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Sex, lies, affairs and breakups: why they aren’t worth it

Sex, lies, affairs and breakups: why they aren’t worth it

This is a topic that is sure to inspire some pretty emotional opinions. Today we live in a very transitory, materialistic and superficial world. It seems that the issues involved in people’s romantic lives sometimes get so twisted that it’s basically normal now to hear that people cheat on their partners (could that ever be ‘normal’?) And that people break up with each other . It is very sad and sadder for children who, by default, are involved in the equation.

I have often wondered if there are people who seek “happiness” in the arms of another person, that is, not their partner, and who end up being happy. My experience tells me no. My experience is also somewhat confirmed by some thoughts in the book. Save your marriage before it begins[1] (SYMBIS).

What about the pathology of affairs as well? How are people tempted and attracted to in the first place? It certainly must start with attraction and then encouragement, and perhaps all of that increases with dissatisfaction in the current situation. We can easily see how these things can happen. In fact, the book Your needs, your needs[2] It describes these same scenarios, what leads us to them (insofar as our love doesn’t need to be satisfied), and how to make them clear.

Let’s go back to what SYMBIS says. There is the premise that our identities perfectly match our marital relationships.

“As human beings, we create and define ourselves through commitments, and those commitments become an integral part of our identity. When we contradict our commitments, we lose ourselves and suffer an identity crisis,” he says.[3]

In other words, we invest a lot of our personal selves in a de facto marriage or relationship. When we bring another party into the mix, we disrupt the balance of our souls.

And when we separate, especially if it is by virtue of our own choice, we voluntarily establish a possible disenfranchisement of our identities: we end up with an identity crisis; the action we have taken is often not consistent with who we are and the commitments we have made. It is like throwing the baby out with the bath water. We cannot be ourselves if we discard a key part of ourselves: life does not allow us to be so frivolous on the level of these things.

I am sure there are many exceptions to this, but there is also some truth in the fact that while the other partner mourns the broken relationship, the one who commits adultery mourns the loss or lack of personal identity. In fact, they are both suffering from identity problems.

The real problem is this. If we select for ourselves a companion who is right for us, and to use a Jim Collins analogy ‘it’s the right bus for us’, then why wouldn’t we strive to continue to invest, rekindle, rekindle and reinvent things throughout the years of our life together? (I guess there are some oversimplifications to this argument.) But starting over is soul-destroying (if that were possible).

And that’s the key: the selection. Many people don’t make the right decisions to begin with. We are all fallen creatures with many flaws. The slightest error of judgment in selection can cause a lifetime of pain (not for one, but it seems like for both).

Sex, lies, love affairs, and breakups … for the most part are never good and only cause harm. Breaking a betrothal with a spouse in this way is, in a sense, “breaking who you are.”[4] Really worth it?

© SJ Wickham, 2009.


[1] Les and Leslie Parrot, Save your marriage before it begins (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1995, 2006), p. 56.

[2] Willard F. Harley, Your Needs, Your Needs: Building an Adventure-Proof Marriage (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Revell / Baker Book House Co., 1986, 1994, 2001).

[3] Parrot, ibid, p. 56.

[4] Parrot, ibid, p. 56.

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