My wife and I just happened to catch a glimpse of the Today Show this morning where Katie Couric was interviewing women in their late 50's and 60's who made major changes in their lives to better themselves. While some of the stories were inspiring, there was one that really troubled me. And not only me, but my wife Rhiannon as well. One story followed a woman who supposedly had the life that most women want-a good husband, beautiful children, and financial security. Unfortunately, in our narcissistic age, for many women nowadays a loving faithful husband is simply not enough. Although the woman in the interview admitted that her husband was a nice man (which would rule out abuse and most likely infidelity on his part), she said that after 40 years of marriage, they had lost much of their intimacy. After talking with her therapist, she decided that her daughter would respect her much more by leaving her husband and starting a new life than by staying in an unhappy marriage. In the mind of this woman and her therapist, the act was considered courageous. Even more troubling, there seemed to be no inclination on the part of the producers of the show to even suggest that what this woman did was morally wrong.
To be sure, I am in no position to judge this woman. Jesus said "Judge not lest you be judged." Perhaps if I knew all the facts, I would feel differently about her decision. What troubles me, however, is the way this woman's decision to leave her husband of 40 years was portrayed as an act of courage simply because the man had failed to meet her needs in a way that fully satisfied her. My question is "Since when did infidelity become a virtue?" Furthermore, I wonder if it was the man who decided to leave his wife of 40 years citing "lack of intimacy" as the reason, would you see his story portrayed on The Today Show as an act of courage? Doubtful. Most people, men and women included, would probably describe their feelings about the man in no uncertain terms decrying his moral character. So why the double standard for the woman?
Lest you think I am a chauvinist (which I am not, those that know me well know that I am a strong advocate of equality between the sexes in marriage, the Church, and society ) my loving faithful wife also agreed with me. It seems that "from death do us part" has largely been exchanged for "till death do us part-as long as you meet my needs" in our culture. Is this the Biblical view of marriage? Hardly. Marital love is a picture of Christ's love for the Church-a love which happens to be unconditional. As corrupt and worldly as the Bride of Christ might be, it seems that our heavenly bridegroom (Jesus Christ) is stubbornly determined to love us despite our imperfections. It is this unconditional love that Jesus has for us that provides the basis for us fickle human beings to love each other unconditionally as well-especially within the bonds of marriage. I am thankful that Christ's love for me is not determined upon me meeting His needs. If it were, I am afraid my beloved Savior would come up with the short end of the stick. I feel that the least I can do is return the favor by loving my wife in the same way that He has loved me. As a moral virtue for the betterment of society, I'll take fidelity over selfishness any day.