How Trying to ‘Fit In’ Can Ruin Your Life and Marriage

Comments 34
Never Abandon Yourself

As far back as I remember, I was taught that some human behaviors are so bad that if you do them, God—an otherwise all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving father figure—will be so pissed and disappointed with your choices that you run the risk of being banished to the shittiest, most-frightening, most-painful environment imaginable for ETERNITY.

I don’t know how many of you try to conceptualize FOR-FREAKING-EVER, but it hurts my head so much that even the concept of an eternal paradise scares me a little. I’m not really capable of imagining forever. Dinosaurs were alive 65 million years ago. Compared to FOREVER, 65 million years is less time than it took you to read this sentence, relative to our lifetime.

Let’s not discuss theology, please. I have no idea what’s true and not true, and I have a sneaking suspicion no one else does either—even those who act like they’re really certain about it.

This Bad Human Behaviors List was mostly not a problem.

I didn’t want to kill anyone. I never even liked hurting people.

I didn’t want to rape, or kidnap, or steal things. I didn’t even want to covet my neighbor’s wife or possessions.

I wanted to treat people well—not for praise or recognition—but just because that’s what naturally made sense for me.

The things on the Bad Human Behaviors List were super-easy to avoid for the first 12 or so years of my life. I didn’t want to do them anyway! Yay!!! I’m going to Heaven!!!

And then somewhere along the way, I started waking up with erections and inevitably had one anytime I was called up to write something on the chalkboard in front of the class at school. Sex became a thing I thought about a lot, and to some extent, talked about with friends.

By mid-high school, I’d experienced alcohol and marijuana, and decided I really liked both.

And for the first time in my life, my personal values were on the line.

Am I going to be the kind of person who does things because I like them and they feel good even though I believe they’re wrong?

With the full knowledge and understanding that having sex outside of marriage AND consuming alcohol or smoking pot just to “feel good” were on the Bad Human Behaviors List—the very list that will damn your ass to an eternity of excruciating fiery torment—I totally chose to do them anyway.




These things were now a part of my world, and there was nowhere to hide from them. What I discovered is that if you drink enough, and smoke a bowl, and climax a couple of times with a sexy partner in crime, you kind-of dull or mute the discomfort of guilt, shame and fear. Like a numbing agent.

Temporary relief from the discomfort of Real Life.

Whenever that relief wore off, you’d just do it again. Like a non-hospitalized college kid’s personal morphine drip.

Twenty years, one son who needs my guidance, and one divorce later, and I still find myself pushing that metaphorical button.

It doesn’t look anything like it used to. I never smoke. I rarely drink. I’m no longer surrounded by 10,000 single women every day.

But I’m still dancing with the question: What kind of person am I? What do I REALLY believe, and can I live courageously and authentically in whatever those true and actual beliefs might be?

Do You Ever Lie Like I Lied?

I didn’t think it was lying. Deception for the sake of taking advantage of someone, or benefiting at others’ expense.

THAT’s lying, right? I’m just not always disclosing the whole truth. That’s so much different than lying! Keeping some things to myself isn’t on the Bad Human Behaviors List!

I was pretty much being Peter in the movie scene from “Office Space” when he’s trying to justify to his girlfriend how stealing fractions of a penny from his employer isn’t actually wrong since Take-a-Penny trays exist.

Because I fucking lied. I was lying to myself as I spent years convincing myself I was doing the right thing.

I was “honest” in that I never tried to deceive my wife in some ultra-heinous way. But I lied to her by misrepresenting myself about sex.

“We celebrate anniversaries instead of the quality of relationships.”

– Mark Groves, relationship coach, speaker, writer

I wasn’t ashamed to drink with her nor have honest conversations about it. It wasn’t a source of guilt and shame.

I wasn’t ashamed to have honest conversations about pot smoking with her because it was such a relatively insignificant thing in our adult lives. It just didn’t matter enough to ever matter.

But then we get to sex. It’s always so uncomfortable to talk about for me, like I’m 12 again.

Maybe deep down, I’m still the 12-year-old just waiting for God to ban-hammer my sinful ass to perma-bathe in some hellfire lava pit.

Here’s the important part:

I was afraid to communicate things I thought and felt about sex to my wife—both when we were dating, and during our marriage.


Because I was afraid of rejection.

I was afraid my wife wouldn’t like the REAL ME, so I played like I was all morally virtuous in the sex department, even though I was actually a little pervy, and fantasized about interracial three-ways and other rad stuff that would probably make my grandma cry.

When Did We Decide Everyone Else Matters More Than Us?

This isn’t about sex, or moral righteousness, or even communication in marriage.

It’s about betraying and abandoning yourself to win the approval of others.

I was watching and listening to relationship coach and speaker Mark Groves talk about these ideas in a video I’ll share below.

[Full disclosure: Mark and I “met” for the first time on the phone last week because I really like and respect the work he does, and from that conversation I am intentionally looking for opportunities to share Mark’s work and support him, as he has the same mission that I do, and he’s already doing what I one day hope to—write about and talk about this stuff full-time.]

In this talk, Mark shares a number of personal stories (not unlike I try to do) in order to illustrate the lesson he learned from it, and share ideas for a better way of living.

Listening to his talk from the video, I was affected when he talks about how there’s a moment when we’re kids where most of us abandon ourselves in favor of: “I need to be this type of person to get the love of my parents.”

And how we often behave and make major life decisions (including who we date and/or marry) in an effort to live up to whatever cultural, religious, educational standards we believe will earn us the approval or praise of others.

“So we become who we think we need to be to be loved,” Mark said. “But when we do that, who’s not getting the love? Inside?

“Us. We abandon self to stay part of a group that doesn’t even celebrate who we truly are.

“That used to be something that preserved us in evolution, but it doesn’t seem so helpful now.”

The Science of Relationships (a Mark Groves talk)

Mark and I had a great talk where it was clear we were both passionate about the idea that our interpersonal relationships are truly the things that have the greatest impact on our lives.

How good or bad our human, earthly life experiences are is most greatly affected by the quality of our closest relationships. How good we feel. How healthy we are.

Yet, we spend our lives NOT learning about relationships from anyone except people who ALSO suck at them. Then shitty things happen and we cry and stuff.

I often use the term “failed relationship.” Mark hates that term and called it “shitty.”

“A relationship that ends is not a failure,” Mark said. “It’s expansion. It’s growth. It’s just the end of a story.

“We celebrate anniversaries instead of the quality of relationships.”

I spent a lot of time thinking about that. Longevity is beautiful, and Mark is the first to say so. But longevity DOES NOT make a relationship “successful.”

And it doesn’t have to be this way.

The path to a better way starts with treating ourselves better.

You deserve it. We all do.

Even me.


34 thoughts on “How Trying to ‘Fit In’ Can Ruin Your Life and Marriage”

  1. I struggle with this Matt. I agree that ending a relationship that is unhealthy is not a failure but growth. But where is the tipping point between working on a relationship you have made a long term commitment to and it being so “unhealthy” that ending it is the right thing to do? Valuing commitment and keeping my word (I said until death do us part and I meant it) are huge values to me. They are essential to my identity. I’m afraid I have always been the sort to hold on too long. I’m realizing I need to be a whole lot more careful about starting a relationship given that.

    1. There is very little clear-cut black-and-white Right and Wrong to be found there. I struggle with it too. We want clarity. Simplicity. EASY.

      But it’s not clear. It’s not simple. And Life can be difficult.

      The “right” choice at age 25 might not be the “right” choice at age 45.

      All anyone can do is their best with the knowledge and resources they have. I’m confident you’re doing just that.

  2. I LOVE the vulnerability Groves shows here. I’m starting to realize that relationship longevity in itself shouldn’t be anyone’s goal. I know a ton of couples who have been miserable throughout their marriages yet go out and artificially celebrate every anniversary. (I always think they must be celebrating the fact that they haven’t killed each other yet. Yes, it’s that level of misery).

    The heavy truth of the quote “We abandon self to stay part of a group that does not even celebrate who we truly are” kind of blowing my mind right here. A lot to digest.

    But, cheers to all of us treating ourselves better. I think we all sorely need it.

    1. All of this. Yes. I’m with you entirely, from thinking about Quality vs. Longevity as the real metric, all the way to Mark’s point about how we compromise who we actually are in our attempts to have others choose us.

      I realized this previously, but it hit me a little harder listening to Mark talk about it.

      Thank you for leaving this comment. I appreciate that I’m not the only person putting a bunch of mental energy into these ideas that are so uncomfortable to think about sometimes.

  3. “We abandon self to stay part of a group that does not even celebrate who we truly are”

    I think this is what I was trying to get at in the conversation with Rickety on another post. If we aren’t truly ourselves out of fear of a relationship ending, there’s a fair chance there will be (possibly major) problems with that relationship at some point. It takes self-confidence, self-knowledge, and a lot of courage to be honest about who you are. Even to yourself.

    Slight aside… For anyone who may want to get picky, being true to yourself is not the same as thinking you are perfect. There can be room for progress as a human being while remaining you at your core.

  4. #atesora #Rosario I met a woman who with rush, lust and convenience, used to jump between jobs and beds, to blackmail the managers and avoid any responsability about herself, her son, her resources and keep running away, like a endless bachelorette, some effects are diseases, poorness and emptyness.

  5. I say every post you write is my favorite, but this one really is. I love the thoughts about longevity. I am constantly eye-rolling at some of my friends who post about their parents’ wonderful 60 year relationship, when I was privy to a lot of their troubling issues. It’s like the years make up for the misery. We use marriage as a bragging right now and don’t even care if the actual relationship is bad or good.

    Love “we become who we think we need to be loved…” SO SO true. I often think about how many of us marry for any other reason BUT the right one, which would be because we found a compatible life partner. We marry for money, or to run away from something. We marry because we have to, or because we think that person will heal us or we’ll heal them, or we marry because we’ve been with the person so long we simply don’t care to start over again. That’s so sad to me.

    And I think the reason so many second marriages fail is because we get antsy and don’t want to take the time to really figure out what we like or don’t like. We’re struggling financially single or just feeling lonely, so we take the next best thing. (I personally would rather stab both of my eyeballs out with a pencil than ever get married a second time. Don’t know how people do this once, let alone twice.)

    Anyway, sorry to ramble! You always make me think. On a side note, I have an entire blog post written about how no one actually believes in an eternal hell and if they do, they’ll be going there, but I’m too worried about fitting in to post it. 😉

  6. Matt . .in my socially awkward high school days I found myself in a number of shitty relationships . “lasted” until graduation . Sadly my insecurity about how to actually be in a relationship caused me to be suspicious of her and doubt myself . I chalked that up to youth and inexperience…..still hurt when it crash landed . I went on to get with a bunch more young ladies in my college days keeping them all at arms length emotionally for fear of being hurt once again . I made a few cry, they felt used, unloved inadequate and a host of other shitty things.I hated that I caused those feelings . I didn’t give myself a chance to get to know or see if things could be better than the juvenile experience that soured me. My wife and I met ,basically , corny movie style , I didn’t want to go out with my best friend after work , I tried to ditch him and go home from the bar we were at, as I’m about to leave I see a beautiful long haired -hazel eyed- heart stopper three sheets to the wind in full trot trying to get away from a creepy biker type , I reached for her and pulled her towards me at the bar and gave the biker my best Mafioso look and he retreated . 1 dance, 3 kids,2 houses, 1 almost divorce , a fight to remain together and 33 years of loving each other later…we might just be alright . I gave myself a chance then….I fucked up a few things . …tried to uncharacteristically be part of things or groups that I thought were somehow the”way”. But it was Anne that truly showed me what path I needed to follow , her encouragemet of my being the man I was ment to be by being true to my own set of values my own moral compass and my own abilities to be successful outside of the social norms is what made the turning point in our relationship . We no longer suck at being married , we have realized that our success is from our ability to understand that nothing outside of “us” will define our relationship . I was a shitty husband . ..she had her shitty parts too..that really doesn’t matter as much as how we have learned from our shittiness and know that our relationship is ours and not any other entity’s to define. It hit home when it was mentioned that we artificially celebrate anniversaries , we did that too often over the years. We do much better now , we do the day to day celebration of loving each other and not giving a damn about what others think , we lift each other up from shitty places…we protect one another , we have stood nose to nose with relatives on both sides of our respective families to defend the other . .and have walked away hand in hand . …lockstep . I don’t have all or any of the answers Matt . ..I have our relationship . .I have Anne . ..I really want everyone to be happy with each other , I want all the hurt to go away , I want the divorce rate to vanish…I want hearts to be mended….I want children to live and grow stress free…I want everyone that is going through tragic relationship issues to find peace and healing . … I want that for you Matt and everyone here sharing and those just readng and not commenting .

  7. While I don’t want to focus on Matt in particular, I would like to explore the sexual fantasy thing further. I know everyone is different, but I would venture to say that most people would be hurt if their spouse said they fantasized about having sex with other people.

    General thoughts -Is it just a fantasy? Or are you really hoping to make the fantasy into a reality? So, does someone with that fantasy keep it to themselves? Or do they run the risk, if mentioning it, of harming their marriage, as the other person would understandably be hurt and then start to feel they are not enough, or unwanted, or have them judge you for being a perv?

    I do think the pretending to be virtuous and hiding your thoughts is being untrue to yourself. Maybe opening a conversation with your spouse, mentioning some people might have crazy fantasies, and seeing how they respond can open the door to either feeling like it would be ok to share your thoughts, or realizing it would be a bad idea if you don’t want to harm your marriage, but stating that different people have different preferences, and it doesn’t make them pervs if two consenting adults both enjoy it…would that help you not to feel you are being a “virtuous” hypocrite?

    No one gets everything they want in a marriage-is not sharing such fantasies a small price to pay if the rest of the relationship is good, or are these fantasies such a large part of your desires that hiding them leads to great marital dissatisfaction? And if you share your fantasies, are you going to be able to handle it if you find out your wife has fantasies that don’t include you, but the sexy neighbor who mows the lawn without his shirt on?

    And not to be sexist-maybe the ladies are the ones with the fantasies, and feel the husbands would respond poorly if they knew.

    I have no answers-just lots of questions, and would appreciate everyone’s thoughts!

    1. People have very different standards about what is crazy and what is pervert fantasies.
      In my last relationship (and longest-lasting, +5 years), I couldn’t even bring up oral sex to discussion.

    2. Louie, a second thought,
      I know everyone is different, but I would venture to say that most people would be hurt if their spouse said they fantasized about having sex with other people.

      When my then-girlfriend started to “grow cold” and more regularly turn me down for sex, she couldn’t or didn’t offer any explanation for it.
      “Women have lower libido than men and there’s nothing you can do about it.” was about the closest to an explanation I could ever get from her.
      Now, I know my best effort isn’t good enough to turn a woman on. But in that situation, I would actually have appreciated being told that she was fantasizing about having sex with someone else, falling in love with someone else, or, heck, even actually having sex with someone else!

      Because that at least would have been some kind of knowledge, some foundation to stand upon. And however devastating it would have been in at that moment, I think it would’ve made the pain shorter and quicker to endure, compared to the “I don’t know and I don’t care” limbo I was suspended in!

      1. People are afraid to disclose information sometimes because they think the truth will hurt someone they love and care for.

        I think their hearts are–while misguided–in the right place.

        I think it’s in our nature to pursue comfort and pleasure, and recoil from discomfort and pain. Thus, the motivation to not tell the whole truth, or to flat-out lie in a moment like that.

        It’s UNCOMFORTABLE. Well beyond a leg cramp, or sore back. But I think the people who will thrive are the ones who are honest with themselves and others, sharing and accepting the hard truths, and operating in the REAL, instead of some head-in-the-sand fantasy where their partners aren’t afflicted with the same flaws, and driven by the same biological tendencies as themselves.

        I didn’t want to tell my wife that I thought about other people. She didn’t want to tell me that she thought about other people. But if we owned it from Day 1, chose love even in the face of it not being the ideal we unrealistically had in our heads and hearts, and accepted the truth about ourselves, our partners, and our collective humanity… wouldn’t the end result be better?

        There’s the exchange in The Matrix where Keanu asks Fishburne: “I can’t go back, can I?” referring to being asleep and unaware of the harsh realities of Truth.

        And Fishburne says: “No. But if you could, would you really want to?”

        We need to be brave enough to accept truth, and make our choices within truth and reality, instead of ignorant bliss.

        We don’t have a chance if we aren’t even operating from a plane of reality.

        1. This is a rather different topic at first glance, but bear with me.

          During our last pregnancy, we had a diagnosis that could have meant anything from a completely normal child to severe abnormalities to losing the pregnancy or the baby very young. Thankfully, though we were on the severe end of things at diagnosis, everything has been stable since and our 5 month old is as pudgy, happy, and healthy as our other kids were. But that week between the initial diagnosis and our appointments with the specialists was the longest one of my life. In part because we had no clue what we were going to have to deal with.

          So one night we sat down and said, out loud, ‘we might never hold this baby.’ And sobbed, accepting that there was nothing we could do to change things if that was going to be our reality. I called it turning on the light and looking the nightmare in the eyes. And together, knowing that we could work through things to come out the other side, even if the worst happened.

          That wasn’t as difficult (in some ways) as what you talk about in this post because we had no control. It wasn’t a facet of our personalities or sexual desires that could be seen as shameful by some people. There was no rejection of self that was possible, as there is when we hand our hearts to our partner. But I think the same principle holds. Turn on the light, look the nightmare in the eye, and accept it ourselves. I think if we can figure out how to handle our not so pretty sides it gets easier to ask our loved ones to do the same.

        2. Hello,
          Yes, I get that people are afraid. I’ve been afraid a lot of times, too, and I have made a lot of bad choices myself.

          But most of the fantasies I used to have involved HER.
          At least the first couple of years.
          The two uf us going along like eager rabbits in all the corners of the house.
          We used to meet at home after work (both of us worked full time, no kids), she would give me an half-hour, detailed recount of everything that had happened during the day. Then she would plop down with the TV, or pull out a magazine. While I kind-of, sort-of whipped together something for dinner.
          Weekends and days off were spent catching up with her mother, and the rest of family.

          Over time, my fantasies boiled down to one pretty specific and in my eyes rather simple one.
          That one day, just one day, we would come home, she would look me in the eyes and say “I’ve been thinking about you the whole day (or the afternoon, or the last hour, heck even five minutes would have done!) , I’m so hot for you and I can’t wait for us to get our clothes off”.

          In five years. That. never. happened.
          In five years, I mostly got “I am a woman, and we don’t think about sex all that much! Now, guess what happened this afternoon…!”

          So, I think there’s a distinction here.

          I think it is different if you fantazise about other people because you are no longer attracted to your partner, you feel that although putting in the effort your partner no longer turns you on, and you fantazise about other people as an escape.
          Compared to if you are happily getting along with your partner, getting it on, and perhaps using your fantasies as an extra spice or flavour for your activities.

          Perhaps I’m out of line, sharing this here.
          Perhaps on some level and to some depth, I am lovable.
          Perhaps I can

      2. FlyingKal…..I’m truly sorry for that having happened in your life…I was merely pointing out how it has affected our lives. We understand that any fantasy we each have is only that. Personally I’d be very upset if those thoughts occupied my wife’s every waking hour but I truly believe that isn’t the case. We have grown to accept our individuality as well as our commitment to each other. And really we do have excellent communication, unbounded respect for each other, and a real trust. I can be hurt about any deviation from our relationship but I choose to believe that our marriage is rock solid and unshakable. No affair of the mind is worth becoming an issue with us. We had set boundaries and deal breakers for our marriage long ago. I sure can understand how those fantasies can hurt someone’s feelings, I had a girlfriend once that had no filters or boundaries….made sure I knew that if she had the opportunity she would indulge her desire for others…we would fight about those thoughts she had. In the end it wasn’t worth the energy to argue about it…we went our separate ways…..I’ve been married for 33+years to the love of my life and we only get better everyday…my old girlfriend is on her third marriage.

        1. Hi Louie,
          For some reason, the lyrics “You gotta know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em…” came to mind! 🙂
          Thanks for your reply, and all the best to you.

        2. Hi again Louie,
          Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

          You write “We understand that any fantasy we each have is only that. Personally I’d be very upset if those thoughts occupied my wife’s every waking hour but I truly believe that isn’t the case.”

          Yes, I agree that a fantasy is “just” a fantasy, no more and no less.
          But what I’m getting at is how a fantasy, unspoken or not, may affect your partner and the relationship.
          If your wife were to tell you that she has fantasies about other people that occupies her every waking hour, you’d be upset. And rightly so, in my opinion.
          But what if she was to have frequent and regular fantasies about other people, that she didn’t tell you about, but would make her affection and attraction towards you significantly deteriorate?
          You would only notice the decrease in her affection, her becoming increasingly reluctant to make love to you, and also more aloof while eventually doing so (“Aren’t you done yet…?”).

          In that case, would you not be interested to know the reason behind her change?
          Wouldn’t the loss of affection from your spouse’s side be more troubling in itself, than finding out the reason behind it?

          1. But what if she was to have frequent and regular fantasies about other people, that she didn’t tell you about, but would make her affection and attraction towards you significantly deteriorate?
            You would only notice the decrease in her affection, her becoming increasingly reluctant to make love to you, and also more aloof while eventually doing so (“Aren’t you done yet…?”).

            In that case, would you not be interested to know the reason behind her change?
            Wouldn’t the loss of affection from your spouse’s side be more troubling in itself, than finding out the reason behind it?…………..Absolutely Kal…you are so right….more questions and butt hurt would surely ensue…. I personally wouldn’t know how to cope with this scenario….I would guess that my personal response would be to have conversations with her and attempt to ferret out her true feelings…I would not compromise my dignity if she indicated that this wasn’t fixable,nor would I want her to change to fit my comfort zone. You see I can’t accept being with someone who doubts their commitment to the relationship. Fantasy or not if the relationship takes the turns you describe it is incumbent upon us to get answers. This takes incredible courage and understanding…it may also include accepting truths that we aren’t prepared to hear. I realize that ego is at work here as well…often ego is frowned upon and those guided in part by ego vilified. I have a different view. My ego is an extension of my boundaries and deal breakers,my ego is an expectation of commitment and fidelity,my ego is quite human and knows me better than anyone, my ego is on my side if sides there be, my ego has saved me from crumby relationships in the past, my ego is a warning becon. I really don’t have any advice or expertise to offer…just what works in my marriage after fighting to save it and grow it and respect it . I had to fight quite a bit over the last 33 years….as I have mentioned in previous posts my fights were with my wife,outside influences,social stigmas and the foulest of foes…myself. Kal you and so many here are like dear friends to me and all I want is to help. Matt gets me thinking and applying what I knew for years about proper care and maintenance of the us that is our marriage. It is not for the faint hearted and you sir are a warrior with courage and determination to seek answers. I wish you all the best sir..and if I can help in any way never hesitate to contact me….blessings Louie

    3. And I apologize for addressing my lasy post to the wrong person.
      It should have been LissY, not Louie!

      I guess I scrolled up a little bit too far when looking for the author of that post.
      I’m sorry.

      1. No problem sir…I just shot my mouths off in response but I respect you and all here….blessings to you and your family

  8. Lissy,
    I do hope others respond to your comment but I feel compelled to as well. …
    I think the greater point here is that accepting your human tendencies allows you to accept those same-but-different things in those closest to you, and having those closest to you accept your human tendencies.

    When we deny those parts of ourselves, and attempt to hide them from those who want to love and know us we are short changing each other and the relationship.

    How could Matt’s wife possible have the chance to accept his imagined debauchery if she never knew about it? Would the knowledge of that part of each other been something that actually connected then instead of kept them apart?
    It doesn’t mean there is a desire to do it in real life, or that “permission” would then be granted to go do whatever. ..
    But here is the thing, if the fantasy (whatever it is) is there it doesn’t need anyone’s permission to exist. It just does (not saying it’s an uncontrollable impulse, but you like what you like and will physically respond to what you physically responded to.)

    I wished people/ couples could start seeing each other as their own individual person before they saw them as the role of husband/father, wife/mother etc.
    Those roles are secondary to the person, and can only be improved when the person is loved and up to full functioning in living fully.

    I apply this to all areas of shame, not just sex.

    For Matt, it’s sex. But, it could easily be food, or how we really feel about our boss, or our income …the list is endless to what we will hide in order to preserve our need for acceptance.

    The point is to be honest with who you are, and let those who accept you, accept you. ..

    1. This is good, Linds.

      I don’t think I’ve fully accepted myself. It starts there. THEN being courageous enough (and wise enough) to let others in to see the REAL us, because relationships cannot and will not last (pleasantly) when everyone’s wearing masks and hiding aspects of themselves.

      What’s ironic about my issues is that sex is a huge component of the glue that keeps two humans connected in a romantic partnership. I wasn’t hiding drug abuse, or a desire to ritualistically sacrifice small animals wearing ram skulls.

      I denied myself and my spouse the opportunity to fully understand and accept one another before and during marriage in an area of life fundamental to having a healthy, loving, high-functioning, built-to-last marriage.

      It was always only a matter of time. I just never realized it.

  9. So, I guess Lissy, in answer to your questions about “would telling them harm the relationship”… I would ask if the relationship wasn’t already less than it could be?
    If the relationship consists of maintaining the status quo- how much real interpersonal relating is going on?
    Are you really interacting with the person if the relationship consists of repeating the day you had yesterday?

    I think there is a lot of that in life, and is comfortable and needed. We get to place where we know the expectations and we know how to meet them, and everyone can feel good about doing that.
    I don’t think we constantly need to be in a state of growth (because that usually means a lot of upheaval). .but, I believe that those life long relationships that are good are a product of being able to navigate and change during those growth periods.
    And it is there that you have to be honest with yourself and others around you if you want to grow in a direction that will be an honest reflection of the life you want, the values you uphold, the desires of your heart, etc.

    1. I loved that Lissy asked this question and Lindsey, you always open up to the “real ” of this blog. I would say that the fantasy part is quite normal and part of everyone’s socio-emotional make up. My wife and I have had this conversation in the past. I believe it to be healthy to our relationship as it keeps interest in our intimacy. I was Anne’s first and only , she has no other experiences to recall or incorporate into what she could possibly enjoy. I’m not an idiot, even the most chaste have thoughts and wonders. We have discussed what it means to have these little mind strays. I feel they have worth of focus, meaning that any remembrance or thought I have gets redirected back to Anne and how I can enhance what we have rather than pine for the unrealistic. She has mentioned a few times that she has dreams that took her elsewhere and ( she’s going to kill me when she reads this) has had me wear something obscure or talk differently…( worked for me!)you get the idea. The important part is knowing we are individuals joined together with love ,trust and respect and that little naughtiness does exist but doesn’t define. I work in a casino and am an avid people watcher. I am astounded by some of the implied debauchery that I bear witness too. Every Friday and Saturday night there are untold numbers of bachelor and or bachelorette parties with both men and women in a seemingly fiendish sexual safari. During football season every Monday and Thursday there at least a dozen ,what I call ” MILF-packs”(I apologize to those offended by this term) married women out together in groups while their husbands are watching the game “ogling ” young attractive men.During the week a number of business meetings and conventions take place and I have noticed tan lined wedding ring fingers of both the men an women in attendance. The high school hallway antics of all those in those groups can be quite boarderline nauseating. The flirtatious and or boorish behavior is rampant. The giggle fests and chest puffing tell stories best suited for novellas with Fabio on the cover. One assumes the worst. However is this what really goes on in their individual minds?are they just influenced by a seemingly implied modus operandi of the occasion? Are there so many left unattended in their personal relationships that this is “that” release? Or is a fantasy just that? A little naughty indulgence or a refreshing of the self image? Can we truly say that those in those groups have shelved their personal virtues for the short term to be lock step with a click? I understand that we all have modes. I have my old neighborhood mode,my work place mode, my dad mode, my community activist mode, my church mode,and a bunch of other modes, the greatest being my husband mode. To the husband mode it is incumbent upon me to have the truest of my self lead the way. I cannot be successful as a husband and father if I am not, if I wasn’t I’d break promises,break trust,not show what courage looks like,not show that honor has worth, not show real commitment,not show dignity, not show the deep love my wife and kids deserve from me. Fantasy has a place, commitment, love ,respect,care…have environments

  10. Along with the keeping it real thing I’m about to go ballistic because I can’t get my damn dryer vent attached. Why have we not come up with something less frustrating and exhausting as those stupid circle clamps that don’t actually hold the vent in place? Can somebody tell me? Please? Huh?

    But to your question of do these people go out and cheat on their spouses because that’s what you do in environments like casinos ( It’s Vegas, Baby!) in part, I think some could be influenced by a bunch of locker room talk, yes. I think there also might be a social acceptance of affairs in some cultures.
    I know hospitalists (doctors who work in hospitals) have a huge reputation of sleeping with everything available. (At least in my area)…it is just shrugged at. It’s socially acceptable, and even expected.
    But again, what I think drives that is a lot of people giving up their real needs so they can make a lot of money and have some sort of prestige (They give up a lot of at home time to be at the hospital, and the pay off is $, and you get to be a big shot.)
    That is all about wearing masks, fitting in and giving up themselves.

  11. So true Lindsey, those little clamps suck! I’ve since given up on them and visited my local hardware store and for about $20 bought pvc piping that fits appropriately from the dryer to the outlet part of the house…my wife thinks I’m a genius, I think I don’t want to fart around with dryer vents….everything is screwed or glued together and battleship sturdy. As for the hospitalist, or janitor, or nurse , or whoever is stepping out within a committed relationship or persuading someone else in one to step out(and selfishly doing so) because of a social “acceptance ” one must ask of the individuals moral compass, of ones self boundaries, of ones ability to navigate a stance that is outside the click. And are they willing to accept a leer from the group for taking the high ground of NOT conforming. What we are essentially talking about is making choices. I choose to remain true because that is the real me, situation be damned. I can have whole piles of fun but within the confines of my comfort level. I’m not going to ,as my mother used to say ” so if your friends all jumped off a bridge would you too?” Unless I knew the consequences . The value of my wife,my family,my relationships, and my soul are far more important to me and always have been. Did I ever succumb to peer pressure? Of course, but nobody made me do something definitively that I wasn’t cognoscent of the possible outcomes. You are a wonderful and super intelligent person…I enjoy reading your posts and value what you have offered. I hope your world is a good one

  12. This is a beyond common thing. The more married couples I meet in my adult life, the more I realize this stuff is happening behind most of those scenes. Which is why I have come to believe that marriage does not work for most of us. It is definitely important to be honest with your partner, especially if you’re going to take that extra step of tying the knot and vowing to be faithful for eternity. People with voracious sexual appetites should never promise themselves to anyone. People with super pervy sexual fantasies that they know are just not being fulfilled and they need them to be satisfied in life, should not promise themselves to anyone. They should find their like-minded brethren and go to those freaky sex clubs/parties. Unless two people come together and have the same idea that an open relationship will work for them because they both love sex that much, it will end up being a shit show.

    1. It’s about alignment.

      I don’t mean to oversell the sex thing. I’m not some leather-bound deviant hanging out in undergound Euro clubs.

      It’s not about sex. It’s totally about to people being honest enough with one another to know for sure whether have the same values and principles. And whether they’re willing to adhere to someone’s boundaries and feel there’s the requisite amount of compatibility.

      There are a million reasons people don’t communicate effectively. Mine was fear and cowardice.

      No matter what people experience, the REAL them must be shared with one another to make marriage a thing that won’t turn into what so many turn into.

      You get it. I just wanted to expand it outside the scope of sex. It’s often something else entirely putting a wedge between two people.

    2. Leslie, I think it’s more than just someone’s sexual desire. ..I don’t think people aim to have affairs, or whatever else screws up their relationships – (growing apart, etc.) it is the mere fact that we can’t face each other. We don’t know how to be honest with each other or to love each other.
      So, we “miss” each other and the results are usually thoughts of, marriage doesnt work, live isn’t really, ect.
      When it’s really we were never taught how to love ourselves and really love others.

  13. Aww…thank you, Louie. Sometimes I dont feel like that at all. But, yes my world is mostly a good one. And even better after I silicone seal that sucker in place! 🙂

  14. Amen,Matt! Something to keep in mind,”God can never love you less or more than He does at this very moment.” That’s tough to wrap our brains around because we live
    in a world where love is conditional. The good people are rewarded and the bad people are punished. We have to remember that God’s ways are not our ways.We don’t earn His love, love is who He is.

    This made me laugh, ” I’m no longer surrounded by 10,000 single women every day.”

    Sure you are! And by blogging, you’ve now managed to capture a bunch of married women too. 🙂

  15. “I was actually a little pervy, and fantasized about interracial three-ways and other rad stuff”

    Oh Matt! As long as everyone understands that what you enjoy fantasising about isn’t necessarily what you’d enjoy if it actually happened in real life!

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Matt Fray

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