A recent "New York Times Magazine" cover story was introduced by these words on the cover of the magazine: "Infidelity Keeps Us Together." I read those words and was curious and saddened to think that the article might be trying to make that point. As a therapist, I know that infidelity in a relationship almost always brings much pain, grief, loss, and is difficult to overcome. Could there really be an article somehow in favor of infidelity?
With the number of celebrities and politicians breaking their marital agreements, this topic is now being looked at in different ways. The Times article was saying that we need to be more honest about our needs and desires and also be more accepting that our needs and desires and those of our partner might not match in some important ways. The article specifically referred to sexual differences. Although that's just one area in which marriages or other long-term relationships get into trouble, that's a good place to start.
But, first, let's look at the words "fidelity" and "infidelity." The word "infidelity" was used in the article (and is widely used in our culture) to describe when a partner in a relationship goes outside the relationship for sex while "fidelity" is used to describe keeping sex within the relationship. This is an incorrect use of the words and something that has been a pet peeve of mine for years. Fidelity has nothing to do with whether or not someone has sex outside of the relationship but has everything to do with being faithful to the agreement made by the people in the relationship. If two people, for example, decide to allow sexual relationships with others, they are faithful to their agreement if they do so and there is fidelity. If two people decide they will only have sex with each other and they are faithful to their agreement, there is fidelity. Infidelity occurs when an agreement is broken. Infidelity means unfaithfulness to an agreement not unfaithfulness to monogamy.
To be continued....
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