My song today is ‘I Walk the Line’. This song was written and recorded in 1956 by Johnny Cash. After three attempts with moderate chart ratings, it became Cash's first Number 1 hit on the Billboard charts. It reached Number 17 on the US pop charts
The song's lyrics refer to marital fidelity, personal responsibility, and avoiding temptation and criminal behaviour.
The message of my song today refers to marital fidelity, personal responsibility, avoiding temptation and criminal behaviour. All four of these aspects of life have both affected mine in some measure.
Like many men and women, I have not always been faithful in my past but whenever I have erred, the person I have lied to and cheated the most has been myself! My twenty-seven years working as a Probation Officer brought me into direct contact with many people from broken marriages, especially couples where the man had offended and was subsequently sentenced to imprisonment for his crime.
Then, there were many occasions where the only crime involved in the break-up of the relationship had been the unwillingness to take ultimate responsibility for one’s own wrongful actions. Whereas Oscar Wilde remarked that the only thing he could not resist was temptation itself, I think that William Shakespeare was nearer the mark in his play, ‘Julia Caesar’ when his Roman nobleman character, Cassius said to his friend, Brutus, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
I believe that temptation will always exist in one form or another every day of our lives, whether it involves resisting eating that second chocolate biscuit, or having that extra drink in the pub before we call it a day, or inappropriately responding to the sexual advances of an ardent admirer you have always secretly fancied. More important, however, whenever we are called upon to resist temptation, is the responsibility every individual owes themselves. I believe that the day we truly grow up is the day we are prepared to take personal responsibility for our own attitudes displayed, our own beliefs held, and our own actions committed. Until we learn to stand in our own shoes, we will never be able to walk in them with pride and dignity. In short, we will never be able to ‘walk the line’.
In my lifetime’s work as a probation officer in West Yorkshire, I never failed to tell the members of every group programme that I ran that if they could love themselves inwardly, they would not need others to love them outwardly.
I also worked with many people who had either been unfaithful to a partner or was in a marriage or long-term relationship where their partner had been unfaithful to them. In almost every case, when the infidelity had been well and truly exposed, the person who had been cheated on indicated they had long suspected it might have been happening but did not want to believe it. I witnessed similar denial by several mothers whose sons and daughters were being sexually abused by their father or stepfather, and although the child’s mother suspected such might have been happening, they never confronted their worst fears and challenged the perpetrator. Even when there is no more denying the reality of the situation, the hurt can still take a long time to heal, along with the re-investment of trust by the person who feels betrayed.
It is sad but true that sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows. ‘Infidelity’ is best countered in one’s response pattern by being more aware of the behaviours we are more likely to act upon. If we know our dangers, we can better control and counter them. Feelings are much like waves; we cannot stop them from coming, but we can choose which ones to surf. Being a passionate person in everything I ever undertook, I knew that I could remain in control and maintain a sound footing for my actions by knowing my most dangerous character traits and personal weaknesses. I knew that if I could keep a check on my passions, I would not finish up being punished for them.
Being aware of the wrong which one might do does not require looking into a crystal ball or being able to foretell the future. It does, however, require you honestly recognising and acknowledging your mistakes whenever you make them, and doing whatever is required to learn from them so they are not repeated.
Therefore, being able to strike a balance between the heart and the head is essential to one’s emotional sense of wellbeing and sound judgement. The marital illusion of experiencing superficial happiness with another serves no other purpose than ‘living a lie’. The actions of married men and women who have extra-marital affairs are clouded with self-delusion and denial. Such self-deception merely blurs their focus and perspective. It enables a romantic physical and emotional attachment to provide a veil of concealment until the truth is eventually exposed and is confronted by them.
Good and regular communication between a man and his wife is the best barrier to infidelity ever happening. When communicating with each other stops, the lying starts and the temptation to stray and cheat upon one’s partner grows with the level of dissatisfaction felt. Of all the lies told between an unfaithful spouse and their partner, the cruellest of them all is found in the uneasy silence; the unspoken thoughts of unfaithful cover-ups and things left unsaid.
I will end today's serious post on a lighter note. As a lifelong Behaviourist, I believe that people often learn their worst traits from those who have treated them the worse. Consequently, I genuinely believe that infidelity in a woman is a masculine trait……….. or should that be the other way around?
Love and peace Bill xxx