It’s Not Real and It’s Not Romantic

Posted on January 23, 2021


This one is going to sound like a bit of a rant.  Oh well.  It is probably worthy of a rant.

I recently finished a thoroughly wretched novel.  It was The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult.  It is perhaps the lamest excuse for adultery since The Bridges of Madison County.  Small spoiler alert:  The basic premise is that a woman has been married to a man for 15 years who 1) treats her well; 2) loves her; 3) is a devoted father; 4) is a good provider; and 5) is a satisfying lover.  Yet she still carries a torch for the man with whom she had a relationship prior to the relationship with her husband.  With the other man, they spent three years not liking each other and a few weeks as lovers before she needed to leave him to be with her dying mother and her soon to be orphaned younger brother.  Yet he remains the great love of her life.  Big spoiler alert: She abandons her husband and daughter for 6 weeks to go reconnect with her former lover at an archaeological dig in Egypt.  Massive spoiler alertThey resume their affair.  He breaks it off with his fiancé and she brings him back home with her. 

That is not romance, that is madness. 

It’s not love; it’s wanton cruelty to the ones who love you. 

And it’s not real.  Affairs are never real life.  The advantage is always to the affair partner.  Creating a little compartment for the affair partner is very different from doing life together.  The affair partner does not have to stand up to the scrutiny of daily life. 

It’s not worth it.  I have yet to have anyone in my office in the aftermath of an affair who said, “I’m still glad I did it.  My life is better for the experience.” 

Love may be something you feel.  But it is still defined by what you choose to do.  Romance is continuing to express love, affection, consideration, and commitment for your partner, not feeling breathless when you kiss. 

Let me do a couple of public services here. 

First is to contaminate the fantasy.  However, you idolize a past romantic partner (or a potential one), it isn’t real.  The person is just as broken as your mate is.  You would be much better served to focus on the things you love about your mate.  Further, that other person would also discover over time that you are not as perfect as you seemed when the romance was blazing.  It feels great to have someone think you are amazing and wonderful.  It is much more meaningful to have someone still love you after decades of doing life with you.

Second, do not look up your old flame on Facebook or Instagram.  Don’t even go there.  If you look that person up, you have already crossed a boundary you shouldn’t cross.  If you have and you are keeping that secret from your partner, that is already infidelity. 

One of the enemy’s favorite lies is, “You would be happier with someone else.  You deserve a better partner.  You deserve to be happy.”  It’s not true.  A better route to happiness is being a great spouse yourself.    

If people would quit romanticizing the idea of how your life would be different (better) if you had chosen a different partner, I might be able to retire.  Just sayin’.

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