Benjamin Franklin said that. I should know since I Googled it.
Yesterday morning, driving the girls to gymnastics, the husband and I got into one of the most interesting conversations ever.
The issue? Infidelity. A few friends of ours are going through divorces now (that’s more than one, yes) and there really is a significant difference between how Americans and Malaysians in general deal with issues of infidelity and how they factor into a divorce (or not).
In Malaysia, it is still the 50s in terms of social progress (and we’re proud of it). An act of infidelity is pretty much the dealbreaker. In general, if an affair has been had, the consensus is that either something is wrong with the adulterer (the horny bastard/bitch!), or the spouse (who ask her to be so fat?!) or the Other Man/Woman (the horny bastard/bitch!).
If children are involved, then most of the time, the general public would be more biased for the victim, fat or not.
And yet, here we are, a country that practices polygamy (and it’s not only Muslims, which I know for a fact). As such, an act of infidelity does not always end in divorce (which might be why our divorce rates are still considered low). Here, a man simply marries the Other Woman (who then automatically becomes less evil) or carries on in broad day light, over and under his existing marriage. As my old aunt would say (being the second wife herself), ”men will be men”, as though being male is a terminal affliction and to for a moment believe that he can be something else, is akin to believing your dog will once and for all cease his humping just because you’ve cut his balls off.
Here in America, divorce is comparatively common because 1. polygamy is illegal and 2. wives don’t normally tolerate lifetime affairs. 3. You’ve got therapy.
I think there is a very simple difference as to when you should try and make a marriage work, and when not to, when adultery is the issue.
If my husband cheats because of something he’s not getting from me because I chose not to give those things to him, consciously or otherwise, then to me, that marriage is worth working on. Yes, he did something very hurtful and selfish, and I would never have done what he did no matter what I wasn’t getting, but the truth is, I am partly to blame. If he is willing to give it a real try, then I am obligated to. Off to couples counselling we will go.
Whether or not it will all work out is another matter.
However, if I cheated because I’d simply grown tired of an increasingly unattractive husband, and wanted something new and exciting and fresh (e.g. an entirely different human being of the appropriate gender, size, height and personality), and because I constantly need a level of love, attention and worship that is humanly impossible to deliver without having my man constantly breaking into song on bended knee below a window sill among a small congregation of woodland creatures, then I don’t think I should have a second chance NOT because I don’t deserve it, but because what good would that do? My heart has changed. I have changed. And a change of heart is decidedly harder to reverse than a change of mind, I think because these past few years with the same man has made me realise how unready I am for permanence. And now, I must be honest with myself, and with my children, and I have to go.
Of course, I’d first have to admit to all these things. That is the hard part.
Even simpler is the wisdom of My Mother, who told me once that it is always better to find someone who loves you more than you do him.
Unfortunately, I have neither the looks or the stomach to pull such a thing off.
Fortunately, I didn’t need to.