Neither am I.
I know we’ve written about this before but it’s so important and bears repeating…
You (and I) are not the exception to the rule.
Too often we walk around with the presumption that we are. And it almost always ends up biting us in the butt in the long run. And sadly, takes many of us by surprise? I often wonder why. Human nature? Perhaps. I think it makes us feel better about our choices to think about the best possible most elusive outcome possible and just put blinders on and assume that that is exactly how it will all work out for us. Perfect. No muss no fuss. No drama. We can do what 100 people before us have done and have a completely different and better outcome then any of them had.
Of course, there are rare exceptions to almost every rule. But in general, most rules, most truths, apply to almost all people in all circumstances. That’s hard for most people to believe, accept or understand until they’ve gone through something that proves it to them. And we all do, eventually.
There have been many times lately where we’ve noticed, on our own sites as well as others that great thoughts will be quoted, great ideas will be laid out on the table for discussion only to be met with “Yeah, but…” or “Well, maybe that works for you but…”
One of my least favorite (I’m venting now, but I can do that because its my blog) is when we post a quote about the importance of working on your marriage, not giving up on it, not leaving for non-threatening reasons only to have someone say, “So we should just stay and get abused?” No…. that’s not what I said. And, that’s not what the quote was insinuating. I feel like I have to put a disclaimer on everything that I post about forgiveness, divorce, reconciliation, etc. Of course, if you’re being abused in any way you should leave!
I think its human nature to want to attach caveats to things so that we have an out if we “need” one. Or to justify the choices we’ve already made. The problem with that way of thinking is we’re constantly walking around with a “get out of jail free” card in our back pocket. We’re walking around with a plan B in our hearts. That mentality doesn’t actually work or help in maintaining health or longevity in our relationships. So why are so many of us are scrambling to make ourselves the exception to the rule? Just so we feel better about the choices we’ve made? I honestly can’t explain it.
I do know that there are so many rules of life out there that have been proven time and time again. Century after century. Relationship after relationship. And many of us would save ourselves (and the people we are in relationship with) a lot of heartache if we would just think some of these things through and start making choices based on the rule rather than the exception. “There is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9
*In most divorces, kids do not fair well. The rule is there will be upheaval, anger, hurt, resentment, and tons of healing (individually and familially) that will have to take place over years if not decades. The exception is that you and your spouse know how to perfectly co-parent and because of that your kids will adjust relatively easily to living in two different homes and being thrown into two different living situations. The truth is that your kids probably won’t be amenable to adjusting super well and easy and fast just so you can ‘be happy.’ They’re going to be experiencing your choice to split the family up from their own perspective.
*Affairs aren’t worth it and most don’t end well. You have a less than 1% chance of your affair turning into a marriage that actually lasts. The rule is that most end within six months of being put in the open and being ravaged by the elements – the bubble you were existing in bursting, both sides of the family finding out and reacting, friends disapproval, children’s anger and hostility for not just breaking the family apart but attempting to create a ready made second one. The exception is that your relationship might seem pretty viable for a season. The exception is that you two might seem pretty happy for a while but it will take you putting yourself into another man made bubble to remain so because everyone else around you will more than likely not be happy or supportive. It’s hard enough to have a first marriage with family and friends who aren’t supportive. It’s near impossible to do it when you’re dealing with a spurned spouse, hurting kids, and family and friends who are feeling just as hurt and deceived as anyone else. Pretty horrible odds.
*You will not be able to keep your affair a secret from your spouse. The rule is that they will find out at some point. Your demeanor will change. You will slip up. Your affair partner will decide that they desire to be more than just a booty call. The exception is that you have an affair, it ends, and no one is the worse for it. Believe us, even if you were able to take your secret to your grave it absolutely does change the dynamics of your marriage. Even if your spouse never finds out, they were in fact still hurt by your choices. The only way to rectify these horrible decisions is to man up and face them head on and be 100% honest the whole way. Secrets suck.
*You cannot eat whatever you want whenever you want and remain a skinny minnie. (I’m just throwing this one in for fun because I’m dealing with it right now.) I could do this when I was 17. Whatever, whenever. In fact, I’m pretty sure its how I was typecast for the role of Jan in our high school musical Grease. But…now that I’m 37 I’ve actually been told by my doctor that I would be steadily gaining weight if I weren’t eating healthy and regularly working out. Fun times. The rule is that most adults do not have the same metabolism they had when they were kids. The older you get the harder it gets to maintain your weight and your health. So, instead of chowing down on that third slice of pizza, add a side salad. Your future you will thank you.
*You shouldn’t have best friends of the opposite sex. When you get married, everything changes, including the dynamics of your friendships. If you had a best friend of the opposite sex, gone are the days of hanging out with them alone. If you want your marriage to last. Your spouse needs to be in on it. The three of you need to hang out. Your spouse needs to become their buddy. They need to go out and do things together. But, you and your opposite sex friend – going out alone on a Friday night for dinner and a movie? Ummm…no. Not sure what universe you live in but where I live that’s called a date. If you’re spending your Friday night desiring to hang out, veg, talk with and share with your friend over your spouse that’s a huge red flag. The rule is that most marriages don’t survive these types of relationships. They infringe on everything you are supposed to be using your spouse for as support. If you are getting some of your emotional needs met by your friend that is a huge infringement on your marriage relationship. And it is a hop, skip and a jump to getting physical needs met. No, your spouse isn’t going to be able to meet all your needs. Another rule we need to remember and keep in mind…but the needs they can’t meet shouldn’t be met by another person of the opposite sex. There are healthier ways to make that happen.
*Porn is hurtful and destructive and addictive. If you think you can watch it in secret and not have it negatively impact your marriage, guess again. If you think you can introduce it into your marriage to spice things up and not have it negatively impact your marriage, you are wrong. A while back I was participating in a discussion board on a site that was discussing the harmful effects of porn. There was one woman on there who bit into everyone who said that it was hurtful or addictive. She continued to state that porn made her marriage stronger and that all of the statistics did not apply to her. I, along with many others, implored her to consider the fact that the majority of people who regularly view porn have issues with sex, have issues with how they perceive their real life lover, and have issues with addictive behavior. It ruins lives and marriages. This woman couldn’t see it. Because she felt that her marriage hadn’t been ruined by it, she couldn’t even process or relate to the information that hundreds of people on that discussion board alone that were confessing to: addiction, destructive behaviors while using it, and the statistical research that shows the harmful effects on the people who use it and those they are in relationship with. She completely discounted that what happened to the majority of people who use it would ever happen to her. Because it hadn’t. Yet.
We can’t say it enough:
We are not the exception to the rule.
Ironically, even the people that we think are the exception to the rule are not usually the exception to the rule. And it would be really awesome if people who appear to be the exception to the rule would start being honest about their experience as a whole. How hard, and trying, and hurtful it was. How hard they still have to work to make things good. How much they actually struggle in their current situation.
We only have the vantage point that we have though – the outside looking in. There was a while back when a friend of mine had an affair and left her husband and married her affair partner. She couldn’t have been happier. Or so she led everyone to believe. Turns out that her affair partner, now second husband, was cheating on her and she was heading towards a second divorce. I spent a good year after Clint confessed living in fear that our situation could become her situation (that Clint would leave and marry his affair partner and be happy about it) only to find out that this woman was NOT the exception and Clint and I more than likely wouldn’t be either. Her story, her relationship, the guy she was “meant” to be with that she literally gave up everything for, in fact wasn’t worth it at all. It never is. And it was such a relief to me, as sad as I was for her, to hear that from her and understand that the rule really does apply.
And that’s what we want you to come away with today. The choices we make need to be made with clarity and wisdom, with consequences and the future in mind, with the impact of those choices on others at the forefront. We need to be able to see the choices we are making in light of what the rule is rather than what the exception is. Because, as I will shout out till I’m blue in the face, till everyone hears and starts to believe:
You are not the exception to the rule.
We all need to start livin’ like it.
We are linking up with some of these great sites! Check them out!