I ran across an article on huffingtonpost.com published yesterday by an admitted adulteress. At least, she admits to cheating on her-then-husband. Here’s the link to the article: My Husband Learned The Hard Way Why Women Cheat | YourTango.
Marina Pearson, the author, actually has some good points in what she writes. I agree with her statement about her problem was externalizing her need for happiness (i.e. looking for outside circumstances/people to make her happy) and how this problem is never solved by looking outside as it is an internal problem. In other words, she has to make herself happy and not look to others to do so. I have written elsewhere about how this is a very healthy mindset as it is not our job to make another person (even our spouse) happy. Pearson writes,
Being part of the cheating wives’ club, I understand now that running away from myself was not the answer and that I am responsible for my own happiness and fulfillment. My happiness is no one else’s responsibility — not my spouse’s, not some lover’s–but mine!
Also, I agree with her when she states what she did was wrong and selfish. Adultery is wrong. It is utterly selfish as it shows absolute disregard for the other spouse’s well-being: physically, emotionally, relationally, financially, and spiritually. Pearson writes,
All of my reasons may sound like excuses and, you know what — my affair was a selfish act. I will be the first to admit it.
Then she undermines all these excellent points with her final conclusion:
Ultimately, I don’t regret what I did, though I do deeply regret the hurt I caused. As a result of the affair, and then later, our divorce, my ex gave me the best gift you can give anyone — the opportunity, finally, to find my happiness within myself.
Regretting the hurt caused but not the actions behind them is rather coldhearted. It is like a rapist saying he regrets being put in jail and the “hurt” he caused his victim but does not regret raping her. Adultery is soul rape after all. Regretting choosing the action that caused the hurt (or wishing you chose otherwise, in other words) is a sign of remorse for a wrong action or choice. Saying you regret the consequences of that action demonstrates a lack of true remorse in my opinion.
In addition, her summary statement about the opportunity to find true personal happiness undermines her points of learning from the adultery. She claims to understand committing adultery was a selfish act then concludes with a statement that it was all for the best since she has found (or has the opportunity to find) happiness. Last time I checked, that is still selfish. And it strikes me as especially devoid of any true empathy for the husband she betrayed:
I raped your soul. But, hey, everything is fine now because I have the opportunity to find true happiness inside myself.
Besides such a disturbing conclusions, I am struck by how individualistic her perspective is. She fails to see the carnage she created by committing adultery. Such actions do not just impact her and her former husband. They have ripple effects across society (see post here). But I do not blame just her for this limited perspective. I see this myopic perspective as a fruit of our over-individualized American culture. We fail to see how individual choices–like committing adultery–have major negative societal impact. Marriage is not just about our individual happiness. Stable marriages are important for the health of society and the rearing of children.
If you stop early in the article, you can find some good points. However, the ending is atrocious. Happiness is not always present in worthwhile endeavors. Any serious athlete knows this to be true. And marriage is certainly one of those worthwhile endeavors. Usually there comes times–even long seasons–where unpleasant things must be endured to reap a harvest. If you choose not to endure those difficult seasons, you do not reap the harvest. Pearson seems to understand this earlier in her post but then closes by suggesting the flighty benefits of quitting maybe just as good. That is a lie.
The happiness narrative ought to be called the “Selfishness Narrative.” It is cotton candy compared to the steak and potatoes of a marriage enduring through difficult times without either partner choosing adultery. After all,