The state of the Union. It’s a serious analysis of where we stand. Where we came from. Where we are now. Where we are headed. Are we stable? Are we strong? Are we vulnerable?
Are we putting ourselves in a dangerous position or are we protecting our most important relationships?
Are we constantly taking inventory of the state of our union?
Or are we simply going through our days, oblivious and complacent. Ignoring the warning signs. Brushing off those tiny little promptings we keep feeling that something is not quite right. Disregarding those occasional thoughts that things are not the way we wish they were. Telling ourselves that all relationships feel like this. That the distance is normal. Constantly telling ourselves that this coexistence, that the lack of true connection, is fine. We are fine.
But that’s not true. You’re not fine. It’s not fine. You’re in the danger zone. And maybe you don’t even know it.
Because it is in our complacency, it is in our in-attentiveness, that things fall apart. It is there where relationships slowly disintegrate. It is there , where we feel the most comfortable, that our worlds can cave in on us.
There is never an excuse to have an affair. No matter the state of your relationship, it’s inexcusable to betray someone that way. There has never existed an excuse that would validate doing that.
If you ask someone that cheated why they did it, more often than not they aren’t really even sure. When it comes down to it, they don’t know specifically why they went through with it. It’s hard for them to pinpoint the moment they really made that decision and why. They usually end up saying it was a mixture of things or that they simply got caught up in the moment. And maybe the real question that we need to ask is not “How did you come to the decision to have an affair?” but “What kept you from coming to a decision not to?”
While there is never a good excuse, there are always contributing factors. Things that maybe created the environment where you or your spouse were more vulnerable to an affair. Things that weakened the armor protecting your relationship. So many things, situations, and sometimes even people, both inside and outside your marriage can put kinks in that armor.
The questions we should all be asking ourselves are:
Are you present in your relationship?
Do you communicate with each other?
Do you try to respect each other’s opinions?
Can you agree that you won’t always agree and not let those things tear you apart?
Do you make your spouse and time with them a priority?
Are you affectionate with each other?
Do you try to make your spouse feel special? Feel treasured? Loved and secure?
Do you feel treasured, loved and secure?
Are you encouraging to each other?
Do you flirt with each other?
Do you flirt with others?
Is there anyone outside your marriage that actively, subtly or maybe even blatantly pursues you?
Do you allow a friendship outside your marriage to meet or exceed the level of friendship you have within your marriage?
Do you allow yourself to be put in situations where an affair could be tempting or possible?
Do you hide texts, phone calls, phone apps, or websites from your spouse?
Do you surround yourself with other people that are committed to their relationships, that believe in faithfulness, or do you spend your time with people that don’t value marriage in that way?
Are there addictions in your life that cause issues for you or those around you?
Do you make an effort to think positive thoughts about each other throughout the day?
Do you wear your wedding band?
Do you have insecure feelings about yourself which makes it easier for that outside person to make you feel good about yourself, making it easier to want to take that risk because of how that makes you feel?
Are you frequently away from your spouse? If so, have you discussed how you will handle that distance, and how you will handle tempting situations?
Is your relationship under major stress, such as finances or health issues? Are you supporting each other through it or blaming and resenting each other for it?
No, there is never, ever a good excuse for an affair. Not ever. Not one single reason that would be justified for inflicting the kind of pain and emotional trauma that comes along with it. The seemingly never completely healed wound that it leaves in its aftermath. Nothing on this earth could justify it. It’s cruel. It’s selfish and thoughtless and inexcusable. But it’s not unforgivable.
If you don’t want to find yourself in a place where you either have to be the one that needs to be forgiven of this offense, or the one choosing whether or not to forgive, Whether you’ve never had to deal with the effects of an affair or are trying to move forward from one, you have to address the state of your Union. Not occasionally. Not once a year, or once a quarter, or just when things get tough.
Every. Single. Day.
Be aware. Be present. Be proactive. Be intentional.
How do we save our marriages from complacency, from being just alright but not truly fulfilling? How do we go from just “living together”, to truly “living,together”?
How do we save our relationships from spiraling out of control, from life changing destruction?
We pay attention. We never stop making an effort to value each other. We never let go of gratitude. We focus on the positive aspects of the ones we love. When things get tough, we do the work. And we safeguard our hearts , our minds, our eyes. Never let all the distractions blind you from the truth of what your relationship can and should be. Never believe the lies that the grass would be greener somewhere else. Most times, that green grass is just an illusion, a grand mirage created in a fantasy world void of the pressures of stress, bills, kids and everything else in real life. You can’t live there in that fantasy land forever. Once the light of truth shines in and you’ve moved onto that seemingly greener grass, and it becomes your new reality, all of those stressors are still there and the fantasy disappears and you are truly no better off, and now you’ve damaged so many hearts and lives in your blind state. Open your eyes.
What is the state of your Union? Maybe you are in that place of complacency. Don’t stay there. There’s so much more. Your relationship can be so much richer and fuller. Do the work. Make the effort. Don’t settle for just ok. Commit to being better together.
Maybe your relationship already failed. Maybe there’s no moving forward, maybe that ship has sailed. That’s ok. Do better with your next one. Use the lessons you’ve learned to make sure the next relationship you have is amazing.
Maybe you are just starting out in your life together. You can’t even imagine yet losing that spark, or taking each other for granted. But life creeps in. Life gets busy and hectic and it just happens. You don’t even notice it at first.
Be vigilant. Never stop paying attention. Never stop valuing each other.
Our relationships, our marriages, they are everything. They are what makes up this thing we call life. They can make our lives incredibly rewarding, or incredibly painful. They are not something we can undervalue or take for granted. We have to treasure them. We have to actively protect them.
What is the state of your Union? It’s up to you. Take good care of it.
Amy Thurston Gordy