I've been married for 14 years. That's not a record or anything, but it has outlasted most of my friends' marriages. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about all the ups and downs and good and bad times, but you know that in 14 years we've pretty much seen it all. What I will do here is explain my philosophy on marriage.
The reason I'm doing this is because I've been reading the website Daily Confession (link to the right somewhere) for some time now, and I've noticed a trend in how people think of marriage. There are many cheating confessions, and invariably the people who 'talk back' (I'm vicious_m, btw) condemn anyone who confesses to straying from their vows of 'faithfulness.' Just yesterday there was a confession from a woman who said she had been cheating on her husband because he refused to do anything to improve their sex life. Most of the 'talk backs' were along the lines of 'how can you forget your solemn vows?' or 'divorce him' or 'you're going to burn in hell' or 'talk to him or go to therapy' or 'get a dildo/vibrator' and so on. But this was my response:
"Let this be a lesson to all those 'no sex before marriage' types. Sex is a very important part of a marriage. If your partner refuses to participate in a better sex life then see what happens? You don't buy a car without test driving it. I wouldn't marry someone without knowing that we had great sex. There is more to being a faithful spouse than not having sex with other people. To be a faithful spouse you have to care about the other person's needs and honor all the OTHER vows you've made. This lady's husband isn't any more faithful to his vows of love, cherish, etc. than she is. There is rarely only one 'bad guy' in these situations."
I've italicized the part that is most important to me. I'm not advocating, defending, or encouraging cheating. But I am saying that people lose sight of the whole when they focus only on that one aspect of their vows. I don't know what vows everyone made when they married, but most marriage vows cover more than just sexual fidelity. There's usually something in there about staying together 'for better or worse.' When you say that you don't know what 'worse' might be. I guess over the years I've become more secure and less worried about what 'worse' means to me. At this point in my life I can think of worse things that could happen than infidelity.
Marriage is a partnership. And there are constant changes in the priorities and issues of a lifelong relationship. Sometimes marriage is more of an economical arrangement that ensures the security of a family. Sometimes it is more of a romantic connection between two people. It can be all of that together, but it's unrealistic for people to expect that it will always be everything. There will be disappointments and sadness. You can't escape that in life. There will be human weaknesses and errors. There should be forgiveness and remorse. Why do people think they make marriage vows anyway? It's to say that you choose to stay in this partnership no matter what may happen. (I know there are good reasons for divorce. I'm not saying there aren't. And I'm not dissing anyone who has divorced.) To put one particular vow over all the others is silly to me. And that's what people do with the 'faithfulness' vow. As I said in my talk-back to yesterday's confession, there is more to being a faithful spouse than just not having sex with other people.
The best pre-marital advice I ever got was that love doesn't keep a marriage together, commitment does. I know that with all my heart. If I wasn't such a stubborn old goat I probably would be telling a different story.