Your Cheatin’ Heart
Which is worse? Declaring war on another nation, or cheating on your wife? Please, be careful how you answer. Such was the comparison of Paul Begala, former Clinton staff member and now CNN political contributor, when asked his opinion of the John Edward’s scandal. "He didn’t lie to the American people, forge signatures, and send us into war," he declared passionately. He then added rather dryly, "He cheated on his wife." This last statement, and the cold spirit it which he said it, cut me to the heart. I can’t help but think Mr. Begala’s wife, Diane, gave pause, at least for a second, when she heard her husband speak so carelessly about the precious bond…the intimate trust between a man and his wife.
After the Bush administration declared war on Iraq, I remember the bumper stickers, "No one died, when Clinton lied". I beg to differ. Something died in someone on that day. Trust. Perhaps, respect. May I venture a guess that trust and respect died in quite a number of people who were close to Bill Clinton. Oh yes, there were the snickers and the shaking of heads as those who had known him for years said, "It’s just Bill, up to his old tricks again." Joking aside, how do you think a young Hillary felt the first time? The second? No woman, who was ever promised faithfulness by their fiancé at the altar, ever deserves to feel the pain of betrayal and abandonment. I would like to think that this "mistake" made by John Edwards against his dear wife is, indeed, the very first, as well as the very last of its kind. No, I’m not casting a stone. The Bible says, "Let him who think he standeth take heed lest he fall." We’re all standing on the same sheet of ice, my friend. But we do need to rethink this marriage thing.
I understand that many of you have experienced the pain caused by an unfaithful spouse. I’m sorry. Perhaps it has made you angry and bitter, or even cynical about relationships and marriage. You see, cheating isn’t to be taken lightly. How can we take it lightly when there’s so much emotion that comes along with it? It’s all that raw emotion that fires the success of Jerry Springer and those of his ilk. They even have a television show dedicated to hunting down and confronting partners that cheat. I can’t say this strongly enough. Adultery is not a game! Cheating on your partner is not an option! EVER! There. I said it.
"But you don’t know my wife. You don’t know my husband. They’re not willing to meet my needs. They have no clue. We just don’t love each other anymore. I want my freedom!"
I’ve heard it all before. Did you think becoming "soul-mates" was going to be easy? That keeping your marriage vows, (remember those?), was going to come without some cost to you? There’s a lot of compromise, selfless giving, and self-denial that will have to be experienced along the way as you focus on making the other person happy instead of yourself. Boy, there’s a radical thought, isn’t it. I don’t encourage anyone to stay in a dangerous relationship, but let’s be honest, most relationships end because of two things – Selfishness and Pride, usually on both sides. Now, we may strongly believe that we can justify our selfish actions, but they’re still wrong! Even John Edwards admitted to Bob Woodruff that his adulterous relationship was fueled by selfishness and a measure of narcissism. Wouldn’t it have been nice if he had been that self-aware before he made the decision to be unfaithful to Elizabeth, and then stifle his relationship with his female movie director? At least he learned from his mistake. But that will never remove the pain and the anguish experienced by his wife, will it. Men, let’s learn from his experience.
I remember a scene in Mr. Holland’s Opus. He and his wife had not been connecting lately. As a matter of fact, they were pretty much at each other’s throats. He had the opportunity to flee to NY with a pretty young singer who believed in him and his dreams, but he began looking through the old family photo albums. It was there he rediscovered the true love he had for his wife. How much they had been through together. How kind she was to put up with him all these years. Her smile. That laugh. He slipped into the bedroom, sat on the edge of the bed, leaned over, kissed his wife and told her that he loved her. He stayed home. That’s what I’m talking about. Now that’s a real man.
I know that multiplied thousands of people die in war. It is a very ugly and painful action to take. But please remember, men, that at that moment when we are tempted to break our vows to our spouse and yield to our passions, nothing, not even war itself, can compare to the never-ending hurt we will bring upon our wives and our families for years to come. The Paul Begalas of the world have it all wrong.