It’s time to explore the frog in the pot syndrome.
By Sarah P.
I wrote this article because of something very devastating that came to light in my off-line world. Someone who was truly the last person on earth to get caught up with another woman, got caught up with one and it made the news. It almost caused his death and the destruction of his family.
Because of this person’s notoriety, his alleged deeds were written about in several, large newspapers. After reading the news articles as well as his announcement he emailed to friends and people like me, I realized it was time to explore the frog in the pot syndrome.
There are truly good people in the world who are sincerely unaware of what is happening. They do not understand they are the metaphorical frog in the pot and in these situations even their spouses are unaware of what is going on.
Many of us who have been married to a nice person and who have been the victims of an extra-marital affair will wonder how on earth our spouse – who was the proverbial nice person – could have an affair. When we start to confide in others, we are often met with this reaction:
“No way, how could this be so? Your spouse headed the PTA, coached little league, served soup to the homeless, coordinated all the sales of girl-scout cookies, and your spouse even refrained from kicking puppies or kittens they passed on the street. How could someone who refrained from kicking puppies and kittens have an affair?”
Now, the things we do in public may not equate to who we are in private.
Many people cultivate a social face during the day that does not align with their character. If people believe that what a person does in public is 100% in alignment with what they do in private, this is a very naïve type of thinking.
The first thing I would like to point out is that people can choose to be nice in a variety of social situations. People can choose to be a good friend to others, as long as it’s not inconvenient.
It doesn’t matter if someone sends money to orphans and builds homeless shelters. They get accolades for being “such good people” and they do not have to actually do anything for those orphans or homeless people.
The orphans and homeless people do not stand between them and an attractive coworker or stranger. The moment a nice person’s sexual desires collide with weakness and opportunity, an affair happens. These are the people who have carefully cultivated social faces that have nothing to do with their character.
However, there are genuinely good people in the world who live their goodness both publically and privately. There are a small minority of people of character who get caught up in affairs.
There are people in this world who seek to do good from the bottom of their hearts and who do not even entertain the idea of an affair. There are people among us who truly are the last person on earth to have an affair; yet they do.
Generally, these people wake up before everything is destroyed.
So what happened to them?
Frog in the Pot Syndrome
There are many good people living good lives. They do not even notice the day that something is amiss or that they are in a situation that could destroy them. They are truly oblivious and they do not see warning signs.
These people are the proverbial frog in the pot.
I have addended a Wikipedia article that describes this well:
I have rarely observed affairs that were truly “frog in the pot” scenarios. If I dig deeply, I can almost always find some activating factor that caused an affair. Generally, this happens when a marriage is hit with the perfect storm of events: family members die, houses flood, adult children have life-altering issues, and then someone loses a job.
That is a general description of what a perfect storm could look like. This type of perfect storm can leave the best of people vulnerable to an affair. But, this is still different than the frog in the pot syndrome since there are no activating events.
The First Frog in the Pot I Have Personally Known
This story makes my heart truly sink. Even though the story is all of the newspapers in my state, I will be changing identifying details out of respect for the wife and the children involved.
John was a well-known minister who had spent twenty years building a wonderful congregation and a truly close-knit community. His ideals were quite conservative and he gave many sermons on the sanctity of marriage and family.
He would often make house calls to members just to see how they were doing and he always had at least one of his children with him when he made house calls. Sometimes he would stop by our house just to say hello and to pray with us. John was very much like the ministers of the past who were social, hands on, and who looked after his congregation.
We were not members of his congregation, but I often donated money to his congregation because of the way he was serving poor and needy families in the larger community. His goal was to ensure no one went without food, clothing, or shelter, regardless of who they were. I was always so impressed with the way John lived his faith, rather than how he spoke it. John anticipated the needs of families and met the needs of families.
John was also very active in local politics. He wanted tax money to be used for the good of the poor and he was vocal about ensuring tax money was used to benefit people in concrete ways – such as food, shelter, and clothing – rather than being wasted on bureaucracy. He was also vocal about causes that would have taken money out of large, corporate organizations. John was a hero to those who knew him because he rallied for the underdog. John also had a beautiful wife and many children.
Then it hit the news: John had been accused of sexual harassment and the alleged victim of sexual harassment went to all the large newspapers in my state and told her story. Jeni was a married woman and Jeni wanted to ensure that her voice and her story of being sexually harassed by John was made part of the “Me Too” movement.
Jeni also wanted nothing short of John losing his ability to be a religious leader and Jeni wanted nothing short of destroying John’s large congregation by turning all of his members against him. Jeni also wanted to ruin John and his family.
I was blind-sided as I read Jeni’s allegations against John, because Jeni described a person I did not even know. Jeni also made sure that her full name and her photos were all over the newspapers and she looked quite glamorous in many of her photos.
My first thought was that I had been fooled and I was an idiot to give John money. I consider myself a good judge of character and I wondered how John slipped past my radar.
Then, I started to do research and see what the other news papers said. The first thing that I noticed was all the newspapers had a different version of Jeni’s story. Sloppy journalism? Each newspaper had completely different stories and each had interviewed Jeni. They refused to publish John’s side.
The second thing I noticed was that Jeni offered no proof of being sexually harassed, even though she claimed to have text messages and emails from John that demonstrated his harassment.
None of the newspapers published the evidence since Jeni would not provide it. Jeni was happy to provide her full name, many photos of herself, and a story of being sexually harassed by John, but she was unwilling to provide any evidence. I am shocked that these large newspapers published such an accusatory story with no evidence.
I prayed about it and sent the links to some other people to pray for John as well. They all had the same feeling I did: that Jeni was lying.
John’s Side of the Story
Finally, John sent out an email to his congregants and donors. I was on the email list. His side of the story was this:
Jeni had showed up at his house nearly a year ago and wanted to join his congregation. She and her family were new to the area and her husband had a job where he traveled often. Jeni told John and his wife that she was a professional lay counselor who counseled clergy members and their wives.
She asked John if he would be willing to make her name known among the congregation. Jeni said she was a trustworthy counselor and she noted her particular interest as counseling couples about sexuality within marriage to make relationships better.
Jeni and her husband joined the congregation, but Jeni often came alone since her husband traveled. Several people had come to Jeni to ask her questions and she brought these questions to John.
John said in his email that in his role he was sworn to secrecy and that she was supposed to hold up the same standard. Jeni assured that she only wanted John’s mentoring on how to help people.
In John’s email, he said he crossed an enormous boundary when Jeni asked John about the sexual aspect of his marriage and she offered information about the sexual aspects of her marriage.
Soon they were texting each other about intimate acts that they did with their spouses to make their marriages better. Soon, John realized he had crossed a line. He confessed to another minister and the minister told John that it was best for John to ask Jeni and her husband to find another congregation. John also told his wife everything.
Jeni refused to find another congregation and instead Jeni’s husband gathered several men together and threatened John. John filed restraining orders against Jeni, her husband, and the other men who were harassing and threatening physical harm against him.
John had notified his wife what happened and he had showed her all communication. There was no affair, but the conversations were very difficult for John’s wife to read because John had described quite a few sexual details about how Jeni could make her husband happy and Jeni talked about how to make a woman happy. Jeni had asked for this advice and soon they were talking about the most intimate nuts and bolts of sex.
Jeni and her husband started to attended other congregations in the area, but the local clergy had already been notified that Jeni was a troublemaker and that Jeni was also a liar: she had no prior lay counseling experience let alone any psychology credentials.
News spread about Jeni’s character and the fact that the judge upheld the restraining orders against Jeni and her husband.
That is when Jeni retaliated by going to the local newspapers and dragging John’s name through the mud. Based on the email I received from John, he has a strong case for liable and slander. John has been married for many years and John has many children. Even his youngest children were dragged into this mess by Jeni. She wanted to ensure that John’s wife and children knew their father was a pathetic and weak man, which is totally false.
After reading the different articles and John’s email, I realized that what John did was not sexual harassment and it was not even an affair. I cannot release the details out of respect for this family, so you will have to take me at my word.
John was the frog in the pot.
I do not know how John woke up to what was going on before he has a full-blown affair with Jeni. I believe Jeni’s intention was to have an affair, so she could blackmail John. Since her plan backfired and since restraining orders were filed against her and upheld against her, I believe she retaliated by going to different newspapers both as a revenge tactic and a way to make her look like the victim, rather than the perpetrator.
Why is John’s Story Useful?
We live in a world that is very ambiguous in terms of social boundaries, much of this ambiguity is a consequence of personal technology, and lives lived online. Many people choose to upload every aspect of their lives across various social media platforms. If their social media pages are marked as public, anyone in the world can learn intimate details about the lives of total strangers.
The fact that people choose to be so open about every detail of their lives – to be the stars of their own Facebook reality show – creates ambiguous boundaries. How much information is too much information? Where do we draw the line?
Then let’s add to the issue: statistics demonstrate that people who work fulltime often spend more time with coworkers than their own family members. People have joked about having “work wives” and “work husbands” for years and many people see this as harmless phenomenon. These blur the lines further.
I do not believe in having “work wives” and “work husbands” because this chips away at the sacred bond between husband and wives.
John’s story is useful because we have to be very mindful about how we interact with the opposite gender; even in situations that are positive.
When Jeni showed up at John’s door and presented herself as a skilled lay counselor who just wanted to serve his congregation, this was viewed in a positive light. In fact, there was no reason to view this in a negative light since so many couples needed a good counselor. John’s wife met Jeni and agreed Jeni could help.
It was Jeni who opened the door to sexual conversation with John and John dove right in. John was not counseling Jeni and Jeni was not counseling John. Jeni’s goal was to pull John into sexual conversations outside of the scope of therapy. In essence, Jeni wanted to tantalize John by talking about all the things she did to her husband and she wanted to know what John did with his wife. This conversation had no other context than Jeni trying to lure John into an affair.
In regular therapy or marriage mentoring for sexual affairs, sex will be a topic. But, it is spoken about within the context of an affair and all of the damage it has done to a relationship. It is spoken about within the framework of working through infidelity.
What If Your Spouse is a Frog in the Pot?
I have noticed that many men willingly jump into that “frog in the pot” Jacuzzi. “Hey look, the water is warm! There is room for two! Oh and look at that beer!” Men seem more susceptible to being frogs in a pot than women – but certainly not always.
But, let’s go back to men since men seem to be more susceptible to being a frog in the pot. Sometimes, men do not pick up a woman’s flirting. They assume she is making small talk. That opens the door to more small talk. If a woman has an agenda, like seduction, she will start saying some very outrageous things.
For example, my husband has a coworker who I have written about in the past. I will call her Mandy. Mandy will sit in an open area amongst all of the doctors and she will yell, “You know what? I love dick. Dick is the best.” Yes, this woman, who is a physician assistant, has done this several times and she has not been fired; the rumor is that she likes her married boss’s dick a lot and he is truly between a rock in a very hard place.
Wives, you must talk to your husband about the frog in the pot syndrome. If a man falls for it, he is dead meat. I have seen men lose their professional licenses, their families, and absolutely everything because they did not notice a female coworker was turning up the heat.
Signs that your husband is a frog in a pot:
- He starts talking about one female coworker more than usual.
- He thinks that her problems are literally his to solve. It’s okay if a female coworker complains about how moving a house is going wrong and your husband refers her to an excellent moving company or verbally provides tips. It is not okay for your husband to show up at her house and move her from one house to another.
- A female coworker starts bringing him food; just for him and not for the office.
- A female coworker tells your husband that he is the only person on earth who has EVER understood her. EVER.
- A female coworker starts complimenting your husband’s physique. Example: One day my husband was working from home and doing a video chat with a nurse who had a question for him. He had a spasm in his back and got up from his desk while he was on video. The nurse did not know I was within earshot. She said in a heavy accent: “Oh look at arms muscles; oh you look like man work out. Look at back. You so strong.” Yup. That is real and she knows he is married.
- A woman finds ways to physically touch your husband or she finds ways to get your husband to physically touch her.
- Your husband suddenly develops passion for a hobby that he hated before; starts listening to songs he never liked before; starts to say sarcastic things towards you that are out of character- as if he is parroting someone else. That means someone at work in bending his ear.
- Lunches, coffees, of dinners alone with a coworker of the opposite sex.
- Your husband knowing too much information about someone’s life, to the point where he feels obligated to give them money. Boundary violation!
- Discovering that your husband has given very personal details about money to a coworker of the opposite sex in a corporate/salaried environment; such as how much money he makes per year, how much retirement he has saved, how many financial assets and inheritances that he has waiting for him, where he banks, etc.
- When a coworker has a nickname or a ‘pet name’ for him.
- A coworker texts all night; coworkers should not be sending texts in the middle of the night unless there is a company emergency. Then these texts should go to all employees.
- A female coworker/ friend starts to tell your husband how to dress and he buys new clothing based on all of her recommendations.
- Your husband should never feel responsible for an aspect of a coworker’s life. For example, we had a beloved family dog that died tragically and suddenly in 2013. It was devastating. There was a female coworker who was getting too close for comfort with my husband. She had an older Great Dane who was old, but not ill. After she heard our dog died, she kept talking to my husband about putting her Great Dane to sleep and wanted him involved. She was well-aware we were grieving our dog, but she wanted to hijack that grieving experience that my husband and I were having together. This lady ended up putting her dog to sleep two weeks later and coming to work in tears – pretending her life was over – and attempting to hijack all attention from anyone who would listen. Who does that? A psychopath, that’s who!
For the time being, men and women will be working together and that means they will be chatting.
- If someone cannot say it to the entire corporate office, then it should not be shared with one coworker of the opposite sex.
- It’s okay to talk about books, movies, the outcome of sports tournaments.
- It’s okay to talk about family things as long as a man’s wife is always at the center. “My wife and I took our kids to the new park on Saturday. They had some pretty great slides and the baseball field was terrific.”
- A man should always speak about his wife positively, at all times – and mention he is happily married.
- Jokes are always fun and if two people have a similar sense of humor, it is great to laugh.
- Talking about current events on the news.
- Talking about silly things your children did.
- Talking about humorous things that happened outside of work.
- And of course, talking about work projects. People are at work to WORK. (Can you imagine?) But, talking about work can get tedious and that’s why there are a number of safe topics to discuss with someone of the opposite gender.
Some genuinely good people can become frogs in the pot. These people are not serial adulterers and they are generally the last people on earth anyone would believe could cheat. These are generally very dedicated family men who don’t know how to recognize the signs. If they don’t recognize the signs, they could lose everything they worked years to build.
Of course, women can be frogs in the pot too. But, I wrote this article based on the devastating experience of someone I know and respect in my life off-line. He handled the situation perfectly, but he was still punished by handling the situation perfectly. John showed his wife all communications, which did not include nude photos, asked these people to leave his congregations and got restraining orders when they would not.
Lastly, John mentioned in the email that he nearly committed suicide due to the slander and libel that Jeni was spreading around before she called the newspapers. We also found out in the email that John had battled Jeni for a year before it hit the news. Also, John had lost his mother to cancer and Jeni entered his life soon after that. I have noticed men are most vulnerable after they lose a parent.
Here is the scariest part: I believe that I almost witnessed John’s suicide. We happen to live near a bridge that looks like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. People in the area use this bridge to commit suicide because there is almost no chance of survival. The newspapers no longer publish the names of “the jumpers” because they do not want copy-cat incidents.
I am aware that John lives within walking distance of that very bridge. John had mentioned in his email that there was a night he handed all his belongings to his wife, told her there would be blood, and he said he took a walk and implied he was not coming back.
About a month ago, I saw the police cars on the bridge and I saw the boats speeding through the water with the sirens on. This happened about 10pm and it was dark out except for all the lights surrounding the bridge.
When this happens it means someone is trying to jump and the police are there to talk someone out of jumping. I got this terrible feeling it was someone I knew who was trying to jump.
I knelt by my bed in prayer and I asked the angels Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel to be with the jumper and intercede. I care for all people and I refuse to lose people to suicide on my watch. I remember the boats and the police dissipating soon after, which meant whoever was there did not jump. I hope that was not John, but if it was, I am glad he decided to stay.
I have not emailed John yet, but I want to do so. I am asking God for the words that will be a soothing and a healing balm for him, his wife, and his children since Jeni dragged ALL of them into this. In fact, Jeni dragged my entire state into this – through the media – since John is well-known.
I am sure John’s children are suffering from PTSD because she was very aggressive in ensuring his children knew he was a terrible person, which was and is a total lie. Even though it’s a lie, the damage has been done to his children. John is not a terrible person; he continues to be one of the people who actually lives God’s word rather than just speaking it. John is a true man of God; but John was also a frog in the pot. John almost lost everything.
What about you….
- Was your spouse a frog in the pot?
- Do you know some warning signs that I have overlooked regarding someone being a frog in the pot?
- Wayward spouses… were you a frog in the pot or did you purposefully and intentionally have an affair?
- Betrayed spouses, how are you doing this week?
- What are you struggling with?
- Since you are the experts, I need a little advice. If you were in John’s situation, what kind of comfort would you most appreciate? I am not John’s counselor and know him as more of a peer. How can I comfort John’s wife and his children? His wife just had another baby and he has many children under the age of 18. His congregation has lost faith in him due to this slanderous attack. (I have not lost faith in him). I really want to help, but this is a situation I have never encountered. To have lies spread all over the media must be terrible. What advice can you give me on how to approach John and his wife?