PSA: Blog Safety

I want to be very careful in how I address this topic because I want to bring up a serious concern without being all “creepy internet guy.”

The topic is how to safely blog without giving away enough personal information to make you vulnerable. I’ve hinted at, but never come out and said, what it is I do for a living. I’m something of a jack of all trades when it comes to technology and I employ my skills wherever they are needed throughout the US and, in some cases, outside the US. One of the skills I’ve acquired over the last 20 years is computer security. Continue reading

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Do Brits Blog?

I was just sitting here, reading the very excellent 20Something and Divorced and reflecting on the number of Aussie bloggers I follow or who follow me. Just based on the percentage of English speaking countries, I would expect about 1 for every 10 US blogger, but it’s actually more like 2-3. I’ve seen several Kiwis who blog – so many in fact that I’ve wondered if any of them know each other – there’s only 4 million people in the whole country. Canada seems to be a bit underrepresented – I only know for sure about 2-3 who I’ve interacted with, but I get a few hits every day from the great white north.

The black hole in terms of English speaking countries seems to be the UK. I don’t think I’ve seen any blogs written by Brits and the only commented I can recall who was from the UK was that Muslim commenter I had back in September. A big day for me is 2 hits from all of the UK. This despite the fact that the UK has a population greater than Canada, Australia, and New Zealand combined.

So do Brits just not blog about affairs or am I missing something? I wonder if it’s a WordPress thing, like maybe everyone in UK uses Blogspot or something I haven’t heard of.

It’s all apropos of nothing, but these are the sort of things I wonder about when my mind goes “Squirrel!”

Carry on.

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Explaining and Excusing

This point of post is perhaps a bit overdue. I realized this after I told somebody off in the comments. Among the problems I had with their original comment was they confused my explanations of what I did, of how I felt, and of what I thought, with excuses for the inexcusable thing I did.

Before I get any further, let me say a couple of things to set the ground rules for this conversation. First, there is no excuse for having an affair. No matter what the situation is or was, there was always another choice that didn’t involve violating your or someone else’s marriage vows. The second is a corollary to the first: the only person responsible for an affair is the cheating spouse. That person is without excuse and cannot blame the affair on the affair partner, the faithful spouse, a rotten childhood, or anything else.

I’ve made those two points in various ways and in various posts, but the point can get muddled when I start talking about how I was feeling or what I was thinking nearly two years ago. I don’t want muddled thinking because muddled thinking can quickly turn into hurt feelings when I talk about affairs.

As for the explanations, I don’t think there is some big overarching way to look at it that describes the why of the affair. Instead there are many facets to it and many ways of looking at it. Blaming other people is not one of those facets, although it is a way that some people choose to look at and explain an affair. I do not.

So what can we say about why I had an affair? All of the following statements are correct: “it was an act of selfishness”, “it was an act of stupidity”, “I was a fool”, “I fooled myself”, “it was an act of rebellion against God”, “it was a betrayal of my wife, family, and friends”, “I broke my marriage vows”, “I was in a fog that confused my thinking”, “I was caught in a vortex of my sin which I found difficult to escape”, “I was addicted to the affair”, “I wasn’t acting like myself/I wasn’t myself”, “I was depressed before it happened”, “I was in love*.”

The first one is a big one and undoubtedly true, but it’s hardly the overarching explanation of every affair that some take it to be. Ultimately, just about every bad thing we do is motivated by selfishness.

We are all selfish to one degree or another – it is literally in our nature to be selfish, regardless of whether you think we evolved or we were created and fell into sin. We all seek to have our wants or needs satisfied at the expense of what is right before God and society or what is good for others (including what is good for God, by the way, since Jesus paid for every sin on the cross). Even the first sin in the garden of Eden was an act of selfishness (also stupidity, self-deception, rebellion, etc).

My point is selfishness is a valid explanation, but not a complete explanation. I could make much the same argument about affairs and other sins being acts of arrogance. They would be just as correct but also just as incomplete.

The reason is that our motivations are rarely, if ever, simple. Exploring these other motivations doesn’t take away from the individual explanations, nor does it change the fact that the thing you’re explaining is sinful. The purpose of looking at things from all of those angles is not to excuse what you did, but to understand why you did it, thereby gaining more knowledge of yourself so you can fix it or avoid the sin in the future.

Statements about affairs being foggy, or like a vortex, or an addiction do not detract from the selfishness, arrogance, or sinfulness of the affair. Those statements describe how it feels to be caught up in the sin and the difficulty of seeing and of choosing the right thing to do when the affair has taken over. The reason these statements are so common and are frequently seconded on blogs is because so many cheaters feel that way during the affair. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I do not deploy them to elicit sympathy. I think about them and write them to increase understanding of the affair and of the cheater.

Really, that’s what this blog has been about since the beginning. Through writing this blog, I’ve come to understand myself better, and in God’s graciousness he has given betrayed spouses better understanding through my writing, too. One of the things I understand more clearly now is just how much this is all my fault and that I’m without excuse. Because of that deeper understanding, I treasure my wife’s forgiveness and God’s grace more now than ever before. That simply wouldn’t be true if the explanations were excuses for what I did.

*I have a post on the topic of love in the affair, but I haven’t posted it yet. For now, let’s just say that it was a twisted sort of love, not pure or true love.

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New Recycled Post (with minimum 50% post-blogger content)

I wrote the following comment the other day in response to the post “Doubt” on Life.Post.Affair.

What you’re going through is perfectly normal. It takes time…

Nearly two years on, there are still days when I just need to hold my wife. There are still times when she’s alone, even just for a shower, and it’s enough for those thoughts to take over. But it does get better.

Every bad day or bad evening is a chance for you two to heal together and grow closer. They are not wasted.

Life.Post.Affair Wife (hereafter known as LPAWife) responded:

I love my husband, I understand that he made a horrible mistake, and I want a life with him still. I just can’t wrap my head around being “disposable” enough to him that he could cheat on me. I sometimes feel like the “cheater” and my husband are separate entities. The cheater is the one who hurt me, who put his selfish desires in front of everything else. My husband is a good man, who did an incredibly awful thing.

To which I wrote back:

I know what you mean. I thought I could pursue my selfish desires and, as long as I kept it compartmentalized, it wouldn’t hurt anyone. I tried to love my wife and be a good husband even as I was destroying her and our marriage.

It’s not easy to reconcile the two, especially when faced with what I had done, and it probably isn’t easy for your husband either. But the fact remains that I was both and I was neither. Both the marriage and the affair had become fantasies that I lived in, while the real me was incredibly sick and hurtful. There were times before the revelation that I physically felt like I was being pulled in two different directions as the cognitive dissonance tore me apart.

Eventually you both have to realize that he wasn’t who either of you thought he was. Moving forward, he has to rise from the ashes as a new man, wiser and kinder from his self-imolation. Hopefully he realizes how blessed he is to have you beside him. I couldn’t have done it without my wife, for whom I’m eternally grateful.

The reason I’m posting this, besides the fact that I have three or four posts stuck in perma-draft, is that I shared this with my wife and she really liked what I wrote. It was meant to be just a couple of encouraging comments, but I ended up neatly summarizing my downfall and our recovery.

I think it’s important to realize that the person who cheated is the same person who was a wonderful (or maybe not so wonderful) spouse for all those years before the affair. No matter how much either the cheater or the cheated tries to split those two sides of the coin apart, they are still the same coin, and those two people are really just two aspects of the same broken person.

On the other hand, affairs can be incredibly destructive. They obviously destroy marriages and families, but they also destroy individuals. Whether we chose that destruction or had it inflicted upon us, each of us has a choice whether the person who emerges from that destruction is rebuilt in the image of the old or built in the image of something new – something better or possibly something worse.

I am the same man who was self-righteous but loving for all those years. I’m also the same man who foolishly thought he could have his own way without hurting his wife so long as I was careful. But those things don’t define who I am now. What defines me now is how I act, how I think, how I feel, and how I respond to the destruction I’ve caused. In all those ways, I have chosen and continue to choose a different way, a better way. I choose to die to self.

Posted in The affair | Tagged , , , , , | 44 Comments

PSA: Know Your Timezones

This is off-topic, but I need to get something off my chest. There are a lot of people out there who don’t understand how time zones work. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine.

Just a bit ago, I received a work email where the sender (who lives in another part of the country) repeatedly said such and such meeting will be at 9:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4). Now, it would have been bad enough if he had just said “9:00 AM EDT”, but he took the time to spell out what EDT means and what its offset from UTC was. Continue reading

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Updated Links

Since getting back on the saddle with this blog, I’ve been looking around at some other blogs. Excited is not exactly the word I would use to describe the fact that there are some new blogs dealing with infidelity. It breaks my heart to see new people going through the pain of infidelity. Nevertheless, there are some new, well-written blogs in my links side-bar. Have a look if you’re interested in reading some new perspectives on this wonderful road we’re all shuffling down.

It bears repeating that I’m sorry for anyone who is reading this who has been cheated on and I’m also sorry for anyone who has finally woken up and realized what they’ve done to their spouse. This sucks, but don’t give up hope. It will get better. You will survive. There is healing, and yes, there is such a thing as repentance and reconciliation.

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It’s Not You, It’s Sin

I was talking to a good friend the other day about my struggles with pornography. Don’t worry, I haven’t fallen off the wagon, but I never completely forget that I’m on the wagon, either. Sometimes you have to grab onto the sides of the wagon a little tighter, you know what I mean? My friend knew. Continue reading

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