Sunday, June 22, 2014

Infidelity is everywhere.



Sometimes it feels like our world is obsessed with unfaithfulness.



When your marriage is recovering from a betrayal, dealing with the dreadful reminders of the past can be especially difficult. One comment or incident can incite a flood of negative emotions, casting a black cloud over your entire day. Navigating through these triggers is hard enough already,  until you realize that entertainment media is absolutely littered with mentions of cheating.

Television and movies use infidelity as a plot device constantly. I don't mind this in theory, because it is a common human experience -- statistics suggest that between 30% and 60% of couples wrestle with unfaithfulness at some point. Obviously, if the issue is common, it will also be widespread among fictional characters. I have no problem with that.

I do, however, take issue with any medium (music, TV, movies, books) that makes light of cheating or glorifies it. There is nothing redeemable or worthwhile about an affair. It is not funny, entertaining, or admirable.  An affair, and the aftermath that follows it, is not desirable to anyone who knows the reality of it. So, when a comedian or sitcom character jokingly extols the virtues of straying, I am disgusted.

In the beginning of our journey, I used to despise any mention of unfaithfulness because I saw it as another unneeded reminder of my errors. Honestly, there have been moments where I could happily smash my television set because of the discomfort it caused. Over time, I have discovered some value in fictional portrayals of unfaithfulness, when handled tastefully. Any time I see a couple earnestly struggling with the effects of an affair on a TV show, my heart breaks.... and the characters aren't even real!

I believe that the arts (especially music) can have a cathartic effect on us. They allow us to gain a vantage point on an issue that seems insurmountable. Music has played a pivotal role in our recovery process, but it can also inflame old wounds if we are not very intentional about our consumption.

If you've dealt with infidelity or any other painful betrayal, I'm sure you can relate. The world around us simply doesn't understand our plight. Although I believe we can benefit from fairly depicted portrayals of cheating in TV and movies, I also know with certainty that there is a time for shielding and a time when insulating your marriage is a necessity.

If you are walking down this road like we are, do yourself a favor. Be intentional about your media consumption. Reject any movie or show that glorifies cheating. Cut it off and remove it from your sight. Be mindful of what you allow inside your mind, because your brain is a battleground. Do not let the TV screen be an obstacle to your recovery. In this area, and all others, prioritize the health and well-being of your marriage with urgency and passion.

You are reading The Meaning of Repentance, a blog about the Hartsfields and their road to recovery after unfaithfulness. We encourage you to follow us on Facebook, and we urge you to contact us if you need help with the recovery process. We offer support services in-person and via Skype/Facetime.

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15 comments:

  1. You are very much correct with this post. It is not something that you really notice until you have been through the situation. I also agree that music is a very good thing to get through some of the times. I never knew the way music could change the way you feel until I went through this and a friend told me about Christian music. I never really knew it existed outside of church until then. The amount of music out there is great. Also, there is quite a few Christian movies that are coming out that are becoming more mainstream, which is a great thing!! Even if you have not been through a situation of betrayal, I think it is a good thing not to watch any of these types a shows that glorify it. It puts bad thoughts in our mind, thinking that it is not a big deal. Thanks again for sharing your story and helping those of us that are struggling as well.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading! And we really appreciate you sharing your thoughts. We love getting feedback from readers :) And you're totally right.. even if you haven't suffered from the sting of an affair, being entertained by shows, music, etc that glorify adultery is dangerous ground.

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  2. Only 2 months after my husband's affair came to light, my bestie and I sat down for a girly movie night and turned on The Wedding Planner. A movie that we had both loved for years instantly made us both nauseous within minutes. I think we ended up breaking the DVD in half. Affairs are not cute and romantic. They are not great ways to meet a future spouse. They should not be encouraged by everyone around you and they do not have happy endings (at least not the rom-com kind). My husband and I also had/have to choose to be very intentional about our media consumption. There have been a lot of old go-to shows/movies/songs that we've chosen to replace with edifying, intentional media. Thanks for pointing this out... Sometimes I feel like a crazy person!

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    1. Wow! You are so right. I haven't seen that movie in years and always loved it but I haven't watched it since Ray's affair took place. That one is definitely added to the list of movies to avoid! So glad to hear that you and your husband are setting up boundaries to protect your marriage and the healing process!

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  3. I agree. I never realized how often affairs are portrayed or even hinted at until dealing with it in my own life. The things that trigger a flood of emotions for me are every day things that I never used to pay any attention to. Now, I can go from a seemingly uneventful day (trying to make it through, trying to push those thoughts aside) to seeing or hearing something that instantly makes me want to vomit and my entire day will be the worse for it. These triggers are a literal hell. You can't escape. It's EVERYWHERE - sometimes it's even in the silence (the only exception I have found is Christian music). You simply try to cope. I wish more people would write about these triggers and how to survive them. Thank you for being our voice, for helping us understand what we are going through, and for offering your support to us. May God bless your family in ways you never imagined.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I 100% understand what it's like to go form happy to hell in the blink of an eye. It can be extremely frustrating. Learning to avoid the triggers was a big help for me but some reminders just can't be avoided :/ Thank you so much for reading our blog!

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  4. I'm hoping you can answer this question. I'm 10 months out from my husbands ONS (that he admitted to me the same day) and while we are in counseling and getting better everyday, it upsets me that people found out. Friends have been weird. Hurtful. Did you deal with that? How do you stay strong against those who see you as weak? Thank you!

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    1. Oh I definitely experienced that same thing. Ray and I often say that we felt like animals in a zoo every time we told someone. And while friend's/family's reactions were hurtful, I had to remind myself that they were reacting based off of their limited understanding of the situation. If you've never been through this kind of thing, you really should keep your opinions to yourself. We're all entitled to opinions but until you've been through something like this, you really have no idea what it's like.

      And for those that think you are weak.. I have one word -- HA! The amount of strength that it takes to forgive this kind of offense and to work through things would make Superman look like a pansy. Their is nothing weak about forgiveness. That would be like saying Jesus was weak for dying on the cross for my sins. It is quite the opposite. It takes incredible strength, humility, and selflessness to have grace towards others.

      I know it's easier said than done, but just ignore what other's say. They mean well.. they literally just have no idea what they're talking about.

      You ARE strong! Keep fighting for your marriage and take it one day at a time. It is a long road but it's worth it! Thanks for reading :)

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  5. Today is my seventh anniversary. I don't even wear my wedding ring anymore. It's been 18 months since d-day. Today, I am a weepy mess. I'm so angry and so hurt. My husband is sorry for his actions (porn addiciton and sexual acting out) but he seems stuck in the shame of it all and instead of taking action retreats into himself. I keep literally begging him to take some concrete steps to healing our marriage but he doesn't do anything. It's like a slow agonizing death. Like you, we have two small children, 4 and almost 2. I have every reason in the world to leave but let's be honest, being a single working mom is no easy path either. People say, kids are resilient when it comes to their parents divorce but as a child of divorce resulting from infidelity, that's no picnic either. I'm not ruling it out completely. I won't live the rest of my life with more of the same behavior from him but for now I am still present and trying to be open-minded despite the pain. I don't feel like my husband acts like a man that almost lost everything. I am so angry to be in this situation, just furious and so deeply hurt. I keep begging God for mercy but somehow I just feel like even He is hanging me out to dry just like my husband. I know that's not true but somehow that's how it feels. In the meantime, the triggers are everywhere. It's slightly better than it was immediately after but it still catches me off guard. Television, magazines, movies, media- all of it is a potential powder keg. Obviously, your husband had to get pretty off track to act as he did (no offense Ray) but when did he start "getting it"? How did he finally start coming back to earth? What catalyzed that change?

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    1. My heart breaks for you. I am so sorry that you are dealing with this. It really is so important for your husband take the steps necessary to rebuild the foundation of your marriage. Encourage him to seek accountability and help from men that he can trust to lead him down the right path. There is *no* shame in asking for help. We both had to have lots of help with our recovery process.

      And you're right... Ray got off track and it really shocked us both. For us, Ray realized pretty quickly that it wasn't my responsibility to make him feel better about himself. As the one that did the cheating, he too felt so ashamed and battled depression. But I couldn't bear the weight of dealing with his sin AND helping him battle his demons too. That's why he reached out to Godly men in our community to help him through this process.

      Ray also has written about how important it is for the cheater to have a release. It is hard to recover from betraying your spouse and going against everything you thought you stood for. For Ray, he used writing, music, and fitness as his outlets for his frustration during the initial stages of the healing process.

      It will take a lot of work from both you and your husband to overcome this but you *can* do it! Check out our services section on themarriagemission.org. We do Skype sessions with couples looking for help with the healing process. We would love to be able to chat with you and your husband about how to take some concrete steps towards reconciliation. And you can always e-mail us too! contact@themarriagemission.org

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  6. Same anon that was asking about the friends...thank you for your reply but I have another question. Have you ever ran into the OW in public? My husband didnt have an affair, like I said it was a ONS, but the thought of ever seeing her sends me into a panic. I don't want to go out at all. Also did your friends treat your husband different? And if so, are they back on his side too? Thank you.

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    1. I'm almost 2 years out and the thought of ever seeing the OW still gives me a panic attack (literally sitting here feeling sick just thinking about it). She popped up on my FB newsfeed the other day (we were in a lot of the same circles) and I was instantly in a cold sweat. I also drove past her once and thought very seriously about hitting her with my car. While that is obviously not a good option, and the fear is not a daily one since my husband and I moved to a different city with 2 months of the affair coming to light, it still sends me into a panic every time we go back home to visit family. I think only a lot of time and a lot of Jesus will calm the panic.

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    2. Oh absolutely! I actually followed/stalked a woman in Target one day because I thought it was "her"... only to realize that it wasn't actually her. I still get a chill down my spine if I think I spot her or her car in town. Luckily, I haven't ever actually run into her but the thought of it made me sick to my stomach for the first year of so. Now, it certainly wouldn't be pleasant if I saw her but I think I could handle it without wanting to choke her out ;)

      As far as our friends go, I've mentioned before that most of our friends' initial reaction was just shock and awkwardness.. but none of them have ever treated my husband any differently. We are really blessed to have some of the most loving Christ-like friends. They have supported us and prayed for us throughout this entire process and they've never taken sides. They have all rooted for us and our marriage 100%. If you find yourself in a position where your friends are rooting against your marriage or trying to pit you against your husband, I strongly suggest distancing yourself from those friends. Even in the midst of this mess, God still expects us to honor our husbands. We can be angry and hurt... but bad mouthing our husbands to our friends ultimately just creates more distance in the marriage. This was something I was often tempted to do but had to constantly remind myself that I was fighting for my husband.. not against him.

      Hope this helps! :)

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  7. "Be intentional about your media consumption." Yes, amen. And we need tho think about our addiction to entertainment however good it may be. Christians are woefully illiterate when it comes to the Bible and the history of the Church. We only have so much time, how will we use it?
    And what is molding our children's minds? http://sdcougar.startlogic.com/blog/?p=44

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    1. Thanks for reading and for commenting! We look forward to checking out site. God bless.

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