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Fidelity & The Faithful


 

We are all asked to be faithful in our marriages when we stand there at the alter and pledge our fidelity to our spouse with promises to honour them.  Last time I checked, sleeping with someone else behind their backs and lying to them wasn’t part of the definition of ‘honouring your spouse’.  That aside however, I wanted to post about fidelity and the choice to be faithful.

I use the word “Choice” when talking about being faithful because it is a choice.  Those who have strayed, did so because they chose to put their needs above the love and respect they have/had for their spouse.  The hear-and-now got in the way of the now-and-forever, and they made a choice to cheat.  People make choices NOT to cheat every day.  They choose to honour their marriages, their spouses, and to be faithful to that one person for life – because that is the promise that they made.

What makes you faithful?  What makes anyone faithful?

Are you faithful because the church or temple commands it of you?  Are you faithful because society would perceive you as lesser-than if you didn’t conform to its views on marriage and fidelity?  Are you faithful because your parents divorced and you don’t want to end up a statistic?  Are you faithful because you feel badly hurting the one you have pledged to protect and comfort?

Are any of those reasons good enough reasons to remain faithful to someone?

I pose the question because recently my widowed father became involved with another woman.  My mother has been deceased now for 9 months.  My father is already taking vacations with, and spending the night with this ‘new woman’.  While I won’t get into how hurt I feel that he has moved on so quickly, and that I feel for my mother, to whom he was unfaithful a handful of times during their 45 year marriage, I will say that it feels as though my father has cheated on my mother – again.  My father was caught cheating back in the 90’s, and my mother told me about it.  She had my father take me out to lunch and confess his wrongdoings.  I am sure it was her way of paying back to him some of the humiliation she felt.  To know that my father had cheated on my mother this ‘first’ time ( I say first, because it was the first one that *I* was aware of, but later learned that there were earlier incidents that I had been too young to become privy to), made me think that my father’s fidelity towards my mother was obviously shaky.  To later learn that not only had he cheated on her this one time, he had also had an online affair, and possibly a physical affair before I was even born.  This last one was shared with me after her death through family she apparently confided in.

With so many slip-ups in fidelity, to learn that my father has moved on so quickly after my mother’s death makes me feel like he is cheating on her again…except this time, he is allowed.  It’s almost as if he has a hall pass now, with his wife dead and out of the way, as if he’s been biding his time, being ‘faithful’ because he HAD TO, not because he wanted to….which brings me to the reason for my post.

I started thinking about my own fidelity, especially in the wake of the discovery of my husband’s affair.  Why am I faithful?  Don’t I deserve to have a new person to sleep with, a new person to explore, a sizzling on-the-side rendez-vous ?  Someone to make me fee young, sexy, vibrant?  Someone to give me a “holiday from my life?” (As my husband called it)  It would only be fair, right?  Don’t think that thought hasn’t crossed my mind hundreds of times, but in the end, I asked myself why I remain faithful, especially to a man who has shown me that our marital vows can be waived if needed, and the answer is that I am faithful for me.

I am not faithful because I took vows that tell me that I should be, or because I am contractually obligated to.   I am not faithful in order to conform to society’s ideals of marriage and relationships.  I am faithful because I want to look in the mirror and see someone that I want to see reflected back.  I want to be someone reliable.  I want to be someone dependable.  I want to be someone who honours their word, and whose actions you can count on.  I don’t want to be a second-rate version of the person and partner that I aspire to be.

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