Continuing our discussion about cheating, how does one make the decision to cheat? Obviously, stepping outside of your relationship is a decision, a choice.
I said in my last column that it might start with a wound.
The wound can come from anywhere. Maybe you married a man like your father because you felt so secure with him. Now, he acts like your father! He controls the money and is critical. I need some freedom, some excitement, you think.
Maybe your wife is funny but a little disorganized and a lot messy. The other woman really has it together, shes so mature and shes so confident and direct. Wow, what a package, you think.
What happens? Was there some sort of short-term memory loss and you forgot all of the promises, dreams and the good times, not to mention the commitment in front of God and everybody.
Or maybe you are angry. He/she is not meeting my needs, we say. We feel like we deserve this, we tell ourselves. Some might say it doesnt mean anything; its an infatuation, a passing fancy.
Then your selfishness gets obvious when you get sloppy. And you get caught, then everything crashes and people get hurt. Because that was the point anyway.
What point? To break things, to change it up so you could feel better. You cant find intimacy there, affairs are never about intimacy. They are about selfish gratification.
Coupling has nothing to do with selfish gratification. Coupling is about love, kindness, service and all that kind of stuff, not selfishness.
Does the problem stem from a childhood wound or a psychological weakness? What if the problem is just one of morality?
Morals essentially mean you have a good grasp on the basics of right and wrong. If there is error in your morals -- or you dont have or dont practice a healthy understanding of right and wrong -- then errors will occur and there will be a price for those errors.
Consider the compass, an instrument that always points north. Now, imagine you have a moral compass that always points toward the right action.
If there is an error or glitch in your moral compass, you may think you are going in a particular direction or toward a particular goal but you will never get there.
If your moral compass is a little off, you end up in a different place than the one you intended. And then in amazement you say, how did I get here?
You feel lost, alone, misunderstood and hurt. Yes, the one who cheated feels hurt because they never intended this to happen. This pain has to be your teacher. Like the brake pads that begin to squeal on your car, it is time for a fix.
Honestly, you have lost your way and cant find your way home. And what is home?
Home is the shared experience of living life fully with your partner.
Home is the peace and comfort of a strong castle built by a committed relationship. Home is where we belong.
Correct your compass. Do the work to correct your error. Well talk more about how to do just that in the next column.
Bruce Conn is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and practices as a group therapist. Contact him at Bruce@BruceConn.com or call 478-742-1464.