Sunday, August 10, 2008


Dear Jennifer,

"Adultery." Heady subject line, I know. I was watching a music video by the Killers, "When You Were Young," which portrays a young woman's devastation when she walks in on her husband committing adultery with another woman. (The video operates in reverse chronology; the first scene depicts her on the edge of a cliff, and her husband rushing up in time to save her from casting herself off. There's an alternate ending apparently where he isn't fast enough.) The raw anguish depicted on her face as her memories turn to ashes both saddened and interested me, and I went looking for information on the emotional effects of adultery. This quote is the most interesting that I found (I'll underline the key parts):

In the following weeks our marriage teetered on the brink of disaster. Michelle would be ok one moment, and then something would trigger in her and she'd either start crying or go off on a burst of anger. Our married life became a volatile emotional roller coaster that I couldn't fix, and in fact my presence made it worse; all Michelle had to do was look at me to be tortured with the reminder of what I'd done. I couldn't comfort her because I was the one who'd hurt her, and when I touched her physically, even if it was just holding hands, it was as if I was rubbing salt in her wounds.
         At a loss for what to do I sought the advice of another Christian brother. John had committed adultery on his wife several years earlier, and his marriage had made it. When I asked John how long it took his wife to heal from his betrayal, John's response was short and to the point: "years."
        My mouth dropped. "Years ???" I said in disbelief. "Years ??? I thought surely you were going to say a few weeks or maybe even months… but… years??!!"
        "Yes, years" John repeated firmly. "The old marriage you had is dead and you have to build a new one. This is going to take a lot of time and effort on your part; you've got to kill her with kindness and win her all over again."    

         Today I know that John was right. It took two years before my wife was able to feel completely at ease when I traveled again. My all out efforts to break free from lust were critical; if I'd have continued to slip with porn or committed adultery again then she would have had no reason for hope, and our marriage would have been over.

The scripture says, "But he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it no more, thou shalt forgive; But if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out." Isn't that interesting? He gets one more shot and that's it--this is not a "seven times seventy" situation. I think the underlined comments are right on the mark: you're trying to build a new marriage, and if he messes up this one too there's no real way to recover trust. And without trust, there isn't any marriage. Even if you still care about each other, without trust there can't be any partnership.

Sorry for the ugly thoughts. Someone asked me recently what two adjectives describe my intrinsic nature. "Apodictic" (meaning "characterized by or possessing the nature of absolute certainty") was one, but I couldn't think of a good second one. Of course I should have said "curious." My thoughts go all kinds of strange places just so I can tell myself I've been there, sometimes to places that make me feel ill. Not necessarily a good thing, but it means I'll be prepared mentally and/or emotionally for many, many low-probability outcomes. Yeah, you're laughing, I can feel it.

Take care,

"The presentation or 'gift' of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment." --Joseph F. Smith (manual, p. 69)

Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.

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