In less than six months, I'm getting married. Which, of course, is very exciting, given that I'm that girl who made a Pinterest board for my wedding long before my guy and I got engaged.
But it's also nerve-wracking, given that I'm also the girl who's terrified of marriage because of the litany of family divorces I've witnessed (or heard of) growing up. My grandma has been married three times, every one of parents' siblings, save one, split from their spouses, and my own parents divorced when I was 13. My odds aren't great.
Naturally, amid weighing my options for table linens and determining the musical selections for my much-longed-for jaunt down the aisle, I've been quietly wondering what, if anything, it might take for my fiancé and me to divorce some day.
I know I'm not supposed to be thinking about this as a bride-to-be. I'm getting married! I'm so happy! Centerpieces!
For better or for worse (heh), the fact that I've committed myself to a -- wonderful -- man has made me rethink what our relationship could handle, if tested. For example, I've always considered myself to be the type of woman who'd have a no cheating policy. As in, one wayward makeout sesh, and that's it, we've over. A full-on affair? Well, consider my bags packed and lose my number.
Perhaps this is because my boyfriend before my fiancé did in fact make out with a total rando one night and I still kick myself for spending two more years with him, all the while wondering if it might happen again. (Relationship insecurity -- fun!)
Yet, I was practically a child then (22) and clearly not at the level of commitment as I am to my future husband. (I mean, hello, that guy never did in fact put a ring on it.) After four and a half years, my fiancé and I are deeply intertwined, romantically and financially. We have a house. We have a dog. We have memories only we share. Most importantly, we have each other.
Over the years, a funny thing happened: The deeper our love has grown, the deeper my hypothetical forgiveness for a potential affair has gotten. Seeing the effects of divorce on my family, and not wanting to follow the long-standing tradition of my relatives, I have to believe that, if a transgression occurred, we could work through it. That, despite the pain and anger, we'd want to.
Which brings me to my point -- yes, I promise, I have one. Is it possible that cheating might not be as marriage-breaking as I've always thought it was?
If you look at recent statistics, no. According to data from the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, only 31 percent of marriages survive affairs.
But it appears that our general ideologies about cheating -- and our standards surrounding what is and is not okay -- do seem to be changing: A study just released by dating websites JDate and ChristianMingle found that while 86 percent of single men and 92 percent of single women believe that having sex with another person repeatedly is being unfaithful, a quarter of singles would consider marrying someone who was unfaithful to them while dating. (Yes, really.) Also, the number of people who consider tamer transgressions like passionate kissing and online flirting to be cheating has decreased since this survey was given in 2013.
What's more, a recent expert-opinion-laded article by Woman's Day claims that not only are many men still in love with their wives when they cheat, but that affairs can actually save couples' marriages.
In short, cheating seems to be generally less of a big deal. Seriously.
Of course, you have to take any advice or survey results with many grains of salt. But I'm actually kind of okay with this idea of being a little more tolerant, so to speak, about infidelity. At the very least, I do think that, perhaps much like the majority of participants in the aforementioned JDate/ChristianMingle survey, our modern definition of infidelity has gotten a bit out of hand. There's now "emotional cheating" and "digital cheating" to worry about, in addition to good old-fashioned sexual cheating. These so-called "affairs" are not on the same playing field.
While I still can't say for certain whether a full-blown, tryst-filled, sexual affair would break my impending marriage, I have to assume that, over the course of a decades-long relationship, that, say, a flirty Facebook message exchange with an old flame wouldn't be something worth divorcing over. Or, at the very least, I'd hope not.