I loved sports cards when I was in the 4th grade; collected, traded, and talked about them in class. I also combed through many Beckett price guides trying to figure out how much they’re worth (anyone else remember combing through a Beckett?). One day I was browsing various card packages at K-Mart when I noticed someone had already opened a pack and put it back on the shelf. Even though I knew I’d be stealing, everything in me wanted to take the cards out of the already opened package and stuff them in my back pockets. That particular day I was able to refrain and left feeling a sense of personal pride. However, the thought of what I missed out on lingered.
My lingering curiosity got the best of me and over the next month or so I’d visit the sports card section of any store we visited hoping to find another opened package. Guess what? I did. I found several. Starting off I would only take 1 card, then 2, then 3. Before I knew it I was stealing not only opened packages, but also unopened packages of cards. I knew my parents would be disappointed. I knew, but I did it anyway.
I’d like to blame it on being a young kid with an undeveloped pre-frontal cortex. If we’re honest with ourself, the struggle between doing what feels good and doing what is right does not end. It doesn’t end when you turn 9, 29, or when you get married. It will always be a part of the human experience. I didn’t walk into K-Mart that first day deciding to be a serial stealer of sports cards. It was a series of decisions over time. Each time choosing to take one step closer to what I eventually became.
Infidelity isn’t a choice. It is a series of choices.
I promise this isn’t a blog bashing people who chose to cheat. This is a blog hoping to encourage you. It’s possible to find your way back if you’ve found yourself lost in a series of bad decisions. I know you didn’t get married thinking, “One day, I’m going to cheat on my spouse, cause them great emotional harm, affect the life of my kids, and bring instability to my family.”
Outside of mental health disorders, it typically starts with feeling unsatisfied in a particular area of the relationship. This dissatisfaction then presents an opportunity to make choice:
Have a vulnerable conversation with your partner about your dissatisfaction. You discuss how you may have contributed to the current problem, your love for them, and wanting to discuss how things can be different for you both moving forward.
You withdraw, become resentful, and continue living in a relationship where your partner doesn’t understand why you’ve become so frustrated. This first choice typically starts a feedback loop, positive or negative, that produces more choices with the same consequences.
The more a person wallows in their resentment, the less positive they’re able to think about their spouse. This is a dangerous place to be because our brain is wired to maintain intimate connections. We put ourselves in a vulnerable position to receive them elsewhere than our spouse when we don’t maintain them.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog. It’ll cover the choices a person must make to turn toward their spouse in an emotional deficit instead of turning away and meeting the need elsewhere.
Give Amy Wine Counseling Center a call at 832-421-8714 if you have questions about our therapeutic services or would like to make an appointment.