We know what causes infidelity?
But what causes fidelity? Whatever that causes fidelity, when it is not there, causes infidelity!
So, what causes fidelity?
A couple goes through different stages or types of intimacy during their times together and experience one or more stages in their lifetime. To the extent the couple moves through the different stages would depend on the time and attention they place on their relationship. These include with no specific order or preference i.e. being:
- Sexually intimate with each other (be it where the couple experiences sexual intimacy either regularly, or on an ad-hoc basis)
- Physically intimate (where the couple moves to live in the same space together)
- Emotionally intimate (where the couple enjoys a relationship where each helps the other meet their needs emotionally; here the couple has learned to understand each others’ pasts as well as learnt to share and value unique moments together such as dinners, holidays, family events, and so on.)
- Mentally intimate (where the couple has learned to see the view of the partner not from one’s own perspective but that of the partner’s and in doing so learns to bring their minds together so that they may plan their lives together from the past, present and into the future and not meet their future as contingent (“let’s cross the bridge when we get there”. i.e, there is child born to them and so they need to meet its living and educational expenses, and so on)
- Spiritually intimate (where each regard the other as their soul-mate and enjoy a celestial or soul mate experience together)
Where do you think sexual fidelity begins to happen for the couple? Would it be at sexual intimacy or at physical intimacy or when the couple has learned to experience emotional intimacy?
What does sexual fidelity look like? It includes among other things, a willingness by each person in the relationship to regard his or her partner as:
- The only sexual partner for life;
- Where the relationship is not given (as in blood relations), but the couple has chosen to learn to want to be together;
- The relationship has grown beyond physical intimacy to include (or aspires to include) all or other forms of intimacy between the two and not limited to one or two out of the five;
- The couple is in the relationship because they ‘want to’ and not because they ‘had to’ (it is an obligation or transaction or choices made by parents or forced to) be in it;
- The couple regards each’s relationship with the other emotionally (as opposed to physically, materially, mentally) as equals and not assumes either as superior (head of the household) or inferior (submissive) to the other.
Did you say, the above (particularly sexual fidelity) happens when the couple learns to build emotional intimacy? Yes, you are right! We know couple who have reached the first two stages in the relationship and have even chosen to marry each other, yet, do not necessarily enjoy sexual fidelity with each other.
So how does emotional intimacy happen? Does it happen magically or it requires hard work on both sides? How would they need to work with each other so that they meet the other’s needs emotionally?
The following is something I have found useful as a I work with Dr Gray’s work. It helps appreciate the level of intimacy that may happen for a couple.
- What do you notice happening between the two (notice the threads in red)?
- Does it happen one way or would it need to happen two-ways?
- Are the needs of the two genders the same?
- So who starts first?
- Do these steps happen overnight or do they take time?
- Do they happen by accident or it helps that both sides of the couple first really appreciate what really ticks the other in (or off)?
- How would such learning happen? It is easier if one sees one’s parents do it? However, should that not be the case, what are the implications for society, the couple and the future? What could happen differently?
|NEEDS OF THE TWO GENDERS AND THE ORDER THESE NEEDS GROW / REINFORCE OVER TIME TO CREATE SUSTAINABLE RELATIONSHIPS IN A COUPLE: BY DR JOHN GRAY, AUTHOR OF “MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS”
|Caring– When he shows interest in a woman’s feelings and heartfelt concern for her well-being, she begins to trust him more
||Trust– When she believes in her man’s abilities and intentions that he is doing his best and that he wants the best for his partner, he is more caring and attentive to her feelings and needs
|Understanding– When he listens without judgment but with empathy, the easier it is for her to give her man the acceptance he needs
||Acceptance– When she receives a man without trying to change him, he listens and gives her the understanding she needs
|Respect– When he acknowledges her rights, wishes, and needs, she feels respected. It is easier for her to give her man the appreciation he deserves
||Appreciation– When she acknowledges having received personal benefit and value from a man’s effort and behaviour, he feels appreciated. He knows his effort is not wasted and is thus encouraged to give more and he respects his partner more.
|Devotion– When he gives priority to a woman’s needs and proudly commits himself to supporting and fulfilling her, the woman thrives and feels adored. When she feels number one in his life, she admires him.
||Admiration– When she admires him with wonder, delight and pleased approval, he feels secure enough to devote himself to his woman and adore her.
|Validation– When he does not object to a woman’s feelings and instead accepts their validity, she truly feels loved and gives the approval the man needs.
||Approval– When she sees her man as her knight in shining armour and recognizes the good reasons what he does, she signals that he has passed her tests and this becomes easier for him to confirm her feelings.
|Reassurance– When he repeatedly shows that he cares and devotes himself to his partner (the woman should come to expect sexual fidelity and that the man provides and protects her exclusively), tells a woman that she is continually loved. He must remember to reassure her again and again. This moves her to encourage him to be a man bigger than himself.
||Encouragement– A man primarily needs to be encouraged, understood and if need to see the woman sympathize and he sees her stands by him. Her encouraging attitude gives hope and courage to a man by expressing confidence in his abilities and character. When her attitude expresses trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration and approval, it encourages a man to be all that he can be. This motivates him to give her the loving reassurance she needs.
Should we pay attention to:
- Curing the disease when it is already transmitted (attack the problem that we can see)? or
- Preventing the disease from being transmitted (defend ourselves from the problem?) or
- ‘Cure’ ‘the reason that causes the disease to be transmitted (what causes the problem)?
Let’s take this situation. Suppose there is a couple, both of whom are HIV positive and both are sexually fidel to each other. Given so, would the two increase the prevalence of the disease ‘out there’ in society? No, you say? You are right!
So when does the disease increase its prevalence?
It (only) happens when one or both partners choose the act of infidelity with each other. Should partners choose fidelity with each other, transmission of the disease is likely to plunge immediately across society. And plunge faster than any interventions by government or organizations will make it possible.
And it is (way) cheaper. There is the price we pay for not dealing with the causality. And the price tag is US$27 billion! and that is just by one country – USA. That is money that could have been somebody’s salary increase. However, I suppose when we do not figure these out, we probably do not deserve those salary increases! Otherwise, it can easily be there for our takings.
Now, this was interesting for the Department of HIV/AIDs because a big part of its efforts and budgets placed to curb the epidemic was to ‘prevent the disease being transmitted between mother to child’. However when they recognized that 80% or so transmissions are because of indiscretions by couples in their sexual behaviour (and the primary causality of the disease), they began to realize that whilst they worked hard to stop the disease being transmitted from mother to child and hospitals therefore saved the child from its mother but when the child grows up, and becomes an adult, it is possible that the child may not be able to save from itself should it engage in sexually indiscriminate practices itself! The money it had used to save the child, ‘literally was now become money that it had poured down the drain’!
But it is harder to ‘work on the fidelity between the couple’ in the bedroom. It is easier to manage the transmission at the hospital between the mother and the child. So we ignore it, choosing easier ways out such as resorting to dispensing condoms, or encouraging practices of circumcision among men or extolling the vices of maintaining sexual networks or encourage total abstinence. They work somewhat, but not realistically enough to make sure the country will meet its target of zero infection rates. Yet, we are not talking as yet for us to learn what it takes for couples to learn to want to be together and afterwards it learns to also exercise sexual fidelity between each other. Till we get there, can we expect to solve this problem? No. You can deal a blow, but not solve it.
So, what causes sexual fidelity? Or have you too given up that the idea is possible?
Notice most sexual indiscretions happen away from the glare of the ‘day’ and under the cover of the night and in spots that are deliberately designed to keep ‘the authorities out’ (see pages 3-5) and apparent ‘disorder in’? What are we hiding from? Who are we running from and then afterwards who are we running into? There lies the answer to our questions on fidelity!
So what would lead a couple to become fidel with each other?
Image via Wikipedia
Image via Wikipedia