I Am Not Sure If I Can Promise To Stay Faithful To My Spouse. Should I Just Lie?

By: Katie Lersch:  Many people who are dealing with a cheating spouse insist on complete faithfulness from today forward. This is completely understandable.  After all, it is hard enough to deal with cheating once, but most people are clear on the fact that they are never going to be willing to deal with it again. So most people will attempt to make their spouse promise that they are going to remain faithful no matter what. Some cheating spouses will give this guarantee without any delay. Others are not sure if this is a promise that they can truthfully make.

I might hear from a wife who says: “I will admit that my husband could do better than me. He just found out that I have cheated on him with a man from my job. He is devastated, but he doesn’t know the half of it. This is honestly not the first time that I have cheated on him. I have done it a handful of times before this. And I’m not sure why I do it. I grew up in a household where I was the youngest and I was always in the way. It was clear that I was an accident and that my parents didn’t want me. Because there were so many kids, it was hard to get our parents’ attention. So today, whenever anyone gives me any attention, I will do almost anything to keep it. I know that this is pathetic and that I need to stop. But I have tried to stop and I don’t know how. I will vow to never cheat again and then a couple of months later, my paths will cross with someone who notices me and before I know it, I’m doing the same thing all over again. I don’t want to lose my husband. He’s the only man I know who has treated me with complete respect. He’s the only good and decent thing about my life. For a while there, I thought that he was going to divorce me. Now, he says that he will consider staying, but only if I promise him that I will remain faithful. Here is the thing. I really want to make this promise. I can almost envision the words coming off my lips. I want to have the security that he won’t leave me. But, because of my past behaviors, I know that claiming I will remain faithful will probably be a lie. So I am faced with the choice of lying or telling my spouse something that I know is potentially untrue. I would do anything to keep him. Should I lie?”

I don’t think you should lie. Dealing with the infidelity is already a blow to your marriage. It is going to be a struggle to regain the trust. If you lie to your spouse, you only make this worse.

I think that the best call would be to tell your spouse that what you can promise is that you are going to get the help that you need so that you can remove the behaviors that may prohibit the promise. Because if you tell him you won’t cheat and he catches you cheating again, I’m not sure that there is going to be anything that you can do or say to mitigate the damage at that point.

So instead, I would consider something like: “honey, I’m willing to do just about anything to save our marriage. And I think that in order to do that, I’m going to need to get some counseling. I’ve noticed in myself a tendency to crave attention from people. I believe that this goes back to my childhood when, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get my parents’ attention or approval. I believe this makes me vulnerable and eager to please today. So I’d like to work with a counselor to help me overcome this. I firmly believe that, once I do, I will overcome this and won’t have problems staying faithful. I don’t look forward to telling a stranger about my issues. But I’m willing to do whatever I need to do to be a faithful spouse to you and to give you the emotionally healthy wife that you deserve. Will you support me in this?”

I know that you can understand your husband’s need to know that you will remain faithful. As someone who has been cheated on by a spouse, I can tell you that this is extremely painful. And you feel that you need that reassurance that you won’t have to deal with this again. But, also as someone who has been through this, I believe that I can honestly say I’d rather my spouse spell out what they are doing to heal than for them to lie to me and then carry on with their same behaviors.

So I would suspect that your husband would prefer you be completely honest and to get the help you both need than to lie to him and cheat again.

I’d suggest working tirelessly to find the right counselor and then doing whatever that counselor tells you to do.  You can’t have a healthy marriage if you don’t have a healthy self.  The struggles you inherited from your parents are not your fault, but you it is your responsibility to deal with them as a mature adult. You can heal from infidelity, but you must tell the truth to yourself.  If it helps, you can read more about my healing process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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