The “Polite” Marriage | Ep #89

Have you ever looked at a couple and thought, “They look so happy and in love,” only to find out that they had major problems and were going through divorce?

It is likely that couple was engaged in a “polite” marriage. They may check all the boxes and genuinely look very happy together. They may show each other public affection and seem fond of each other. But there are likely issues underneath.

In this episode I go through two different kinds of “polite” marriages and share the differences between the two, and what each one can lead to.

Then I teach the opposite of the polite marriage and what richness and happiness can ensue when courageous people move beyond what feels comfortable and safe.

Episode Transcript

I’m Andrea Giles. And you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast,
episode number 89, the Polite Marriage.

Hello, and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast, where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more freedom than the life you’re currently
living, but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is it possible? It is. And I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.

Hello everybody. I hope wherever you are in your corner of the world, that
you’re enjoying some nice weather. Here in Montana, it is finally, finally
springtime. I’m pretty sure we had snow a couple weeks ago, so I’m so happy
to see leaves budding and flowers popping out and blue skies and green
grass. It’s beautiful. I love it. We’re a little bit slow going here. So
it’s always wonderful when it comes.

Okay. So today we’re going to be talking about some different kinds of
marriages. Okay. So with infidelity, sometimes it is very obvious that
there were problems in the marriage. Sometimes major ones. Maybe you are
cold to each other. Maybe there’s a lot of fighting. Maybe there’s a lot of
ignoring and stonewalling, et cetera. But what about marriages that were
seemingly happy? Have you ever had this thought, I thought we were happy. I
thought we were good. What happened? How did I not know that he was going
to go do this? We rarely fight. We enjoy each other’s company. We parent
together well. It can be very, very confusing to understand why infidelity
occurs even when from the outside, the marriage looks really solid. Maybe
even on the inside, it might look pretty solid.

In today’s episode, I am going to cover two different kinds of polite
marriages. I want you to see where you fit in. My goal here is that you’ll
be able to spot where there may have been some holes and where you can
patch up those holes and ultimately get much clearer on what you want for
yourself. Before I do that, I want to just share something I’ve been giving
a lot of thought to. I have been pondering and studying what it takes from
both parties to affair proof of marriage, for those who stay together, to
make sure it never happens again. For those who separate, to make sure it
doesn’t happen in new relationships.

I have this dream inside my heart that is stirring and starting to take
form to figure this out. How to affair proof of marriage. More
specifically, how to affair proof yourself to be infidelity free. So I’m
working on that. Stay tuned. Okay? One of the reasons for this podcast is
to help bring understanding and strength to individuals so they can see
where the holes are, fill them, and go build an amazing life. I want that
for you. So take what fits, apply it, and see the shifts that happen. You
will become stronger. You will spot things sooner. You will stop
questioning yourself and believe yourself more. This in turn shows up in
our relationships and we teach those around us that there’s a new sheriff
in town. We teach people how to treat us.

Okay, moving on. Let’s take a look at polite marriage number one. Let me
paint you a scenario. There are two people, very busy with their lives, but
they generally enjoy what they do. They’re both engaged in things that
bring them fulfillment, whether inside or outside the home. They have
friends, perhaps church responsibilities, and they seem to be living good
lives. They seem happy in their marriage. They may even publicly hold hands
and show affection. They’re polite and kind to each other, but not
necessarily honest. They pretend a lot. And if they’re going to dinner, for
example, one may say she doesn’t really care where they go mainly to keep
the peace and let her husband choose who has a lot more preferences about
things. This shows up in lots of areas. She just kind of goes along with
things, but actually isn’t really all that bothered by it. She is
pretending to not have strong opinions on things when she actually does.

Here’s the kicker though. She may have been in this pattern for so long
that she actually might have forgotten that she does have preferences and
opinions. She might have them hiding even from herself. These two
individuals live parallel lives. They keep busy in their endeavors and
genuinely enjoy their lives, but really stay in their lanes. Not a lot of
intimacy where they share their hearts, hopes, and dreams with each other.
They are not deeply seen and known to each other. Again, they may really
feel happy, but they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know what
is possible for them. Maybe this is the pattern that they witnessed from
their parents. They don’t know what their weak spots are. They don’t know
that growing and helping each other grow brings a depth and richness to
their lives that they’ve never experienced. So they continue on in their
polite marriage.

Now onto polite couple number two. On the outside, they may look very
similar to polite couple number one. But on the inside, it is quite
different. Rather than feeling like they have a pretty happy marriage, they
internally are conflicted at best, miserable at worst. They may go through
the motions of holding hands, maybe a date night here and there, swapping
kid responsibilities, et cetera, but they know they are playing small. They
know they’re not living as honestly as they could be. And they keep things
close to their chest because they don’t quite trust that their spouse will
be careful with their hearts. They intentionally keep some things back.
They know they want certain things like more closeness, more time with
their spouse, more help with housework, more physical intimacy, more
support in their careers. They want to talk about their careers and share
things, but they don’t.

They’re afraid to rock the boat because they believe arguing is bad and
there should never be any contention or they’re afraid of some kind of
backlash, feeling like they will owe something if they speak, worry that
they’re going to be seen as ungrateful for wanting more, they should be
content with how things are, et cetera. So they pretend like all is well.
And in many ways, they actually too may feel like things are pretty good.
They keep these things under the surface, these things that are not going
well, but here’s the kicker. What is hiding under the surface in this
marriage can be very, very toxic and dangerous to the marriage. Sometimes
it looks like resentment and contempt. Sometimes it looks like talking to
other people about your frustrations in your marriage and acting like you
are fine with your spouse. So you’re talking to other people, your
girlfriend, other people, your sister complaining, saying all the problems
that there are.

But to him, you put a smile on your face and acts like everything’s fine.
Sometimes it just looks like two separate lives where they grow further and
further apart, like roommates. Infidelity can and does occur in both of
these marriages. There can be a real element of taking each other for
granted in the polite marriage. Loving and caring for each other, but since
you aren’t really owning showing yourself in the marriage or really knowing
your spouse, it can become quite the temptation when someone comes along
who seems to really know you and move past the polite stage of things. So
let me rephrase that. You do care about each other. You love each other,
but it’s very surface level. It’s going through the motions. So when
somebody comes along who reaches a deeper part of you or pretends to, it
can feel very tempting.

It can move things beyond the polite stage of things. As you hear me say
all the time, this does not give permission to go be unfaithful. Not at
all. It means the marriage can be susceptible to infidelity. At any time,
one individual can take responsibility for where they’re at and what they
want and decide to ask for new things in the marriage, or they can leave
the marriage. Infidelity is always, always a choice.

So what is the solution to the polite marriage? I call it the honest
marriage. What’s included in an honest marriage? Honesty, intimacy, and
collaboration. Obviously honesty, real transparency about everything, your
weaknesses, your strengths, what lights you up, what you don’t like, all
the things, what you want more of in your marriage, what you want less of
in your marriage. It can feel scary and it can feel like a whole lot of
work because it involves getting to know yourself better and really seeing
yourself. You cannot fully see your spouse until you see yourself first.
For example, if we are just getting our self worth off of what our spouse
is telling us about our looks, our talents, our desirability, et cetera, we
will need to keep that coming to feel good.

If we don’t challenge ourselves and really know who we are, we can feel
pretty fragile. It can be shaky. It’s easier to continue to get outside
validation because it’s cheap. It’s like a quick fix. It’s easy. Tell me
how wonderful I am. Keep it coming. Keep it coming. Okay. Thank you. You’re
going to have to do that again tomorrow. If you don’t know how to give that
to yourself, we’re going to need it to keep coming. It’s like going through
the drive through for a big Mac. It may fill you up temporarily, but it is
not sustainable long term. I have to tell you a funny side note. I have two
sons that just got their first jobs at McDonald’s. And my son yesterday
told me, “Mom, I really need to do better. All I eat is McDonald’s.”
Because he gets like half priced meals.

And so after work he gets to eat and I think he gets a free meal on his
shift and he is just eating all this garbage. And he is recognizing that he
doesn’t feel good, so it’s not sustainable, right? It won’t help you grow
into the person you ultimately want to be. You’re going to be dependent on
others for that kind of validation. It’s not sustainable. Honesty stretches
you. Sitting in the discomfort of the unknown of how you will be received.
You don’t know how your showing up is going to be received. You don’t know
how you saying the things that are in your heart or requesting the things
that you want are going to be received by your spouse and you stay open to
it. You stay open. You’ll allow the discomfort.

Next, intimacy. Real intimacy is much more than sex. It involves much of
the same as honesty, really seeing and being seen, allowing the discomfort
of letting your guard down. Sometimes it looks like letting your desires
lead out and leaning into your desires and not necessarily knowing exactly
what that’s going to look like. So for example, if you want a more close
physical relationship, it means thinking about the things that matter to
you and that you want, and being willing to speak that, being willing to
say this is what I want and being willing to let your guard down to have
that thing. And that goes for things outside of the bedroom as well.
Intimacy is a closeness that comes from really knowing each other, from
really seeing this person. It makes me think of my little daughter. I have
my sweet little baby girl who’s only five months old and she’s just an
infant. Yet, I feel like this little girl looks into my soul. I nurse my
baby. And oftentimes when I’m nursing her, she will just stare at me, just
right into my eyes. Just stare at me.

She has big blue, beautiful eyes. And it’s like she’s looking at me in my
soul, like really seeing her mama. And I know she doesn’t have the words.
She doesn’t have the language, but I know that she is just full of love and
light. And I know that she’s just a perfect little infant. But to me that
is a form of intimacy. It’s looking, seeing, not turning away, not looking
aside, really seeing. And because she doesn’t have the conditioning that we
get as we grow up, she can hold that space of just staring right into my
eyes. Not looking away, just looking right at me. I swear she’s looking
into my soul. If only she could talk and tell me what she sees, how awesome
would that be to tell me what she knows.

Anyways, intimacy, allowing the discomfort of letting your guard down,
really seeing and being seen. This also means being vulnerable. Most of you
listening have experienced a betrayal. It can feel very, very threatening
to practice trusting again. It can feel very vulnerable because we want to
know that it’s never going to happen again. You know you’re opening
yourself up to being heard again by stepping into this space of intimacy.
Whether with your current partner or in the future being vulnerable means
actively showing up to move the relationship forward. I looked up the
definition of vulnerability and it says this, “The quality or state of
being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed either
physically or emotionally.” Super fun. Right? Yeah. Super fun. So why
bother? Because there’s so much richness to it. There’s so much depth.
There’s so much joy.

This means going beyond the surface to really knowing each other’s souls.
It can even feel scary to be vulnerable with ourselves, to really know
ourselves, to really know who we are because there might be parts of us,
both positive and less positive that feel scary. Like, oh my gosh, I have
this gift inside me and I need to let the world see it. Oh, that feels
terrifying. Or, oh, I don’t love this part. And that means I need to deal
with it. But it is in the seeing that we are able to love deeply and
gently, lovingly calling ourselves and our partners out for more. It is
from a deep place of love, compassion, and courage. So much courage to be
vulnerable, exposing ourselves to the elements essentially saying I know
that something could happen again and I’m going in. I’m willing.

Lastly, collaboration. What does collaboration mean? I’ll probably do an
episode about collaboration. I think it deserves its own. Collaboration is
working together to build something amazing. Collaboration is very
intentional. Collaboration is not just going through the motions, but going
this is what we’re building brick by brick and we’re doing it together.
It’s having constant exchanges of information and discussion and
communication of what your various roles are. Who’s doing what? Being team
players, working together instead of living parallel lives, where you do
your stuff, I’ll do mine. Collaborating, you are working together, very
actively working together. It is not parallel. And again, I’ll go in deeper
on this in the future. But collaboration is a part of an honest and
intimate marriage.

Okay. So to wrap this up, let me ask you a question. What kind of
relationship do you want? Do you want a polite, parallel, and pretend
relationship or do you want an honest, intimate, and collaborative one?
Here in this space on this podcast, we talk a lot about courage. I believe
that you sitting here listening to this podcast means that you are a
courageous soul and that you are willing and capable of doing scary things.
Now, I don’t want to have any kind of shame for wanting to hang out in a
polite marriage. There are people who feel quite happy there, who feel
content there. The kind where there’s not the undercurrent of resentment
and those other things. Those don’t feel good, but where really it feels
comfortable, feels pretty easy.

No judgment here, but here in the space, we’re talking about infidelity.
We’re talking about looking at how infidelity happens and how we can solve
for it and help ourselves grow, help our partners grow, help us know what
we’re looking for in the future. So look at the examples that I gave and
just see where you landed in that, where you land now, and you can decide
what you want in the future. You have everything in you to go make that.
You might need to learn some new skills. You might need to learn some new
thoughts that will help you go create that, but you can create whatever you
want, whatever kind of marriage that you want. So what do you want and why?
Why do you want that?

I challenge you at the end of this episode to pick one area that you want
to grow in and lean into it. If you’re wanting to lean into trust a little
bit, I challenge you to look at what that means for you. What needs to go?
What doubts need to go? What fears need to be set down for a minute? It can
be anything, not just trust, but pick one thing, decide what you want to
grow in and lean on in. Maybe journal about it. Okay, my friends, that’s
what I have for you today. Go have an amazing week and go build yourself an
amazing life. Sending you all so much love. See you next time.

Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
email. You can subscribe at Again,
it’s I will see you next time.

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Hi. I’m Andrea Giles and I am so glad you are here.

Not many years back I found myself in a life I didn’t recognize, feeling confused, sad, and so small. My “forever” marriage was in shambles, and I didn’t know if I could ever trust my own judgment again.  Through my faith and some great tools, I was able to completely change my life and find myself again. Now it is my mission to help others who are right where I was. Click the button below to read more about my story.

Why was I not enough?

Does this question torment you? It did me too until I learned that the actions of my spouse had nothing to do with me, my worth, or my lovability. Click on the link below for a free guide that will teach you the 3 biggest lies about infidelity and why they are keeping you stuck.

Hi. I’m Andrea Giles and I am so glad you are here.

Not many years back I found myself in a life I didn’t recognize, feeling confused, sad, and so small. My “forever” marriage was in shambles, and I didn’t know if I could ever trust my own judgment again.  Through my faith and some great tools, I was able to completely change my life and find myself again. Now it is my mission to help others who are right where I was. Click the button below to read more about my story.