Just today, I saw a flyer for a programmer on “how to stay with a cheating man:”. I am not sure what the attendance would be, especially as it is a paid event and I doubt if society would tolerate the female version “how to stay with a cheating woman:”.
I dare say that a cheating man seems to be accepted norm in our society but that in itself does not ease the pain that cheating brings. No one can sincerely say they did not or do not have any qualms about their partner cheating and that is because the nature of true love in itself is jealousy and so whenever the question of cheating comes up, it is a sore thread that almost everyone can relate to in one way or the other. Sometime ago, I shared an article “The Side Chick”on my alumni Whatsapp group. It was like I had opened a tornado and my phone kept on buzzing with comments till late midnight. One of the hallmarks of that discussion was when one of my colleagues penned down the words below
“Cheating is the oldest profession after prostitution”-Heralds Male Member
It is the silent dreaded nightmare of almost every woman however, cheating is not confined to the male sex alone. and I have carefully not used the word adultery as I do not want to undermine the pain of emotional cheating.
Recent statistics have stated that in over a third of marriages, one or both partners admit to cheating at some point in the relationship. The issue with the statistics is we never ever think it will happen to us and actually are ill-prepared when it does.
Several reasons abound for the belief that our relationships are immune from this deadly virus and people of faith seem to be the most gullible, totally ignorant to all the telltale signs of cheating till it is too late. They usually are the most devastated when it comes to light with the media inadvertently causing more harm by publicity.
I have had my own experience and also a fair share of listening to stories of both married and unmarried friends who have gone through the bitter experience of being cheated on. Although the times and manner of discovery vary, there is usually a noticeable pattern of emotions that are common and we are not isolated in our experience. Your emotions might probably be on a roller-coaster rhythm for a while.
No matter how much we have been suspecting an affair, there is usually shock and surprise when we eventually discover it occurred. Sometimes this state of shock leads to a denial of the whole discovery. These twin emotions of shock and denial are also experienced during the first stage of grief. We sometimes find it hard to believe that after all the investments and all we have done for or been through with our partners, they could betray our trust in this manner. Although these might be one of the first emotions we will experience, there are several others such as anger, shame, confusion, uncertainty, loss of self -esteem and the extent to which we display these emotions will depend on our personality types.
In short, the discovery of an affair can accentuate personal issues we might already be struggling with. If we have a problem with self-image, there might be a further dive in our self-esteem. If we have anger issues, we are probably going to rupture in anger (while it is alright to get angry, please do not act stupid) or we may find ourselves finding comfort in eating, shopping or spending. Sometimes, we may actually lose the zeal for life, losing faith in love itself and might end up becoming depressed. Sometimes for people of faith, it may become a time for more intense prayers and many have been known to rain down curses on the strange woman and the Jezebel spirit. Sadly,it may also become a time for apportioning blame. This can be very disheartening when you are trying to deal with the inflicted wounds of the betrayal and as unhealthy as this practice is, some women actually begin to blame themselves.
Usually, the woman is told it is because of her deficiencies in the bedroom department, her not being able to keep in shape, her cankerous spirt and non-submissive nature, her not praying enough and interesting spending too much time praying and not having time for her partner that has resulted in the affair. In other words, the affair only happened because of her actions or inactions and for lack/further reasons, it is attributed to the devil. Cultural and religious influences, especially in male-dominated societies, have a hypocritical yardstick for different sexes and always seem to have several excuses for the male culprit with a zero tolerance to female offenders.
While I do not want to deny that there may be several circumstances that may have created an environment for cheating to occur, I would like to be emphatic by saying
“Cheating in a relationship is a choice and if anybody cheated, they did so simply because they wanted to. End of story”.
It is this first owning up and the ability to take responsibility for our choices and decisions that define us as adults and paves the way for healing and restoration in any relationship. As long as we continue to blame outsiders or outside forces (devil included), we will not make progress. I am amazed sometimes when I see women folk fighting the side chick and never have a conversation with their spouses/partners in a bid to keep the peace in the house!. You may succeed in driving one side chick but if there is still active recruitment, many pending applications will be considered. It is important to have a conversation with your partner about the issue and one conversation may not do due justice.
Although discovering there has been an affair can be traumatic, it does not necessarily mean the end of a relationship. The way forward and what you decide to do is entirely up to you. These decisions may also be accentuated by your partner and the several other factors that are unique to your relationship. Do not allow society to pressurize you to make any decisions and rash decisions can be avoided if we allow the dust to settle.
There is no one size fits all approach but having been bitten by the sting, we should not allow it to define our lives or even future relationships forever.
And finally, if we are the ones in the wrong, please sincerely apologize and let your actions actually prove you are sorry.