Recently, someone shared with me (I’ll call her Tracy) that she was carrying a tremendous burden from a situation that ENDED, not began but ended, some six years ago. It had been going on for five years prior to that. Consequently, this person has been riddled with guilt for eleven years… The clincher? It wasn’t even over something she had done, but something she unknowingly became a witness to.
What a mess! My conversation with her was utterly heartbreaking.
Don’t you hate it when, by no fault of your own, you’re in the middle of something you never sought out nor asked for? It ‘found’ you and all of a sudden, like it or not, you’re involved. Talk about grounds for a blowout pity party.
So then what? You’re forced to make decisions in a situation you’d rather have nothing to do with. Even ‘doing nothing’ is a decision, so one way or the other, you’re stuck making choices.
It really stinks. All the way around, it’s just plain unfair.
In this particular case, Tracy became aware of an extramarital affair her boss was having with a business associate. This woman knew both families involved and was filled with heartache, disgust, confusion, and grief. She described her plight as a “Front Row Seat to Adultery.”
She decided to say nothing, and consequently, the weight of her decision has eaten her up for more than a decade.
Should Tracy have said something? In hindsight, she believes she should have. I’m not necessarily convinced one way or the other.
We posed this question on our Declutter Now! Facebook page and received a wide range of thoughtful responses. CLICK HERE TO READ RESPONSES. No answer seemed perfect, though. How could there be a perfect solution in the midst of a sea of negative behaviors? Lying, selfishness, and immorality are hardcore. There’s just no polite or tidy way to make them go away, and no easy way to address them.
I’ve been replaying this conversation in my head. Around and around it goes… but it never goes away. I almost wish I didn’t know either.
When I process, though, I often find solace in the positive takeaways, and even in this case, I’ve got a few, and they have to do with protecting and respecting your marriage:
- If you are married, honor that commitment at all costs or don’t get married to begin with. Too simple? Nah. Just the truth. Be the husband or the wife you promised to be. Stop making excuses, dodging responsibility, or behaving selfishly.
- If you are having problems in your marriage, address them early on and do whatever it takes to figure them out. Self-help books, classes, coaching, and counseling are great places to start. Seek information, learn, apply, and fix. Roll up your sleeves, stop complaining and instead, invest your energy into repairing your marriage.
- If your problems are past the point of no return or you are in an abusive situation, put a plan of action into play, leave immediately, and begin divorce proceedings. While I might not necessarily consider myself ‘pro’ divorce, I am fully aware that there are situations which absolutely warrant it. If this is the case, don’t drag it out, waste time or further endanger yourself. Get out safely, respectably, and quickly.
- Deal with your issues BEFORE you even remotely consider another relationship. There should be NO LINES crossed. None. Regardless of the situation. EVER.
- Realize that the consequences of searching outside the confines of your marriage for attention, company, conversation, financial assistance, affection, or sexual pleasure affects EVERYONE around you, including, but not limited to, your spouse, children, family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. EVERYONE. Don’t play the selfish, ignorant card. You don’t have the right.
If it sounds like I’m being a bit preachy, idealistic and judgmental, know this is the furthest from my agenda…or the truth. I may not have made the SAME mistakes as this pair, but I’ve made some doozies of my own and I’ve learned the hard way. I’ve seen the damaging and devastating result of horrific choices, some of which I’ve personally been responsible for, and I’ve accumulated my own healthy share of regret.
I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. But this doesn’t disqualify me from speaking truth and trying to make a positive difference. If the only ones entitled to teach were those without flaws, we’d be sorely lacking any access to guidance and wisdom born from experience. The whole premise of life coaching is to coach to something you’ve walked through, survived, and thrived beyond.
Also worth heeding is Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” If God meant this for all ‘others’, don’t you think it’s even more applicable and important for you to treat your spouse this way?
Don’t risk destroying your spouse and your marriage, and don’t force anyone into a ‘Front Row Seat to Adultery’. Declutter even the possibility of guilt, shame, regret, selfishness, and destructive behaviors by keeping negative choices at bay. Appreciate and enjoy the marriage you were meant to have. Blessings to you and your marriage!
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