The Grass Isn’t Greener

greener

For some reason I have been receiving quite a few messages lately from people who are looking for my validation of their decision to a) have an affair, b) continue an affair, c) abandon their unsuspecting spouse or d) all of the above.

Umm…do they realize who they’re messaging? Do they honestly expect that I’m going to give them a stamp of approval and send them on their merry, marriage-detroying ways? I mean, yes, I’m in a better place than I’ve ever been after facing my husband’s infidelity and abandonment, but that doesn’t mean I endorse that as a life-affirming event. I would have preferred a cruise.

I usually take a little time to breathe before composing my responses. I want to ensure that I’m not coming from a place of my personal experience or reacting defensively. After all, even though these folks are looking for approval, they may also be asking for help. And there’s a chance that what I say may register.

There are some common themes in all of the messages I receive in this category. They all tell me that their spouse would be better off without them. They all speak of interest in another man or woman. They all seem hesitant to speak to their spouse.

And most of all, the attention is focused outside of the marriage.

Well, then, it’s no wonder the marriage is floundering. How can you expect a marriage to flourish when your efforts are spent elsewhere? Before you diagnose your marriage with a fatal case of failure to thrive, feed it. Nurture it. Give your marriage the attention you’re giving your escape plans.

Your intentions drive your attentions. If you’re committed to leaving, your focus will be on your exit.

So, before you call it quits, make staying your intention. At least for a while.

Now, attention is no Miracle Grow. Your marriage may have fatal defects or may have been starved for too long to ever thrive. But, at least give it a try before you leave it for dead.

One person asked me if he owed it to his wife to stay.

No. That’s just a breeding ground for resentment and contempt.

But he does owe it to his wife to at least try to nurture the marriage before making the decision. He does owe it to his wife to end things in a kind and mature manner, if it comes to that. And, he does owe it to his wife to not use her for excuse or blame.

The grass isn’t greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it.

So, stop blaming your spouse, stop pretending that you’re doing this to help him or her and pick up the damn watering can and water your marriage.

Okay, public service announcement over. Now back to our regularly scheduled program:)

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50 thoughts on “The Grass Isn’t Greener

  1. Wow-it is amazing to hear that people actually ask for permission and approval to continue their adultery.

    You mentioned a man who asked if her owned it to his wife ? Have anyone asked if they owed it to their children ? Asked if they owed it tot heir children to work on their marriage ? If they don’t have children not sure what they would be worried about.

    What is apparent in this permission asking is how common place adultery is and do believe it is more common for both genders and that women simply do not admit to it as men.

    The woman I married was an expert in concealment and disingenuous behavior, (skilled lier) and although her funeral was in September, I will never forgive her actions and behavior. I am not one that believes not all actions deserved to be forgiven. Adultery is a choice. An adult asking for permission to continue their adultery ?

    Karma has two hands. One holds love and kindness and the other does not. I witnessed a woman revel in her adultery believing she was entitled to it and continued to do so until pancreatic cancer put her on her back in bed for eight months until her death.

    Of course not all adulterous and abusive spouses experience that same sentence but perhaps if they did, perhaps husbands and wife’s might consider treating one another with a lot more decency. Perhaps if they just can’t keep their pants up then perhaps they could show the spouse they exchanged vows with a little more decency than asking a woman on line for permission and instead asking an attorney to file paperwork to end the marriage.

    1. It’s interesting, not one of these messages has ever mentioned children. I wonder if they are not present or if the letter writer is intentionally not thinking about them because then they would have to reflect on the impact their actions has on the kids?

  2. Before you diagnose your marriage with a fatal case of failure to thrive, feed it. Nurture it. Give your marriage the attention you’re giving your escape plans.

    That there. Powerful stuff.

      1. I wish I had the opportunity to do just that…water it…nurture it. I agree that is a powerful statement. I am learning so much from you. I wish I had all these tools before being blindsided and abandoned.

  3. Gosh there are so many things which resonated. It makes me angry in a way. I stayed and tried for 10 years, and when I finally made the choice to leave, it wasn’t because I had someone else waiting in the wings. My ex was abusive, and his attentions WERE tuned outside of the marriage. He converted to another religion and was looking for another wife, because I guess one just wasn’t enough for him. I would like to think if he’d turned his attention to our marriage things might have played out differently, however in my case the relationship was abusive, and his search for another souse was just another device with which he could cause me pain. I’m not sure there’s much that could have turned that ship around, however his quest for another woman was painful and forced me to make a choice I didn’t want to make. I stayed so long because of angst over how a divorce would impact the children vs. the angst of what it was doing to them for me to stay with him. I get angry when people so flippantly decide they’re not happy and decide to cheat. If you’re unhappy and want out, have the decency to be honest with your spouse and yourself. To me, an affair is a passive aggressive way to end something you don’t have the courage or the decency to admit you want out of. Often I hear the excuse they’re trying to spare the other person’s feelings, but all it ends up doing is causing far more pain than a clean break would. My current husband and I have an agreement. We both know divorce is an option because, well, we’ve both been divorced. We’ve agreed to be honest with each other if ever we find ourselves unhappy and discontent. The first step then of course would be to see what we can do to fix things. And if it’s unfixable, then we’ll have to look at the last and final option, which is divorce, not adultery.

    1. One of the most difficult things to realize is that we cannot control our spouse’s choices. Marriage really does take two and when one turns away, the other is left making a difficult choice.

      And passive aggressive? Absolutely.

  4. I have to admit that I wouldn’t have had much of an opinion on this if I hadn’t been cheated on myself. I had no idea how it felt until now. And now, like you, I’d never encourage an affair. You responded nicer than I would have, I’ll admit.
    In the weeks after my husband and I split up I said to him often that he had the right to leave the marriage, but he no longer had the right to keep hurting me. And he was being unnecessarily cruel and cold. I guess that helped him cope with his own guilt. And yes, every word out of his mouth is basically to blame me for his affair.
    In the end, I have to control how I respond to what he says and does. I can’t expect him to behave the way he “should.”
    Your post was very articulate. I hope even one person who is thinking of cheating or is cheating, will hear it.

    1. I hope so too. It is very common for the betrayer to blame the betrayed. And, for the betrayed, it is a challenge to understand and come to terms with the role you had in the marriage while not talking on the full weight of the burden. There is a difference between taking the blame for another’s actions and accepting responsibility for your own.

  5. Infidelity isn’t only a sign of a disconnect in the marriage. There’s also a disconnect in the person doing the cheating. Figure out what you’re missing as a person first, then figure out what’s missing in the marriage that made you stray in the first place. All this takes time, attention, and thoughtfulness. Then, hopefully, the Miracle Grow will work it’s magic.

    1. Often the only thing missing in a marriage where one party is cheating is a faithful spouse. Yes, there’s ONE faithful spouse missing from such a marriage. That’s it. Most cheaters don’t need much to cheat, just an opportunity. I’m so sick of ” the marriage” being blamed for creating conditions that lead to cheating. No marriage is perfect. The expectation of fidelity shouldn’t defend on any so-called “state of the marriage.” Remember, “for better or for worse”? Stop blaming the marriage! Cheaters cheat because they want to, because they lack a whole lot of things that people need to keep promises and because they could. It’s all on them and until we stop blaming the state of the marriage, people will keep cheating. Put the blame where it belongs, 100% of the time (in the media, in counseling, everywhere) and maybe these fools will think before they act. But as long as we talk about the state of the marriage in the same conversation as cheating, cheaters will feel entitled. It reminds me of saying an employer who paid lower wages shouldn’t be surprised when an employee embezzles.

  6. Reblogged this on Solving Maria and commented:
    Wise words from a wonderful blog. Adam made up his mind before considering an alternative. Our “therapist” condoned it after stating it wasn’t in his nature to change his mind. And the first thing he did after our first therapy session was to call his “girlfriend”. He claimed he tried. Actions speak louder than words. Since all of his words are lies…well I’ll let you finish the sentence.

  7. Well said — you have to nurture and feed the relationship. The minute one party cheats, it means he/she has given up.

    When I found out my Ex (who I believe to be a sociopath thanks to therapy) was having an affair, I would tell people that by having an affair, my Ex gave his mistress (now his wife) a WINDOW into our marriage and in return he gave me a WALL.

    I had no idea. None. As my long time dentist said to her receptionist when her reception asked me, “Do you think she knows what you look like?” my Dentist said, “Rest assured, she knows everything about Susan (that’s me), before Susan even knew she existed.”

    It still creeps me out to think that this woman who I non-affectionately refer to as “Troll Face” knows all about me, down to every last detail as well as the inner workings of my former marriage to my Ex (who I non-affectionately refer to as Tin Man).

    I later found out she ended her marriage to be with my Ex and he left me to be with her.

    A match made in heaven. Ha!

    Good luck to the both of them. They are going to need it.

    1. The truth is, Susan, is that she knows every last thing he told her, most of which isn’t true. It’s not like cheaters (who are liars) are telling their affair partners (who are also cheaters/liars) the truth. They tell them things to support their position, to justify their lies, to bolster their ego which built on a less than solid foundation. Oh, I’m sure he’s shared some factual information with Troll Face. Like, where you work or what kind of car you drive. Beyond that, you can bet your life’s savings that the rest of it is just a big fat bunch of lies, designed to make him look like he had no choice but to pork ole Troll Face. Be glad you are rid of the idiot.

  8. Inevitably, every discussion about infidelity gets around to what was wrong in the marriage. Folks, sometimes the only thing wrong with the marriage is that one spouse was cheating! It’s really insulting to the betrayed partner to bring up the state of the marriage. Does a marriage have to be perfect (impossible) in order to expect fidelity? Of course not! To even bring up the state of the marriage is to place blame on the betrayed party. Because they are, in part, responsible fir the state of the marriage. That someone cheated and the state of the marriage are two separate and UNRELATED issues. Yes, unrelated. Because the state of the marriage isn’t a reason or an excuse for cheating. I won’t rest until the adultery conversation doesn’t even include mention of the stare if the marriage, except to say that adultery never improved a marriage. Cheaters suck, that’s the bottom line. They just do.

    1. I agree that pinpointing infidelity solely on the state of the marriage is shortsighted (at best) and victim blaming (at worst). However, I also think it benefits the cheated-upon to be able to look at the bigger picture and see what role he/she played in the situation. I am not to blame for my husband’s cheating (that was his choice and his choice alone), yet I can take responsibility for some of my traits and behaviors that contributed to the bigger picture. By addressing those areas within myself, I’ve become healthier and happier despite his infidelities. He cheated because of holes within himself (not the marriage). But that doesn’t mean the marriage was perfect and it doesn’t mean I can’t learn from the ordeal.

  9. I believe the state of the marriage is totally irrelevant. No marriage is perfect. No marriage can be perfect. I firmly believe that to pair up the two issues, infidelity and the state of the marriage prior to it, is to completely miss the point on what caused the infidelity. You are buying into responsibility, but you think you are doing something along the lines of self-improvement. It’s a subtle mind-f*ck, that “I can be a better partner” stuff. Be prepared to ALWAYS be responsible for the poor choices of your partner. How perfect do you have to be to keep them faithful? I’ve been where you are. I took responsibility for my part! I was going to be a better person! Twenty years later, he did it again, while I was busy with nursing school. It’s a rat race. You can’t win it. It’s not the marriage, ever, and there was never something so wrong with you that he decided to cheat. EVER. It’s them.

  10. Just to be clear, I don’t think there is a “big picture” when it comes to infidelity. Or any other form of compulsive lying. I think infidelity is in the same bag as compulsive gambling, partying, embezzlement, and any other behaviors that require one to lie like a dirty dog in order to get whatever it is that feeds their unhealthy brain pleasure center. People who engage in these behaviors love it when the very people they hurt (destroy, even) think they contributed to some sort of big picture that made their partner act a fool. I even know someone who had affairs AND embezzled money, and just like I predicted, he blamed BOTH on his wife. And as long as we keep thinking we are doing the right thing by reflecting on what we did to create some sort of bad big picture, they will keep screwing up and screwing us over. Indeed, infidelity is like the big hold out…it’s still popular to say the big picture applies. And it gives potential cheaters the illusion that they are justified, entitled. Funny how so many of them characterize their spouses as loving prior to the affair starting, but once they engage in affair behavior and certainly when they are caught, suddenly their spouse is downright evil. It’s a scam folks. It’s a big ole scam. You can’t self-improve enough to change things. The hole is inside of them. They need to fix their own selves and leave the marriage and us out of that. We never made anyone f*ck someone else.

    1. I agree with Carol, the marriage has nothing to do with why they strayed. Nobody ever gets into a fight with their spouse, slams the door … and goes to find themselves a hookup. It is merely an excuse everyone provides to the cheater, to relieve his/her concience.

      Rather, the cheater needed the ego boost of having someone else find them attractive, having someone else admire/appreciate them. And they let themselves get addicted to it, they let it become more important than their spouse. The spouse has no hope in h*ll to compete with the new person, it’s like teenagers to their parents.

      And when they cross the line into physical relationship – they need to cope with their guilt of what they’ve done … no matter how much they’ve justified it – their brain always knows they betrayed their spouses trust. They know if the shoe was on the other foot – they would be outraged, devastated, etc. They KNOW they don’t deserve your forgiveness, because they would not easily forgive you. So instead of trying the sorry, I was wrong route … they firebomb their previous relationship so they have no choice be to go to the new one. And they deflect and bury their guilt by blaming their spouse for not being / doing / giving __________ enough. It’s easier for the brain to find excuses, than to accept responsibility, and make amends.

      It’s not you, or your marriage … it’s them, all them.

      I know, because I did it. And now I recognize it.

  11. I like this post because I started to have an affair before I actually realized that was never, ever going to solve the problems within my marriage. Those challenges were insurmountable and looking outside the marriage wasn’t going to make the marriage better, or even me, it was only adding a layer of complexity and making me into something I didn’t want to become. I am glad I had my affair for other reasons, I learned what I needed to be strong enough to get out of my marriage – but you are 100% right – no affair is the solution to a bad marriage – you must fix what’s broken, starting with yourself.

  12. This is one awesome post, I have come back time and again to re-read it because it is so well written and so true.

    I only wish I had read it before my ex withdrew from the marriage and was unfaithful. Maybe if I had shown it to him, he may have reconsidered he actions. Or maybe he would have just done what he wanted anyway, who knows. But I know he didn’t put enough effort into watering our marriage. And I know if I ever have another relationship, I will try to ensure my grass is well nurtured.

    Thank you.

  13. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence, but it’s always greener above the septic tank…

    Statistics show that 60-70% of all divorces are initiated the women, and their husbands are usually left dumfounded when the bomb is dropped on them. There are even books written about how women will pick any irrational excuse under the sun to justify their actions…

  14. I love that this post is still getting so much attention almost a year later after you posted it. But that goes to show how important it is to choose a good title that makes people curious and then… to be a good writer to keep them there after the first few sentences, which you totally do!!! I loved this post. I loved what you said. I was one that probably would have asked for permission back a few years ago. But I love what you have said here it is spot on!

    most of all, the attention is focused outside of the marriage.
    Well, then, it’s no wonder the marriage is floundering. How can you expect a marriage to flourish when your efforts are spent elsewhere? Before you diagnose your marriage with a fatal case of failure to thrive, feed it. Nurture it. Give your marriage the attention you’re giving your escape plans.

    I can testify that the above was so right. I’d checked out. And the key word is “I”. I never even noticed how my husband was loving me through all the crap I put him through. My First love found me on facebook. And I actually felt entitled to get closure. WHATEVER! I now see that the grass is never greener and you are right. If you water your own side of the fence, it will get green again!!!! YOU my friend are a FIND! Don’t ever stop sharing! Your writing is the kind that makes me peek through other doors here. So please don’t mind me if you start getting LIKES from months ago. If anyone wandered through my old doors after reading this, they could totally see where I was coming from as I struggled back in 2011. And slowly found my way back to the watering can in my own backyard!!! 😉
    I have just finished a rough draft of my story. How subtle it begins and how like a weed it can overtake your life. Even the good ones that are moral and honest (or have always thought themselves to be) can step in that trap that sends you down a rabbit hole of becoming someone else.
    I wish I’d found this blog four years ago!
    xoxo
    di

  15. They don’t mention the children because they don’t care about anything when they are cheating. They don’t care about the children’s feelings. It’s all about themselves. My ex wife cheated on me and let me tell you it’s like if the kids are an obstacle. The more I tried to knock some sense in her the more she hated me. Long story short she has been struggling since we divorced.

  16. What about the kids is right!! Yes I may sound angry and yes I am.

    my daughter has epilepsy and my soon to be ex had the kids for his weekend when he run out of her meds he also didn’t tell me when he dropped them off she hadn’t had her medication for four days until I noticed somethings was wrong he then claims he couldn’t get her a script from the doctor because he was to busy, he didn’t bother to ask me to drop any off because it not that big a deal if she doesn’t have them for a few days. Just show how much the kids really mean after all he found the time to go swimming and have his mats over for time on the PlayStation, and be the fun time dad, he then said it was my fault for not giving him extra medication for her.

    Another time his affair partner gave my daughter her herbal supplements without his knowledge or consent and without knowing what medication my daughter takes and when I found out and questions him and stated that it is not ok for her to do that he yelled at me for being a nasty b$tch and trying to make his girlfriend look bad and I should have been more grateful to his girlfriend for giving it to my daughter and that it was this type of behaviour from me that forced him to leave me.

    I should mention that his girlfriend is into sprititual vibrational healing and told my children that the should spend more time in water as it will cleanse their souls… I’m sorry but what the hell what 9&10 year olds need the soul cleansed.

    I just can’t understand why he wasn’t upset with her for not checking with him first or even telling him she had given his child stuff that could have had dyer consequences.

    But the truth is most of these parents/partners are just spoil pratts that feel the are entitled to to what the like when they like and have total control of others and not be held to any responsibilities we become nothing more then their object or toy. Yes we play a role in allowing this but not the way they want us to believe after 12 years together and 10 years of marriage we try under the pretens that we are on a equal playing field but it’s just an illusion.

    These people are so selfish and spoiled they don’t believe the need to water their own grass because they can just move on to someone else every time and never have to work for it.

    In they end they broke up two families and are upset because they aren’t held as the hero, it all EGO.
    My ex actually believes he is a victim that had to leave to be with his soulmate and that he should be viewed be me and everyone as a top bloke because he saved his girlfriend from her horrible husband and he even said to me his wife at the time that I should be proud respectful of him for standing be her the way he did when she need him, I was his wife I needed his support to I had just lost my grandfather, our daughter was having seizures and I had two other kids, his kids to look after and where was he, off with her.

    You are right the grass is greener where you water it but you have to start with yourself first an stop letting them walk over take back your power you get a good lawyer and realise your value, as the betrayed spouse is the one that was honest loyal and has integrity and that is truly a valuable and powerful tool to hold and remember it doesn’t mater what way you put it, it is alway an affair down because they are going with someone who the know is a liar and capable of cheating and can not be trusted around others or take accountability and if the third person don’t know that they are dating a married person then they know something is not right and they haven’t got the the balls to ask what and why things aren’t adding up which doesn’t make them a victim it means that that don’t value themselves and are will to be manipulated and lied to and that’s their own choice but the will also cry victim at the end of it and claim to have been used

    I would rather be honest and open then be in that position and at least be able to choose for myself because at the end we all have free will and we can choose for ourselves.

    you can be or live with anyone or leave anyone for another but you can never run from yourself and at least I can say I’m someone I can accept to live with.

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