Conversations tend to be visceral, loaded, polarized: “Infidelity? It’s a deal breaker. Once a cheater, always a cheater.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs
One of the first commitments I made to C was no “secrets, no lies”. It was our first and only real covenant. It was the foundation of our relationship. The relationship contract was my idea.
There are a few details:
- I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize her joint custody schedule with her kids
- I wouldn’t force her to choose between her art and our relationship
- I wouldn’t hide, hoard or spend money to the detriment of the relationship
- I wouldn’t shame her in front of her family and friends
- I wouldn’t drag my past into our future.
- I wouldn’t make her sell kettle corn at the state fair
I asked for a few things:
- When I fucked up, she would kiss me on the forehead and love me anyway
- I didn’t have to pretend to like abstract art or paintings with birch or aspen trees
- Also, she didn’t make me sell kettle corn at the state fair
We agreed to review the contract every week, then every month, and then every year. That was it.
There was one more thing: I could sleep with whoever I wanted as long as I was upfront and practiced safe sex.
I have, when lying awake on my parent’s couch at four in the morning, angrily ruminated on C’s response to my infidelity. Self-righteously, I’ve bristled that she abandon the relationship when things are at there worse.
Where is my kiss on the forehead? Instead, she rejects me, us and our history and Partnership.
However, when I sit quietly and contemplate the consequences, I wonder what she is really rejecting?
My selfish infidelity wasn’t simply a breaking of trust, it was the willful assault on the foundation we had built and I had submitted to honoring:
- I didn’t have permission
- I didn’t practice safe sex
- Also, K and I have a complex history
This means maybe she isn’t rejecting the relationship, me or us.
I need to give weight to the idea she is embracing the larger truth of my infidelity: she cannot trust me to honor my promises.
Which in truth, is an oversimplified and limiting perspective on my behavior but in the black and white world driving the conversations around infidelity, rigidity is a strength, nuance is an excuse.
The truth will set you free…but first it will piss you off.
Which is why we are both angry.
3 thoughts on “07: No Secrets. No lies.”
Regarding “open” type relationships, I read yesterday that studies/research has shown that men can love multiple people at the same time unlike women, who form one intimate relationships at a time. (This is in general. People are individuals of course).
Which made me think that for most women, if they’re in an open relationship that was suggested by their partner, they probably are not truly on board with it but doing it for their partner (and what they hope will keep him happy in the relationship and possibly never happen or understand it to be one night stands, which don’t threaten the relationship).
Men, having the ability to feel intimate love for two at once, can’t understand why women get stuck on “Did you love her?” because to men Mean it when they say Yes. But to a woman (intimate love is one on one) it means the ultimate hurt, betrayal… He loved her and stopped loving me.
Leads me to believe most women in committed relationships aren’t fans of ‘open’.
Gotta say WOW. The more I read about gender differences in brain structure/chemistry etc the greater my belief that men’s brains truly are just less evolved, have fewer processes than women. (Don’t mean intellectually/IQ. I mean socially/emotionally/common sense/multi-tasking).
I know several women that would disagree. Would you send me the article?
I’m curious how frequently you ‘utilized’ the ‘contractual infidelity’ clause (C giving permission for sexual relationships outside your one with her)? Did this clause also apply to her?
As you apparently had an ‘open relationship’ (or ‘ethically non-monogamous’, or whatever the term for agreed upon rules for sexual partners outside the relationship), I suppose I assumed C would have less jealousy and more open and willing to discuss the rules.
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