sad-child-hugged-by-mom

Over President’s Day weekend in February a new billboard ad popped up in our city on Interstate 30, which carries heavy local and cross-state traffic. Most billboards are rather innocuous, but this one offered a lethal dose of poison for any husband or wife naïve enough to fall for the ad’s charming quip.

Pictured high above the interstate and perfectly positioned to catch every eye was a photograph of three U.S. presidents: Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Arkansas’ own Bill Clinton, which may be why our town received this unwelcome gift. The text read simply: “Who said cheaters never prosper? Happy President’s Day!”

It’s embarrassing for our nation that these men had such low regard for their marriages and their wives. As a woman it makes me sad and angry that Ashley Madison, the website responsible for this ad, is lifting these men high as examples while also demeaning the wives and children they hurt. Even more, this ad is hurting all families with its invitation for spouses—husbands or wives—to  join the cheating club.

The rejection and pain Hillary, Jackie and Eleanor suffered is not inconsequential. Having watched betrayal at work in marriages of close friends and in the stories we hear from thousands of others, I believe it is safe to say cheating is never worth it.

My own grandmother, who I loved dearly, was caught in this web. In a very small town, she was the object of another’s man’s affections, and she returned those affections in what I would call an “emotional affair.”  It led to a divorce with my grandfather years later.  My mother, now 88, vividly remembers the pain of that rejection, and I remember that during our annual visits we always divided our time in half between each grandparent. When I was a young mom of four, my grandmother told me it was the greatest mistake she ever made.

The word “cheating” makes the profound betrayal of an affair sound trivial, which is Ashley Madison’s goal. Only afterwards is the truth realized. And my guess is most of you have been near enough to this tragedy to know the fallout.

My hope is that you will join us as we stand against this kind of attack on marriages and families, and that you will push back against similarly divisive messages in your hometown, too. If you and I don’t take risks to counter those who aggressively seek to destroy marriages and families the already fragile stability of our nation will crumble further. It is our children’s future we must preserve.