Cheating and infidelity can be a sensitive topic. You could be a victim to it, you could be the cheater, or you could be the one seeing someone who is cheating on their partner to be with you.
No matter what, there is almost always heartache on the other side. It doesn’t mean there isn’t healing, but there is almost always pain.
In this episode, I receive a message from a woman who is seeing someone cheating on his wife to be with her, and I read another message from someone who was once the cheater.
(The following podcast transcript has been modified for easier readability and to benefit the Deaf and hard of hearing)
I received a message from someone who said, “My husband and best friend passed away in 2017. We had a healthy relationship with the normal ups and downs but amazing communication and growth. I’ve chosen not to date but push myself to evaluate why. I hang out with friends, male and female, and enjoy their company.”
“Here’s the snag. I realized I’ve fallen for a guy who was not only younger than me, but he’s in an emotionally and mentally abusive relationship. I see him almost daily. We both like each other and I never thought I’d develop an interest in him. We can connect but also it’s a limited situation because he is married and he feels like he can’t leave. We haven’t slept together but find comfort and hugs and cuddling. We have kissed.”
“He’s so confused, and so am I. Both of our personal ethics are being challenged. He keeps saying ‘I have young kids and that’s a lot of work.’ He says he can’t leave. Yet he knows his wife is abusive. She has issues too, that she’s dealing with…” (Just so you know, I’m not going to read his wife’s issues on the air because it might be a little too revealing. I’m trying to keep this message confidential.)
“She insults him and he feels so beaten down. He says things like he is pathetic for staying. I won’t ask him to leave because he needs to figure that out on his own, but it’s so hard to see him like this. My husband is the only other person I felt this way about. He is torn up because he let himself take off the blinders. He’s used to just dealing with his situation, but for whatever reason, I was the exception.” (My interpretation of that is he had blinders on while he was married, so he wasn’t looking at anyone else. He wasn’t thinking about anyone else. He was just in his marriage and that’s what he was committed to.)
She goes on to say “He has to stay married for the kids. He thinks he still loves her, but that it might be familiarity and commitment. I need advice. I know I should step away but he deserves better, even if it’s not with me. Of course, I would prefer it to be with me but that’s a lot. His young kids, self-esteem issues, finances, an abusive, crazy potential ex if they separate… I’ve got a professional job. I make a good salary and I had a very healthy relationship before this. Can you tell me where to get non-judgmental help or advice?”
Thank you so much for sharing that. Yes, you can get non-judgmental help from me. I don’t know if it’ll be a good help. I don’t know if I’m going to have the answer for you but I definitely have some comments here. As I’m sure people listening probably have their own comments too because this is a very, very sticky situation. This is a scenario that’s going to unfold with heartbreak.
No matter how this goes, heartbreak will happen. So now we have to figure out whose heart’s going to break, what direction it’s going to go, what direction I think it should go, and maybe what you should do. I’ve got to kind of think this out as I talk about it, but thank you again for sharing this. It is very sticky and let me tell you this:
A: Yes. There’s going to be heartbreak.
B: A decision has to be made. One way or the other a decision has to be made.
C: I don’t think you are the one that makes the decision I’m talking about. You do have a decision to make because your decisions going to lead you where you need to be, but he needs to make a decision as well.
Let me just throw something at you that’s right on the tip of my tongue, and right at the forefront of my brain. What I’m looking at right now, according to your letter, he is potentially setting himself up for a win-win situation where he stays married, and he has you.
This is what I see. I’ve seen this before. This is kind of how it plays out for a non-committal spouse. What happens is when you have someone that’s non-committal that doesn’t want to make the hard decisions, they try to make the win-win happen for them.
Does this mean he is a jerk? Does this mean he is a bad person?
Not necessarily. It just means he’s looking for probably the easiest steps for him. The problem with that path, if he chooses that path, is now he’s in a marriage that apparently he is not happy in, but he has his reprieve which is you.
Sure, that’s good for him as he’s probably going to appreciate that because he now has this break from his marriage.
But where does that leave you?
That leaves you as “the other woman”. That leaves you in a place of someone who’s willing to commit partially. Just like he’s willing to commit partially to his marriage. You did mention that he doesn’t want to leave because of maybe commitment. But that commitment was negated as soon as he started having an emotional and even physical affair with you.
I know you didn’t sleep together, but kissing is pretty physical. What’s happening here is that the emotions are really strong right now. This is the first person you’ve loved, or have fallen for in some way since your husband passed. He is also seeing this light at the end of the tunnel that there can be more outside the relationship he’s in and there are people that can actually appreciate him and admire him and respect him.
However, you might be inadvertently enabling him setting himself up for the best of both worlds (a marriage with kids and wife, and you). That’s not your fault. I’m just saying that when you are giving someone the freedom to stay in a situation that only benefits them, and they believe it’s best for them to stay in that situation, you will likely end up being hurt.
He needs to make a decision. He’s either committed to his marriage or he’s not. Or, he’s committed to you. When you commit, I believe it should be all in or all out. That might be a little judgmental on my part, but this is how I see marriage, you’re either all in or all out:
You’re either in the marriage and you’re committed, and you do everything you can to make it work, or you go in a different direction.
He might believe everything he says. He might think “I can’t do that to the kids.” Yet he can’t use the excuse that he’s committed because he negated that commitment.
Let’s just say that he wanted to separate from his wife or get a divorce, and they did and then you got connected with him and he said, “I’m totally committed to you. This is what I’ve been wanting all this time.”
Can you trust that commitment? Because if he sees his marriage as something that he feels obligated to because of a commitment, his definition of commitment needs some work.
These are the things I just want you to think about and apply to your life. Let’s say he gets divorced, then you guys are a couple and everything’s going great. But, he’s one of these non-committal types so he’s afraid to tell you things or express things to you because you might get upset. Or he’s afraid to really take a stand. What if his ex comes back in the picture and says, “I’ve had therapy, and I really miss you, and I’m so sorry for what I did.” and because he’s non-committal, he goes back to the marriage because he still loves her in some way.
It’s just a soap opera. It really becomes all this personal drama that you probably don’t want. You sound like an intelligent, successful person in many ways that probably has a big hole in her heart and wants it filled. Because losing someone important to you, your husband, that person was a major part of you and left a huge hole in your heart, I’m sure and now you’re looking to refill it.
I’ve talked about this before but when you lose someone you love, or you separated, you divorce, or whatever it is, that gap that’s left behind is a part of you, it’s a part of your identity. When that’s not filled, you feel empty. Or at least a part of you feels empty. So what do you do with that? You have to find a way to fill it back up. Because of that, you have to rebuild who you are, you have to rebuild your identity.
Hopefully, you’ve been doing that. You didn’t mention that you were in a lot of pain. I know it’s been a couple years since your husband died so you’ve probably already grieved. You probably still miss a lot of what you had, but you realize you have to move on so this may not apply to you, but I do want you to be aware that something like this can come along and seem to fill that gap, but it may not be a healthy way to fill that gap.
If there is a gap there, just be aware that sometimes what looks nice and what feels good because someone’s giving you attention may not be the healthiest solution. It could be a temporary solution. I’m not saying that maybe you should hang out with a married guy in this capacity. I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that you can have people in your life to fill certain areas of your life, fill certain gaps, but when you think about something long-term, something that you want to commit to, and something that would complement your life and make you feel good about yourself, and make you feel good about the situation, is this person it?
I don’t think I read the first thing you said out loud. The first thing you said in your message was, “Besides run away, do you have any advice? Or can you point me in the right direction?”
I forgot to read that at the beginning. What you’re asking me is, Can you give me any advice or any thoughts on what I should do except run away?
I don’t usually tell people to run away. I don’t usually tell people to do something else. I’m not the type of person that says “get a divorce” because it’s not working out. I just like to give you all the data so you make the right decisions for yourself. And there’s a lot of data in this email to me that comes up with some very orange flags, probably red flags actually. You’re dealing with some red flags here.
The first big red flag is something I noticed right away, something I already said, is that he is not making the decisions that he needs to make for him. He is setting himself up for a win-win, and setting you up for some serious heartbreak because you’re going to love the times you’re together and you’re going to hate the times you’re apart because you’re going to be thinking, “Oh, he’s with his family again.”
It’s going to hurt you bad. It hurts. Believe me, I’ve felt this before. When my first girlfriend went back to her husband, oh, it hurt so bad! I didn’t want to face that. I don’t want you to face that either. But here you are right now and you’re just starting to develop stronger and stronger feelings. I want you to be really careful how you are filling your heart right now and what you’re filling it with because there is an element of toxicity in this.
If it’s not toxicity, it’s dysfunction. It’s something that rubs you the wrong way. I can’t imagine you go to bed at night feeling so happy about this relationship when it’s got so much attached to it. He’s got a wife, he’s got kids… That’s already an issue. You can’t be together because of that.
But that’s not even the issue I’m worried about. The issue I’m worried about is that he hasn’t chosen to make a decision for himself. He needs to look at his situation and commit (he talked about commitment in your message so I’m latching on to that). He needs to commit to one direction or another, but he has to come up with that. It has to be a self-empowered decision for it to stick.
Like you said, you don’t want to talk him into leaving. I think that’s great. That’s a very evolved way to think: “Hey, I don’t want to talk you out of it. If you want to be with me great. And if you don’t want to be with me, at least be with someone that makes you happy because the person you’re with doesn’t make you happy.”
But he needs to figure that out himself. What is happening here is that you are becoming enmeshed in this dynamic that’s going to be painful.
I’m not telling you to stop seeing him. I’m just giving you some data. I’ve seen how this plays out. It is not pleasant. The direction I recommend you go with this is you make him decide. And that’s going to be hard. Because if you make him decide he’s probably not going to want to be with you anymore because he’s still attached to the marriage.
And of course, the kids are important. I’m not trying to dismiss this whole idea that he shouldn’t stay married because of the kids. I’m not going to talk about that too much necessarily, because people get divorced all the time, kids or no kids. I’m not saying that’s a good thing. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I’m saying it happens.
When I was one, my parents got divorced. My siblings were like seven and ten. And we all got out of it okay. We’re alive. We’re living life. We’re doing our best.
If our parents stayed married, we would probably have needed more therapy than we already had. They got divorced so we didn’t have to deal with the aftermath of them staying together. Right now, his kids are in a dynamic that they are absorbing. They are just soaking it in. What is it doing to them?
I don’t know. I’m not trying to make any judgment calls here. I’m trying to just observe this from the third party that I am. I know that when kids are in a situation like this, with someone who’s being abusive, even if it’s not abusive toward the kids, abusive toward the husband (like you’re saying), then what they’re learning is how to treat someone.
They’re learning how to treat other people when they get into relationships. If one of the kids grows up and ends up in a relationship with a male, they may treat that male the same way their mom treated her husband.
That can happen. And it also might not happen. We don’t know what could happen. We don’t know if divorcing would be the best thing in the world for them or not. We don’t know if them staying together or not would be the best thing for the kids. I certainly don’t know.
The situation you described to me in your email tells me the kind of dynamic they’re dealing with. I didn’t even read out loud half the stuff you told me about his marriage. I do know from what you shared that if the kids are exposed to what the wife is putting the husband through, it’s likely going to cause some problems.
If I were to introduce all of those elements into my reply to you (what I didn’t read on the air), then I would say that the kids in that environment are probably worse off if they stay together. That’s not advice, it’s just an observation. But being in a worse situation where the kids have these role models who aren’t necessarily making good decisions. Then what are the kids going to do when they grow up?
Kids learn through the role-modeling. Kids Learn through Mom and Dad’s decisions and behaviors. If dad doesn’t commit, and takes abuse, he shows the kids that it’s okay to take abuse.
So that’s what I have to say on that aspect, where he’s saying that he doesn’t want to make a decision for the kid’s sake… is it really for the kids sake? I question that I can’t say for sure, but I do know that when someone is afraid to make a decision, afraid to commit, and they’re in a situation where they need to make a decision, and they need to commit one way or the other, they need to go in one direction or another.
He needs to go fully on board with his marriage or his relationship with you. But he can’t have his cake and eat it too. Once that happens, the whole thing falls apart in a very painful way. Which is why I come back to what I believe you need to do, which may result in a lot of heartache (there’s going to be heartache no matter how this turns out because the feelings are already there. Somebody will fall hard). If you want direction, you need some sort of closure because this is what it all comes down to.
Right now, it’s what I call an “open loop”. You are in a situation where this person doesn’t seem like he’s going to get a divorce and still wants to be with you, which leaves the entire dynamic open and unfinished.
Do you have any idea what an unfinished feeling feels like? “Unfinished” means you never quite know where you stand. You never quite know where he stands. And you are always in a minor state of confusion. So you look at someone who’s married, who has kids, who’s not sure if he should leave his wife because he still might love her… That’s a whole nother thing: He still might love her but it might be familiarity. He’s so indecisive that you can’t even rely on anything that he says to you because he hasn’t figured it out himself.
He needs to figure this out himself. He needs to go in that direction and figure things out. And if he really truly wants to be in your life and wants to be out of her life, he’ll figure it out.
You need someone that will take a stand, make a decision and take charge of their life. You want to have that feeling from someone because when someone is falling for you, you want to know that you are #1 and are the greatest thing in their life, you want to feel that at least. You want them to pursue you that you want them to show you that nothing’s going to stand in you way, because “this is truly the love of my life, and I won’t let that slip away.”
Does that mean he has to commit to getting a divorce or a separation? I don’t know. It could be. He could also tell his wife, “Look, we don’t get along and I really want to have a relationship outside the marriage.”
I’m not giving this advice. I’m saying that there are alternatives that maybe he hasn’t considered but, I don’t know. This could be the worst advice to tell him something like that. But I do know that when a marriage isn’t working, a decision needs to be made. It has to be otherwise it stays in flux. It stays in that open loop. You’re never sure where you stand. You’re in that confused state. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. You’re sitting by the phone at night. hoping he calls. You’re sitting by your email, your text, you’re just waiting. And you start getting obsessed. Then your work suffers and your happiness suffers, and it goes downhill.
I know there are people that are relating to this right now. I hope that you get the gist of what I’m saying here because you have all the information you need to make a decision for yourself, and what you choose to do from this point on should be focused on what you need to do for you because you’re in a situation that you don’t really have to change.
You can’t be his Savior. You can’t be his rescuer. You can’t be his fixer because… I’m going to say something that’s going to sound so sexist, but I think I need to say it: He needs to be a man.
He needs to be a man about this and make a damn decision and go in a damn direction because he needs to take charge his life. If he doesn’t take charge of his life in this moment, it’ll be very difficult for him to do anything in his life.
For example, if he decides that he wants to have couples therapy, and she agrees, and they work things out, then that decision could lead him into a much happier space inside himself, even if his relationship doesn’t work out.
It’s so vital that we don’t keep these open loops in our life and we try to do what we can to close them by getting a resolution as soon as possible. Sometimes you have to wait, but you still need a resolution. You need to have it come to a resolve, especially when all parties involved can make a choice.
You can’t make his choices, like you said, but you can’t also be his savior. You need someone that is willing to dive in, take a chance, take a risk, who is willing to make the decisions that he needs to make for himself. You need someone that is self-empowered.
Right now the foundation I see building is that he gets the best of both worlds and nobody gets all of him. That might satisfy him, I don’t know. He might be the nicest guy in the world, and he may not deserve any of this but in order for him to get out of this abuse cycle, he does need to stand up and do something about it. He needs to take a stand.
If he’s experiencing physical abuse, and he’s really worried for his life, then he might need to get someone else involved. He might need to call the authorities, I don’t know. But if it’s not like that, and he is not deciding to leave, he’s not deciding to go to therapy, or if he tried it and it didn’t work, and he’s not committing one way or another, this is who you end up with: Someone who doesn’t really take a stand or make decisions or someone who doesn’t commit. And you’re in a relationship with somebody like that, you need to know they are committed to you.
Right now, he is not in a committed relationship because he is going outside his marriage to connect with you. That’s not a committed relationship. This is why I think it’s important to let him take charge of his life and take a stand for himself and do what he needs to do for him.
That might mean you tell him that he needs to make a decision. Again, that could be hurtful to you, I get it. He may just say, “Well, I can’t do that.” And you may have to make your own decision from that point on, but at least you will have the data you need.
Of course, he has kids, he has responsibilities. He has to take care of those responsibilities. I get it. He may not be ready for a relationship with you. He may decide that he needs to cut ties with you. That’s difficult because if you see him every day, yeah, that’s going to be a challenge (or you said you saw him several days a week). That’s going to be a big challenge but there’s a bigger picture here, and too much pain. There’s just too much pain in this in the way it’s set up now.
I hope the setup changes. I hope that he decides to go in one direction or another. If he does, then maybe it’ll all work out for the best. However that looks, I don’t know, and you don’t know, but because you wrote to me, I am talking to you and I definitely don’t want you to be in that state of any type of minor confusion or major confusion or that unfinished business state where you don’t know where you stand, you don’t know if he really loves you, or if he does really love you, why isn’t he spending more time with you? Why isn’t he texting you? Why isn’t he sending you messages? Why isn’t he… whatever, you’ll come up with a million different things that you will keep feeling in a bad way. It will hurt.
I don’t want you to experience that. This is why I suggest that you seek closure of some sort from him. Just ask him to decide. Not that it’s solely his decision, but your decision can be based on what he says next. If he says, “I’m not sure, give me another six months and maybe I’ll know. ” Then you have another six months of this open loop, unfinished business feeling, let alone all the secrecy and doing things behind people’s backs. It’s just a crazy, sticky, yucky mess. And I do hope that you don’t stay in the mess for too long.
Hopefully the mess cleans itself up in some way but if it doesn’t, take care of yourself. You will definitely have love again in your life. Maybe it’s this person, maybe it isn’t, but sometimes it doesn’t show up in the healthiest way and you just need to be aware of that. I wish you the best with this.
I’m going to read you one more quick email. Before I do though, I wanted to mention one more thing about that last person that wrote: If you (the person who wrote the email) stay together with him, and he keeps the situation as it is (he stays married), I just want to give you a head’s up that he’ll have absolutely no reason to leave his wife if you continue to be with him.
I’m not saying he will leave or not, but he won’t have a reason to because he will have you and his marriage. I know I’ve already said that in another way but I wanted to reiterate that because sometimes we can enable someone’s behavior just by giving them what they want and what they need so that they don’t have to make hard decisions for themselves.
That could happen. In fact, my crystal ball says it will. If you stay with him, if you are with him, my crystal ball says that he’ll never leave his wife and that he’ll have the best of both worlds and he won’t even have a reason to leave his wife.
So that’s another tricky part of this. I just wanted to share that with you again. I’m sorry that this may be nothing you want to hear, but I wanted to share my perspective and I appreciate you writing and sharing that so I wish you the best with this.
So here’s the other email I’d like to read you, it’s a quick one. It has to do with infidelity, but in a different way. This person wrote, “Hey Paul, I love your insights I listen to your podcast every night before bed. What stuck out to me strongly, however, was your opinion on cheating. I’m surprised that somebody so open-minded just sees a cheating partner so very black and white, without looking at the underlying cause. Clearly, I’m speaking of myself, as I cheated on my husband who has BPD (bipolar disorder), is abusive, manipulative, and neglected me for so many years.”
“But I digress. I still love him. Never wanted to hurt him. But he’s in rehab now. I still don’t know how I feel about our relationship together but my cheating wasn’t just to betray. It was just a lot of gathering attention that I had been neglected for so long, and I became resentful, and looked for things in all the wrong places, clearly, but I don’t necessarily regret having met the folks that I met because they gave me something.”
“So I just thought that you might want to look at unraveling cheaters a little bit more because I think as much as I love your dialogue, really, I was quite shocked that you are so opinionated about that. I’m not looking for any kind of response necessarily for that. I just want to point out that it might be good learning.”
Okay, so this person must have heard one of my episodes on infidelity. I thank you so much for writing this and sharing this with me. I don’t remember how opinionated I was about a cheater or the infidel.
My take on someone who cheats on their relationship is that I think it’s important to remember that when you are in a relationship, where you commit to it, and I’m kind of repeating myself from the last segment, that you are either all in or all out.
If you’re not all in, I believe it should be something for discussion before you go outside the commitment or the contract of marriage. And I’m not saying that because I have a personal preference to it. I’m just saying that if you want things to work out for the best that it’s probably better to at least separate fist and then see other people.
If you choose not to, I don’t have any judgment about that. I just look at a commitment is that you’re either all in or all out. Now, that is black and white. You’re right. She’s saying, “I don’t think it’s so black and white. Some people are going to cheat because they’re abused in their relationship. They want the love and attention from someone else. It feels good that they’re getting this love and attention.”
I get that. I’m just not on board with it. For example, let’s just say that my girlfriend started abusing me badly. She was hurting me, not physically, but mentally and emotionally (like the person in the last segment who said she was seeing a guy in a mentally and emotionally abusive relationship). If that started happening to me, I would say, “I don’t like the way I’m being treated and I want to see other people.”
Now, I’m not in a marriage. I know it’s a lot different, but at the same time, it’s still a commitment. So yes, it could be easier for someone who’s not married to say that kind of thing. But at the same time, married people who get separated will see other people sometimes.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to see other people while you’re married. I just think it has to kind of be on the table before you do. Otherwise, it’s doing something behind their back.
I understand what this person saying. She could have been in a very battered situation. She could have been really hurt and felt like there was nowhere to turn and nowhere to run. She didn’t feel loved and she just wanted to feel something. I get that. And who knows? If he is an abusive person, and he was on drugs and there were a lot of things going on in that marriage, then here’s how I look at this. Let me give you this straight up. There’s always a person that breaks the contract first.
Let’s just say that the marriage was good. then one person decided to cheat – in a good marriage – now you have someone that probably should have had the conversation before they went out. The conversation might have gone something like, “I think we need to separate for a while, we need time apart.”
That could have been the conversation. I’m not saying it’s going to be an easy conversation. I’m not saying that conversation wouldn’t lead to divorce, who knows? But I think it’s better to be honest and in integrity, especially with a good situation, before it gets out of control.
This is a dicey one because if someone is in a marriage that they’re being abused or hurt in any way, then it almost makes sense that they should seek someone else… I’m kind of on the fence here. I didn’t think I would actually have a change of heart, but I’m kind of on the fence.
If you’re in this terrible situation and you’re being abused, and you want someone else’s affection or love, just to feel special just to feel like you’re worthy, you are important, then, maybe that could come into play. But I would say the majority of the time, it’s better to put the truth out on the table.
The truth isn’t easy sometimes. If it’s an abusive person, you may not want to give them the truth, I get that too. But then if they’re an abusive person, maybe, possibly, you shouldn’t be married to them.
I’m not going to tell you what to do there, that’s a choice only you can make. But this is one of those things where you have to make a decision. You have to commit one way or the other, in my opinion. I wouldn’t say what I’m saying is “advice”. I just saying it’s a perspective.
She probably didn’t like what I said about the cheater, the infidel, the betrayer… I don’t know how opinionated I was. I’m usually very fair to both sides. I know cheating takes place and good people cheat. I’m not saying that cheaters are bad. I’m saying that there are probably things we should put in place before we do it.
One of those things could be a conversation like, “Hey, let’s separate. Let’s see other people.” You know, have the hard conversation. But if that person is abusive and you can’t talk to him about that because they’ll hurt you more, that’s a challenge. But what comes into play is the choice to stay in that situation and continue to go outside the marriage.
That’s a tricky one. That really is. I really don’t like the idea of someone that has integrity, that has good character, that is morally and ethically sound, that they would have to go outside the marriage to get fulfilled in some way or feel important or worthy, because now they’re violating their own integrity. They are going outside the contract of marriage to break the integrity.
That’s my only issue with this really, is that if you are a person of integrity and morals and ethics that you might have to break your own integrity and be that person in order to get these things fulfilled.
That’s tough to say because I know the person who’s writing to me, she sounds like she is moral and ethical and a person of integrity and she was in a tough, abusive situation. So what should she do? That’s going to be a tough one.
Is the answer that you go seek someone else? I don’t think that really should be the answer, but maybe in her circumstance, this is like a one-off that you treat differently. That’s a tough one. You might have stumped me!
Every situation is unique. Everyone is different. But let me say this, I certainly don’t think the person who cheated is necessarily a bad person. Good people do sometimes questionable things. Some relationships are difficult. Sometimes you’re married, and you haven’t been intimate for a long time so it doesn’t really feel like you’re married anymore, so is that qualification for someone to cheat?
I think that needs to be talked about. I really do. If you’re in a relationship, I really do think that you need to bring this stuff up: “Hey, you know, we haven’t had sex in a year, I need intimacy. I want to have intimacy. If I can’t have it with you, I want to seek it with someone else.”
That’s a tough conversation. Some people will say, “Well, that’s just unrealistic.”
I don’t know if it’s unrealistic because is it better to just go outside the contract of marriage and violate your own integrity? That, I think, is a very personal choice. I just know the consequences of what happens when you do that.
Let’s just say that the marriage is bad and there’s been no intimacy for a year or so and one of the partners decides they can’t take it anymore so they’re going to cheat because they want to feel better.
They probably won’t use those words. They’ll probably meet someone and something will happen and they may develop feelings for the other person, odr maybe their hormones will go wild or whatever. But the cheating happens… but what’s next? What happens now?
What if the marriage starts to get better and things start looking up. Now you’re working things out and getting along great…. When do you have the conversation that you cheated?
As the marriage grows closer and closer, if that hasn’t been discussed, but then it comes up, guess what happens to the marriage now? It becomes a question of “Do I trust this person anymore? They violated the sanctity of marriage, they broke the contractual vows that we had.”
That’s a difficult one. This is why when you do things outside of the person’s awareness, and this is the person that you’ve agreed to commit to a relationship with, even if they’re being a jerk, you might have to face the consequences later if the relationship starts to mend, and you become closer and there’s some healing.
If you think there’s no chance for a rekindling of the relationship, then maybe there’s something to what this person wrote. I personally wouldn’t do it myself. I think it’s just way against my integrity and my character, not that I’m questioning the integrity, the morality, or the character of anyone that cheated, I just have a personal problem with it. If my girlfriend like we’re having problems, and we haven’t been intimate, and we’re just not emotionally connected and then we started connecting again and then I found out she cheated like a year from now, I wouldn’t know what to say, I would be so upset. I would feel completely betrayed.
Even if I “deserved” to be hurt. If she thought I deserved to be punished because I was hurting her so badly, I would still hope that no matter how bad it got, cheating was never on the menu. But if it can be an option, then the foundation is very rocky. And without a solid foundation, it’s hard to have any kind of solid relationship.
This is a deep issue. I totally get where she’s coming from. I think it does fall on your own personal acceptance of what is the best thing to do for your situation. I do think that when you get into a marriage, that contract is probably something that you can rely on as a solid foundation.
However, in her case, I could look at that and say, “When he started abusing you, he violated the contract.” So maybe that gives her “permission” to violate the contract as well. This could go either way if we started talking in that direction.
I still think that when there is a violation, that that can be discussed as well, like, “When you started abusing me, I didn’t sign up for that. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to seek intimacy and connection with somebody else while you go get your act together. Sorry, but that’s the way it is.”
I realize I make it sound easy. I know it’s not. Maybe she felt completely down in the dumps and completely demoralized by her husband. She probably felt like there was nowhere else to turn. Of course, if that’s the case, I have compassion. I totally get it.
To the person who wrote, I don’t think you’ve convinced me, but you’ve certainly made me think about this. It is something I probably will continue to think about. I do feel like there are some rules that are better to follow, but sure, every situation can be very different. It sounds like yours was. And it also sounds like you’re in a better place today. I’m happy to hear that.
I want to thank you for writing and thank you for knocking on my brain for a little bit and making me think about this stuff. It’s an important topic and it affects everyone involved.
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