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David and Michelle Paige Paterson: What We Can Learn from their Admissions

NY Governor David Paterson and his wife made some tough public admissions of infidelity as he starts his service as governor of the state where Eliot Spitzer just stepped down.

“I betrayed a commitment to my wife several years ago...both of us committed acts of infidelity.” It's an awful thing to confess to, and many cannot understand how a decent man or woman could be unfaithful or how a marriage survives such a violation.

I think Governor Paterson explains it pretty well: “The fact is for my own action, I was angry, I was jealous and I exercised poor judgment. One day I realized it and I just decided I would go to counseling.”

He's on the same page I was in my post on Eliot Spitzer:

We don't suddenly fail at the moment when we cheat on our spouses or hit them; we fail every time we choose to tolerate our own resentment, anger, or disappointment about our marriages, because this is when we create the conditions for monumentally bad judgment.

Resentment isn't the antithesis of love. In fact, we probably resent because we love. Paterson acknowledged this when he said, “I was in love with Michelle even when I knew the marriage was in grave danger.”

Eventually, though, resentment will snuff out love and leave us only with the commitment we made to the person, a tough spot for any man or woman of good character. Best not to go there, not to let resentment or anger simmer without coming back to love. Assume love and look for a different explanation, then a Third Alternative for getting what you both need, instead of aiming to get even for an unfair, hurtful action.

Some argue the high rates of infidelity in marriage--higher than the rate of divorce--argues against even aiming for monogamy. I see them instead as evidence we can and do learn from our mistakes and recognize the value of love and marriage in our lives.

Bravo to David and Michelle Paige Paterson for a good recovery from whatever resentment began their marriage problems and for revealing their past mistakes so we might see couples do recover from affairs and learn from them.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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