Ask Margot-I Cannot Trust My Fiancé

Between the cheating and the lying, I'm ready to move on... but we share a daughter together.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

ear Margot,
I have been with my fiancé for four years. He cheated on me many times early in our relationship, though I think he’s stopped since we had our daughter last year. But now he treats me badly, telling me I’m no good in bed and that I need to lose weight. He also lies to me. So you could say
I don't want her to see her mom being unhappy. This has to stop.
I’m having major trust issues. I don't want to leave him, but I don’t want our daughter thinking that it’s OK to be treated like this. I don't want her to see her mom being unhappy. This has to stop. Am I making something out of nothing? Do men go through these phases? Am I being naïve? When is enough enough?
-Good Woman in a Bad Situation

Dear GW,
I know it’s hard to think about leaving someone you love, particularly when he’s the father of your child. And then there’s the stress of your internal conflict: I love him, but he’s a jerk. I should leave him, but I don’t want to be alone. That’s a lot to carry around all day. You must be exhausted.

I know. I’ve had to leave before. And even though I knew it was right, it was still hard.

Now, I’m no family court judge, but you need to trust your gut, not your heart, and get the heck out of Dodge. Even if you have to leave under cover of darkness like the Baltimore Colts. Because this guy’s no good.

Need more evidence? Let me answer your specific questions:

Am I making something of nothing?
Not a chance. Because here’s the tip: He’s not going to change and it’s not going to stop. From what you’ve said, he’s shown no interest in committing to you, much less to self-improvement, honesty and integrity. Lying and cheating are two of the big three sins (have you checked your bank account lately?). Degrading you and stringing you along, while perhaps not part of the moral paradigm, are definitely unacceptable. His behavior is full of big, bad things that you should definitely make something of.

Do men go through these phases?
Everyone goes through phases. I once thought it was cool to embellish almost every adjective with the word “totally.” My friend Lee experienced a period of thinking it was hip to ingest chemicals. These are phases. But your man’s bad behavior spans the four years you’ve known him and, quite possibly,
The trick here is to get the sensible you to overrule the naïve you.
many years before that, as well. So I don’t think this qualifies as a phase. It’s a way of life for him. And it’s about as likely to end as pigs are to fly.

(Even it is a phase, it still stinks. And even it does stop, it could come back. The notion that someone’s bad behavior is “just a phase” is simply another way to rationalize not dealing with it.)

Am I being naïve?
Yes and no. When you think you should stay because you love him, he will change or that love conquers all, you’re being naïve. When you think about leaving, about the example you’re setting for your daughter, about deserving more, you’re being damned sensible. The trick here is to get the sensible you to overrule the naïve you.

When is enough enough?
Right now. Today. This minute. My advice is to start making a getaway plan. Talk to your accountant and attorney. And if you don’t have one, get one. An accountant can help you make a budget for finding a new home, securing utilities, etc. An attorney will help you navigate your state’s laws about child custody. S/he will help you stay on the right side of the law. It might also be good to seek support from your family or a member of the clergy. Or find a support group in your area. There’s safety and comfort in numbers.

(One caveat: If he’s violent or volatile, you’ll need to proceed very carefully. Seek help from the local domestic abuse center or law enforcement agency before you do anything that might set him off. Your personal safety — and your daughter’s — is paramount.)

I know this won’t be easy, but it’ll be far simpler than spending the rest of your days kicking yourself for not doing something to give you and your daughter a better life.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

Questions to Ask and Answer
Asking and answering these four questions will help you do the right thing:
  1. Do you want your daughter to grow up thinking that it’s OK for men to lie, cheat and be mean to the women in their lives?
  2. What good could possibly come from staying?
  3. Why do you want to stay with a guy who has no respect for you or your daughter?
  4. Don’t you deserve a better partner? Doesn’t your daughter deserve a better father?
Margot Carmichael Lester is a freelance writer based in North Carolina. Send your faith-based dating questions to
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