by: Lanisha Porter
I found myself deeply curious about if it was truly biology that compelled men to cheat, or if that was just a social construct said to give men a pass. Not knowing the answer to this made me take a long hard look at marriage and reconsider if it was something I ever really wanted to do. The more I matured and my innocence divorced me, society allowed me to unravel some harsh truths.
Sadly, I had been awakened to the fact that men were very different from the fantasy beings that I had idealized them to be from my girlhood and packed into my womanhood with me. You see, I’ve always held men in high esteem and for the first time in my life I had an honest realization of how weak they were especially in the flesh.
Firstly, I learned about men and started to see them for what they truly were. In all my 20-years alive, I conceptualized “man” as a gender. But to my disappointment I’d finally been forced to see that being “man” was a state of character. To be human means to be in an inescapable state of nature vulnerable to error, and constant short coming. Sadly, I had been awakened to the fact that men were very different from the fantasy beings that I had idealized them to be from my girlhood and packed into my womanhood with me. You see, I’ve always held men in high esteem and for the first time in my life I had an honest realization of how weak they were especially in the flesh. It had been unraveled for me that historically even the best of men cheated on the best of women. Stories of public humiliation done to women like Coretta Scott King, Hillary Clinton, and Jackie Kennedy by notable men like Dr. King, and former Presidents Clinton, and Kennedy—who you would believe to embody the utmost integrity and loyalty— made marriage a lot less glamorous to me. It made the odds of me ever being cheated on seem that much more likely. If the best of men could do it, I know it would be second-nature to cheat for men who are second-class at being best. The more these truths started to unravel, the more the threads of my moral fabric that once sewed together my dreams of marriage became disentangled. I started to rearrange my expectations of what love should look like and if it was even possible to find that “perfect man” for myself like everyone suggested I someday would.
Another harsh truth I stumbled upon—maybe one of the harshest—was learning the cultural expectations of me as a wife. It made me very disillusioned. I was told things like I have to keep him mesmerized by switching up things. To me, I internalized this to mean in marriage, to be a successful wife, you need to constantly model new reconstructions of yourself—possibly even if you don’t want to. And it just didn’t make sense to me that in marriage, where you are supposed to be the most comfortable being yourself, you have to constantly change yourself. Then people would give me tacit confirmation that learning to be quiet is a big part in making a marriage work. And also there were adamant suggestions that ambition should be tempered—especially as a woman—in marriage because you can no longer prioritize your dreams over the union…and if it does happen, it has usually been the husband asking the woman to ride shotgun on the road to his destiny. The woman asking the man to ride shotgun would be “emasculating” to him. As a woman who is neither bashful about my opinions in the company of men and who is very ambitious, being a wife felt like it eclipsed who I was as a person. And as a person I greatly believe in maximizing oneself to the highest human potential. In large, outside looking in, marriage started to seem like a social contract where each person had to sacrifice individual freedoms to the sovereign power of love. The only thing to bind this contract together in good faith was trust and love which are both fragile things. But knowing the “biological nature” of men was a killjoy in my ability to trust another person who has their own autonomous will. At any moment, no matter how good a woman a wife may be, the man could become enticed for more from somewhere else.
Being privy to this possibility, I decided at 20 years old I would just opt not to marry. This was my defense mechanism for keeping my heart safe, and shielding my dreams from further corruption of this world. In all my intelligence, it didn’t seem logical why I would aspire to marry a man who has it ingrained to cheat on me when I, myself, would be sure to make a more-than-faithful wife. It doesn’t seem like a fair exchange. I’m a strong person but having to look another woman in the face and know she got to experience and share in such a sacred and deeply intimate part of my life, would be too much power given away; I think it would shatter pieces of my soul. Being cheated on as a wife is hard to excuse because it dismisses her inherent dignity and totally disregards the vows taken in front of God.
All in all, I changed my mind on marriage when I realized all the transgressions men make, and noticed the only way to ever make a marriage work is to just accept it…to have mercy…to be willing to bear forgiveness. When I learned biology has the power to possibly interrupt chemistry, I divorced the idea of marriage. When I learned you have to be optimistic and trust even if deep down you have doubts I became hopeless because in a sense, marriage prompts a lot of self-suffocating…a lot of muting…a lot of turning your head and acting like you didn’t see or acting like you aren’t curious in fear of looking insecure or bothersome. The idea of being a wife felt like joining an institution where my happiness would be in a continuous battle with a mans appetites. And to me, marriage has no benefit if one is invested in pursuing their interests under the influence of their appetites.
When I first decided I wanted to opt out of marriage, I felt sorry for myself too and very unrecognizable to the person I had known myself to formerly be, simply because so many of my self-principles had been organized around one day being a wife
People could read this and feel sorry that I have decided on such a fate. They could attribute my decision to just being inexperienced, naïve or fearful from watching a series of failed relationships but I say maybe they could be in alike company—they too could be inexperienced or naïve. Possibly, I lack the piece of knowledge that compels me to want to marry, or they could be numb to a reality that they have yet to awaken to. When I first decided I wanted to opt out of marriage, I felt sorry for myself too and very unrecognizable to the person I had known myself to formerly be, simply because so many of my self-principles had been organized around one day being a wife. Erotically making love for the first time, raising children, enjoying the long fruits from having power careers, family gatherings on Holidays and Sunday dinners, and the cozy home suffused with valuable memories are all things I’ve dreamed of vividly for years…but only with my husband. I’m not sure I could release myself in doing these things under any other circumstances. A husband has always been on my vision board for life…but this is before I grew up and learned about men.
Marriage is so much more than merely finding companionship, wearing rings, wedding gowns, cake tastings and perfect pictures. Marriage is about aligning your entire spirit, emotion, thoughts, plans and complete self with another person and taking a vow to honor that…even in moments where the alignment runs crooked. I’m older now and so I know I have to be realistic and fair to the weaknesses and flaws that men have when you finally get up close and personal enough. And that definitely slows me down from jumping head first into a commitment that vows death do us part. In marriage you have to be ready for anything and I’m not sure I could ever forgive infidelity. It is comforting to say only “fuckboys” cheat to reassure ourselves that normal men are incapable of such disloyalty, but what if most—if not all—men really are honestly wired to cheat? This changes everything I’ve ever dreamed marriage to be.
In search for truth about marriage, I tried to avoid the cheap advice given with clichés like "you'll find perfect love", and talked to long-surviving couples who had years on their clock. These veterans almost always admitted to me that it had been turbulent—and everything but perfect—but ultimately it had been worth it because they persevered. I don't know what "turbulent" meant for them but truthfully speaking it probably consisted of series of infidelities, lying, deception, disagreements, forms of abuse, loneliness, compromising of the self, of dreams, of personal agendas, and I'm sure even financial burdens. I would study these stories gathered from these couples and strategize how I could manipulate destiny to make love work in my favor…or how I could be sure the cosmic winds of the universe wouldn’t blow and make the flame of my love flicker whenever, if ever, I decided to get married. But one thing became devastatingly clear—love has no science behind it to follow. It's not something you can predict or study for. Love is mysterious...there is no certainty that any marriage will work; it all seems to be a gamble. But as a woman fiercely devoted to my commitments, I don't like to gamble on what may not give me a solid return. While I understand no marriage can subsist in perfection, I do expect marriage to achieve some degree of infallibility after pouring my unwavering efforts into it. I know some may read this and think 'doesn't she realize she too is human and is susceptible to making the same mistakes men make?' and I both expect and accept your rebuttal (especially as someone who has been writing philosophy papers for years now)...and my answer to that is this: I have the moral authority to speak on these things because I never have and I never would cheat on a partner. When a person entrusts you with their trust and their heart, the very least you can do is honor that with self-control over your passions. There's nothing casual about handling someone's time and heart. As a woman raised with Christian values, I would feel reluctant to go before my Father and enter into what is supposed to be a pure union with a man I know who doesn't have it in his heart to honor me.
Welcome to my views from this horizon!