We can’t all, and some of us don’t.
It’s easier for many to point to the infidelity as a spontaneous event that engulfs everything like a fire destroying everything equally. In truth, as I read, and reread professionals, seek counseling, and surround myself with more skillful people, I see every relationship often have a low level, smoldering fires being ignored for convenience’s sake.
This is normal. Perhaps even healthy?
According to the Gottman Institute’s research-based approach to relationships, the Relationship Masters are struggling with perpetual fires 69% of the time. The expectation there should be no problems, or treating every problem as catastrophic, leads to resentments, sulking, and bitterness. It opens the door to criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.
It leads down a path to embracing discontent’s charms.
As such, I’ve come to accept that my behaviors didn’t happen in a vacuum. Just as these smoldering fires cannot burn in a vacuum, neither can infidelity exist in one either. Like all fire, it needs fuel, oxygen, and heat to grow. I know infidelity doesn’t just spring up for a person. I didn’t suddenly wake up and decide to sleep with someone outside my primary relationship. One does not simply walk into infidelity…instead, I believe now, through an unconscious unskillfulness I backed into mine.
Therefore, I recognize that to become more skillful at identifying and addressing the longterm intimacy patterns casting the die for my choices, I need to be open to changing my behaviors and thinking around vulnerability, intimacy, sex, friendships, communication, boundaries, and commitments. Applying solutions is my responsibility. No one else. I am responsible to be the change I want to see in my life.
I also recognize that not everything I did was Ugly or bad. I did someone wonderful things in my relationships and life too. I am more than the sum of my Ugly behaviors. Only the pettiest and small-minded would define someone they hardly know only by their worse choices.
There is nothing simple that I have chosen to do. Many claim to want change but change demands sacrifice and who has time for that?
Instead, all too often we demand others change to make us more comfortable, safe, secure, or happier. I think it is human to believe change is for the other person even when we know the solution lies within.
As such, I need not simply cast off the entirety of my life, the entirety of my relationships, the entirety of my toolbox for life into the bin. Constantly playing Eeyore to life’s ups and downs is exhausting, but always acting Tigger is no more sustainable.
As such, nearly every day I try to seek something constructive and positive to read. I’ll leave the fatalists, moralists, absolutists, and chumps to eat their own.
However, I do try not to draw any conclusions when I listen or read these things. I need to be clear of my own biases. My perceptions are skewed. I am blind to nearly all of my life. I am like a man standing inside the base of an empty silo looking up and then thinking I see the entirety of the sky.
As such, what I tend to do is read or listen, make some mental notes, occasionally journal about it, talk to a few friends that are also engaged in personal development, share it on social media, read others thoughts, and then take it to my Good Doctor to help me understand the nuances and how it applies to me, my life, and the patterns.
Then I try to practice knowing each failure is the path to success. There can be no lotus without mud.