Always a cheater…REALLY???

so now what

by Kenneth Justice

~A while back one of my coffee house friends told me that his wife had cheated on him a couple years ago. They’ve been in a serious relationship for close to a decade and the wife admitted to having had an affair….he said the guilt was getting to her and she broke down one night and told him the truth.

The guy she cheated on him with was a co-worker she used to work with but hasn’t seen in more than a year (since the affair ended)

“At first my heart was broken, I was really mad, but I love her and I’ve decided to stay with her because I realized we all make mistakes”

Sound like an unusual response?

In the church culture I grew up in a lot of things were ignored by my fellow Christians; gossip, overeating, talking bad about other churches and other denominations, greed, selfishness, etc……

I’ve been frustrated many times in my church life because I’ve had to sit next to fellow Christians who were spending $35,000 to take fun summer trips around the world, while sitting behind me were other parishioners who were working two jobs merely to make their rent payment or pay for health insurance.

A lot of injustice seemed to go unnoticed by my fellow Christians….

BUT, cheating on your spouse was considered the unpardonable sin.

Each of the churches I attended while I was growing up always made it very clear; cheat on your spouse and your a douche bag….and when my coffee house friend told me that he had forgiven his wife and they had moved on in their marriage; I was impressed.

Once a cheater always a cheater” is what many people say. But why don’t we use this moniker for other behaviors;

—) Once an over eater always an over eater

—) Once a gossip always a gossip

—) Once an alcoholic always an alcoholic

—) Once a lazy person always a lazy person

Why do we treat cheaters more severely than people who are guilty of other negative behaviors? Why is cheating so often treated like the unpardonable sin?

I’ve heard many people say that ‘cheating is more serious than other behaviors because it is a violation of trust’ ….but does that make it a worse ‘sin’ or worse ‘behavior’ than being a liar, gossip, or slanderer?

Look, I’m not about to defend the perpetual cheater; the man or woman who refuses to apologize, refuses to stop cheating, and refuses to reform their lifestyle……such a person probably shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place; right?

But if we all agree that Western Society is one of the most sex saturated cultures that exists….shouldn’t we begin demonstrating a little bit more grace when it comes to cheaters? Shouldn’t we be surprised when people don’t cheat? I mean, it seems to me that everywhere I go sexuality is thrown in our faces. Even walking through the checkout aisle of the grocery store, the magazines are overflowing with gratuitous sexuality.

Jesus said of the woman who was sleeping with numerous men, “He who is without sin cast the first stone”…..Isn’t that the attitude we should demonstrate as our guiding principle?

I realize there are a lot of details that usually have to be ironed out;

—) Is the cheater remorseful?

—) has the affair ended?

—) do both people want to stay together?

and more……

But ultimately I’m asking one simple question; is cheating somehow worse than other behaviors?

Perhaps I’m too simplistic. Perhaps I get too annoyed by people who gossip and slander…..but since I have been gossiped against and slandered against numerous times throughout my life those two things bother me a lot.

Yet even with people who have gossiped or slandered me…..I’m still willing to forgive them. If they apologize, if they stop slandering me….I’m willing to move on….even though it will be very hard for me to forget what they’ve done. Isn’t that the guiding principle we are supposed to demonstrate; to forgive when people repent?

I recently heard of a groom who cheated on his bride the day of the wedding. Okay, so that is something that might be a bit tough to get past. I mean, if you’re cheating on your spouse on the first day…..what  the hell are you doing getting married in the first place?

I’ve written about grace in the past because I believe that demonstrating grace to others is one of the hardest things to do; there is something in our nature that wants to hold grudges, never forgive, and live in the past. But if we are moving towards maturity then don’t we need to learn how to show a little grace to others….even when it is tough for us to do so?

The simple fact of the matter is that we live in a culture that is filled with a lot of negatives; there are lot of things in Western Society which seem to be designed to tear-us-apart. Forgiveness and grace are not popular traits in our culture…..

just a few thoughts with my morning coffee,












Categories: relationships

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

59 replies

  1. Once an over eater – always an over eater, once a lazy person – always a lazy person… OH GOD, HOW DO I BREAK THE CYCLE.

    Great post, I think forgiveness is hard (for the cheated and the cheatee) and when someone wrongs you emotionally that’s even harder. Terrible situations for these guys to go through, but mistakes happen.

  2. I used to drink coffee, so I remember what coffee used to give me — a bracing, helpful start to the day. Your posts do the same for me, lately. Continuing thanks.

  3. 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
    15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.–Matthew 6

  4. Cheating done due to lack of communication in the first relationship. Second in order to forgive it first need to be known why and how it happened. If one goes on cheating willingly it is unforgivable. They willingly and knowingly put their relationship on the line..
    But lack of communication is usually the reason, missing something and not able to talk about it. Then all of a sudden someone pops up to fulfill that what you miss. You get drawn in.
    But i have been on both ends.
    Great post.
    And marriage as you know, in church is sacred, only for that ‘word’ it is seen as a death sin if you cheat. But again as with many other things (drugs, sexuality or any other difference in behavior). it is the church who judges it, while preaching that only God can judge.
    We of all people should top labeling, judging and try to live a more positive life.
    Again thank you

  5. sometimes I think that bitterness becomes a precious treasure, rotting us inside… nice article

  6. an alcoholic will always be an alcoholic… why cheating has the stigma it does as opposed to being lazy is the betrayal of trust…

  7. I don’t think humans are wired for monogamous marriage in the first place . . . it was perhaps once a survival necessity, but now? . . . not so much. (as proven by the divorce rate) maybe it’s time to rethink the whole institution?

  8. A couple of things I thought about when reading your post:

    1. You say ‘They’ve been in a serious relationship for close to a decade’ – I’ll say – they are MARRIED and you don’t get more serious than that.

    2. Sexual infidelity is a very big issue for most people, because it involves intimate actions that are usually extremely private and very emotionally charged. Calling it ‘cheating’ makes it sound so much less serious, Being unfaithful is not in any sense equivalent to lying, gossiping or slandering. The words ‘being unfaithful’ say it all.
    I have always thought that if an individual transgresses their promises to their partner, regrets having done so and is determined not to do so thenceforth, they should shoulder their guilt themselves and not relieve their own pain and bad feelings by telling their cheated-on partner.
    I speak as one who lived through the pain of my own parents infidelity and the terrible harm it did to our family. A harm that twists and corrodes the belief in trust, love and faithfullness being possible.
    Of course, ‘to err is human, to forgive divine’ but to my mind the analogy is to a cup that was perfect. It gets broken and then is glued back together. Yes, it has been ‘repaired’ but the cracks are still there, it can never be the un-sullied thing it once was.

  9. Reblogged this on The Bigger Ben and commented:
    A great post about forgiveness.

  10. great article as usual. There is always room for change….. nothing stays the same….. 🙂

  11. I would totally forgive my spouse if they cheated and they were remorseful and we got counseling and the affair ended and and and… the question is, how many “and’s” would I need? How much would I make him go through to get out of the dog house? I don’t know. There would be lasting repercussions. How hard would it be to get over someone going outside of that sacred relationship? I think it would be more about me than him. The real question is, would I be able to forgive AND forget? Forgive… well, I think I could do that. I think I could want him in Heaven with me. I think I could even be friends with him but would I ever be able to let that little inkling in the back of my mind go? Would I be able to not suspect him every time he was late? I don’t know. Would I be torturing him every moment because he had done this thing to our relationship? It’s not always about forgiveness. Sometimes its about what the relationship will be like if you do stay together. – the wifey

  12. When my first husband cheated on me and was unwilling to stop, we split. I interviewed therapists to find one who did not think that infidelity had to be the end of a marriage– who believed reconciliation was possible. There are many different varieties of this situation. That it was a one-time thing and the woman was being eaten up with guilt says a lot. I’ve known people who made it work, and people who couldn’t, and people who shouldn’t have (because they’re really not able to forgive and move on, or because the one spouse is clearly not capable of change…) But to say it’s the unpardonable sin, well, that seems crazy to me. A way to dismiss a person (the cheater) forever based on their worst moment or worst characteristic.

  13. I don’t know about this post, Kenneth. Not sure how to approach a comment that will sound as if I have learned from many of my life lessons and the lessons of others. Especially when it comes to turning your head on a moral issue that deeply wounds another. Remember that old cliche: “it doesn’t hurt until it hurts you.”

    Great post. I hope your coffee was just a good if not better. Have a great day!

    • It’s a tough issue because it is a personal thing that millions of people have had to deal with; in the case of my coffee house friend, he chose one way of dealing with it…but I don’t think everyone has to do exactly what he did…..each situation is different

  14. Excellent post. In truth, every situation is different… but as you say, to suggest that a nagative behaviour can’t be changed is a ludicrous position to take. I do beliebve that cheating is wprse than many of the other negative behaviours that you mention but we have to take in to account the detailas and context of each case. While I despair at people who remain in relationships in which they are treated like sh*t on an on on-going basis, you also have to accept that there are many people fall to the temptations that are put in their path but are able to see that, repent and change.

  15. It’s interesting you say what you say about how it’s possible slander and gossip hurt you more because you’ve experienced it. I suppose it’s easier for me to ignore slander and gossip because I haven’t experienced that but I have experienced cheating. I think in some ways it depends on what the person’s experience is… while I agree slander, gossip, lying (which is a very close relative of cheating) are all horrible behaviors, there is something about cheating that just gets to me – I’m sure part of it is because of my own experience with it. I guess because I’ve never done it, it “feels” easier to pass judgement because it really is at it’s core a selfish behavior and one I would never do to others, so I tend to be a bit harsh on it. Though to be fair, I really can’t stand lying, slander or gossip either but, at least for me, it “feels” as though it’s easier to move on because you know the truth is on your side and things will right itself at some point. The aftermath of cheating doesn’t feel to work the same way as that – relationships can be ruined and it can send the wrong message to children about what love is or isn’t (if children are involved). etc. I agree, it’s good to be able to forgive and work at a relationship but for me, I think it depends on what the circumstances are. If I were married and it was a mistake, then I’d be willing to work on it, but if it were a full fledged affair – I’d have a much harder time with that because more feelings were invested in continuing that affair not to mention lying to me for a longer period of time, etc. I don’t believe in just giving up on a marriage but there are some things that are just tougher to deal with. Seems to me it’s tough to continue to stay in love with someone who intentionally chose to be in love with, or give love to someone else for a period of time. Trust and love are broken in that instance. It is possible to heal those wounds though but both people would really have to work at it, a high level of tolerance and forgiveness is needed. It’s possible and it’s happened but it’s hard these days when, as you say, relationships have fallen to fast food mentality.

    • An old friend I havnt seen in a while used to be very critical of people who were cheaters until one day…when she cheated on her boyfriend, her perspective changed.

      I agree with you Jen,it is easier for us to be overly critical or overly compassionate when it comes to things that we ourselves have never had to deal with or experience

    • Well, I’d like to think I wouldn’t ever do it and it’s certainly avoidable in my eyes, but that’s part of why I’m single. As lonely as it may get, trust issues are just there now – one too many broken hearts and dealing with lying and cheating tends to make one leery. People do make mistakes but again was it mistake or is it someone just not caring about who they hurt or not considering the other person’s feelings when they cheat? I think that’s why cheating gets to me so much – I can see the difference in certain situations as I’ve stated, but like in mine, he clearly didn’t consider me or my feelings at all. I’m sorry but I judge that harshly. I would never do that to another human being. It’s not just cheating it’s unbelievably inconsiderate and that just bothers me to no end. Can’t help it lol. 🙂

  16. Wow. I like how honest you are about feelings you experienced in church. I wondered and rebuked myself for thinking some of the same thoughts. Our family was struggling to feed and clothe but the entire staff of the church was going off to Disneyworld. Their advice was to just take a break from tithing. Weirdness.

    Anyhow it is true, judge not les ye be judged. The Lord knows our hearts and secular struggles.

    • “Our family was struggling to feed and clothe but the entire staff of the church was going off to Disney World”

      So sad to hear things like that but unfortunately I hear them quite a bit

  17. I don’t believe in sin (but I won’t expand on that), however I do believe in morality and mistakes… Everyone makes mistakes, big ones, little ones, ones only we know about. How we deal with our mistakes is what is important.
    I was cheated on by my ex… I forgave him, I didn’t bring it up, but I promise you, I never forgot it. Our marriage eventually failed for a multitude of reasons, infidelity being just one of them.
    I KNOW that people can work through it, I’ve seen them do it, I tried… now, I’d just run for the hills if it happened again.
    Oh and once you’re an alcoholic, you’re ALWAYS and alcoholic, whether you’ve given up the drink or not.

    • “I KNOW that people can work through it, I’ve seen them do it, I tried… now, I’d just run for the hills if it happened again.”

      I’m really impressed that a few people who have commented are victims of cheating yet you still believe that people can work through it and still have successful relationships…..very commendable 🙂

  18. My ex husband cheated on me during our relationship when I had no awareness of it. I found out about his cheating one month into my marriage when the woman he was cheating with discovered he’d married me. (She was a touch upset about that.) And after trying to work things out over several months and the loss of our first child, I found that he still had not let her go.

    Still, I forgave him. The thing is, he never was honest with me about it. Even after getting caught, he continued to lie and yet I know that at least in his understanding of the word, he “loved” me. What helped me to move past the betrayal and forgive him though was the realization that he really never was out to hurt me. He was just helping himself. It’s a selfish act, cheating.. more about the person cheating than the one being cheated on, and that’s the difficult part to comprehend when you’re on the receiving end of the betrayal.

    I know this though. Had my husband been honest with me, had he come to me himself, had he laid it all out for me as your friends wife did? No doubt about it, I would have been hurt. It would have brought me to my knees in pain, especially behind the loss of a child. But I would have forgiven him and reconciled as quickly as possible — I would have known that he cared enough for me to admit his failure and treat me as he would want to be treated if the shoe were on his foot.

    You’re right about Christians and sin. Most sin (like cheating) is an act of selfishness. We like to label this sin or that sin “more sinful” when someone else does it but when we ourselves do it, we justify it by saying that since we didn’t “mean to hurt someone” that we’re less culpable. Ever quick to cast the stone that we ourselves are usually worthy of being hit with.

    I love what your friend did and I love what his wife did.. not her failure, but her save. Everyone makes selfish choices .. it takes real honor and courage to admit to them as well as to forgive them. Your friends are very brave and very honorable. Praying many blessings on their marriage.

    • when someone has gone through all that you have gone through and still you’re able to say, ” But I would have forgiven him and reconciled as quickly as possible” I think it says a lot about your character 🙂

    • Eh. I don’t know. It probably says less about my character and more about how much I cared for him. When you actually love someone, it’s harder not to forgive than it is to reconcile.

  19. Thanks for this. Even those of us who have cheated wonder in fear if we would do it again, since we’ve all had ingrained in us the “Once a cheater, always a cheater” mantra. But cheating is not always about sex, not always habitual, not always irreparable. Thanks again!

  20. I have always prayed that this is one sin I would never be tempted to. I’m sure I would not fall…but I don’t want to find out. It is unimaginable to me that my wife would ever cheat, but I do sometimes wonder how I would react. It is just one of those horrible things I hope and hope I won’t ever go through. But our culture really pushes it.

  21. There are so many reasons why people cheat (or excuses depending on your point of view). And it’s true that there are people who will always cheat, again the reasons why are many and varied.

    In any previous relationship I’ve had I’ve no doubt it would have been a deal breaker. They were never right for me and there’s no doubt I’d end it without hesitation.

    But I think that’s how I know I’ve married the right person now.
    I hope I don’t have to deal with the issue, but I know that I wouldn’t give up on the marriage. It wouldn’t be easy and I’d certainly need to seek help, but I value our relationship too much to give up.

  22. Perhaps it’s because we each believe we’re not capable of cheating? And so we find it easier to judge? A wise friend told his church, ‘if you think you’d never cheat on your spouse, you’re an idiot. Very few ever set out to cheat…but in a bad moment on a bad day, you make a bad decision…’ Great blog post! 🙂

  23. Is the cheater remorseful? Has the affair ended? Do both people want to stay together? These are all VERY important questions! I do agree that we need more grace and forgiveness in our society. The story about the woman at the well had to do with a person who had many husbands, not a woman who cheated on her husband many times.

    My father lived a double life. He had an affair for the majority of my parents 27-year marriage. I think for this reason it is hard for me to be objective about this subject. I guess the thing that is so difficult about cheating is the intimate nature of the betrayal. It was awful for me and my five siblings when we found out, probably much worse than most situations because of the length of the affair.

    Thank you for your thought-provoking post.

  24. when your spouse cheats on you, you may work very hard to forgive, but isn’t the nagging thought of their betrayal always there ready to bounce back up?? If they truly loved you, why would they cheat on you in the first place? the hurt of that betrayal may lessen over the years, but their character you thought they had but don’t, is the beginning of you questioning your own sense of judgement of people, and there lies the rub…what about us??

  25. An alcoholic will not always be an alcoholic, and I do not believe that a cheater will always be a cheater. Some are, yes. There’s no doubt about that. However, I firmly believe that people can change and some do. I’ve seen it happen. Not everyone is doomed to failure because of their past choices.

  26. I think sometimes people have sex for the thrill of it and yes, sometimes “cheating” creates an even higher thrill. Say that’s bad, say it’s good… it’s true. Growing up in today’s world it’s highly unlikely that the person you marry is the first person you have sex with. Does that mean you love everyone you’ve slept with just as much as you love your spouse? Not so much… at least I hope not – you marry the one you love the most and vice versa (hopefully). Anyway, that’s aside from what I wanted to comment on. I am married and if I found out my spouse slept with someone, my first question would be “do you love her more than me?” If the answer is “no”, we can work on that… there is a problem but it’s not the end of the relationship. However, if I found out my spouse was attached to someone else and attracted to them physically and emotionally more than they were me; whether they have sex or not wouldn’t even matter to me. That’s the end of a relationship. Done. No more. Emotional “cheating” is more than a physical lapse of judgment; it’s a separate relationship that is more significant than the marriage you hold so dear.

  27. First, I’d like to say Church was scary to me as a child….all fire and brimstone and gnashing of teeth. Yikes! Thank goodness there are churches now that actually feel welcoming…

    Regarding cheating, there have been a lot of good, well-balanced comments here. I think it’s a case-by-case situation. In some cultures, the men have mistresses and somehow think it’s acceptable (ex. Hispanic). The poor wives feel powerless to do anything about it and the men just continue about their merry way…not saying all Hispanic men are cheaters, just using an example. However, I personally think it’s because of their general view about women, but that’s another topic for another day…

    I agree with the commenters who believe each case should be examined. Some people cheat because they are selfish, sex-addicted, are a Narcissist, and/or just for the fun of it. Those people will probably not change, and therefore any hope for a future in the marriage is bleak.

    Some people cheat because they start to feel invisible. It’s not really about the sex; they just want a connection that their spouse let die. In the case of the man who cheated on the first day, well…I think that speaks for itself. I’m thinking of people who’ve been married a while and one spouse starts to feel more like a roommate than a lover. If this continues over a long period of time, I think part of the burden could be laid on the non-cheating spouse for ignoring the cheating spouse’s pleas for romance and connection. (Just speaking in generalities here, not black and white). In this case, the whole relationship needs to be examined from both sides because there a critical issues besides cheating that need to be dealt with…

    I don’t think the act itself is the unforgivable part. I think it’s the why…

  28. When offers came his way, my ex was flattered and couldn’t say no. I forgave, we tried to move on, but as someone else said, “the cup was cracked”. Eventually his last affair ended with her throwing him out and he wanted to come back – but not because he loved me more, simply because he had been thrown out. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things. Reconciliation is, I believe, possible if both sides are truly committed but once trust has gone – whether because of infidelity, addiction to drink, drugs or gambling or anything else – a relationship can never be the same.

  29. There is a difference between forgiveness, and building relationships of trust. They are not mutually inclusive.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: