If you were raised in a similar environment to me, I bet you know this two sayings, “What is done in the dark will always come to light.” Sound familiar? It’s all too familiar to me as God worked it out alright. Now, I know the headline, “A Cheater’s Guide to a Lifetime of Faithfulness,” might throw you off. But another saying, “God works in mysterious ways,” might help you understand where this article is headed.
What I mean is, God worked my husband’s cell phone right out of his pocket where it would be visible to me! Next, He brought the dark to light in the following text message: “Last night was well worth it!” My eyes could not believe what they were reading as my heart shattered.
Could this be payback? Payback from the past where I unintentionally had an emotional affair that turned into a physical affair during our engagement. Was my husband returning the “favor?”
The Cheater’s Guide to a Lifetime of Faithfulness
In this article:
Well, as life would have it, it turns out my husband had an unintentional affair too the first year of our marriage. Same scenario in that it started emotionally and escalated to a physical one. I know what you may be thinking. “Wow this couple is messed up.”
In spite of it all, life has taught me that where there is true love, there is true power to conquer and weather the storms together. Following are things that experience has taught me and my husband on how to go from being a cheater to someone living a lifetime of faithfulness.
The Mind of a Cheater
People cheat for many reasons. A majority assume it is all about sex, but cheating is more than just about sex. Have you ever stopped to think about the mindset of a cheater and what is REALLY going on internally for them? Below are some of the most common themes that influence a cheater’s way of thinking.
- Media and celebrities – Celebrity couples who are in happy, long-lasting marriages are rare. Instead, cheating is considered the new norm and promoted as healthy on reality shows, dramas, and sitcoms, leaving viewers with a warped sense of what relationships should be.
- Thrill of cheating – The risk of getting away with doing what you know is wrong is a strong temptation for some people. They like the danger and adrenaline rush associated with sneaking around behind their spouse’s back.
- Lack of interest – Too often, commitment gets kick to the curb when spouses don’t share the same values or interests. So, rather than doing fun things together, they shut them out and look for someone outside the marriage to spend time with.
- Learned behaviors – As you learned above people will often imitate their parents, friends, or environmental bad behaviors. Imitating what you see others do is a cop out.
Spouses who cheat rationalize their behaviors to make it “alright.” However, once a cheating spouse realizes what’s at stake, will they be a “repeat offender?”
Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?
Maybe not. Despite what everyone thinks, people can change. After all my husband did and so did I…let the church say Amen!
Cheating is more of a habitual way of thinking that comes from telling yourself that your needs are more important than anyone else’s—especially your spouse’s.
The secret to not cheating is to stop telling lying to yourself that you have the right to cheat, that you deserve the pleasure it gives you, and that it won’t hurt anyone if you cheat. These assumptions are all wrong and are what got you into trouble in the first place:
Instead, here is something that can help you get your life and marriage back together. It is the Cheater’s Guide to a Lifetime of Faithfulness. It’s only for you if you are serious about restoring your relationship with your spouse. These steps can take you from the mess you are in to a renewed relationship with the person you married, as it did for me and mine:
- Talk to your spouse. Admit that you cheated and recommit yourself to her (or him). Sincerely (you MUST be sincere, if you’re not don’t waste one another’s time) apologize for being selfish and for deeply hurting her. Tell her that you love her and that you know that your actions have damaged your marriage. Promise that you will spend the rest of your life proving that you love her and no one else.
- Recognize that cheating is not only a cruel thing to do to one’s spouse, but it is also a sin in God’s eyes. God values the institution of marriage because it helps people understand God’s love for us. You need to confess what you did to God. Do that and it will be easier to start fresh with your spouse.
- Demonstrate your desire to change by talking things out with your spouse. Share why you started cheating in the first place and let your spouse share her feelings, too. I call this full disclosure in my book. It is critical to explain why you felt you had the right to cheat. Maybe there are some issues that you two can work out to make both of you happier.
- Lay out the changes that you will make from now to make the relationship happier and healthier. This should include being where you say you will be and not being secretive about phone calls, texts and emails. No more lying or flirting or friending ex’s or potential hook ups on Facebook. Whatever behaviors you have been doing related to your cheating, they are a thing of the past if you truly want to move forward and be fully present in the present. On the positive side, start showing your spouse genuine love and respect, both publically and privately. Decide together to really listen to each other and both of you put your spouse’s needs ahead of your own. Now let me be clear I’m not saying sacrifice yourself for your spouse. At the same time, a successful relationship is never selfish.
- Put in the effort to change your life and your relationship. This means actually doing the things you promised to do and refusing to do the behaviors that have been sabotaging your marriage. It means not putting yourself into situations where you might be tempted to cheat (this is a big one), and instead substituting behavior that builds up your relationship. Simply put, plan to do something fun together with your spouse (where appropriate with other healthy stable fun loving couples)—even if it is just taking a relaxing walk together…the key is together!
- Be consistently faithful from that point on. To switch from cheating to being faithful, you have to start developing new habits that are positive and relationship-building. The more you are consistently faithful, the more your spouse will trust you. Your love relationship can be fun and better than before! Reinforce your faithfulness to your spouse by your actions every day, and the trust between you will be restored.
- Make it a habit to express your love and commitment by doing activities together that cement your restored relationship. Start creating cherished traditions that strengthen your commitment to each other: like taking time each night before going to bed to tell each other something you love about each other. Tell each other, “I love you” at unexpected times and mean it, then show it by doing something that takes pressure off the other.
You made the mistake of cheating on your spouse. Now, you regret it with all of your heart. And, you still love your spouse and are willing to do whatever it takes to restore your marriage.
You know that you cheated because you allowed yourself to be controlled by your selfishness and impulses. But now you know how to stop cheating.
You know which behaviors led to cheating and you refuse to do them anymore. Instead, you will put your spouse’s needs ahead of your own. As your spouse does the same thing, you both can start a lifetime of faithfulness!
BMWK, how can this guide benefit your marriage?
Editor’s Note: BMWK originally published this post on November 17, 2015. We have updated it for quality and relevancy.