead to something harmful within your marriage.  Does that make sense now, when I talk about small things degrading our morals?  I'm not trying to sit on a high horse and say you must never have lustful thoughts.  I'm simply saying that for the safety and security of your marriage, sometimes it's best to just Not. Go. There.  

And yes, maybe not everyone is going to fall into those traps and certainly, there are a large faction of individuals who truly enjoy porn and sometimes use it with their significant other, who will undoubtedly testify that it hasn't hurt their marriage, but enhanced it.  Yes, maybe that is true.  Maybe you ARE able to have an open marriage or be swingers and it not affect your bond with your spouse. Great!  I would never advocate that, but I'm not you.  

What I AM saying is that circumstances can lead to outcomes we do not foresee.  When we place ourselves at the mercy of our wants, without boundaries, it can sometimes end badly.  And, when we allow ourselves the luxury of thinking it can't happen to us, it oftentimes does.

That little flirty text to a coworker one night because you are feeling neglected by your spouse can lead to more texting, perhaps with feelings developing over time and lunch dates and so on.  The idea that you are going to withhold intimacy from your spouse as revenge because they didn't do the dishes can lead to masturbating at work, which can lead to much more.  And yes, reading confessions about other people doing these things can lead to niggling thoughts about how easy it would be.  I should try it, just this once.  My spouse will never know.  

Look, I have an acquaintance whose wife left him for a door-to-door salesman.  Any time you let the guard on your marriage down, you have left the door open to doubt.

We should always be guarding our hearts and our minds from outside traffic.  No one wants to think their spouse would do this, so we better damn well make sure we are on our toes, too.  

I have since discontinued reading those same confessionals.  I couldn't allow myself to let weakness creep in.  I noticed that change and I stopped.  This may make some of you upset, thinking that I'm just doing the old fire and brimstone act and we're all going to hell spiel.  That's actually about the furthest thing from the actual truth.  I'm talking about this today because it is real.  These small wayward thoughts and individual self-satisfying actions can and have led to marriage failures.  I don't want that to happen to me.  I don't want that to happen to you.  If this makes you uncomfortable, good.  That was my intent.  It made me uncomfortable admitting to myself the reason I needed to stop reading the damn things.  I was hanging on every juicy dalliance.  

I care about you and I care about the health and strength of your marriages.  I hope I have made my point in a way that's not too officious.  Please, rant at me in the comments if you disagree.  I appreciate any and all feedback!  To steal a line from Red Green, "Remember, I'm pulling for you.  We're all in this together."

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