A Hole in the Soul
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | November 2016 (Edited 2018)
Relationships must work through inevitable differences. Storing wrongs and using those hurts to justify infidelity is wrong, hurtful, and expresses weakness of character.
Some experiences rip right through our soul. Healing may take years. These painful moments also expose our strengths and weaknesses; our response becomes our legacy. Most of us—myself included—prefer to dispense with the wisdom and peacefully bypass painful instructions. But life is not so kind. We will encounter character defining moments many times over. We can’t wait to prepare. We don’t know when we will be called to act. We prepare daily through defining our ethics and strengthening our character.
The disloyalty of a cheating partner stabs deep, creating bitter hurt, shattering securities. Our stability crumbles, the ego is bruised, emotions burn, and health deteriorates. The emotions of fear, anger, and sadness rally together in a war against well-being. And while we grapple with the strong emotions, we must make timely and impactful decisions.
Most relationships struggle long before the affair; the illicit liaison is often a dramatic crescendo in a slow developing drama. The maturing relationship settles. Skilled partners work through the changes, develop enjoyable bonds, and go through life together. Others—less committed or less skilled—struggle with the cooling embers accompanying familiarity. The spark that once gave life to the relationship no longer ignites passions. When these embers cool, comparisons of our partner to alternative others suffer. We see the foibles of the person we lived with for years but only a limited picture of an outsider. Hardly a fair comparison.
Maturing relationship offers many gifts that exceed the fleeting excitement of a trounce in infidelity. Slowly built bonds of intimacy provide security and a shared life dispels loneliness.
Overtime, through unfettered openness we become known; once known, being loved despite the knowledge of our marks and scars wraps us in an unexplainable warmth. “I’m flawed but still loved.” New relationships are formed on misconceptions. The necessary time to know someone has not been invested. We haven’t seen them angry, sad, or hurt. New partners haven’t transversed the normal difficulties; they haven't worked together through each other’s weaknesses, ego protecting defenses, or resolved conflicts. These are all unknown and yet to be discovered. Time may prove the uncovering to lead to something very distasteful.
A severely neglected relationships offer neither security nor fleeting excitement. The causes are complex; but no matter the reason, skirting loyalty and breaking trust inflicts pain. Often, the offender justifies seeking outside solace as an escape from unaddressed wrongs; the building resentments lead to dissatisfaction and emptiness. A little flirt, a little conversation, and an innocent touch lights a fire. The feelings blind from rational judgment and an ignorant pursuit of pleasure charges down a path of tears and heartache, ripping apart bonds and creating wounds.
"New partners haven’t transversed the normal difficulties; they haven't worked together through each other’s weaknesses, ego protecting defenses, or resolved conflicts."
The unjustifiable is dangerously justified to sidesteps the guilt—missing the aid of a correcting emotion. Maybe unmodified guilt, rightfully accepting responsibility for illicit behaviors, may dissuade many from continuing on their selfish course.
If we catch the justifications early, we can scrutinize tempting behaviors and choose healthier options (marriage counseling). As the kind and compassionate beings that we believe ourselves to be, inflicting injury on someone we once proclaimed to love is unacceptable—a character flaw that must be examined. We are human. Relationship mistakes will be made. Healing is possible; but the broken trust from a pierced heart requires years to repair, not months. It is far easier to avoid devastating acts than to repair the devastation later. With strong levees and attentiveness, we can prevent the river of desire from destroying the bonds that took years to establish. Slow down, mindfully ask yourself, “What is it I am trying to accomplish here?”