Since this train-wreck of a story unfolded, we have learned that millions of spouses were having affairs, using the website AshleyMadison.com. The site was famously hacked this year, and now the names, sexual proclivities, addresses and other personal data of subscribers have been dumped onto the internet for the world to see. Many of those who have been exposed are now anxiously waiting to see if their names will be splashed on the internet, humiliating them and worse, their families.
So that this did not happen in vain, what can we learn about marriage from this situation? What leads to one becoming so disconnected from their spouse that they would risk straying?
Here are seven lessons from the Ashley Madison scandal – scenarios to avoid so that you or your spouse do not end up down that road, putting yourselves and your marriage at risk.
- Choose the right spouse. Some relationships are wrong from the start. These couples simply should not marry one another. Once kids come along, these spouses can feel trapped. If you are unsure in any way whatsoever because your relationship is bad before marriage, and you cannot sort out your issues, DO NOT MARRY THIS PERSON!
- Maybe you aren’t the “marrying type.” Marriage is not for everyone. Some people should not get married for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they are incurably selfish, they dislike commitment, or they just do not have the personality for a lifetime union. Some find monogamy to be boring or impossible. If your desires are inconsistent with the traits that sustain a marriage (such as selflessness, commitment, monogamy, compromise), then marriage may simply not be for you. Getting married despite these personality traits can cause serious problems down the road for you and your family.
- Marry at the right age. According to the “Goldilocks Theory” of marriage, the best age to wed is the late 20’s to early 30’s. This timeframe is “just right.” Getting married too young is too risky. You have a lot of growing and maturing to do. You will make a better choice in many areas of your life when you are older and wiser. On the other hand, getting married too old when you are set in your ways or you find yourself “settling” can lead to problems, as well.
- Get a prenuptial agreement if you need one. I often hear that older, wealthy men (and probably some women) do not want to divorce because of the financial implications. If you entered a marriage with a fortune and did not protect it, you may stay unhappily married, not divorce, and cheat to satisfy your desires. Protect yourself financially from the beginning. It will help you to leave a bad marriage if you need to, without having to resort to an affair.
- Try to solve your marital problems together. Instead of cheating, go get help. Be real. Be brave. Tackle your issues head on with your spouse. Don’t take the cowardly path to try to make yourself feel better while sweeping your problems under the rug. If it’s a sexual addiction or compulsion triggering your behavior, this must be treated and your spouse should hopefully support your treatment.
- A sexless marriage is NOT AN OPTION. If you get married, you are committing to having a mutually satisfying sex life with your partner, barring some extreme physical limitation. If you do not want sex because you have an unsatisfying relationship, get professional help (see#5). For those of you who simply give up on the physical relationship just because you are never “in the mood,” this will lead to problems in your relationship and may push your partner towards infidelity.
- Simply don’t cheat! You will most likely get caught at some point. Technology has possibly made it easier to cheat, but at the same time, it is easier to get caught. You will be embarrassed and humiliated, and rightfully so. It is time to grow up and manage your sexual urges maturely. Channel your energy toward your spouse and saving your marriage!
The price people pay when they get caught cheating is incredibly high. Despite this, many take the risk. Think about the potential consequences. You are seriously betraying someone who loves you. You are not honoring the vows you made. You will be seen negatively in your children’s eyes. You may be putting your career in jeopardy. Your close friends will look down on you. You will be fodder for gossip for years to come. There are so many horror stories you hear regarding the fallout from infidelity.
Stop and ask yourself: it is really worth it?
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