In our recent blog post for http://www.PsychologyToday.com, discussing the infidelity of Arnold Schwarzenegger, we pointed out how our three-decades of research on successful marriage around world clearly supported this simple notion – infidelity in a marriage or relationship is rarely forgiven – infidelity is, for the most part, an unpardonable act.
The following three very important paragraphs were included in our post because, believe it or not, there are liars and cheats amongst us who believe that infidelity is forgivable and excusable. Some who wrote us even said it was “normal,” “encouraged” and “acceptable” in some parts of the world.
We responded to those who are morally bankrupt with the following three paragraphs:
“And to those doubting Thomas’s who believe that cheating on your spouse—engaging in acts of infidelity with the one you purport to love more than life itself—doesn’t matter, well, we have several questions for you.
Do you have someone in your life that you trust completely and unequivocally? Do you have a friend who trusts you back just the same? Is there someone in your life that you would lay down your life for? Is there someone in your life that would do the same for you?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then ask yourself this one final question—if either my trustworthy friend or I violated the aforementioned trust before us, would I still say that infidelity is okay? If you say ‘yes’ then you are a person without principle—a person someone else cannot trust. Tell us infidelity doesn’t matter!”
Let’s take a further look at this notion by asking the following additional questions that we think will prove our point:
Ask yourself this question – “Do I have a best friend?” If the answer is “Yes” ask yourself this second question – “Would I ever betray my friend and consider such action an acceptable act?”
Or what about this? Have you ever completed a deal with a handshake, made a promise to someone you intended to keep, entered into a contract that you were morally and legally bound to uphold?
We would offer the following – if your answer is “yes” to any of the questions, then ask yourself this – why is a marriage you have entered into not worthy of the same consideration? Why would you tell someone you love them, make promises to them, enter into a contract with them, and then betray them by engaging in infidelity?
Be honest with yourself and with others. If you believe that infidelity with your spouse or lover is acceptable, then you also believe that a “handshake” doesn’t matter, that a commitment is just a bunch of meaningless words, that friends can be betrayed with impunity, and that a written contract is worth no more than the paper it is written on.
Those who wrote us and suggested that infidelity is AOK and acceptable – we say to you – you are a hypocrite! If you would violate the relationship you have with another person you purport to love, then you are guilty of betrayal. There are no if’s, and’s, and but’s, about it.
The bottom line is this – those who believe that lying, cheating, and engaging in acts of infidelity are okay is someone who is morally bankrupt. Such a person has a worthless handshake. And the truth is this – do not expect such a person to honor a commitment. One cannot cheat on a spouse and then rationalize that such an act is okay and that just because some do, it is acceptable.
Please, spare us the hypocrisy.