General Petreaus had opportunity, distance and an aging marriage. Out went fidelity. The guy hooked up with a toothsome bit of baggage - a West Point and Harvard Educated careerist new woman. The General had a close-cropped noggin which befitted his Samson role and like the long-tressed biblical warrior-judge of Israel went all Delilah weak in the knees for the athletically toned and wildly ambitious globe trotting stalker bint.
Sic Transit Omnia.
The General did not lose a battle, turn tail and run from the enemy, or loot the Officer's Club revenue. Sadly, like too many males, the weaker gender, he went trappin' the wrong crick.
Fidelity ( faithfulness) is the stay against age, distance, circumstance, opportunity, flattery and the libido. Fidelity is a practiced virtue and one of most neglected in our shabby culture. We are shabby because we make excuses instead of obligations. Women, it seems to me, are much more adept at toughening themselves and their mates to fidelity. That we are all weak is given, but it is the woman who holds ledger of accountability.
A man will announce a birthday party for his six year old daughter with paternal bravado and promises of paternal largess; a woman will write and send invitations, plan, decorate, bake, purchase and wrap gifts and execute the activities for a household and yard stuffed with young miscreants and their mothers. Pater Familias will arrive hours late with a snootful and receive the hugs and squeals of Little Liza - "Thank You, Daddy!"
Women are magnificent!
In the wake of the Petraeus gossip, I caught the words of a young military wife who has watched her faithful husband go off to war, just like Mrs. Petraeus. This young woman has a faithful mate. She appreciates his fidelity and shares ideas with the other 800,000 military spouses who wave goodbye to their spouses - too often.
Jacey Eckhart is the young wife of a naval officer. She enjoys a good marriage, because she and her mate work at it, rather than work on excuses. She is very much like the wives that I know of personally who say goodbye to ComEd linemen, Peoples Gas workers, cops, firemen, nurses, EMTs, and, yes, even teachers- people who into harms' way everyday. Tomorrow is promised to no one, but that is not license to act like a jerk. These beautifully magnificent women, like the wives/husbands of military spouses, work at mutual fidelity - the human races greatest insurance company. Their spouses can not wait to come home.
Jacey Eckhart tells why
This weekend I treated my husband to the same scene that probably played out in the bedrooms of all 800,000 active-duty marriages. Ours was crowned with me stomping out of the tub clad in a towel and crying, “Please, please, promise me that won’t ever happen to us!”
My husband of 25 years thought this was the silliest thing I have ever said. And I have said a lot about infidelity through our own history of 7 deployments, 16 moves and 2 so-called geographic bachelor tours, when he was sent on assignment without us.
I don’t mean that either of us has jealous tantrums or that either of us is a cheater. I mean that when military life requires that you spend so much time apart, your marriage confronts one of the factors shown to contribute to infidelity: opportunity.
When we were first married, the opportunity was all mine. My husband was stationed on an all-male ship in the middle of the Persian Gulf. I was a 22-year-old girl who thought it was “no biggie” to go dancing with a bunch of naval aviators. “It was just dancing,” I claimed. “What are you so mad about?”
Later, the opportunity was all his. I was home with a baby and no friends, and he was making port visits. One night he woke me up with a call from a 7-Eleven in Daytona Beach, Fla. “Some girl was flirting with me a little too much,” he said. “I thought I should go get a Klondike bar instead.”
Although there are no firm numbers about infidelity and the military, I suspect that we are a lot like other Americans. From my experience as a military marriage consultant, I’d estimate that a third of military marriages are probably blighted by infidelity — about the same as civilian marriages.
And so we set up our little rules and policies to keep our marriage safe. We talk. We identify the rare, much-too-attractive individuals in our work and social circles whom we need to keep at arm’s length. Fidelity is ingrained in us now.
. . . What are our meager defenses against age and distance and opportunity? We talk about the Petraeuses as if we know them; we don’t, personally, but in a way we know their life story intimately. And now we know, as they do, that history isn’t enough to keep a long military marriage together.No, I think we always knew it. It is just that now we have a reason to look at this new fidelity and make our plans for the deployments to come.
We reassure each other. We discuss strategy. We laugh over our shared past. We head back to bed.
Women are magnificent. Jacey Eckhart is a magnificent woman.
Jacey Eckhart, the spouse editor for Military.com, is the author of “The Homefront Club: The Hardheaded Woman’s Guide to Raising a Military Family.”