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Life is complicated

(53 Posts)
jorro Sun 14-Dec-14 14:17:12

I'm quite interested in the black and whiteness of so many views expressed in this forum. I think what's most interesting is the tendency to condemn, as if behaving in a shitty way in one (admittedly central and vital) aspect of your life invalidates every other aspect. I was really struck by a couple of people claiming that a cheating partner cannot be called a good parent. I mean, of course a man who cheats is a bad partner, but the idea that this aspect of his behaviour invalidates his status as a good father (or a good anything) is ridiculous, and frankly pretty childish.

Nobody is all good. Very few people are all bad. Many people who have affairs know that it's a shitty thing to do, but they exist with that knowledge without it corrupting everything else, or being symptomatic of a wider moral failing. A person isn't trustworthy or untrustworthy, full stop: we are all trustworthy in some things, both big and small, and not in others. Everyone's frailties manifest in different ways; everyone makes different choices; everyone is a complex mess. We all live with compromised ethics in both big and small things, and we all have different values and attitudes to monogamy and infidelity and other vital, central things which change over time. I think it's important to remember that.

I am very wary of people who claim to have simple answers. People who don't recognise that we're all massively morally inconsistent don't really have any insights worth hearing. I think victims of infidelity on this forum constantly hear how their cheating partners are just scumbags, when the truth is that they're actually just normal people who've done a scummy thing. Judge that behaviour, sure. But there's no call to write them off entirely.

Riverland Sun 14-Dec-14 14:23:20

A moral blind spot in an otherwise worthy person.

Just the one moral blind spot. One weakness only, that involves betrayal of an intimate trust toward the person closest to you in the world.

Apart from that one spot, you're an Ace Person.

Yup. Sounds feasible.


The entire edifice comes crumbling down when the faulty foundations are revealed, and failiure if integrity is plain to see.

Lack of integrity. Ie A person lacking moral wholeness. In other words, a person that is fragmented. Ergo, not to be trusted.

FolkGirl Sun 14-Dec-14 14:28:50

The thinking is that a good parent wouldn't do anything to jeopardise the wellbeing of their children. Having an affair does this.

A relationship failing is one thing and doesn't make either party a bad parent. But a parent who has an affair destabilises the whole family.

The lies, the betrayal, the prioritising someone outside of the family unit financially and emotionally all threatens the emotional and financial security of the children when most good parents recognise that this is inappropriate.

I wouldn't advocate staying in an unhappy marriage, but an affair is never ok.

candyce83 Sun 14-Dec-14 14:31:29

I think the thing to remember on online forums is peoples own experiences influence their opinions...people definitely have an agenda in these sorts of places. There is some very good advice on these boards but again people are so different as well as peoples situations. I do think life is too short to waste it in an unfulfilling relationship. You get one chance and that is it.

Riverland Sun 14-Dec-14 14:33:05

As I've heard it, murderers think they are basically fine, normal, good people, who just did one particular thing that's considered not allowed.

Paedophiles think the same way.

nobody want to think that they are off kilter, entirely. nobody off kilter will admit it, they will justify and weasel and "yes but" till the cows come home, and long after.

Fingeronthebutton Sun 14-Dec-14 14:34:29

Thank you for that, jorro. I often wonder how many of the people who post: throw him out/ he's useless/forget him, etc would actually do it when push comes to shove.
Nobody's perfect.

jorro Sun 14-Dec-14 14:35:25

Of course an affair is never OK. Of course it's always bad. But good people have affairs and are still good people.

It's simplistic and naive to suggest that a failure of integrity in one thing is symptomatic of failings across the board.

jorro Sun 14-Dec-14 14:36:46

Nobody is "morally whole".

And, Riverland - really? You're going to compare marital infidelity with murder and paedophilia? There should be a special kind of Godwin's Law for that.

FolkGirl Sun 14-Dec-14 14:47:11

finger I very, very rarely suggest someone LTB, but I do often tell what I did, and I did kick him out after discovering no more than browsing history that showed he'd registered on an affair website. No evidence of messages or meet ups or anything. Only that he'd registered and viewed profiles. That was enough. It was a deal breaker for me

I then discovered he was having an affair with someone at work. So I did the right thing.

I'm very careful not to project on here.

Windywenceslas Sun 14-Dec-14 14:55:06

Sure they can be good parents in the practical sense, but to treat the mother/father of their children so despicably by cheating, they're putting their own needs ahead of the family, that doesn't make them a good parent. They're risking their family for the sake of a shag.

FYI, never been cheated on, never cheated, my views aren't formed by an agenda set on my experiences, they're based on the vows I took when I got married.

Yes good people make mistakes, but regularly having sex with someone behind your partner's back isn't a mistake, it's a whole heap of decisions actively taken to to deceive the person you're not supposed to deceive. People don't accidentally end up in affairs, they choose them.

Treat others the way you wish to be treated, I'd be heartbroken if my DH cheated and yes I'd kick him out for good, so why would I ever consider doing that to him?

Riverland Sun 14-Dec-14 14:57:21

No, jorro, not really. I'm not comparing paedophilia and murder to infidelity in the conventional terms you express with your surprised tone. ( scale of badness is your knee jerk judgment-reaction toward those actions. In fact we aren't discussing scale of badness, are we, we're discussing blind spots and integrity.) I am comparing these various immoral actions, these essential failures of humanity, within the context of this particular discussion you have started. The context of failiure of integrity.

I'm speaking of failures of integrity, not of courts of law or tabloid press attitudes to destructive and damaging immoral actions.

Failiure to act correctly, failiure to act with integrity, failiure to act with heart, failiure to act with compassion, failiure to act with the good of all as your guiding compass, failiure to act from your best self........and the weaselling out of taking responsibility for your crumbly self, your selfishness, your blind spots, your narcissism, your lack of impulse control, etc.

You have stated your case that you don't believe anyone is morally whole.

Moral wholeness = Integrity.

fsmile happy christmas, to you and your nearest and dearest.

HurlyBurghley Sun 14-Dec-14 14:58:03

Jorro, I can't fault your logic. I have a degree in Philosophy and studied logic, ethics etc etc. At one time I'd have agreed with you.

But now?

Ha. Ha. Hahahahaha. Ha.

I can only assume you have never suffered the total and utter devastating havoc that a cheating husband wreaks on a family, or that you are having an affair and trying to justify it to yourself. You are the one being simplistic and naive around here.

jorro Sun 14-Dec-14 15:18:03

No, not trying to justify anything, and certainly not defending people who do this. And I would never presume to recommend a course of action one way or another to the victim of a cheating partner.

It is absolutely, 100% a terrible thing to do. Some people will need to end their relationships based on such a discovery, others won't. But people who will condemn a stranger wholesale for this "level of badness", black and white, sight unseen, probably aren't the most reliable folk to get advice from.

FolkGirl Sun 14-Dec-14 15:30:05

Well, ultimately, people will make their own decisions.

I wouldn't want to be with someone who thought so little of me. I have ended relationships for cheating and I ended my last for suspected cheating. It wasn't the only thing, but it is a dealbreaker for me. No questions, no second chances.

Patchworkqueen Sun 14-Dec-14 15:59:29

An unfaithful man isn't just cheating on his wife, he is cheating on the whole family. Not only is he robbing them of the future they thought they once had, he has made a mockery of all the years they spent together.

Any yep, I ended a relationship due to his cheating, and yep the pain and heartbreak it caused to not just me, but the children, and the family as a whole - well, it's immeasurable.

holdyourown Sun 14-Dec-14 16:03:58

OP I've had some wonderful advice on the relationships forum over the years and there are some very wise and well adjusted posters imho - I just don't see posters are as 'black and white' as you say they are. Also your OP does come across as patronising.

As for affairs, they are all about deception, which is what makes them very different from just ending a relationship, and what makes them so hurtful. My own experience of people I've known to have affairs (about 5 I think) is that while they certainly have their good points the common thread is selfishness and this has extended to their parenting too actually, although obviously a very small sample.

jorro Sun 14-Dec-14 16:11:40

I think it's possible that some of the talk of "the children" on this forum is projection of the understandable hurt partner's feeling, or how the resultant split is explained, or a combination of the two. There is no need for a child to know that one of their parents has had an affair; if there is a split, that reason doesn't need to be explained. It can only hurt more.

I've known a few people who have been through painful splits involving kids. A couple of them handled it really well, and were able to back-burner their own hurt and grief and work with their partner to manage the split carefully. I really admire that: being able to control your own emotions and entirely natural desire to hurt the one who's hurt you in order to protect your kids from the fallout.

Unfortunately most of the other people I've known on both sides in this position haven't really managed to avoid the temptation to use the kids as weapons in the divorce.

KarenHillavoidJimmyswarehouse Sun 14-Dec-14 16:13:04

I agree with you to a point. But, an affair will involve lying, deceit, and a lack of integrity. They are major personality flaws. When it became common knowledge my ex-boss had an affair with a colleague I found it very hard to respect him. I used to think "well if you can lie to your wife, you can lie to your team, your colleagues, your clients..." And that's what the crux is for me - if you can treat the person you're supposed to cherish and protect abysmally then you can do it to anyone.

jorro Sun 14-Dec-14 16:13:23

Sorry if you found it patronising. Wasn't intentional.

jorro Sun 14-Dec-14 16:16:52

Karen - I disagree. A specific instance of a behaviour isn't necessarily an all-through personality flaw. As the song says, we're all a million different people from one day to the next. It's perfectly possible for someone to behave with flawed integrity in one relationship and with perfect integrity in the next, or at work.

KarenHillavoidJimmyswarehouse Sun 14-Dec-14 16:16:52

There is no need for a child to know that one of their parents has had an affair; if there is a split, that reason doesn't need to be explained in an ideal world. There is a child in DC1's class whose father has shacked up with the mother of a child in another class. Fucking awful behaviour.

Then there's my best friend. In the spirit of "teenage over sharing and dramatics" our other friend thought it was "the right thing to do" to tell her the reason her parents split was because of her mum's affair. She thought our friend "would want to know". She was devastated.

jorro Sun 14-Dec-14 16:19:55

And Karen, totally agree with that: it is awful behaviour.

We can, and should, control our libidos and not have affairs. But I also think we can, and should, control our emotions even when we're really hurt. With kids involved, there's always a bigger picture and we shouldn't ever ignore it even if our cheating partner has, IMO.

holdyourown Sun 14-Dec-14 16:23:08

I think it's a bit bizarre and unrealistic for dcs to not be told a reason tbh - usually they will be just as bewildered as the deserted spouse if things seem normal one day then the next one of their parents has disappeared and perhaps then introduced to a new partner quickly etc - it's not something you can just gloss over and they will want to know a reason.
IMO the best thing is just to tell them the reason without blaming or hysteria and just focus on helping them to cope with the loss of the family unit.
I'm sure you didn't intend it to sound patronising OP- would be interested to know if you're married/divorced/had an affair or been on receiving end, just in terms of context (but you don't have to say obviously - just pondering and thinking that it can feel a bit different if this happens to you or a close friend or relative.)

Chandon Sun 14-Dec-14 16:23:09

Part of it is a certain weariness at the same stories coming up ver and over again, the same dilemmas, the same problems. I am sure we have many of the same problems the ancient Greeks had.

After 5 or 10 years on a forum like this, you think :"ah, this problem again" and whilst you may have given a long sympathetic response 10 years ago, you now type: "FFS, LTB! HTH" and move on

I think that si part of them problem of people being a bit short and punchy!

AskMeAnother Sun 14-Dec-14 16:25:38

There is no need for a child to know that one of their parents has had an affair; if there is a split, that reason doesn't need to be explained
Sorry, that's just wrong. We try bring up children to be decent adults. Hiding the truth from them never helps. Its perfectly ok to say 'Daddy broke his promise to Mummy' or 'Daddy has a girlfriend and that isn't allowed when you are married'.
It is the parents' role to explain, so that 'friends' have nothing to reveal.

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