Jason Wright: Fidelity starts outside the bedroom

Jason Wright

Jason Wright

There’s a song in heavy rotation on the radio these days that goes something like this.

“You look good, I will not lie. But if you ask where I’m staying tonight. I gotta be like oh baby, no baby, you got me all wrong baby. My baby’s already got all of my love.”

The artist goes on to resist another drink. “So nah nah, Honey, I’m good. I could have another but I probably should not. I’ve got somebody at home, and if I stay I might not leave alone.”

The song is everywhere. I’ve heard it at the gym, the gas station and at the car wash. Because it represents the death of decent music, maybe it ought to play at funeral homes.

Last week a friend and I dissected the song by text message. It was a classic Lincoln-Douglas debate, but without the intelligence or cool outfits.

We decided that at first listen, the song almost sounds noble. He has a sweetheart at home he can’t wait to get to. Aw, he’s so loyal. Here he is engaging with another woman at a club, telling her how attractive she is, but resisting her advances because his soul mate waits on the couch. Isn’t that tender?

Sorry, fictional song guy, but fidelity starts outside the bedroom. And yes, it’s just a song, but the message is dangerous and destructive.

Nearly everyone I’ve known with a broken marriage attributes the death of the relationship to the birth of another.

Does this sound familiar?

A man begins confiding in a female colleague several times a week and they have lunch together. They laugh at one another’s jokes and feel valued.

No big deal, right?

Soon they share frustrations about their own marriages and begin highlighting all the attributes they admire about their new friend that, perhaps, their spouse doesn’t offer. “You really understand me,” one of them says.

Nothing to see here, right?

They’re not really lying to anyone, are they? They’re just developing a close friendship. Maybe they’re just emailing, texting and emotionally winking at clever inside jokes.

Then, one day, these two chums have a discussion that leads to tears and a long hug. Relax, it’s just a hug. Just a bit of compassion and comfort.

Nothing to stress about, right?

Have they been disloyal? Have they broken marriage vows? Have they had conversations they would never carry on in front of their spouses?

Perhaps that’s the best test. Is the discussion — whether in a crowded deli or by private message — something you would feel completely comfortable sharing with your spouse? Are you confiding things that should be reserved for husband and wife?

Certainly men and women can and should be good friends. In fact, some of my dearest friends from work, church or around town are women with whom I am very comfortable.

There’s Laurie Paisley, a friend in Indiana who coordinates many of my speaking engagements. My wife and I love her like a sister.

How about Chrissy Funk. She’s a great friend who lives a few miles down the road and who, alongside my wife, has endured plenty of husband hijinks. Her family is among my favorite people on the planet.

Or what about Jennifer Oringdulph? We’ve worked together for years in church assignments and I have tremendous respect for her as a teacher and leader. We playfully tease each other often and I remind her that if we were really siblings, she’d be the slightly older one.

There are many others from all walks of life, both men and women I love and consider like family. But none of them take the place of my best friend — my wife.

I wish I could sit down with fictional song guy and buy him a soda. I’d want him to know that while I admire his desire to leave the club early, he’s dancing on very thin ice. Somewhere at home, fictional song gal is wondering why he’s drinking and flirting with a tan, long-legged woman in the first place.

And if you wonder whether you’re emotionally dancing with someone else, turn down the music and talk.

Fidelity starts outside the bedroom.

Jason F. Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of 10 books, including “Christmas Jars,” “The Wednesday Letters” and “The 13th Day of Christmas.” He can be reached at feedback@jasonfwright.com or http://www.jasonfwright.com

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