A few years ago, I gave my word as a man before every human that I love–friend and family–as well as my beautiful bride and my God, that I would remain faithful to “Her” as long as I live. Now let me be clear: I completely out-punted my coverage, boys. This woman is beautiful and terrifyingly intelligent, and for whatever reason, she seems to love me quite unconditionally. If I have anything to say about it, I’ll be holding her hand on the day I take my last breath. So like any man with a goal that I care about, I wanna know how to get there, to conquer said goal mercilessly. If you’re a man who is, like me, crazy about his wife, then by all means, please enjoy these little nuggets of wisdom.
And to my female readers, please understand this: any man, even the best of men, will tussle a time or two in his life with the inconvenience that I like to call other attractive women. It has nothing at all to do with whether or not he loves his wife, and everything to do with the reality that men are wired differently than women (you know, like idiots). I know this in particular because when I first presented this article to my wife a few days ago, beaming with pride at being the obvious husband of the year, (“See how much I care about you, honey?”) she didn’t exactly see it the way I did. She had to set me straight on just how a woman might perceive these ideas. So again, allow me to clarify: these tools are not important because our wives are difficult to love, or because we have to constantly talk ourselves into staying. They are important because men, at times, are just that weak and foolhardy.
1. DECIDE that faithfulness is a goal.
First of all, if you don’t harbor a deep desire to remain faithful to your wife, that must be addressed. Like any other endeavor, truly seeing your marriage through to the end is going to take persistence, backed by desire. This decision can’t be based on emotion, because as any adult knows, emotions fluctuate, sometimes wildly! If I am simply riding the wave of romantic emotion, then the moment that honeymoon period wanes, or the first time my wife over cooks the meatloaf or nags me about that disgusting litter box, that emotion-based desire fades, and I’m left without important fuel needed to flame the fire of persistence. Therefore you must establish this goal as a fact, not a feeling. This will preserve your marriage, not just against infidelity, but in general.
Look at it this way. If you know want to get stronger, you work out. If you don’t work out when you don’t feel like it, you don’t get stronger. But if you decide that the pursuit of your goal is non-negotiable, regardless of how you feel, and you do work out–even when you don’t feel like it–you still get stronger! So you care about your marriage? Work out, even when you don’t feel like it. Here are the workouts…
2. ACKNOWLEDGE the temptation.
I have bad news. Your spouse, as attractive as she may be, is not the only good-looking woman out there. I remember finally summarizing this to my dad when I was in high school. What I wished was this: I wished God had created only one beautiful woman, and of all the billions of men in the world, I could be allowed to marry her, to the chagrin of every other guy, ever.
Of course, this simply isn’t reality. However, having acknowledged reality, it’s been generally much easier to accept the fact that there will ALWAYS be beautiful women out there, to whom I am not married, and that’s okay. It’s an annoyance at times, sure, but it’s the truth, and it bears addressing. Make your peace with that reality, grieve a little if you need to, and then move on. After all, you’ve got a damn good woman.
3. DISPEL the myth of what you “deserve”.
I am a musician by trade, and I can’t tell you the number of guys I’ve travelled with who are unfaithful to their wives or significant others on the road. Many of them are astonishingly blasé about it. I always get this sense around these boys (men are true to their word) that they are convinced that they are somehow exempt from the basic rules of integrity, honesty, monogamy. They feel as though they somehow deserve to indulge their urges. After all, they’re on the road and they haven’t seen their wives in a while, right? Regardless of the circumstances, you must immediately drop this idea that you have some right to something just because you want it. It doesn’t matter if it’s been a while, if your marriage is difficult or your wife is annoying or sick, you’re halfway around the world, or if you’re a self-diagnosed sex addict–it doesn’t matter. Drop the idea that you have a right, that you are somehow exempt.
This is Part I of a two-part series. See you in a couple days for the last three tips on how to fortify your marriage. Please tell us what tools and practices have helped you strengthen your marriage, and please share with anyone whom you think would appreciate these ideas!