I was up a little late one night watching CNN waiting for a phone call from my husband, who was on the road to a speaking engagement. As the commercial came on, I got up to get a glass of water and did a double-take. In mid-step, my jaw dropped. Did I just hear what I thought I just heard?
Thank goodness for DVR. If I hadn’t been able to rewind, I may have thought I was delusional from lack of sleep. But there it was. A man and woman in bed, the man is awake and uncomfortable. She’s snoring and she’s definitely not attractive. He gets up and is admonished by an authoritative voice-over,
“You can always recover from a one-night stand with the wrong woman. But not if the wrong woman is there every day. Life’s too short. Have an affair.”
Oh, I get it. The wrong woman is his wife.
Don’t get me wrong: the hero in the ad is not a blond, blue-eyed Adonis, although he may be deluded into thinking he is. One look at the wife portrayed in the ad, and well… he’s entitled, isn’t he? An affair – that’s the answer to all his unhappiness.
Fantasy vs Reality
Unhappiness represented by his spouse. The Ashley Madison caricature-spouse isn’t entitled to happiness of her own. She is, just like the woman he may seek to have an affair with, an objectified fantasy, only in reverse. Life with her, according to the advertiser, is a nightmare.
A nightmare of reality! This guy is a real person in a real relationship with a real woman, and that requires self-sacrifice, humility and communication. (Ephesians 5:25-32, I Peter 3:7) When the avoidance of commitment collides with self-entitlement…boom! Ashley Madison opportunistically steps in. Why can’t you indulge a little? After all, spouses are placeholders for what you could lose should you have to face up to the nightmare of community property laws. You can have your cake, and eat it too.
After all, spouses are not all bad. Spouses are convenient. They do the laundry. They take the kids to soccer practice. They have jobs that provide extra household income so you can spend yours on dating sites for married people who want to date other married people.
One Thing Leads to Another
A lot of men who subscribe to the Ashley Madison mindset assume (or hope) that what their wives don’t know won’t hurt them, and they can maintain the status quo in their marriages, none the wiser. But most women have a very intuitive sense of connection and feel the fragmentation in their relationships even if they can’t articulate it. Some will try to talk about it, only to find themselves minimized. Others will decide not to rock the boat, chalking it off to busy schedules or stress, all the while going against the grain of “the little man inside”. Watch Edward G. Robinson talk about “the little man” in this clip from Double Indemnity, and note the parallels. ‘Nuf said.
That’s not to say that wives aren’t tempted these days too. As of this writing, Ashley Madison claims that its hacking scandal has produced even more customers, including 87,596 women who have recently signed up for the Ashley Madison platform. * Unhappiness, it seems, is fueling unfaithfulness, and that can only lead to tragedy and unintended consequences. (Proverbs 16:25).
Which makes me wonder what would happen if our hero logged onto the site and found the perfect married woman to have an affair with– no strings attached, perfect profile– only to find that woman ended up being his own wife? A married woman so unhappy by a disconnected husband that her wounded self-esteem prompted her to seek out an affair on an opportunistic website? (Shall we pause and insert: Isn’t It Ironic? sung to the tune of Isn’t It Romantic?)
What Are We Actually Looking For?
Let’s bring this thing home, literally and figuratively.
Christians are supposed to be governed by unconditional love, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:16-26). That’s what we profess, but too many of us don’t practice. Why the disconnect between our faith and living it out?
I think it gets down to simple immaturity. After all, nobody is completely happy with their spouse 100% of the time, but marriage is a covenant, a type of God and His people. And does anybody really think He doesn’t get tired of our nonsense at times? Read the book of Hosea – it wasn’t a pretty story! But He’s faithful, never bailing, never saying, “I’m tired of the Church I’ve got. I think ‘ll try a new one.”
Somehow, men (and some women) today have been deluded into thinking they’re entitled to more than God Himself. And alas, the news these days is full of heartbreaking stories about people who followed that mirage onto the Ashley Madison website, only to find themselves now exposed and, in some cases, ruined.
Talk about irony. We want something better, so we ditch what we need, get nothing for our efforts, then lose what we had and wind up with less than ever.
Ashley Madison said “You’re entitled”, foolish men said, “No one will know”, and PT Barnum said it best:
“There’s one born every minute.” -R