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Darn Adultery

February 24, 2011

It’s really depressing how many marriages I have seen breaking up lately because a spouse cheated.  It causes me to reflect on how well I guard myself against temptation.  It’s not something I feel I am capable of, but I think a lot of people have felt the same and they were wrong. 

Back when I was young and single, boys sometimes got the idea that I was interested in them when I wasn’t.  I felt bad and wondered how they misread me.  Well, one guy in particular thought he was being led on if a woman simply said hi to him, so I’m not counting him, but sometimes I would get the impression that I was going out with a friend when it was a date in his eyes.  I smile and joke a lot, but that’s with men and women.  After I got married, I was especially concerned about giving the wrong impression, so I started developing a strategy to communicate to all men who are not my husband that I had no plans to be romantically involved with them. 

Not that I expected other men to be attracted to me, but I didn’t want them to think that I was attracted to them.  I tell myself, “Eh, you’ve gained weight.  You don’t have anything to be worried about.”  But stranger things have happened, so why let my guard down?  A friend told me recently that she didn’t think she was attractive anymore and I said, “Sorry, but you’re still hot and some men would totally want to commit adultery with you.”  I think it made her feel good about herself.

Anyway, these are some of my strategies.

1.  Don’t spend time alone with men.  I did have a unique situation not too long ago.  A man in my ward takes the bus every day and I usually pass him at the stop and wave.  I was running late while driving the kids to school and when I saw him running down the street as fast as he could, I knew he wasn’t going to make his bus, so I yelled for him to get in and got him there just in time.  In retrospect, I thought, “Oh, that might have looked a little suspicious to any outsiders.  Whoops.”  But I was glad I made the choice because his family was going through a horrible time and I didn’t want him to get fired on top of that.  People would just have to speculate about our scandalous affair.  :P  I did mention to his wife later, “I drove your husband to the bus stop for about 30 seconds.”  She was appreciative.

As a general rule though, it’s a really good idea not to spend time alone with the opposite sex.  Lunch dates with co-workers = bad idea.  It might be awkward turning them down, so have a line rehearsed.  “I really appreciate the invitation, but I don’t want to do anything that would affect my reputation or my marriage.” 

2.  Address men kind of formally unless it feels really unnatural.  At church, I am likely to refer to men I work with often as Brother ______.  In one ward, our only accompanist (besides me) was a man, which meant I practiced with him on a regular basis, so I addressed him as Brother C.  He was actually in a situation that needed to stop and I kept quiet until he complained to me.  Multiple times he asked me if I knew his friend Mary who used to be in the ward.  No, she was there before I moved in.  I heard him talk about her to many people and he would describe her as being very beautiful – the most beautiful woman in the ward.  “His wife must love that.”  I thought.    Then one night when we were practicing at the church, he made some comment that his wife didn’t like some of the music he played.  He added, “My wife doesn’t like a lot of things.”  I finally said, “Like what?” knowing what was coming.  He said, “Well, she doesn’t like me having female friends.”

Me:  I wouldn’t like that either.

Him:  Why not?  Why can’t men and women be friends?

Me:  They just can’t!  You don’t marry someone you never dated and you don’t have affairs with people you never spend time with alone.  The fact that your wife is hurt by it should be reason enough.

Him:  I guess that’s true.

Me:  I didn’t want to say anything, but I have heard you mention Mary many times to me and others.  You asked me if I knew her, but you have never asked me if I know your wife.  You have never told me she is beautiful.  If your wife were friends with a man who she described as being the most handsome man in the ward, would you like that?

Him:  Oh.  I never thought of it that way.

That was one of the most uncomfortable conversations of my life, but I hope it helped.  I think I also pointed out that he was calling the woman from the church with his calling card, which shows he’s being secretive, which was a big red flag that this relationship wasn’t appropriate.  I didn’t bring up the issue of him going jogging with her and Mary being less than honest about why she asked a friend to watch her kids.  My friend was rather ticked off to discover that she didn’t have an “appointment” as she claimed when she asked her to watch her kids. 

3.  Do not confide in male friends or let them confide in me.  I swear this leads to trouble.  My husband and I have our best friends who we love to spend time with together and when the husband started to make a mild complaint about his wife, I quickly told him he needed to talk to her about it.  It wasn’t a huge issue, but I think these things happen gradually without people realizing it and then BAM!  They realize they have feelings for someone else.  They may even have the best intentions at first.  I know of two sets of couples who were great friends with each other, but affairs happened and their marriages broke up.  Since then, I have been extra aware of how I relate to the husbands of my friends.  I bet those other women never thought they would betray their husbands and friends.

4.  Document my husband’s positive qualities as often as possible.  Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side.  I don’t want to feel that way or focus on his faults.  I could write a whole post about his many good qualities.

5.  Focus on the faults of other men.  OK, I’m not really serious about that, but remember that no man is perfect and even if he looks perfect, there is bound to be something really wrong with him, plus if he were the type of person to commit adultery, why would I want him anyway?  So many people claim they fall in love with someone else, but how could they ever trust each other when they’re not faithful to their spouse?

A loved one of mine (not married) developed feelings for her married counselor and she was fighting it hard.  I told her, “Let’s do some aversion therapy to make him seem repulsive.”  Then I made a joke list of his many flaws.  Example:  “Did you know he hangs out behind Taco Bell and licks the dumpster?  He’s totally sick!”  So it didn’t work, but she did quit going to him, which did work.  I told her it was natural for her to feel that way because with her social phobia, he was the only man she had contact with and he was a man who understood her.   

6.  Mention the wives.  If I’m having a conversation with a man, I’m likely to talk about his wife – ask how her health is (if she was recently sick), pay her a compliment, ask him to tell her hi for me, etc.  I like to send the message that I only want happiness for them and would never do anything to jeopardize that.  I also share my conversations with my husband.  It’s usually something pretty uneventful, like what songs we’re choosing for choir. 

7.  Be repulsive.  Glare at men randomly.  Try to smell bad.  Bring really bad food to potlucks.  Laugh like a hyena.  Talk about your nagging, undiagnosed rash.  All right, now I’m definitely joking. 

I hope I never do anything to break the hearts of my family and that I will always work at my marriage.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 25, 2011 8:45 pm

    As you allude to, things don’t necessarily have to lead to adultery to be entirely inappropriate.

    There were two married couples in our ward, and one half of each pair began to find companionship with each other, and I definitely believe that they saw a lot to admire in each other — they were both insufferably self-righteous and proud, so birds of a feather. Anyway, they started doing things like jogging together, sitting next to each other in church (with their spouses on the opposite side); this was noticed and the brother was formally admonished by the stake president about all this. There had been no physical intimacy at all, but many people in the ward noticed what was going on.

    These two essentially became best friends, and some time after they had divorced their spouses, they married each other. They did everything within the “rules”, and so never crossed that certain line, but I would say that they did indeed break the spirit of the law of chastity. All of their children were grown and moved out, but one had a son on a mission at the time, and I do believe that was a rather bitter homecoming for him.

    So very sad, and so preventable.

  2. February 26, 2011 1:35 am

    Thanks so much for your comment! I think this is one reason the church stresses the importance of going on dates with our spouses. We need to be each other’s best friend and have time set aside to enjoy each other’s company alone. Very sad what happened with the couples in your ward.

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