It wasn’t long after I got married that one of my friends got a divorce.
I knew their marriage was in trouble…but divorce!? I was so confused.
But then I heard the truth…she’d met another man. A “nice” man she worked with (who isn’t really nice if he stole another man’s wife). One who “listened” to her. She’d been tempted to cheat and succumbed to that temptation.
I’m going to be honest. I judged her. Harshly. I would NEVER do that!
It’s easy to judge someone when you are first married. Totally in love. Smitten. Hubby can do no wrong.
But chances are, if you are reading this, you might be on the other side of smitten.
Maybe you have found yourself tempted to cheat.
How Did This Happen?
Adding a few years onto your marriage, a few kiddos, some financial strain and a LOT of arguments and suddenly you understand how that “nice” man at the office can start to look like a really good option.
Maybe when you talk to your husband, he’s watching the game and will only throw you an occasional “uh-huh” to make you feel like he’s listening (you aren’t fooled).
But when you talk to HIM…he listens.
Maybe you don’t have much money to go out to eat.
But when you go out to eat…HE might even pay (and it doesn’t come out of a joint checking account).
Plus, you don’t fight over who is going to change the baby’s diaper or how long he’s been playing XBOX.
Your new relationship with HIM is all roses. Just like you and your husband USED to have, right?
No wonder you are tempted to cheat.
Not once…but twice I was very attracted to men who were not my husband. Twice I was tempted to cheat in very real ways.
Both men were exactly opposite of my husband. But these two men (at two very different times in my life) were ambitious go-getters. One was Hollywood handsome. The other was edgy and wild. One had a few successful businesses. The other had an amazing life story that included a reality TV show.
My husband is so steady you could build a house on his back and it would never move.
And as much as that sounds amazing…it can be really frustrating when you are a mover and a shaker like I am.
But I never cheated with them. And not because I didn’t have the opportunity. Quite the opposite. But I overcame my temptation to cheat because I realized a few key truths.
The Other Man Is Just Like Your Husband
The first truth I realized was this:
Both of the men who temporarily caught my fancy were just like my husband.
Outside of physical abuse or infidelity, I wager that most men are pretty much the same. Sure you have your ambitious ones, the sensitive ones or the broody ones…but underneath, they are pretty much all the same. I don’t mean they are “the same” – like they don’t have different personalities, but rather “the same” in that they all have flaws.
And I promise, the man you might be attracted to…HE has his secrets…you just haven’t seen them yet. And I promise…they are just as bad.
You can say, “No…HE is NOTHING like my husband!” And while that might have a grain of truth in it…don’t for one second think that somehow magically you’ve found a man that is perfect. No man is perfect.
Give it a few years time, mostly likely you’ll find yourself having the exact same arguments with HIM as you do with your husband now.
The Lie of the “Exception to the Rule”
The second truth I realized is one I think every person in the universe (not just married people) needs to understand:
Everyone. Everyone thinks they are the exception to the rule.
It’s like it’s written in our genetic code to believe that we are somehow exempt from “the norm.”
Every woman is special. But herein lies the problem, if everyone is special…then special is “the norm.” Therefore, making it…unspecial. I know. I know. That like blows my mind. We are all so special…but we ARE NOT so special that we are the exception to the rules. And those who ARE the exception to the rule…probably don’t even know it!
So, let’s go with this idea of unspecial special women…and let’s say that your issues with your husband is…well…pretty unspecial. They are normal issues. They are regular. Run of the mill even. Sure, maybe your BFF or your sister says they aren’t, but chances are they probably are pretty generic issues including:
- Work/Life Balance
- Social Media
- Substance Abuse*
- Feeling Distant
- Lack of Communication
If your issues are “pretty normal” than they can be overcome. Being NOT the exception to the rule actually means that your marriage isn’t beyond repair.
*Someone with substance abuse may need professional help before a marriage can be restored.
Don’t Give Fault as a Gift
Okay, for the sake of argument, I know there are women reading this that are like, “Whatever. I don’t care. I want to BE with HIM.”
Fine. You are going to do what you want to do.
But pretend you go through with this affair. Pretend your husband is a real jerk and you leave your husband for HIM.
What have you done? You’ve now and forevermore, gifted “fault” to HIM. When your husband (who will then be your ex-husband) is asked what happened, he’ll blame HIM. If you have kids, they will always wonder if HE didn’t show up and woo their mother, maybe mom would still be with dad.
If your marriage is going to end…let it be because the two of you couldn’t hack it…not because there was a third wheel butting in!
The Mindset That Helped Me Avoid Cheating
When I got married, I knew that one day I may not like the man I married. We all have those days, right? But what if days turned into weeks, then months, then years?
There was one simple truth that I came across early in my marriage:
It could be me.
Remember that friend I talked about in the beginning of this blog post? The one that I judged so harshly?
Well, I started thinking about her. Really thinking about all the things she’d told me about her marriage. And you know what I came up with? Nothing. I mean, I definitely heard her complaints (especially toward the end…perhaps after she’d already met the guy at the office), but for the most part their marriage wasn’t anything special (or especially horrible). It was just marriage. Messy. Messed up. Two people trying to become one flesh.
There were some things he did that weren’t cool…but goodness knows she probably wasn’t a saint!
And that’s when this truth hit me: What happened to her could happen to me.
And when it did…this truth is what got me to the other side because I wasn’t going to become another statistic of divorce.
Because of this “it could be me” philosophy, I took the offensive. I stepped up to the challenge and refused to let my marriage dissolve without a fight.
A Final Cure When You Are Tempted to Cheat
A wise man once said:
If you are tempted to have an affair…tell your spouse, they are the only ones who can do anything about it.
I know. That’s crazy talk.
But you know what: It worked.
I told my husband both times I was tempted to cheat on my spouse.
For one, I quit my job. No job is EVER worth my marriage. EVER.
For the other, I quit following him on social media. In fact, I quit having friends on Facebook completely (and still don’t 4 years later). Since he lived a few states away, this fixed the problem.
I still loved my husband so removing myself from the situation fixed the problem. We had our issues, but with the other person out of the way and the truth out in the open, it was easier to work on them.
In our case, I realized that we needed to have more fun together. Life was getting too routine. I also realized that I was idealizing what it would be like to be with someone as ambitious as I was. I’ve learned to be content with the man I chose to marry.
It’s Not Him…it’s You, too.
Oftentimes, being tempted to cheat comes from external sources AND from internal sources.
Don’t assume that I’m trying to minimize the pain your husband has put on you, but if we do a little digging and soul searching, you might come up with some things that you’ve done to harm your marriage.
And if you are like ANY HUMAN BEING ON THE PLANET…you’ll assume that your issues aren’t like his issues. Believe me. I get it.
But let’s get down in the mud together. Write in the sand. No judgement. Nothing. Just sit for a second and think about your husband. If you need to, think of him like you are his mom and he’s coming to you with all his hurts and pains. Not like a man, but a boy whose confused why it’s not working out like the movies. Think of all the words you’ve said. All the “hints” you’ve made. Then, think about all the things you haven’t said. Ask yourself how much are you assuming he knows? Believe me, I’ve found that my husband really DOES need it spelled out…annoying, I know…but giving him clear directions has been a marriage-saver. If you are really struggling to figure out what he’s thinking, ask him…and listen. If you can’t just listen…don’t ask because it’ll probably end up in a fight.
The Real Cause of Your Problems
The truth is we are ALL messed up. Your husband. You. HIM.
The Bible says this:
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”
The real cause of all of your problems is simple: sin.
Your sin. Your husband’s sin.
God didn’t start the earth this way. He created us perfect. But then Eve ate the apple. (Don’t you love that it all started with the woman…where was Adam? My guess? Racing horses to see which one was faster or some other ancient version of XBOX.)
Despite who’s “fault” it was, in the end they both messed up. And God needed to do something to fix it, so he sent Jesus to die on the cross so that we wouldn’t have to deal with eternal consequences of sin — that is hell.
But we still have to deal with the temporal consequences of sin. But we can lessen those consequences if we choose to live for the real “HIM” (who is way better than any “nice” guy a the office) and follow HIS ways.
If you haven’t accepted Jesus’ free gift of forgiveness, will you do so now? Then, you can move forward in your endeavors to live a better life…one free from infidelity. It might be hard, but you’ll have a mighty God on your side fighting for the restoration of your marriage.
And if you’ve already met Jesus, will you turn to him to ask the way out if you’re being tempted to cheat?
Whether you’ve just met him or you’ve already known him, I’m going to ask you to open your Bible, share your heart with God and pray for your spouse, your marriage and yourself.
If you’ve been touched by this blog post, please drop me a comment or share this post on social media.