Significant significant adjective Important; of consequence. Having or expressing a meaning. Statistics - of or relating to observations that are unlikely to occur by chance and that therefore indicate a systematic cause. The significance of the choice to have an affair cannot be understated. Until and unless the unfaithful recognizes what led them to make those choices, they are at risk of a repeat performance. Humans must dig deep to understand themselves. Self-reflection is vital to self- management and self-control. When a person's thinking blossoms into stories they tell themselves that are not cross-checked with reality, when a person assumes, he or she crosses into the land of minimization, justification, villainization of others and, generally, what 12-step programs refer to as "stinkin' thinkin'." The unfaithful often have placed significance into their own thought processes without benefit of adjusting their lens to reflect 20/20 reality. In short, they fool themselves–self-delusion. "unlikely to occur by chance and that therefore indicate a systematic cause." Their choices did not occur 'by chance'. There is a systematic cause that must be unearthed in order to recognize it, clarify it, and adjust it so that they can defend against its repetition. What can we say about significance when it relates to the thinking and actions of the betrayed? So many of us are blindsided by our partner's betrayal. Rightly so. Not many people expect the most beloved and presumably trustworthy person in their life to destroy the contract, the agreement to support, honor, and cherish. What I am about to say may rub you the wrong way, make you mad, or, at first blush, just seem w-r-o-n-g. I was blindsided because I founded my sense of worth in the wrong things. WHAT??? You are probably thinking: "Is it wrong to be committed to my spouse, family, home and career?" But I did not say anything about commitment. I'm talking about measuring my self-worth by those commitments. Many of us have such a huge commitment to our spouse, family and home that it becomes our identity. We feel affronted should someone criticize how we are parenting or judge our housekeeping or our marital relationship. We take an inordinate share of our worthiness and place it outside our healthy circle of control. At the end of the day, we have zero control over (and, therefore, responsibility for) another person's choices–even those of our children and spouse. We have little control over anything or anyone other than ourselves. For those of us who find our sense of worth in the success of our marriage, our children, our career, the state of our house—we are bound to be disappointed. We may, in fact, live in a nearly chronic state of low-level disappointment. There is no such thing as perfection. It is not realistic to think that there is. Out of love, we misplace our value, our identity, sometimes our very significance on the perceived health of our spouse, children, home, and/or career. We put the golden eggs of our self-esteem and value in other people, places and things. We impose unenforceable rules and demands, whether stated or imagined, onto imperfect, limited persons and things. We set ourselves up for disappointment. When we judge our day, our week, or our life on how well others outside our circle of control are behaving and place the value of our happiness upon them, we will eventually, inevitably, be disappointed, even devastated should they betray us. I misplaced so very much of my identity, my value, my worth on how well I was doing in my primary relationships, how successful those relationships were in the lens of my upbringing and cultural influences. Did my life measure up to what I deserved because I gave so much and tried so hard to be a great mom, wife, and employee? Surely everyone else who professed to love me owed me the same. They would act in love toward me, support me, value me, and feed into my identity of good mom, wife, and employee. Nuts. It just doesn't work that way. What any given person invests in is seldom returned in full. Even when there are occasions of happiness, of support and investment of love toward us, it is imperfect and limited–as everyone and all situations are. If my significance exists only as long as I am a valued, respected and loved wife, mother and employee, I WILL be bruised and disappointed when not treated as such. In the case of infidelity, I will be devastated. My perceived value as that great wife, mother, employee is going down the drain when the plug is pulled. When the rug of my expectations is yanked from beneath me, the 'unfairness' of my expectation of faithfulness and love is shattered, I am in peril. I feel devalued if not worthless. All my love and work and giving did not yield what I told myself I deserved, earned. And why didn't I see it coming? Is there something wrong with me that this atrocity should have been cast upon me? My perfect world is shattered. My expectation of growing old with the spouse I loved always and forever at my side in loving support—obliterated. "Plan A" into which I invested all my golden eggs has proven to be untrustworthy, flawed and… *gasp* uncontrollable. I am now in the land of destroyed plan A–hoisted into a plan B I neither planned for, expected or deserved. Where do I go from here? The rubble of plan A is all around me and my outlook on life has taken a severe beating. From where do I find my strength, my value? For those of faith, a higher power is the one reliable answer. From a secular perspective, another safety net must be constructed or drawn upon. If we have put all our worth and identity in our marriage, then, after betrayal, we are starting from ground zero. For those of us who have spread our identity out to include a broad spectrum of persons, places, accomplishments, our task will have some support that is so vital to healing. Grief needs to be witnessed. Many of our unfaithful partners are too deep in shame or 'the fog' to help us. If our very identity, our significance has been placed in them, we are up that cliché creek without a paddle. What we all desire is to be loved. When someone we love lets us down in the most profound way and we do not have a strong relationship with our personal value apart from persons and things, we are bound to flounder. The first step of the 12 step recovery programs reminds us that we are powerless over _______________. Fill in the blank. Whether it be alcohol, overeating, drugs, or other people, the truth of it rings loud and clear. God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can (myself, my attitude, my personal circle of control–ME!) ...And the wisdom to know the difference.