On this Memorial Day, I had a really hard time deciding on a topic for today’s blog. On the one hand, I am not one of those folks who’s all “Rah Rah! U.S.A.! Red, white and blue! Let’s remember our soldiers who died for our freedom!” kind of gal. I have known friends who went to serve and were killed, and their whole family died with them that day. I have known friends who went to serve and did not die, but while they were gone their spouse cheated, in their grief they did what they were trained to do, and now their whole life is gone. I have known friends who went to serve and did not die, and they suffer for it to this day. I don’t swallow the story that “war defends us” or that sending the people we love to die is somehow good for us. Personally I think PEACE is much more patriotic, yet on this day I do remember my friends, and I do honor their sacrifice by doing what I believe shows them the most honor–I work for PEACE.
Yet how often do we do the same thing in our marriages, especially after an affair? How often do we continue the “war” because it profits us, rather than taking the risk of peace?
The loyal spouse is a lot like the soldier who went to war and now has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“triggers”). Much like our soldiers, the loyal spouse has been through something so traumatic that when something occurs that their mind associates with the trauma…they relive it. Part of ending the “war” of an affair is learning how to let go of the trauma triggers and live in the present. Another big part of ending the “war” is to put down your weapon–holding the affair over your disloyal’s head as your trump card to win all arguments.
The disloyal spouse is a lot like the soldier who went to war and then realized that murder is wrong and they shouldn’t be there. They justify what they’re doing (“just following orders”) but keep doing it and don’t leave. Much like our soldiers, for a disloyal spouse to stop doing what they know is wrong takes a great act of courage. Part of ending the “war” of an affair is to forgive yourself and change what you’re doing so that you boldly follow a moral code of honesty and faithfulness. Another big part of ending the “war” is to put down your weapon–sitting on the fence.
The threat of “war” can make us let someone else be in-charge. Loyal spouses tend to want to keep their weapon of holding the affair over their disloyal’s head so they can control their spouse. They want the disloyal to do what THEY want…the way they want it…when they want it! If they bring up the affair, the disloyal is automatically ashamed and forced to repay the loyal spouse for what they did. Likewise the disloyal spouse keeps their weapon of sitting on the fence in an effort to control their spouse! They don’t make a decision and constantly remind their loyal that if the loyal doesn’t “do it their way”…they might leave the marriage. So both sides continue to fight and the casualties of the “war” are the marriage and the families that die.
In order to end the war, the weapons HAVE TO be put down. Both sides have to not only put their weapons down, but also refuse to ever pick them up again–beat the swords into plowshares. Waging PEACE is a risk because it means that both sides could be tricked…and both sides leave themselves vulnerable if the other one decides to pick up their weapon again! But if both sides really do lay their weapons down, and get to know each other, and talk openly…then slowly an alliance can be built and peaceful mutuality can grow.
So this Memorial Day, honor those who sacrificed so much by being PEACEFULLY patriotic -AND- end the “war” at home, after the affair, by laying down your weapons. Instead, make Memorial Day the day that you went to your spouse and wrote a PEACE TREATY.