Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Attention Dumb Husbands: Stop Cheating on Your Wives

A few days ago, we were told that a great tragedy had occurred. A great football player--who was also described with a straight face by various commentators and sports figures as “a great man”--was murdered in a rented condo in Nashville, Tennessee.

Well, yes, that is shocking. And sad. And not at all the end of the story.

The real story is that yet another stupid cheating husband suffered the natural consequences of adultery.

I’m sorry. I suppose that sounds a little harsh, doesn’t it?

Well, that’s just too bad. After all the time I put in reading gargantuan acts of Congress just so that my readers will know what their government is doing, I think I deserve a little space to blow off steam and grouse about our increasingly anti-conservative culture.

Whether you are “conservative leader,” like Mark Sanford or a “football icon” like Steve McNair, this is my message to you: you can’t be a “good” anything if you are a lousy cheating rat as a husband.

And, by the way, the same goes for women, when they cheat. We just don’t see so much of this in the public sector, perhaps because women are better able to assess the extremity of risk they take when engaging in such behavior as a powerful or influential woman. That’s not to say women don’t cheat, or even that powerful women don’t cheat. But women seem somehow more mindful of how hard they worked to get what they have, and less likely to risk losing it for a pretty man.

Men, on the other hand, much too often prove inadequate to resist the temptations of adultery, and incapable of understanding the ease with which their dalliances are discovered. Mark Sanford’s wife found his emails to his girlfriend when he sent her to his desk to look for something else. Genius.

We don’t yet know what happened to trip the trigger on Steve McNair, but since he had been seeing this girl sixteen years his junior for “a few months” and taken her on multiple vacations, bought her a car, and was known to her friends, it is hard to ignore the suspicion that Mrs. McNair, whatever her current protestations, either found out what was going on or was getting too close for comfort. At the moment, the police seem ready to claim that the girlfriend, distraught over her financial situation and her suspicion that he was seeing another other woman, murdered him for as yet unknown reasons.

While I realize that there are many possible scenarios, I don't find it at all difficult to understand several of them. But they all stem from the same basic stupidity.

The philanderer may have faced his girlfriend with the facts of life: I’m a married guy with a reputation and a family, and I’m never going to marry you. The cheated-on woman may have discovered the two of them and so far fooled the police. I don’t know. What I do know is that McNair would almost certainly not be dead today (at least not in this way), had he not violated his marriage vows, deceived his wife and family, and followed the selfish path to personal fulfillment and temporary happiness.

In the same way, not-quite-ex Governor(and not-quite-ex-husband) Mark Sanford opened the door to deception when he started secretly emailing a woman he had no business talking to. He let himself walk down the inevitable path to physical adultery once he voluntarily engaged in emotional adultery. And, to this day, he is still in danger of losing everything he ever worked for—exchanging it for a fortyish Argentine woman who probably would never put up with him on a day-to-day basis. Most of marriage isn’t romance. Most of love is a choice to sacrifice. Sanford and McNair both decided it wasn’t worth the work, and took a detour to the dark side of man’s nature.

The fact is that men who cheat end up in bad situations, sometimes deadly ones, and the people we should feel sorry for are not the men or their paramours, but the families they shatter and/or leave behind.

It is a sad thing when great men die too early. But it is a tragedy when the families of men they thought were great find out such an awful truth in such a public way. May God be with the families of Mark Sanford and Steve McNair, and here’s hoping the Governor of South Carolina realizes how lucky he is to be alive today, how much he stands to lose, and how hard he had just better work on putting his marriage back together.

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