We have talked about cheating countless times on this blog. Everything from 8 Tips to Becoming an Effective Cheater to Break-ups 101: Cheating Women and even more in between. Today, I came across a question on DearCupid.org titled, “Can a serial cheater stop?” The author’s approach to her situation is a model for so many “cheatees.” Undoubtedly, when she first learned of her husband’s infidelity she was devastated, but made the decisions she thought were best at the time. Now, she finds herself at an impasse, faced with the question of his “admitted” infidelity and the potential reality of his infidelity combined with their children’s welfare as well as her own. Yet amidst all this confusion, she still approaches her situation with the logic and rationality she has gained from those tough lessons in love, and now she needs some real answers. We’re going to give her our thoughts, but first, take a moment to read about her situation:I am seeking advice from men who have cheated repeatedly or other wives who have been married to serial cheaters. I have been married for 11 years and I have been able to prove and also receive confessions from my husband that he has cheated 5 times. When I say cheat — I mean sex. The first time was a few months after we got married (didnt know at the time),then there was the one that I forgave him for, 2 of the occurrences was when I was pregnant w/twins, and the last was almost 2 years ago. Every time I caught him (except this last time), I had that gut feeling. I have had that feeling many times over the years. At present, he is in another state for a new job. He is expecting that I will be moving there soon with the kids as soon as our house is sold (under contract now). I’m pretty much over him, but I am considering sucking it up because the kids adore him. I dont trust him for obvious reasons and I strongly believe that I never will. I’m just curious — what are the odds that I caught him every time? I strongly believe that it has happened on other occasions. Of course, he denies that :) I am plagued with guilt (with the idea of leaving him and hurting my kids) and I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. I know it sounds crazy, but I feel like I let too much time pass since the last incident to leave without that uncertainty that I have. I am not looking for advice that tells me to run for the hills, etc. I know he is an idiot, and I am far from weak. Staying with him has taken more strength than leaving would. I ask this because if I do stay married to him. I will eventually fall back in to all my roles as a spouse. If I am even considering having a loveless marriage and loveless sex — I’m wondering if I am being naive to think his cheating ways were all that I have discovered and officially over. I certainly dont want to hang in there only to get dropped at his convenience later. Nor do I want to get god knows what. So do you think it has only been the 5 times I caught him? Do you think it has ended? ——(sorry for the rambling, there is a great deal to this story and hard to shorten it and create a somewhat accurate picture)
The Reality of This Situation
Your husband has cheated more than 5 times. There is a difference between confessing and admitting, so if you caught him, he had to fess up. If you throw out the, “How many other times has this happened?” line, the chances of getting an honest admission are virtually zero. The key here is that you knew in your gut and your gut has proved to be an accurate indicator, so if you’ve felt it more often, then you know him better than he thinks you do.
The Trust Issue
In most situations I would say that if a couple is going to stay together after infidelity, then they need to be willing to let go of the past and move forward together. Start fresh. Well, you’ve already done that…5 times…and now there is absolutely no reason for you to trust him anymore, no matter how long ago his last known fling was. What is a marriage without trust?
The Marriage Issue
A marriage without trust is an agreement between two parties, essentially, a legal arrangement binding two people together without those pesky relationship elements. But what’s the goal of this type of agreement? People who are married have a common goal, a future they want to achieve together. What future do you want to achieve with this man? What is your goal?
You are willing to sacrifice yourself to stay in a loveless marriage and have loveless sex for the sake of your kids and that is exactly what parents should be willing to do for their children. However, what type of marriage will you be modeling for your children, what types of relationship standards and values are you demonstrating to them? Sure, you may say, “I want more for them, that’s why I’m doing this,” but in reality, you have to ask, “What are they learning from my example?” Whether they follow in your footsteps or not will be based on their own unique personalities, situations and their interpretation of things they saw growing up. Do you really want them learning from his example, too? Not to mention, being in a loveless marriage and loveless sex life will eventually drive an even bigger wedge between you and your husband, causing you to become even more detached from him. Your children will sense that, they might even think, when they find out that he strayed, that your detachment is what caused him to stray. The possible scenarios are endless. Staying together for the kids is commendable, but not when you’ll be sacrificing so much of your own dignity.
You say that you will fall back into being the wife…so what does he get to do? Fall back into the roll of being the cheating husband? Seems a little one-sided to me. You’re young, can you really see yourself sacrificing the potential to be happy, experience love again, experience intimacy and great sex again? There is no shame (or guilt) in wanting any of that. It’s obvious that he’s not willing to make any of the sacrifices you’re willing to make; again, your agreement is lopsided. Wouldn’t it feel so good to have a man genuinely care about you, your thoughts, your feelings, your body? In my opinion, you’re setting yourself up to have an affair of your own, although I wouldn’t honestly call it an affair.
The Real Question
Whether you think he’s still cheating or not isn’t the real question here, whether his “wicked ways” have changed isn’t the question either. You have taken the right approach to your situation, you’re being logical and considering all options. But here you are, at least 5 affairs later, asking if a serial cheater can be stopped, when you should be asking, “How much more of myself am I willing to sacrifice on his greedy altar only to be repaid with a slap in the face?
All this talk about confessions, guilt and altars reminds us of our sister blog, Single Starts with Sin™. It’s like The Garden of Eden, but for sinners.