I struggled to come up with an idea for this article as ‘cheating’ is not a topic that crosses my path often. The word is very uncommon in my circle and the experience is hardly mentioned; either by the cheater or the person being cheated. I also feel like this topic has been addressed on so many levels that I couldn’t think of what I could possibly say that might throw some new light on the matter. Then a friend rang me this week to rant about his niece who had just committed suicide over an argument with her boyfriend. Listening to the story, we were both angry at this young woman who seemed to have everything going for her, yet selfishly (from our perspective) ended her life as an answer to solving her problems. I was still reeling about this story one evening while scrolling through stories on Instagram. I stumbled on my favourite food blogger’s post (#dairyofakitchenlover) and she was directing people to her story page. I think she made a wrong decision on some food related issue and it led her to ask her followers if they had ever made a regretful decision. More than 80% of the responses said marriage was the decision they regret the most!!! There were other responses around financial decisions, etc; but marriage topped the polls and nothing else even came close. Of those that gave reasons, some had been under pressure from family, some used marriage to cover other errors, and some genuinely thought they had found Mr Right who just ended up being so wrong. This really got my blogger alarmed and left me in low spirits.
The verb ‘cheat’, according to the Oxford dictionary is to act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage. There is nothing beautiful or admirable about this word and its meaning. Even when used in terms of ‘cheating death’, it doesn’t bring a smile to any lips; rather it sends a shiver down the spine. We probably all have examples of a time when we were cheated. I have felt cheated by my butcher who sold me meat that was almost off because I’m not as audacious as the customers who shout and inspect the meat, ask for another one, inspect again, before they settle on what they are happy to pay for, completely ignoring the queue behind them. I always think “…what if someone sees me haggling over £1 in the market place and recognises me as the person they see ministering in church? What will I think if I see my Pastor in that position?” I know. It’s probably just my vanity. Anyway, I found another place to buy my meat.
So, if cheating is so bad, how and why would anyone cheat themselves? We cheat ourselves by making excuses. We cheat ourselves when we choose five minutes of pleasure over a lifetime of happiness. We cheat ourselves when we don’t stand up for what is right and pretend nonchalance. I could probably blame my spouse for making some headship decisions which didn’t favour me, but there is one incident that I take the blame for. The decision to leave a good job simply because he said so. If I could go back in time, I will definitely do that differently. I chose to be submissive without question because every married woman I spoke to told me that was the right thing to do.
I’m not advocating a stand-off or a shoot-out situation here, but I know that if I had been brave enough to respectfully trash out my points with my husband, we would have avoided a lot of unnecessary unhappiness. If you are doing things right in a relationship, and your partner is cheating on you, you probably already have a sense of it. I’m not talking about insecure or suspicious people, but when someone who should be open begins to hide or avoid things or starts gaslighting… If you are not married to this person, it’s okay to give some space. Even if you are married to this person, you can still give some space within reason. You are complete by yourself. You do not seek marriage in order to be complete. In Marriage, 1+1=1, not half plus half, or any other fraction. Don’t be pushed into any decision you are not ready to live with.
I contemplated dating a guy once who was overwhelming in his show of affection. I genuinely liked him and I believed we could make marriage work, but he just wasn’t giving me space to make that final decision on my own, He came to visit, bought gifts, helped me in the kitchen – he actually butchered a whole chicken for me, and behaved himself at night (after serious cautioning). It was just too in-my-face, so I told him we would fast from each other for 40 days, meaning no calls, no texting, no Facebook likes, no communication whatsoever. Jesus fasted before going into ministry so I needed a fast before jumping into the ministry of marriage. He reluctantly agreed. For me, the first ten days were torture. In fact, I started planning our wedding, because I fully expected God to confirm what I believed He had started. But on day 11, I spoke to a church Uncle of mine who had known me for some years. He asked questions and from the answers I gave, I realised that I really didn’t know enough about this person. There was so much I didn’t know and I was upset with myself for allowing things to even progress this far. By day 20, I was calm and I had my peace. I could concentrate on my life again. After the 40 days, we spoke and he knew that the jazz (spell) had worn off. My heart and head were in one accord and I knew he wasn’t the guy for me. A few weeks later, he told me he was back with his ex and they have fixed a date for their wedding. I was apparently the re-bound girl he almost had. I wished him all the best and gave God thanks for my deliverance.
I don’t know why my friend’s niece ended her life. I don’t know why people (especially family) put so much pressure on singles to get married. You may not be able to control the actions or inactions of someone else, but you can choose how you act and react to any situation. Wisdom and discretion are key. So whatever your circumstance, don’t cheat yourself out of your best life.
From my heart to yours,
P.S: If you are the one cheating or being unfaithful, please stop being unfair and stop acting dishonestly. There is no advantage to be gained by cheating. None whatsoever. If you continue on this path, you’ll soon find out it is impossible to eat your cake and have it. We don’t always get a second chance to do the right thing…