At the heart of marriage is the covenant pledge of fidelity. Now, ask around, and you’ll find that, when most folks hear the word “fidelity,” they immediately think of conjugal faithfulness. That is, I promise never to have sex with anybody else, ever. Whoever attached fidelity to only being sexually faithful! In reality though, fidelity is way more than that and the paragraphs after this will go deeper on this.
Beyond actual sex, most couples also put the kibosh on kissing, nuzzling, lap dances, skinny-dipping, massaging, showering, dating, nude photography, private porn habits, vacationing, strip poker, lurid banter, breast exams, getting one hotel room to “save money,” erotic e-mails/text messages, midnight IM-ing, MySpace preoccupations and exchanging lingerie for Christmas.
You want a thriving marriage? avoid the above list of activities, unless your partner in those activities is your mate. In which case I’m a big fan of the list. Except for the private porn habit, because, by definition, a thriving marriage is one wherein you will no longer find it interesting or necessary to cultivate a private sex life.
Over-fascination with video games, television and cyberspace chat rooms. Abandoning care for your health and vitality. Hobbies, friends, ice cream and Doritos, boredom, underemployment, unwillingness to seek treatment for depression, poor grooming, poor hygiene, overzealous religion/yoga/fishing/you-name-it, addictions, graduate school, unwillingness to set appropriate boundaries with fused, intrusive “family-of-origin” relationships — all of these things can be infidelities. Each can tempt you to feel entitled to and then habituate being less than radically present to your marriage and your mate.
It’s wrong to wake up in the middle of a marriage, shrug your shoulders, then passively and unilaterally decide you’re no longer interested in sex. That is an egregious infidelity. And it’s just plain mean.
When you take the wider view, not having sex with anyone else might be the easiest part of marital fidelity. All you got to do is keep your pants on. Say “no.”
Deeper fidelity means saying “yes,” again every day, to being ‘radically present’ to the life of this man or this woman you said you would love, honor and cherish.