7 Lessons About Infidelity In Marriage, Learned From "Hamilton," As Broadway Returns

Photo: IMDB
scene from the show "Hamilton"
Heartbreak

At last, Broadway lights are back on and the curtain raises for the Tony Award-winning musical sensation, and now Emmy winner, "Hamilton."

With Broadway reopening, live audiences can, once again, enjoy the backstory of the American Revolution presented in a revolutionary way.

What may not be surprising in the life of an American political figure is the fact that there was a sex scandal, a very public one. One from which there are lessons about infidelity that are just as relevant today.

RELATED: 4 Lessons On Why 'Hamilton' Is The Ultimate Story Of Forgiveness

Here are 7 lessons learned from infidelity, as seen on "Hamilton."

1. When opportunity meets vulnerability, how do you say "no"?  

Hamilton’s family was away, he was working from home and under a lot of stress when opportunity came knocking — literally — at his door. He did not know how to say "no." 

Everyone is "vulnerable" to affairs.

When you have an emotional need in a relationship that's unsatisfied due to communication barriers, lack of shared mutual interests, or even geographical distance, you may find yourself craving fulfillment for that emotional void — often unwittingly. 

It can become a hunger you didn’t even know you had until it has been satisfied.

"Know" your "no" in advance — who you are, your values, and your boundaries. If you're feeling something drawing you away from your spouse, it's a signal to come closer to them.

Have an open conversation and tell them what you've identified as a weakness, how you recognized it, what barriers you think exist, and that you want the two of you to make some changes. 

2. If you don’t air your dirty laundry, someone else will, and they will hang you out to dry. 

Hamilton was confronted with rumors that would ruin him politically and the only way he could prove his innocence was to reveal the affair. He chose to control who told his story and published a document equal to tweeting the sordid details in today’s world.

Affairs are meant to be secrets, but secrets are seldom kept. Many choose to tell the truth only after they have been caught.

But, since you cannot control who tells your story and rumors are often exaggerated, you have to control the narrative by telling it yourself.

Had Hamilton been honest with his wife when first approached by his mistresses’ husband, he could have prevented the bribe and illusion of financial impropriety in the first place, omitting the need to ever publish his indiscretion. 

Being honest is imperative. Owning your actions and apologizing are key to self-respect and showing respect for your spouse. The truth isn’t what hurts them, the affair did that.

Put the truth on the line and allow time to repair and rebuild your relationship. Some will succeed and some won’t. That’s the price of infidelity. 

3. Affairs can leave a path of unimaginable destruction in their wake.

Alexander not only lost the respect and bond with Angelica, Eliza’s older sister and his close friend, but he lost his son to a bullet in a duel when the son attempted to defend his father’s name.

The ramifications of infidelity reach far beyond marriages. Everyone in their respective lives has to deal with the aftermath of the storm. Affairs can be devastating not only to the unsuspecting spouses, but to children, extended family, friends, and co-workers. 

Each will experience their own feelings of betrayal, hurt, and loss. Some will be in a position to have to choose loyalty between the betrayer and the betrayed.

Like all choices, there are consequences to infidelity. They can be far-reaching, unpredictable, and crash into innocent others causing unintended suffering.

New accusations will surface against your character, and family and friends will face pity and possibly ridicule. Children may emulate parental choices. Some will be torn between condemning and defending their loved one. 

4.  A damaged reputation can be difficult to overcome.

Hamilton was a war hero yet a sex scandal killed the development of his political career. 

There's always a risk and a potential price to pay. Good reputations are, by nature, earned, worked for, and proven solid over time. And, as difficult as they are to build, they are as easily lost.

If you are seen as untrustworthy in your personal life, you may be seen as untrustworthy in your professional life. If you can’t be loyal to your spouse, can you be loyal to the team? To the company? To the country? 

The first steps to repairing a reputation are being proactive, openly apologetic, and candid. Some will admire you for it and hold you in high esteem, based on their personal experience with you. 

5. You are more than the sum of your mistakes.

Hamilton was much more than an adulterer. He was a self-made man who helped start a revolution, a nation, a financial system, and more.

Don’t let a mistake define you. Recognize it as a mistake, something that was not in alignment with your true self. 

Get reacquainted with and remind yourself of your successes and all you’ve done right. Get in touch with how you feel when your actions are aligned with your values as opposed to when they are not. 

Develop self-awareness, emotional intelligence, self-acceptance, and whatever else is missing or weak.

Most affairs are not actually about sex — they are about a different need altogether — and, they are not about a fallacy on the part of the spouse. This is mirror work.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and, find yourself again.

RELATED: Can You Get Over Infidelity? 22 Ways Couples Can Heal After Cheating & Betrayal

6. Betrayed spouses must grieve to heal so be patient.

The audience sees, hears, and feels Eliza’s pain as she burns treasured love letters from Alexander after being publicly humiliated by his publishing the details of his affair with Maria.

When an affair is revealed, the betrayed is typically blindsided, shocked, and in search of answers. They will question everything about their marriage as the foundation of trust has imploded.

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They experience grief like a death, and the hurt runs deep and cyclical from broken-hearted and lost, to humiliated and disgusted. The relationship that they knew does not exist.

Reality is rocked. The betrayer must step back and allow the betrayed to experience the full spectrum of emotions that will come.

Eventually, with support and positive guidance, the betrayed will take responsibility for their healing and no longer be held to the role of the victim or the spouse to be pitied.

They can choose to participate in the restoration of the marital relationship, and find a way to turn their pain into a purpose. 

7.  Forgiveness is a process, not an event. 

Despite a level of public humiliation that most people would never experience, Eliza shows compassion and forgiveness to Alexander. 

It can happen with time. It takes humility on the part of the betrayer and grace on the part of the betrayed.

It takes time for the process of grief to run the full cycle, for the betrayed to see themselves as more than a victim, and to see their spouse as more than a cheater. It requires a broader view of life and love, of purpose and pain. 

Forgiveness is ultimately a choice. It does not excuse or condone someone else’s choices, it only says, "I'm letting go of the hold your choices have on me."

Once you choose forgiveness, you choose freedom from internal victimization and conflict, self-pity, hatred, and blame. 

If you receive forgiveness from someone, it was not for you, it was for them — you still must forgive yourself. 

Hamilton ends poignantly and breathtakingly with Eliza closing the story sharing her life after Alexander's death in philanthropy and advocacy which honored his legacy and continued his work. 

It's time to rise up, knowing you can be a better person and partner after an affair — no matter which side of it you were on.

You don’t need a revolution, you just need a revelation.

RELATED: Serial Cheaters & Repeated Infidelity In Marriage — 6 Things Couples Need To Know

Ann Papayoti, PCC, is an author, speaker, and coach helping people untangle from their past, heal their hearts, and unlock their best life. She is the co-author of the intimate self-help guide, The Gift of Shift. For more information on how she can help you, visit her website.