Think you know who cheats with a cheater? Marriage isn't natural,that's why you must commit each day
I often write about marriages, the sacredness of marriage and the act of infidelity within a marriage. Of course, everyone knows cheating is wrong and when it happens in a marriage we often times ask, “Who would cheat with someone else’s husband or wife?” What kind of a person would try to date or have a relationship with someone they know is married? We label them as whores, home wreckers and other derogatory adjectives, and maybe they do fit into some of those categories. With the divorce rate being half of American marriages, and with the influence and ease of porn, affairs and other temptations, it is important that we explore who cheats with a cheater. I received this letter last week. She asked me to write an article about this topic. It took me a couple of days to think about it, but I have decided that understanding, as in all matters, helps unravel the mess that infidelity creates.
Dear Mary Jo,
You address the issue of infidelity quite frequently in your column, but I rarely see you address the issue of the "other woman and/or man." I was the "other woman" for about three years and words cannot express the hurt, anger, and pain that resulted from my involvement with this married man. I have been out of this relationship for about a year and a half, and I have sought therapy on and off during this period to deal with the issues that have surrounded this, and while I think there has been some progress, I feel that it is something that will take me a long time to fully get over.
Many people, including you, may say that I should have known better. I did know better, but a close friendship with him slowly started to get out of control, and before I knew it, things were a mess. I think at first you ignore the situation that you are in and enjoy the time that you spend with this person, because it is always surrounded by fun things and physical intimacy. As time goes on, you realize that living in secrecy is very lonely, and it is even lonelier when you realize that the whole situation is affecting who you are and has changed you as a person. You also realize that no matter what, you are not the number one priority of this man. He is not there when you have a bad day and you need someone to hold your hand, on holidays when you want to be surrounded by the people that you love the most, and to put it to the point, he is not there to experience life with you. In my situation, I felt like when I tried to back away, he would come on stronger, and acknowledge the sacrifices that I made to be with him. It was my mistake to not walk away in all of those times that I had intended to do so.
I guess what I want to say to you, and for the people that read your column to understand, is that you should never cheat on a spouse, significant other, or partner. The lives that are hurt include both parties, and in some cases, if it is a lengthy affair, the person with whom the affair was had. Have the strength to be honest with your partner about the problems that you are having or the needs that are not being met. If you are with someone with whom you can't address these things, then you really shouldn't be with them in the first place. If someone isn't willing to work on things to make a relationship better, then why would it be a relationship worth keeping?
I also want people to know that the "other woman" is usually not some dumb floozy. I am a smart, professional woman who made a terrible mistake during a very vulnerable time in my life. I wish that I could take it all back and do it differently. I paid a really high price for my involvement in the relationship. People make mistakes and it doesn't make them bad people. Thank you for listening, Kathy
I have no reply for Kathy as she knows what happened, and I think her insights for all of us are heartfelt and sincere. However, what Kathy cannot feel are the sleepless nights the wife spent having suspicion about her husband. She will never experience or feel the times his children may have lost with their dad due to her being involved with him, nor will she understand or feel what his wife knows about his ability to love someone enough to marry them, and then break a vow and lie. Kathy is hurting, and she regrets her actions with him, but she will have difficulty healing until she can forgive how her actions affected his wife. When a man or woman cheats, it isn’t hurting the person they cheat with; they are hurting the spouse and children. If anyone needs an apology, it is the spouse of the cheater, and they need the apology from both the cheater and the cheater who cheated with the cheater.
This letter is full of pain and remorse, but more importantly, what it points out is the fragility of our relationships and marriages. If you don’t nurture your marriage every day and prioritize it, the pressures life presents may be too much for it to be healthy and to last. Remember, marriage isn’t natural, but a healthy marriage is still the best way to raise secure, successful children and stay healthy. If you want a happy, healthy life, marriage is the way to go but, not without careful attention to your ability to communicate and nurture its growth. –Mary Jo Rapini
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