When a former lieutenant-colonel (Mr Goh, 40, and married with a child) gave his sincerest and unqualified apology in open court "for sending the woman the text messages" which contained sexual advances, he went further to say, "I should not have sent you the said text messages and I am extremely sorry for the effect that they had on you. I am deeply remorseful of my actions and hope that you can accept my apology."
In addition to the apology, Mr Goh also compounded the matter with a payment of $4000 to a charity of the 29-year-old woman's choice. The woman was in court that day and she was with a male companion. Mr Goh met her when her event company won a tender for an exhibition he was overseeing.
Lesson? Alas, the mind of men is like a tepid lake with passion-conflicting undercurrents not apparent even to ourselves. We therefore underestimate the lurking tides at our own peril. And just when we think it is safe to take a swim in the mental waters, the undertow of temptation can pull us in and leave us in a state of helpless surrender.
We men have a trite way of dealing with adultery. Before the fall, we tell ourselves we are in control. And after the fall, we blame it on everything (and everyone else) except ourselves.
As such, in terms of the marriage vows, we have two kinds of men in this world. The first kind dedicates his life to safeguarding the marriage vows from the day he says "I do". He takes the marriage seriously, even reverently, in season and out. His faithfulness is sealed with the altar kiss.
And the second kind says "I do" at the aisle before a crowd of witnesses, and subsequently, when the opportunity avails itself, he readily says "Why not?" He is one whose commitment is based on emotions. He is someone who treats the marriage seriously only to the extent that he still feels good about it. And his feelings waver with the moods of the time. To him, what the wife doesn't know doesn't hurt her - ignorance is indeed bliss.
Let me end by saying that I do not know how a perfect husband looks like. But a committed one is as vulnerable as any man on the street. He is not above temptation. He is not above doubts and second thoughts. He struggles too with work, family and conflicting passions. He can be distracted, disillusioned and discouraged. He is every bit as flawed as the man next to him.
But in his flaws, his imperfections, he refuses to take the easy way out. In the temptations he faces, he refuses to give opportunity even a whisker of a chance. He knows his weaknesses, and consciously cuts a mental path miles away from it.
He is fiercely self-censuring and never takes anything for granted. He starves his carnal desires by burning the bridges that connect his unstable emotions with the occasional weariness of the human will arising from the stresses of life. And he fights hard for his marriage, constantly reminding himself that lust is fleeting, self-serving, but love is transforming, self-denying.
Let this poem by William Blake take us home about the two ways to love (self sacrificing or self-pleasing):-
"Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And build a heaven in hell's despair.
Love seeketh only self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And build a hell in heaven's despite.