I am going to assume you are familiar with the TV show Shameless as I write this post. By doing so, I can bypass all of the character descriptions and the dysfunctional dynamics of the Gallagher family. Instead of discussing the horrible depiction of fatherhood and the way a family rebounds to save oneself, I am going to focus on the Gallagher’s neighbors, Kev and Veronica.
Kev and Veronica are a married couple that have faced their own dysfunctional episodes that are on par with their next door neighbors. During this past season of Shameless, Kev and Veronica ventured into the world of parenthood with twins. Kev quickly became one of my new favorite television dads. I love watching dads portrayed on TV in a positive light. Kev constantly emerged from couches and rooms covered in sweat and poop, as though it wasn’t a big deal. Crying babies were soothed in his big arms as he danced around in every episode. If there was a problem with the babies, he was on it. He reminded me of myself when I was a new dad. Like Kev, I knew very little about being a daddy, but I wanted to learn everything. I wanted (and still do) to be a great dad. Unfortunately for Kev and Veronica, the stresses of babyhood took a toll on their marriage.
I realize that this is a fictional marriage and not everyone has the crazy life of those on Shameless, but I do hear stories from friends that are in similar situations to those on the TV show. And one story that played out in Kev and Veronica’s marriage revolved around their lack of a sex life. Romance left for the couple once the babies entered the picture. If they weren’t distracted by their lack of energy, they were interrupted by the cries for help from across the house. Since Kev was the main one doing most of the parenting, Veronica felt left out and unloved. Again, this is a made up story on Showtime, but I hear similar stories all the time.
Because Veronica felt a desire to be wanted, she put on her sexiest dress and went to the club with a friend. Shortly after entering the club, she found a man to dance with and pulled him in close. After grinding for a few minutes, she had an orgasm on the dance floor and quickly left the club with her friend in tow. As she walked down the street to her car, she wondered aloud, “Did I just cheat on Kev?” Because I have an interest in Kev, I shouted from my couch, “Yes!” The next morning, Veronica fessed up and told Kev what happened in the Club. He was pretty angry, but later forgave her. Veronica had trouble with forgiving herself, which led to some more issues within their marriage that I won’t get into.
The Shameless story reflects a reality in many marriages; problems in the bedroom are quite common once children come along. Once babies enter the picture, one or both partners can feel neglected. They can also feel sexually frustrated. I’m glad that the writers on Shameless had Veronica open up about her cheating. (And yes, I do believe grinding on some guy that isn’t your husband cheating.) There is an amazing statistic on Static Brain that states that 68% of women would have an affair if they believed they wouldn’t get caught and 74% of men said the same thing. That is a HUGE number. When I first read that statistic, I was shocked that it was so high. The statistic seems possible in light of all the couples I know that have dealt with thoughts of engaging in a physical act outside of marriage. Maybe those that believe they would keep an affair a secret should watch the episode and note the dejected look that fell across Veronica’s face.
This story of infidelity that unfolded on Shameless is one that I think many of us married folks need to keep in mind. Everyone is probably tempted at some point in their life to have an affair, one night stand, to fantasize about someone other than their spouse, or to let an office flirtation get out of hand. When kids take up so much time and energy, spousal needs sometimes take a back seat. Couples with kids probably need to be on extra guard for inappropriate feelings that could spring up. If the Static Brain statistic is true, then when someone is feeling neglected at home, there is a good possibility that the marriage could be in jeopardy.
So my married readers, how do you keep yourself from diving into those thoughts and feelings that pull you away from your spouse?
How do you keep from acting on those feelings once they enter your brain?
How do you keep your work relationships and friendships void of sexual impulses?
And for those with kids, how do you make sure your partner is getting the physical attention they need?
If you are one of those people that would cheat on your spouse if you could get away with it, you might want to revisit all of the reasons you fell in love in the first place. Then, have a discussion with your partner.