Yesterday I was having huge mental struggles with the idea of staying married to Allie. But I didn’t take it out on her and I am long past the argument stage. It simply isn’t worth my energy to fight with her. Instead, I will struggle and I might say something like, “today’s a hard day.”
At any rate, Allie wrote a note to our counselors, in part she said the following about me:
“Bob is still having a hard time today trusting that I won’t cheat on him in the future. I can tell you that I don’t want to cheat and I won’t cheat because I don’t want to be a cheater.”
Can anyone tell why the above statement bothers me so badly? Can you spot the fatal flaw in her thinking? Who can tell me exactly why I keep saying that I won’t know if I will stay with her?
Allie says, “I won’t cheat because I don’t want to be a cheater.” Do you see the difference in that statement and a statement like, “I won’t cheat because I love my husband”? Or, “I won’t cheat because my family means more to me than life itself”? Do you see the difference?
What she wrote to them PERFECTLY sums up why I feel that Allie is staying with me because of Allie, not because of me and not because of the kids. If given time to think, she will write that she loves family, wants to leave a legacy, and loves me, BUT when she’s in a hurry, the truth comes out. She wrote to them in a hurry.
Basically, she wants the counselors to give her a clean bill of heath. “Congratulations! You’re not a cheater any more!” She would love to hear them say that. That would be an accomplishment. Allie loves accomplishments. Do you notice that it is about her though?
She could then wear it like a badge of honor. The “I am not a cheater” badge is given to those who complete the special 6-week training course. In the course, you’ll learn:
- How to not be a cheater
- Ways to convince your family and friends that you’re not a cheater
- Five easy one-liners to shut down those who would mention the infidelity (including your husband)
- The “get over it” pin that you can proudly wear
- Added bonus: You get the quick “I am not a cheater” reference guide with helpful chants you can repeat in your head.
You see Allie believes that her being a cheater can be erased rather than faced. Can you imagine if AA told their participants “Congratulations! You’re not an alcoholic now”?
Actually the opposite is true. When people go to AA meetings, they will start by saying “Hi, my name is _____________, and I am an alcoholic.”
I know a man who has been going to AA for nearly 40 years! To this day, he will say “I am an alcoholic” though he hasn’t touched a drink in four decades. Why does he keep admitting that? Because he knows that the problem he has will always be there, ready to come back at any time.
Saying you’re not a cheater doesn’t mean that you’re not. It is a phrase that is meaningless UNLESS you’ve never cheated before. Chanting it over and over will only harm yourself in the future. You’ll chant it right into the arms of another man.
What will keep you faithful? What will keep you from being a cheater Allie?
- Loving someone so deeply that you simply could never do it
- Open and honest communication about the real struggle you have
- Telling your spouse EVERYTHING, not just the stuff you believe won’t hurt him
- Being open with your temptations and having true accountability
You see, it is not that you have to publicly wear the “I am a cheater” label. But you have to know that it is always there. You have to be aware of it at all times so that you can guard your heart and mind from further temptations and indiscretions. If you finally come to a place where you can say “I am not a cheater” then that is the perfect time for your pride to launch another attack. Your pride will make you fall…again.
Saying that “I don’t want to be a cheater” is NOT powerful. Wants are weak. As soon as something comes along that you want more then you will give up that want. It is natural. If you want a taco for dinner and someone offers you a burrito, you may find yourself wanting the burrito more. Thus, the want for a taco becomes unimportant and irrelevant in light of the burrito.
To put it another way, think of all the people who “don’t want to be in debt.” Those very same people will still have a credit card in their wallet, and they’ll buy a car and get a car payment. What about not wanting to be in debt? They will justify the card being in their wallet because of emergencies. They will tell you how their old car had so many issues that they had to get this new one. They will be stuck in debt forever because the “want” simply isn’t powerful enough to overcome the other “wants”.