I once went to a concert with a friend, and, while we were standing in one of two lines leading inside, I spotted a good friend whom I hadn't seen in years, in the other line. I was stunned to see him showing shameless affection for the attractive woman beside him.
When he saw me, he looked like a deer caught in the headlights. I smiled. He got out of line and came over, leaving his friend behind. After our greeting, I asked, “Is Linda with you?” Linda was his wife of twenty-five years. We had once been neighbors. Obviously a little uncomfortable, he said simply, “No.”
He and Linda were pillars of the community. Good people. He owned a profitable neighborhood business while she kept a lovely home and grew beautiful flowers in her yard. They attended church every Sunday and were admired by all who knew them. They had no children.
After politely inquiring about my family, he said, “It was nice seeing you,” and hurried back to his line, never looking back. Once we were inside, I lost track of them.
I never felt quite the same about this friend after that.
A few years later, we had occasion to be with him and Linda at a birthday party for a mutual friend. His concern was evident. I’m sure he feared I’d mention seeing him at the concert. But, of course I wouldn’t do that; it would hurt Linda and she didn’t deserve to be hurt.
Why do loving couples stand before a minister or a judge and promise “Till death do us part,” and then break that sacred promise?
Many men and women cheat on their spouse at one time or another. When found out – and they always are – everyone involved is hurt, but invariably, the injured partner forgives the wanderer and life goes on. Why? Because it’s easier than starting over.
Consider this Thomas Merton quote: “The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.”
I think that’s what people do when they take back a deceiving spouse as if nothing ever happened. Most never feel the same about their companion again. They settle. But unfortunately, settling for too little lowers self-esteem.