It has been thirty-three years since Allan Petersen wrote the book The Myth of the Greener Grass. In it, Petersen talks frankly about extramarital affairs. It was a cutting-edge book when it was published because affairs were not a hot topic of conversation at that time. Sure, they happened, but not to people we knew.
I was just beginning my counseling career in 1983. It was six years before I counseled my first couple suffering from the fallout of an affair, and they were somewhat unique. They wanted to try to make their marriage work again. For most people at that time, an affair meant the end of the marriage. Period.
What I learned from that couple and from Petersen’s book and from every “affair-ravaged couple” I see today is this: The best place to get all our needs met in a male-female relationship is with the person we are married to. Sometimes people are naive and think a great marriage should simply happen and doesn’t take much work. That is just not true. However, the work is more than worth it. There is no relationship in this life that gives more rewards that the marriage relationship.
I recently asked a woman who was in an affair what enticed her to step away from her marriage and pursue someone else. She said her marriage was stale; the passion and excitement were gone, and the new affair was exciting for her. This is what I saw her do: She put a lot of effort into an affair that she could have put into her marriage. She chose to water the grass in someone else’s yard instead of watering the grass in her yard. She let her grass die and turn brown and then worked hard at growing green grass someplace else. She lost weight. She had a makeover. She wrote notes. She dressed in a very attractive manner. She sent text messages. She put this new person first in her life. What if she had done all those things in her marriage? What if she had stayed in her own yard? Would her marriage have been different? Could her marriage have given her everything she had been seeking elsewhere?
Where are you watering today? The “myth of the greener grass” is just what it says it is—a myth. The grass will never be as green someplace else as it can be in your own yard—in your own marriage. Don’t get tricked by the “myth.”