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Fidelity & True Love

Jan 2, 2000
Perhaps one of the more devastating results of the free sex revolution of the 1960's has been the damage to the conceptual reasons to be faithful to one's spouse. After all, as many people succinctly stated, the animals do it with anyone they wish, so why shouldn't we?

Unless couples are clear about why -- and how -- they should practice fidelity toward each other, the temptation of love for another may prove to be more than one or both of them can bear. Movie actors are a good example of people working in situations that stimulate new relationships of passion -- to the sorrow of their current husbands or wives. One famous actor said that he fell in love with every one of his leading ladies. What can we do to counteract the powerful force of love when we're already married? No one is exempt from the influence and the confusion of love, for aren't we all supposed to love everybody?

If we were animals, this wouldn't be much of an issue -- for dogs on a lawn don't worry very much about fidelity. But are we really just animals? Even without the argument that humankind was created by a God of unselfish love, instead of solidifying from some rain-soaked dust, one has to think that humans display significant differences from praying mantises whose womenfolk eat the head of their mate in the midst of their "romantic" activities.

Unlike praying mantises, we have the ability to think about true unselfish love. We have the tendency to yearn for beauty in our life, even in the midst of poverty or suffering. We long for happiness, and we long to give and receive love. These traits alone differentiate us from animals. It's also true that humans have the ability to become more bestial than animals themselves, existing at a level lower than the most ferocious shark -- who still only eats to live, and not to cause pain to others. Even so, it would be inaccurate to conclude that humans are simply animals -- for both of the above traits of thoughtful love and deliberate cruelty are beyond the instinctual reactions of animals.

We possess the unique ability to exercise our will and to work toward our desires, in a creative fashion far beyond the rote mechanics of ants digging tunnels. It is that decisive quality of creative freedom that allows us to say, "I will give love to the other person", rather than simply exist as a prisoner of transient feelings. Our will, combined with our conscience about goodness, and our ability to feel the results of true love deep within the core of our hearts, allows us to go so far as to select and choose our emotions. We have the freedom to reject anger, resentment and hatred, and the freedom to transform those ugly emotions into good ones through repentance, love, and service.

It is these internal traits of mind that allow husband and wife to meet in the depths of their hearts, and become one in harmonious true love. It is these traits of beautiful sensitivity that allow us to look at our spouse and think deeply about his or her feelings and thoughts. Consider for a moment the results of many years of sacrificial love between a husband and wife. Because of their efforts to understand each other's thoughts and feelings, because of their commitment of heart toward each other, and because they have united with each other alone (without other sexual or romantic relationships), they have the potential to exist together in an invisible realm of heart created by the true love between them.

If the couple engage in other liaisons, how will they ever reach the depth of harmony and love that is possible between a faithful husband and wife? Relationships deepen because of communication, loving service and time. To be a moth, flitting between partners, is to deny the opportunity to reach the invisible realm of true love with one's spouse that is built upon absolute trust and commitment, and that can only happen between husband and wife. By its very nature, this invisible realm of heart and love belongs to God, as the Creator of love, rather than resultant created beings such as instinctual animals. Human couples can co-exist in this invisible realm of love because we not only have an invisible spiritual nature, but we also are the very ones who co-create the realm of love by our commitment and responsibility.

Breaking the fidelity between husband and wife will do more than damage our own ability to co-exist in a world of love. It will without question cause pain and suffering to our spouse, our children and many other people. As heartistic beings who value unselfish love above all other things, how can we endure the thought of causing others pain? This reason is in itself an adequate motivation to be faithful to our spouse, and care for him or her eternally.

It is truly miserable that devoted husbands and wives still fall prey to the power of illicit love. Adultery has continually plagued us throughout history, no matter how much society has improved. It is reasonable to believe then, that mankind's fundamental situation can only be ultimately changed through a religious course. Is there a method that will help couples remain faithful today, while we sort out the different religious questions?

The "mechanical power" of love is the turning point for couples seeking to build relationships of fidelity. Isn't it true that nothing is more powerful than unselfish love? In the same way, love in any shape or form has an inevitable power that many people ignore. Love, by anyone's common definition, exists between people. It requires "give and take" between both parties for it to exist. Generally speaking, communication and doing things together, or being together, is the foundation for love to grow.

Give and take, and the circumstances we find ourselves in, is one key to fidelity. Give and take between men and women usually starts slowly. It's sneaky. Often people will say, "Oh, nothing will happen between us. We're just friends." As men and women have more and more give and take, though, they sometimes find that their attraction is growing stronger. Intellectually, we may feel secure, but it's unrealistic to think that any of us are exempt from the emotional power of love. Circumstances sometimes even seem to conspire against us, throwing us together with someone that we're trying to avoid.

As a last resort, if we want to avoid extra-marital affairs, we must sometimes cut our relationships, or severely reduce the give and take that we have with the other person. Dominating our circumstances may require extreme measures, such as quitting one's job or transferring to avoid a co-worker that we're seriously attracted to, but it's worth it for the sake of the love we have for our spouse.

And that, of course, is the other side of the coin. Do we adequately love our spouse? Sometimes husbands and wives may struggle with their emotional or sexual relationships -- which could cause one of them to be attracted to love elsewhere. If they both develop a mutual commitment to become more unselfish, and to build an eternal relationship of heart, they will be able to act as heartistic "doctors" to each other. When the husband or wife struggle with attraction toward another, they should immediately tell their spouse, and ask for their spouse's help. This type of total openness will build a deep and powerful relationship of trust between them, and will give them both the power to overcome temptation. Unfortunately, husbands and wives don't often admit these things to each other, and therefore end up fighting temptation alone as they simultaneously separate internally from their spouse.

The sixties activists were right -- we should love everybody -- but not as husband or wife. One way of looking at it is to say that a man should love all other women as his family members; sisters or aunts or mothers or daughters, depending on their age. And women should take a corresponding attitude. It's normal to develop a profound love for your sister -- but it's not normal to sleep with her.

The quality of the ideal relationship between husband and wife is unlike any other relationship -- our task is to persevere until we can actually experience with every cell of our heart and being what we can only imagine now. It is our great gift and our great hope that the unselfish love that we strive for is the most powerful and inevitable force in the universe.

(Comments are moderated and must be approved.)
Peter Falkenberg Brown
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