Infidelity: It's effect toward life
There are so many variations in the current culture of faithful living that has gone awry. I know that we think of the most grievous cases, but while working through the thought of faithful living, I realize it's a mass abdication of so many areas of life.
Sure we point to people that we expect to be faithful as a matter of being in ministry positions and then don't reach the measure and have fallen. We point as a society to government leadership that has not matched what they said they would do. We point to friends or family that have lied to us or not followed through on what they indicated they would do or live out toward us. Pointing does not seem to make a difference to stem the tide, or enlighten others who appear to fall into the same lot and circumstance as the one they pointed at. In blame oriented society pointers don't see the other 3 fingers turned toward themselves.
So, what are the 3 things that I need to point at myself to understand infidelity, know reasons given as to why it continues in my life, and what consequences might occur. Understanding first and foremost that my post today is not so much focused on adulterous relationships, although such actions are egregious and fatal to family systems, but that I am looking at the broader heart problem of infidelity revealed when opinions, promises, or intent is not lived out. I think this is part of the root of how the behavior of infidelity comes about.
I see men and women becoming dissatisfied because they are not having their words match their behavior. Do you tolerate lies within yourself that create disharmony? Over time the loss of harmony re-calibrates the heart and mind to believing the lie is the new normal. Callous as it is, it is very hard to recover the innocence once this way of living has occurred. I wonder so much about how life had been had I believed differently about the effect of what I told myself regarding social norms, pain, or comfort.
In music there is a part of it where the musician is checking itself against a standard. I think of the choir member who has perfect pitch, or the tuning fork that maintains its shape to give the tonal quality, or the guitarist's ear searching for the harmonic chords that assure music will follow a path and pattern. Certainly we also enjoy the electronic ability of simple battery operated devices meant to tell us we are on track through the electric light feedback that many guitarists enjoy today either incorporated on the instrument or carried in the pocket. All of this is however examples of a standard or external reference to verify that our internal measure is harmonious or dissonant.
Does the voice within my heart create dissonance or peace? Is my internal conversation with myself congruent? Are my relationships working together or finding points of friction? Am I bumping into resistance? Am I finding open water and smooth sailing? So now having established infidelity as something opposed to a life lived out in peace, lets look at the second finger.
Why do the problems, beliefs, or dissonances continue in my life? Is my heart avoidance showing me clues? A frequent concept that I have heard in the office and learned is expressed in Scott Peck's words found in A Road Less Traveled.
“The attempt to avoid legitimate suffering lies at the root of all emotional illness.” ~ Scott Peck
I was listening to the session of an interaction I was aware of, and then afterward applying the principle that I find in Peck's words. Defensiveness of course prevailed and I did not bring up the concept in the moment, but writing my notes of the session I saw clearly that there were members of the group that really did not want to talk about the true pain they were in regarding the actions that were present by the other members. I mean simply that families hurt when one member does not remain committed to their original intention to remain faithful toward their spouse. This principle also applies to all other relationships with self, friends, and culture.
Also the unfaithful persons hurt as well. They tend to point to the fact they believe they were hurting and no one noticed. Wanting to avoid hurting alone the infidel thought that telling others inside the marriage they were hurting would cause the other to hurt. So to maintain the "happiness" of the couple, they sought out another party and agreed to express their hurt to them so they could find comfort from the malady. Curious to me is that it never solved the hurt. It just became greater.
The avoidance of the pain of hurting led to the system becoming compromised in many different ways, leading to mental hardships, physical pain, emotional dis-regulation, and spiritual disfavor. Had the couple recognized their hurt and stated their hurt to each other the system may have healed itself. Frequently this is what is happening with my coaching in the office, but getting two wounded adults to square up, look each other in the eye, and expose their pain is so difficult and unnatural to most. How is it that I am willing to maintain my stance to the point of causing additional problems? Pride? Lack of discernment? A belief that I am egocentric and I have the power to control others happiness? Such a fallible lie. I only control me, and my behaviors are mine, and I choose to either love or abandon. Is abandon the behavioral component of hate? Is hate really the opposite of love? Perhaps not the opposite because one can hate something so as to create a safe loving relationship. So perhaps the opposite of love is nothing but void, because love is an action or behavior giving regard to another. Thus I come back to the avoidance of pain leads to all mental illness. So would this effect life? Would avoidance which creates infidelity, be accepted by me in favor of forcing myself to have a mental illness? This is the trade off of avoiding truthful conversations with people that we love. Research indicates how interaction with significant people in out live helps to stimulate health. If given the opportunity to bear less of a burden, would you look someone in the eye and tell them your pain?
So, the 3rd finger remains. What consequences occur from remaining an infidel? Secrecy begets more anxiety. Anxiety begets more physical pain in the body. Pain in the body means that I want to be comforted. Comfort means that I go do what I want to temporarily reduce the pain by applying a dopamine enhancing behavior or substance to my body. I get angry then at myself for being in the same situation. This reduces my serotonin because I am irritated that my original truth is not being lived out. I still avoid returning to truth because it would be painful to expose the infidelity or lie.
I avoid true love that would compassionately love me by forgiving me, being unconditional, and remaining true toward my well being by not abandoning me in my hurt. True love and restoration says
"I am hurt, but I remain connected. I know it was not right, but I don't judge you. I search for my part to correct the wrong. I am here and will work through this and stay faithful, knowing that anyone else faced with your choice may have done the same."
Perhaps this speaks to small or great parts of life right now. I know these are difficult premises that are not worked out over night, I am a traveler myself working on the same. I am remaining faithful to the calling that I believe I have to remain available to hurting people. Please don't avoid calling me. I will connect, I will not judge, I will remain as long as you need. - Andrew