I recently saw the trailer for the book-turned-movie “Addicted.” As I watched the trailer, I heard this statement and question.
You two built this family together, are you willing to throw all that away?
In light of the divorces of Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon, Whiz Khalifa and Amber Rose (in which both relationships there are children involved), the reconciliation of Ray Rice and his wife and the ridicule they both have received in their situation and the recent conversation I had with my husband about infidelity and its aftermath, I paused for a moment and started to recollect and introspect in regards to my thoughts and what I have been feeling lately about marriage, infidelity, divorce and reconciliation.
For quite a while I could not seem to understand how a woman or man (but more so a woman) could take their spouse or partner back after their spouse was unfaithful, especially if they have been unfaithful multiple times. To me it was the ultimate act of betrayal in a relationship.
All my life I have seen women suffer because of the indiscretions of men and in many cases, I saw these women allow these men back into their lives. All I knew was the broken hearted single woman doing her best to get on with life and take care of herself and her kids if she had any. By my mom’s, grandmother’s and great grandmother’s example, I was indirectly raised to take care of myself and children. I was not reared to be a wife or ever taught that there was a possibility of me one day falling in love, getting married and having and nurturing a family.
After being a witness to so much emotional, mental and physical abuse to women, I made up my mind from a young age that I was not going to tolerate any man’s nonsense or become a victim to his abuse. As soon as he cheats or abuses me in any way, shape or form, he’s out the door! No second chances! Get it right the first time or get gone! This was my naïve mind’s way of protecting me.
For many years, because of my experiences and the lack of proper understanding and mentorship, my perception of men was distorted. Every man was a dog and no matter how nice they were in the beginning, they would eventually cheat in my eyes. Unfortunately, every relationship I was in, except for two (as far as I knew), I was indeed cheated on. None of those men who cheated on me got second chances except one. I was hurt by what they did but did not think more than twice about accepting them back. Taking them back meant that I was weak and I was allowing them to deride my pain and submitting to possible abuse again. I felt, for one to fully understand my pain, they had to feel the pain of losing me. This was the lesson. No second chances! And of course, there were always women – friend and family, young and elder – who supported me in my decision.
Fast forward about 10 years from my last failed relationship where infidelity was the cause, and my perception has changed drastically.
What I did not understand back then is that the hurt women in my life did not only suffer because of the indiscretion of men but because of their own indiscretions too. They were broken just as much as these men that they let into their lives. They did not know what they were doing or how to fix it and they definitely did not know what true love was.With my generation, the destructive cycle continued and ended up being worse than the last generation!
In regards to my relationships, when my ex-boyfriends’ infidelity was exposed, It was easier to walk away from them because I did not feel like I was losing anything. I didn’t see value in these men enough to hold on and to fight for what we had and how could I? I didn’t yet see value in myself! The reality was, I was not in love with any of these men and their infidelity was my way out of the relationships that I did not intend to stay in anyway because I knew these men were not what I wanted. I knew from a younger age because of what my mom taught me and because of the standards I set to protect myself, that if a man did not acknowledge God with his life, he was not a long term possibility. So I was just as selfish for choosing to go along for the ride and not consider these young men’s hearts as they were for cheating on me. We were all just broken, misguided and lost individuals looking for love without even knowing what to look for. **SIGH**
But… I finally get it! I understand now. God has used life to humble me, broaden my understanding and soften my heart.
Here are some things I have learned about cheaters:
- Deep down in their hearts, some people who have cheated did not want to. Situations and circumstances can lead people to weak and vulnerable positions and during this time bad decisions can be made. We have ALL made bad decisions in weak moments.
- Because a person has cheated it does not necessarily mean they do not love you. It took me a long time to understand this; however, I have come to learn that people have different struggles and their own demons. Many people have insecurities, pains and hang ups that lead them into continuous destructive behavior. It’s left to you to love them through it or not.
- You may want to give someone who has cheated on you a second chance. This is totally based on the situation, circumstance and consequence and only you can decide whether or not you are comfortable with this. However, If they have proven to you that they are sorry and committed to you and have shown improvement in the way that they show love to you, their thinking, decision making and their character, make sure you make your decision through prayer and spiritual discretion instead of making your decision out of pain and pride because you can end up throwing away a diamond in the rough.
- Some people don’t intend to stop cheating. In this case they cheat and do it often with very little remorse. You will feel the lack of love and concern from them for you. They are all talk but never action. In this case, continuing a relationship with this person can be dangerous to your wellbeing.
There are also other things that I have a better understanding of now.
I have a better understanding of what a relationship entails. I understand that everything that I invest in a relationship (my heart, sacrifices, effort, emotions, time, possessions, etc.) is not so easily disposable. Everything I invest is priceless to me and so is everything that a man invests in a relationship with me. I understand that a relationship should lead towards marriage. It’s not an activity to keep you occupied. The courting process, under proper mentorship, is to prepare individuals for marriage. I have a better understanding of marriage now also; that it is a covenant that is based on more than just whimsical feelings but on commitment, the understanding of self-sacrifice and that two people do not fall in love but they grow in love. I fully understand that it takes two committed individuals putting aside their pride to make a relationship work. Team work makes the dream work and if it’s only one person trying to hold the relationship down, it’s bound to eventually fail.
Now I understand what being in love is. I understand what it is when your love for someone is greater than the pain they may have caused; when losing them hurts much more than their offense. I understand what it is to value the relationship and love you have toiled to build more than the agony of a partner’s bad decision.
I finally understand what it is to no longer look at a situation through the lens of my pain but through the understanding of someone else’s weakness.
I understand what it is now to forgive as I would want to be forgiven and have been forgiven and to love someone so much that you prefer forgiveness and reconciliation than to hold resentment and anger against them. A loving spouse hides the shortcomings of their beloved and reconciles within the sacred confines of their marriage. I understand the worth of the legacy that a husband and wife build for their offspring and it is worth the sacrificing, fighting and overcoming pain and obstacles for it. I better understand that it’s through overcoming the most painful circumstances together, through unconditional love and with the divine guidance of our Creator and Father that marital bonds are made stronger.
Loyalty, Commitment and Love are proven to be weak or strong when they are tested.
I have also come to understand that loving someone means forgiving them of their offense, even INFIDELITY, and may mean giving them another chance and working on reconciliation. However, loving someone means forgiving them of their offense but may also mean walking away from a relationship that has long been unfruitful, destructive to both individuals and was never meant to be.
Needless to say, operating with this understanding does not come easy; it doesn’t come naturally for humanity. Our very nature is about self-preservation on each side of the spectrum. However, if you will allow them, life, experience and God can open your heart and mind to understand, learn and operate in wisdom. We can start to see the world and people through the eyes of the Creator; with compassion, understanding and mercy. We can start to tap into divine love. Agape Love. Unconditional love. I believe this type of love is what all of us want to experience but we have to understand it does not come easy! Without patience, compassion, compromise, tolerance, forgiveness, commitment, loyalty, humility, sacrifice, passion, etc and most of all, God, we can NOT reach that goal. I don’t want to love with inhibitions, I want to love freely, with everything in me. Subsequently, I understand that to love like this is to allow myself to be extremely vulnerable and pain will indeed come; however, it is no longer about staying away from pain but loving someone that is worth going through pain for.
I no longer question or judge the individual that chooses to remain in or leave a relationship after infidelity of any form. Every relationship is like a fingerprint; it is unique and belongs only to the two people who are committed to it. Only those two individuals know the details of their relationship and what they have endured, so their decisions, individually or together in regards to their relationship, is between them and God. They should understand that and outsiders should respect it. It is left to them to hold on or to let go. Nonetheless, those who get the rare opportunity in this life, to experience unconditional love for and from their partner and are able to make it together until death due them part are truly blessed!