Ask Margot-Once a cheater, always a cheater?
One woman feels betrayed after her guy admitted to seeing someone else. Margot shows her that rebuilding trust involves a lot more than just turning the other cheek.
I’ve been divorced now over 2-1/2 years and feel like I’ve come a long way with spiritual and emotional healing. I ran into an old friend and we began to date somewhat slowly. I know that NO man on this earth is perfect and he has admitted to me his flaws. However, reality kicked the door down to my
heart and I found out that he’d been with another woman. I believe that with healing and time, trust can be rebuilt. Does he deserve a second chance?
|I wouldn’t do any wading until I’d done all the answering.|
— In need of biblical wisdom
Dear In Need,
First of all, I’m truly sorry you’ve had to endure this betrayal. There is hardly anything in a relationship that’s more painful. On the other hand, I like your attitude about it. That’s what’s going to make the difference here.
You ask “Does he deserve a second chance?” But a second chance for what is the question. A second chance to disappoint you? Or a second chance to live up to your expectations of what a committed relationship requires?
This is a matter of trust, of course. And you yourself said that “I believe that with healing and time, trust can be rebuilt.” But are you aware that it’s you who has to do the rebuilding?
He has done something wrong; will he ever do it again? I don’t know and neither do you. So can you live with not knowing? Do you trust him right now? Or do you need more time? And how much time do you
need? These are the questions you have to answer before you decide to wade back into this relationship. And I wouldn’t do any wading until I’d done all the answering.
You see, trust is a complicated thing. We think, “Can I trust him?” But simply thinking that question indicates that we may not. Trust indeed takes time to rebuild, but it can only be rebuilt by, yes, trusting. Every
time you’re not with him, you have to trust that he’s not with someone else. Over time, that act of trusting becomes the renewed bond of trust itself.
|Maybe the voices will fade in time, maybe they won’t.|
Here’s a good test: Assuming your guy isn’t in the same room with you, how do you feel about him right this instant? Do you trust him? Or does some small part of you wonder what he’s up to—or might be up to sometime soon? Be honest with yourself in this moment. Do you trust him like you did before you found out he had been with another woman? How have things changed in your level of trust? And what steps are you going to take to rebuild it?
More questions, I know. And I wish I could answer them for you. But, as I’ve said, answering these questions is the rebuilding process, and only you can do that for yourself.
You see, as long as he’s not fooling around on you, there’s not a lot he can do to be more trustworthy. He may have abused your trust once, but it’s really up to you now to put it back together, day by day, one trusting thought at a time.
This, of course, opens you up to the risk of being hurt again in the same way. But this is a chance you must take if you truly want to rebuild the trust you had in this man. As for him, all I can hope is that he understands the work you have to do, and the risk you have to take, to put this relationship back together. It is his respect of you and of your effort in this regard that will help him avoid making the same mistake a second time.
Should you decide to stick with him, you’ve got plenty of role models out there. I recall Elizabeth Edwards, when she stated, “Although John believes he should stand alone and take the consequences of his action now, when the door closes behind him, he has his family waiting for him.” She also alluded to the “long and painful process” of rebuilding their relationship. Here’s wishing you much success should you opt to rebuild yours.
And if you find that you can’t trust him — that those voices inside your head won’t stop wondering — then it’s best for both of you to call it off now. Maybe the voices will fade in time, maybe they won’t. But staying with someone you don’t trust is a recipe for disaster because neither of you will be happy. And that’s not fair to you or him. Being in a relationship should make our lives richer. But that’s not possible if you’re unable to trust your partner.
Margot Carmichael Lester is a freelance writer based in the Bible belt state of North Carolina. Send your faith-based dating questions to AskMargot@match.com.