Young couples crack me up. Their belief in the saying “everything old is new again” would be dead on, except they figure everything old is well, old. Period. Affairs, for instance. Back in the old days (circa 1960, so we’re talkin’ really old days) people didn’t have affairs because there was too much work to do on the farm; there wasn’t the time or energy to fool around. Besides, though it was never actually said, the implication is that distance between farms makes sneaking around difficult. (Odd as this may sound to those of us of a certain age, clients have actually said this.)
Accordingly, extra-relationship affairs are 21st Century occurrences that come out of closer proximity to others as well as a busy lifestyle that keeps partners moving and shaking too far away from each other. That’s all true, but the real truth is more subtle, less easy to sustain over time, not that social scientists and psychologists and just plain old folks haven’t tried. We all come up with various explanations that are more or less true.
Putting a historiographical spin on it means we can never really understand, as long as we’re here and the behavior is there. That affairs never happened before our time in history is one way of solving this dilemma.
As couples, we do what we choose to do — combining wants for ourselves with wants for each other. It’s not what each of us might want individually (temptati0n is part of the landscape) it’s what we want for the “us” of it. In other words, it really doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing — having affairs, or not — it’s what we as individual couples do that’s distinguishing. Buy into that belief and explanations don’t give us excuses or license.
Being together means having a similar moral compass, singing the same Song of Solomon, and mostly bringing enough personal strength to withstand being a human being.
Thinking before one leaps is a motherism in action; it’s not what everyone else does that matters.