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Till cheating do us part

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GuiltAndShame posted 6/3/2020 06:46 AM

In another post, GMC94 said “It can be hard to even envision a way to somehow balance self worth and trust. To simultaneously NEVER be financially or emotionally dependent upon another man AND somehow let them into my heart and life.”

This triggered feelings of sadness and futility, along with self-anger for being a cheater who has caused my wife to think the same way as GMC94. This also made me think of the “standard” wedding vows, which I suspect many of us say (repeat) without truly hearing and weighing and understanding the words.

We say “....till death do us part”.
Instead, what if the vows laid out specific conditions that would likely end the marriage? What if we said “...till cheating or abuse or death do us part” as we looked into our partner’s eyes?

Sure the “magic” and “grace” of the wedding moment may be tarnished by these new vows, but isn’t it more important to be “real” and honest and open? Would this type of “new vow” change anything? Expectations would be more clearly laid out, but would it change our behavior? Or would there just be more runaway brides and grooms?

Dranth posted 6/3/2020 07:55 AM

No stop sign so I was going to wade in on this as it has been on my mind a lot of late.

Let’s assume we all general say the same thing when we take our vows. Writing our own or using the standard, they all boil down to a similar message (at least to me). I love and am committed to you and you to me. I have your back, you have mine. You are my person and I am yours. We are a team.

While changing them to something along the lines of what was suggested would certainly be more realistic, I am not sure it would mean much overall as the meaning changes with the people, their experiences and their place in life. Throw in the amazingly human ability to not truly understand something until it happens to you and I am not sure it would make much of a difference.

I would be willing to bet that most people who takes their vows believe them at the time. With that in mind, people would look at them the same way they do now. It won’t happen to us. I am not the kind of person who would do that and there is no way the person I picked would. We are special.

Even people that cheat on their partner before marriage are most likely thinking to themselves that once they are married it is going to stop. It was just one final fling… etc.

Nothing equips you for the trauma of infidelity other than infidelity itself. Anyone who has not experienced it or other abuse is unlikely to understand the significance of adding those to a vow. Without understanding, having to say it is likely not going to register.

I mean why would it, that is something that happens to other people…

hikingout posted 6/3/2020 08:48 AM

I was going to say the same as dranth.

I fully committed when I got married. I had nothing but pure intentions. The cheating happened decades later when I experienced personal crisis that I didn’t have coping for. I had relied on my marriage to make me happy. In the same token when I wasn’t happy I blamed it on my marriage. I wanted to escape, especially myself. We can’t anticipate the ways we will change and fail.

Still I can understand having remorse over the way we change our spouses. How hopeless we can feel to change that tide. It’s why we have to just commit to doing our best with our spouse but really take stick if ourselves and really understand and be aware of our shortcomings and thoughts and behaviors that don’t serve us. I really believe with consistency we can become somewhat different people (it’s some of those nuances that matter the most) and the accountability, acknowledgement and change process will help begin a new bridge to our spouse. Sometimes it doesn’t work but what I am pointing at is the only things we can control. It still may never help make up for it or help us to reconcile. But it will always pay off and be something we can carry forward into our future so that we don’t keep taking our broken parts and our lack of self love and harming others with it.

The hole lies in she is still there today. And with these concepts she wrestled with she gets closer to her answers. You can only have so much influence in all that, use your power to find what needs fixed and work hard in it. It will never be perfect, but it can always be priority, consistent, and transparent.

I do understand where you are coming from, sometimes all these little cuts and issues we have caused are like little grieving sessions when you have remorse. Just don’t use them to undermine learning to love yourself at the same time. Just as she has to, you have to accept that each cut happened and try to heal them. It’s a hard balance to keep, but the more work you do the more self compassion you will find you have.

DevastatedDee posted 6/3/2020 08:50 AM

I don't think it matters what you put in the vows. Everyone already knows that cheating is likely to end the marriage and devastate your spouse or no one would lie about and hide it. Be honest, you knew when you married her that cheating was not an option from her point of view. That didn't change what happened.

It's sad, but what gmc said makes complete sense in the aftermath of this. Infidelity messes with our belief in marriage as this beautiful sacred partnership. All that "two become one" nonsense. The lesson you get as a BS from this is that you can only rely on yourself and that you shouldn't blindly trust anyone, no matter how wonderful you think they are or how much you love them. The lesson is that marriage as we saw it is a fantasy and that it was dangerous and naive to blindly trust our spouses. We're all too old to base our lives on naive concepts.

I say that I don't want to get married again and it's not because I didn't love being married. I just don't want to get married if I can't really trust and dedicate myself to another person and truly have that partnership where you've always got each other's backs. If that isn't a real thing, then what's the point? I've had to start over after two failed marriages and that is emotionally, psychologically, and financially very expensive. No one likes doing that and none of us can truly afford to do that. Building a life with someone involves a huge amount of trust. It's hard to see any of it as romantic when you need to think "I'd better make sure that I am able to walk away from this without being financially ruined". And emotionally dependent? Who wants a marriage where you don't need your spouse emotionally?

This perspective change is not a fun one for a BS. This is part of the damage that is done. Maybe it just strips us of our romantic delusions. This is where a WS truly does lose something of incalculable value.

Justsomeguy posted 6/3/2020 09:11 AM

My child tries the same logic with me. She tries to wiggle out of her responsibility for doing or not doing something because I want specific enough about my instructions. So our conversation becomes a legal discussion, and yet another warning is printed on the package of lawn darts so people will not play tag with them.

Your post, although contemplative, reads as, "if only this would have happened, then I wouldnt have..." It's outsourcing responsibility. For those of us who don't cheat, it's not because someone put it in writing, it's because simply put, we don't cheat. After my WW's A, my therapist asked me to make a list of ten must have traits in a partner. We looked at the list and she commented that fidelity wasn't on the list. I said, uf empathy, compassion, and kindness were on it, then there was no need. It would be redundant... Oh, and you forgot about the "love, honour,and forsaking all others" parts of the vows. Those are already in there.

Catwoman posted 6/3/2020 10:46 AM

In most standard wedding vows, there is some language about forsaking all others and cleaving only to the spouse. Right?

So would calling out cheating specifically change anything? And would we need to define cheating (PAs vs. EAs vs. ONS)?

Frankly, if someone decides they wants to cheat and feels they have sufficient opportunity to do so, they generally go ahead, with or without all of the mental gymnastics to make it palatable to themselves. So I'm not sure if this would change anything.

Cat

MrCleanSlate posted 6/3/2020 10:54 AM

G&S,

People separate and divorce for any number of reasons, and I bet infidelity is chief among them, but if we let the lawyers at it there will be a 10 page addendum with all sorts of exclusions, etc.

The problem lies within, and words or a piece of paper won't change that.

gmc94 posted 6/3/2020 13:14 PM

WH and I used the standard vows that included forsaking all others. Didn't matter.

The thing is, he had a ONS before we M, so we had VERY clear and specific conversations about infidelity and what it would mean for our M, i.e., that it was a dealbreaker and if it ever happened I would D, no questions asked.

Today, he claims he proposed/took his vows with the purest intent to stay monogamous. The problem with that bit of dissonance is that at the time we M, he'd already been dishonest with me about his POSOW. Granted, to him it was Ok to have a secret female friend/former GF so long as they weren't having sex (and I guess the hug/kiss I'm convinced they were exchanging before genitals came out were somehow also rationalized).

The bottom line is that the "clarity" of one's vows or pre-M boundaries doesn't fucking matter.

We can be as clear as glass as to the dealbreaking status of infidelity in an M. If a WS wants to cheat, they just will.

As painful as it is, HO and others are right in that there's nothing my WH or anyone else can do to change that it is a burden I will bear, and probably until the day I die. Folks on SI used to talk all the time about Japanese Kintsugi (vase is broken, repaired with gold, and still beautiful... the repairs are part of its history). And I suppose I could say that about my own heart post dday - shattered, repaired, and still beautiful. The problem is that after being shattered/repaired, they are fragile.... or prone. No amount of gold resin will put a vase - or a heart - into the same condition it was before being shattered.

BetterTimesAhead posted 6/3/2020 15:47 PM

BS here...

I believe there was also something in my vows about "being true to you in good times and bad..." along with the forsaking all others. Clear as day to me.

My WH and I had several discussions while we were dating and engaged about how cheating was not acceptable - that I had been through it before and could not survive it again. He agreed that a "real man" would never cheat, he could never cheat, he would never cheat, not an option, etc etc. Only apparently it became an option because to him the vows were conditional in that as long as he was happy and getting what he wanted out of the marriage, he would abide by them. Since he wasn't, it was acceptable to seek it elsewhere. He failed to tell me THAT before we got married. He says if I was all I was supposed to be it never would have even crossed his mind to cheat. So I guess the "in good times and bad" and "for better or worse" really just mean in good times and for better.

The vows are specific. What someone chooses to read into the meaning is how WS justify their bad choices and poor actions.

MrCleanSlate posted 6/3/2020 16:19 PM

BTA,

I never thought I'd cheat, until I did 20 years after getting married (that was after about 8 years of travelling across the country at least once a week and never once cheating in that time)

Now after years of IC/MC and self analysis I can see the need for external validation was always there. Hindsight.....

BetterTimesAhead posted 6/3/2020 16:47 PM

MrCleanSlate, I applaud you for doing the work and seeing the harsh truth. My WH is in IC but I don't know that it is doing any good. He still blames me and says it wouldn't have happened had I been the wife I was supposed to be. I see it in everyday occurrences - his flawed rationale regarding who is responsible for something. I called him when he was driving once and when he answered the phone he hit a guardrail - my fault for calling, not his for answering. My glasses fell in the driveway and I didn't know they were there - he drove over them and it's my fault they were there, not his for driving over them. You get the idea. I don't know if that kind of thinking is fixable. He doesn't see that he has a choice - that his choices are his and his alone, regardless of outside circumstances or influences.

still2suspicious posted 6/3/2020 17:35 PM

GaS

After 50 years of being together, and he cheating on me a number of times, I had decided that THIS was what my H meant when saying his vows"

Me: forsaking all others

Him: forsaking YOU for all others

Dumbshit!

GuiltAndShame posted 6/3/2020 21:35 PM

Thank you everyone for taking the time to write. It is always good to hear various viewpoints and opinions.

secondtime posted 6/3/2020 23:48 PM

I think what you are asking for requires a certain amount of accurate predictions of the future that none of us can make.

I talked to my MIL recently about something unrelated. She said, you know, secondtime, none of us actually know what we are going to do until we get there.


I think my MIL is a pretty smart woman.

LadyG posted 6/4/2020 01:39 AM

In the lead up to writing or selecting ‘wedding vows’ we had 12 weeks of marriage counselling with our Priest.

It was compulsory and still is in many institutions.

We were instructed to select vows very carefully as these vows are taken before witnesses thereby making them binding and forming a contract of sorts to the way we carry on during our marriage.

I often thought that if these vows are breached then the marriage agreement became null and void.

I pointed out to WH that he had breached all vows several times.

I am old enough to have witnessed many renew their vows... often enduring all that marriage has thrown at us, is to be celebrated, except for the abuse etc etc etc

I have sat before friends renewing vows and thought, ‘whatever, we all know you breached your vows the first time round’. Honesty is never the first policy of a W.

Recently, more modern vows have become ridiculously complicated and impossible to abide by... I vow to mow lawns without being constantly asked to do so., comes to mind... how about I promise that the grass will always be greener on my side of the fence.

GuiltAndShame posted 6/4/2020 22:03 PM

I appreciate all of your words and insights!
And I agree with you.....the words spoken in vows don’t sway someone with terrible awful wayward ways, such as myself.

[This message edited by GuiltAndShame at 10:04 PM, June 4th (Thursday)]

2timesunfaithful posted 6/6/2020 10:11 AM

Unlike other waywards, I really thought I wanted to be divorced, exit affair and so on. It wasn't until my BW was sobbing, screaming; completely devastated.

It was then that I realized "You took vows Asshole, yes you." In front of a church, parents, family, friends.
I became one of those guys, assholes who would cheat on their wife, I knew superficially what I was doing. What shocked my me was the devastation I had caused, things I had ruined, my integrity was gone, a thing of the past.
I could not look in the mirror at myself, I stopped shaving, etc. Any thing to avoid looking at what I had become. R was a way to get back to who my wife had married, and not be that cheating asshole - ever again.

20yrsagoBS posted 6/9/2020 16:52 PM

BS here


I don’t think it really matters what the vows were.

A Cheater will find a way to break them, justify it, and blame everyone and everything for it happening.

That’s the difference. Betrayed Spouses understand that there’s no road back from that, so we don’t do it

sillyoldsod posted 6/10/2020 05:41 AM

It's sad, but what gmc said makes complete sense in the aftermath of this. Infidelity messes with our belief in marriage as this beautiful sacred partnership. All that "two become one" nonsense. The lesson you get as a BS from this is that you can only rely on yourself and that you shouldn't blindly trust anyone, no matter how wonderful you think they are or how much you love them. The lesson is that marriage as we saw it is a fantasy and that it was dangerous and naive to blindly trust our spouses. We're all too old to base our lives on naive concepts.

I say that I don't want to get married again and it's not because I didn't love being married. I just don't want to get married if I can't really trust and dedicate myself to another person and truly have that partnership where you've always got each other's backs. If that isn't a real thing, then what's the point? I've had to start over after two failed marriages and that is emotionally, psychologically, and financially very expensive. No one likes doing that and none of us can truly afford to do that. Building a life with someone involves a huge amount of trust. It's hard to see any of it as romantic when you need to think "I'd better make sure that I am able to walk away from this without being financially ruined". And emotionally dependent? Who wants a marriage where you don't need your spouse emotionally?

This perspective change is not a fun one for a BS. This is part of the damage that is done. Maybe it just strips us of our romantic delusions. This is where a WS truly does lose something of incalculable value.

BS here.

This is so damned true DevastatedDee ^^^. My wonderful SO of almost 3 years doesn't get it but then why would she as her marriage didn't end due to cheating. She's sad that I could be so cynical. I prefer to call it realism, gained as a result of my own crappy experience.

My XW's infidelity destroyed an 'innocence' (call it naivety!) in me that I can never get back. However maybe that's made me an emotionally wiser individual? I don't know.

I often wish prospective cheaters were able to read some of these threads before they realise the utter devastation their choices were about to unleash on the unknowing partner they profess to love.

Zugzwang posted 6/10/2020 09:49 AM

Looking back I would say the "sickness and in health" describes the cheating for us. I was sick. I cheated. My wife gave me the chance till I wasn't. That vow and promise was important to her. The whole thing was and the is damn humbling.

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