Monday, March 24, 2008

What are you, stupid?

My husband and I watched an empty movie the other night (or maybe I just didn't get it): The Decline of the American Empire. It was French Canadian with subtitles. In it, four women friends and and four men friends spend the afternoon together, men at one character's house preparing dinner and women at the gym working out. Both parties spend the entire afternoon talking about infidelity (from their own personal experience). Then the 2 groups get together for dinner. Surprise, before the evening is over, one of the women admits she's had an affair with one of the men in the room (and her husband is present).

Sorry to spoil the ending. Suffice to say, it wasn't a happy one.

As I was checking email today, an article on my home page caught my eye. It was by David Zinczenko, who apparently writes a blog about men's health issues (and I use the term "health issues" loosely). Today's post was entitled, Your Man's Infidelity Triggers.

I'm not saying I agree or disagree or otherwise endorse the blog. I'm just saying ... take a peak. Here are the top 5 reasons Zinczenko identifies. (I have edited each one down and added my own comments parenthetically):

1) Power (or Cash)
Powerful men with the means to withdraw hefty sums of cash -- for hotels, gifts, prostitutes -- are often candidates. They tend to think their invincibility in the office will also extend to their private lives..

2) A Sudden Change in Status
Simply making the leap from corporal to captain can put a guy in a difficult spot - he's suddenly separated from his office crew, facing challenges at work that you may not relate to (or that he's afraid to admit to YOU).

3) The Family Circus
Some men can feel like they're last in the family pecking order once the gaggle of children dominates schedules, time, and his wife's attention. The situation can make some men more vulnerable to be influenced by...

4) An Unexpected Ego Stroke
A note from an ex, a compliment from a co-worker .... If the affection in his primary relationship dwindles as time goes on, a guy's hormones can skyrocket when he feels the charge of a new woman showing some attention. (Lookout, chemical reaction taking place!)

5) Cyber 'Safety' Plain and simple
The Internet has made it easier for men to feel safer-in everything from looking for dates and mates to sending innuendo-laced IMs to the hot coworker on the third floor. The apparent safety of flirting in his own keyboard can build an unhealthy feeling that everything he's doing is OK, making it more likely he can slip into making some very stupid choices.

(Back to commentary by Tammy)

Are men the only ones susceptible to the influences and behaviors described above? Well of course not! I thought it was interesting to note the effects "a little attention" from the opposite sex garnered. Can we instate a "no talking to the opposite sex" rule in our relationships? Unlikely.

Try as you may, you can't control your spouse's behavior and he/she can't control yours; which brings me to a question I often put to my kids: Who is the only person you are responsible for? (Yourself)

Not just in relationships, but in so many areas of our lives, we have to establish boundaries. We have to tell ourselves firmly, "I'm not going there" and stick to it. And if we start to slide, we have to say it again, "I'M NOT GOING THERE!!" (And perhaps enlist the help of a trusted accountability partner.)

Checkout Paul's words (regarding sexual immorality, but they can apply to more than that):

"Everything is permissible to me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible, but I will not be mastered by anything." 1 Corinthians 6:11-13

When someone asked me recently my thoughts on why a call girl charges $3700 a visit, I replied, "Because she can." Likewise, why do men or women cheat? Same reason: because they can. Remember ... "can" and "should" are entirely different words representing entirely different value systems.

Across the line of all behaviors that we may characterize as "big, bad sins," we want to believe that we have enough will power and moral fiber to withstand temptation. We don't. So why put yourselves to the test in the first place? What are you, stupid? (Remember Forrest Gump: Stupid is as stupid does...)

Big finish: Focus on your relationship with God. The rest of life usually falls into place and works itself out. (And yes, that may be construed as an oversimplification, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

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