How a generous dose of morality changed our married lives

Working On the Marriage | | , Founder, Author & Editor
Updated On: July 20, 2023
 It had all started with innocuous flirting on WhatsApp

We are not wired to go through the vicissitudes of life alone, we need people we value as physiological and emotional safety nets. The one we have taken our vows with is more important to us than ever. They occupy a far more central place in our emotional, physical, psychological and social make-up than they once did. We lean far too much on them for our sense of balance and wholeness than we once did. And thus, we are faced with a daunting task, to set that bond in cement, make it permanent, impregnable, not just from the outside but from within. We dish out promises by the dozen and lap them up with equal fervor. We do not just commit love and care and togetherness to our partner, we commit love, care and togetherness and exclusivity! We do not just commit what we will feel/unfeel for our partner but also what we will feel/unfeel for any third person in an unknowable future. We do not just promise them our bodies exclusively, we extract a claim on theirs to the exclusion of all others.

'That person is the most important'
‘That person is the most important’

No wonder infidelity sucks so much more now. For we have no support system to help us safeguard the continuity of the relationship from fleeting or deeper infidelities vis-à-vis the larger more substantial future we have chalked out for ourselves with our spouse. The one today can, in the heat of the indiscretion, shortsightedly decide to walk away from the marriage and larger responsibilities or alternatively the one betrayed can, in a fit of rage, decide to end the unit without really thinking through of how relevant the indiscretion really is, even for the betrayer. There are no bumps to halt the tumble as hitherto.

Betrayal, in a world where we draw our sense of worth from the one, can seem far more severe, threatening and de-stabilizing. It is not a promise to an institution or a system as it once was; it is a promise, based on love (with romance and sex as its propeller), which two modern individuals make to each other for a lifetime of togetherness. But – alas! – our dreams, future plans and lives (we live so much longer) outlast our desires. Earlier, marriages were never really supposed to be contingent on sex and romance; and if sparks did fly between the couple, it was just a bonus rather than a foundation; and even when sparks did fly, and inevitably died down, there was an army of support that came into play in the family system dynamics. Today it is not so. Impossible promises are exchanged and there is no support system to help with the gaps and loopholes. Earlier, the unit was bigger than the individual, unofficial non-monogamy did not threaten it; today, the individual is supreme, and thus a betrayal of that individuality can make the entire commitment seem suspect.

'Infidelity sucks so much now'
‘Infidelity sucks so much now’

Perhaps our own malaise has got compounded because of the massive influence of the western world on our own mores and beliefs. A professor I interviewed told me “Western societies are very individualistic. They say ‘This is my opinion’. This individualistic assertion is breaking down the family… You become overly conscious of your individual position… You are actually negotiating with that position in which ‘I’ becomes of central importance. It has no social base; the society is ‘Us’… Marriage systems break down because of the imbalance between individualism and the social aspirations.”

What made being cheated on become so personal, so agonizing, and so sanity-eroding?

First and foremost, willy-nilly, we have all become blind believers of the utopian ideal of ‘eternal fidelity and romance’ as a ‘natural’ and ‘normal’ outcome of a marriage based on love, a union of equals. Not for 2,5, 10 or even 20 years, but till death does us part. The truth is that sexual attraction will wane, romance will cool down, we will find our partners uninteresting, others will excite us and attract. But when any of this happens we assume it to be symptomatic of a failing marriage. Our society, the media, government agencies, religious leaders, all have this fixated and rigid idea of how our sexual, romantic and family lives should unfold. And if it does not, there is a billion dollar industry invested in spicing up things for us. We are constantly told how to sex up our lives or bring the romance back or understand the other and to be alert on if our partners are into ‘relationships’. We have to do our bit to keep up this perfect eternal relationship!

'We have to do our bit to keep the relationship'
‘We have to do our bit to keep the relationship’

When any one partner succumbs to another outside, it becomes the failure of that individual and thus becomes extremely personal. Either it is about the cheater who is warped, or it is about the victimized spouse who was perhaps not good enough. Either ways it is a personal failure. Because everyone else apparently is not so debauched!

Related reading: It had all started with innocuous flirting on WhatsApp

A breaking of vows exchanged so seriously, which others are presumably sticking to, may make our adulterer’s other values too seem suspect. For how can we trust a person to be a good father/mother, politician, businessman, son/daughter etc. if he/she could not have kept such a fundamental promise? And so it follows that how can we be with a person who cannot be a goodanything? Infidelity, even though all data history and sociology show to be a human transgression, in our lives becomes a personal and out-of-the-mill one!

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Readers Comments On “How a generous dose of morality changed our married lives”

  1. Article has mentioned only one side of “so fuss of being cheated” and defending cheating in a relationship. It is silent on other side /aspects which are as below.
    1. Are we saying honesty, integrity and trust are not to be expected from the spouse in a marriage? Are we saying these are to be expected from animals but not human? Then human is charecterized by what ? only physical appearance? Even a pet at home is loving and a faithful to its last breath even though it has not vowed anything verbally to its holder. Are we saying our cheating spouses are not even worth of animal inspite of being human as is endowed with brain and intelligence. Inspite of this, when spouse (Cheater) makes a conscious decision (not a mistake ) to sleep with third person (either one nightstand or affair) knowing cheater has a loyal spouse,kids and has commitment to marriage and enjoys the adventure at the cost of loyal spouse trust ,betraying him and knowing the emotional hurt it will inflicts when exposed why cheater has to crib on breakage of marriage & suddenly rise the issue of overall purpose of marriage ect which cheater very well aware of all this before doing cheating.
    2. It is not about only moral. It is about personality on whom you dependent for entire life. There are many spouses like wives whose husbands were mentally ill but never deserted them. They stuck to their husbands with love and dedication without trace of cheating them. Similarly there are husbands who served their wives who were bedridden for life but never strayed. Because they loved them and they got the trust from each other. Here with selfishness and lust, cheater had taken conscious decision to enjoy with third person other than their spouse betraying /back stabbing loyal spouse and playing with their emotions. Then why cheater deserves to be in marriage? One can accept disability, health, petty issues etc all but not cheating at the back while acting drama of love at home.
    3. Cheating in a marriage by either spouse is nothing but doing prostitution as cheater is allowing third person to use cheaters body. Unlike a regular prostitution where money is the motive, prostitution by the cheater is for selfishness and lust at the back of loyal spouse trust & is selective in nature , pick and choose type. Why a loyal spouse to accept a prostitute (though selective) in a marriage. Then one can marry a prostitute (rather than a decent & loyal person) who can be selective in choosing partners.
    4. Marriage is sacred and a part of overall spirituality. Wife is not Kamapatni but Dharma patni. So as husband. Together as couples enjoy the marital bliss along with Artha and Kama linked with Dharma and gradually progress on overall purpose of human birth. (For God believers)
    5. When u work in an Organization, person signs Breach of trust agreement. If any found breached, immediately will be sacked. hence, people take utmost care because fear of punishment. Whereas in a marriage, verbal vows that uttered are binding for both spouses. Are we saying these vows are mockery and as no contract is signed off between spouses in a marriage, cheating spouse takes it so lightly that vows have no value for relationship/marriage? May be it is high time, in todays era, where people are burned with lust, may be Marriage contract system needs to be in place for sign off before marriage. if Breach of trust in a marriage is breached, kick off the cheater from the system that’s all.
    6. If any person has weaker values or can’t commit to one person entire life or can’t be satisfied with one person, he/she has option of not getting married. Be single and enjoy the life as they wish. But they have no right to stay in the marriage and play with trust and emotions of loyal spouse. Cheating in a marriage is heneous than murder. One will leave the world after murder and pain has gone. But the feeling of betrayal, mistrust, shame etc inflicted by the cheater on loyal spouse, loyal spouse has to carry these feelings in his heart for life long killing himself internally every day eventhough he may forgive the cheating fot may not forget for life time. Hence, cheating is heneous than murdering.
    7. Cheaters are basically selfish, no self respect, no dignity & lusty in nature and do cheating at the back of loyal spouse and will not leave marriage because of benefits offered by the marriage. For eg. a cheating wife will not leave marriage because she needs husband at home as a slave/worker (but cheating wife enacts drama of love and loyalty at home without leaving a trace of doubt to her husband on her cheating)
    – To showcase to the society that she has husband and family and husband is like ornament for her
    – To take care of family responsibilities, struggles and family stresses
    – To clean the shit whatever cheating wife receives during her sleeping with third person ( Though husband is not aware that his wife enjoying with outsider)
    – To serve cheating wife when she fall sick or admitted in hospital or struggles at her parents home
    – As the age passes, cheating wife loses youth and charm and is no more attractive to outside persons. As options are closed, she needs husband to sleep with.
    – Finally, whe cheater reaches old age, she get all diseases and needs support, Husband will fit in.
    * Vice versa for a cheating husband
    Hence cheaters are like parasites /worms in the stool. They will not leave the marriage but do all dirty things behind the back of loyal spouse.

    Inference is Cheating or being betrayed is not just being morality. It encompasses, personal traits such as trust emotions of loyal partner, dependability of peron, selfishness , morality and finally spirutuality. It is a complex matter to take it easy and forgive like dropping of cloths.

  2. If cheating between partners is not of importance, right from the vegetable market vendor to shopping in the mall every one shouts at vendor when they get cheated and blacklist them for purchasing. If this is the case, partner who promised/ vowed not to cheat and be honest and integral to the spouce, why the loyal partner to tolerate cheating? Do you mean to say that loyalty, honesty and integrity are not even worth of a raw vegetable ? If marriage is not on personal then why do people to marry? They can live like animals as selective group of people comprising males and females in equal number on mutual understanding and fulfilling all animal Instints and basic instincts and produce children to the group? What is the marriage role in spirutuality and purpose of human birth ? If we say humans borned only for eating , mating and sleeping then be single and enjoy with whomsoever wants to enjoy and then who is bothered? People who have only animal and basic instincts , who can’t commit to honesty, loyalty and integrity need not marry, for them choice is available to remain single and enjoy. The article has covered only one side of morality defending cheating and otherside of cheating has not been covered. If we say we.are civilized, let us say either we are civilized and then live like civilized society or If we say we are animals, live like animals. If cheating is acceptable, not only in marriage but everywhere it has to be accepted, are we saying it is OK everywhere?

  3. Good one. An important discourse much needed in our times.Specially in the Indian context, where we have a hundred examples in tradition that open windows of freedom in a much bigger context of marriage. Unless we address this basic human instinct with utmost honesty and set it free, it is worthless to talk of a corruption free society. The most primitive human instinct holds the key to our entire journey of honesty and character in our lives.

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