I have a friend who is planning to marry a guy she has been dating for about two years. The reason I am concerned is that he cheated on her before and I am concerned that “once a cheater always a cheater.” Other than that, he seems like a pretty good guy and has treated her well. Should I be discouraging her? I don’t want her to be hurt again.
First of all, keep in mind that just because someone cheated once, doesn’t mean they will keep doing so. In fact, sometimes the subsequent guilt and pain is all it takes to convince someone that they never want to do it again. So, ultimately, what was does not have to be indicative of what will be. You never know what the circumstances were that surrounded that indiscretion. There may be pieces to the puzzle that you don’t know about which have since been resolved.
I would not recommend discouraging your friend from marriage; however, I would recommend you encourage her to practice some in depth “intellectual foreplay.” Encourage her to ask some important questions about what they both want their lives to be like, what their values are, what she and her partner have in common and if they respect the areas where they have differences.
Having everything in common isn’t necessarily the point in a partnership. Differences in people and in relationships can be the spice of the relationship as your opportunity is doubled for exposure to new things and perspectives when you hold an appreciation for each other.
Encourage her also to examine her own self-esteem and personal sense of strength as well as their problem solving skills as a couple. Were they able to work through the infidelity, discuss it, and come to an understanding and agreement? Or, are they now getting married as some sort of test or proof of love (signaling a problem)?
While you understandably don’t want your friend to be hurt, the problem is that love—and life—hurts. Period. We just don’t get through life without some difficulty along the way. If we can reframe our mindset about difficulties though, we will see that our greatest growth and our greatest creativity comes from the most difficult times.
While it is nice to have a sense of trustworthiness before marrying her husband-to-be, the truth is that she doesn’t ultimately need to trust him. She has to trust that God will only offer her experiences that will make her wiser and stronger, and she has to trust herself to be able to handle those experiences in a manner consistent with her values.
If she puts some due diligence into knowing who she is choosing to spend her life with, hopefully she will be better able to take responsibility for that choice down the road when the marriage hits a rough spot which, by the way, it will. I have never met a couple of any duration that hasn’t hit a “make it or break it” moment in their marriage.
Consequently, I’d also encourage your friend to think carefully about the meaning of their vows to see if she really means what she says. “For better or for worse” may include infidelity, broken promises, debt and mental and physical health issues. If she doesn’t feel like she can handle that potential, then she may want to think about whether she is ready for marriage.
Since you do not say whether you are male or female or what your relationship with your friend is based on, I encourage you to do some self-inquiry, as well. Be sure that your interest in her choices is truly due to a commitment to her best interests and not clouded by your own agenda or relationship with her. Be sure your intentions are pure before you do or say anything.
Intellectual Foreplay Question of the Week:
Have you learned from your mistakes?
Love Tip of the Week:
The only thing that hurts more than love, is not loving.
Eve Hogan, author of How to Love Your Marriage, Intellectual Foreplay, Virtual Foreplay, and Way of the Winding Path, is also the proprietor of The Sacred Garden, a nursery and healing sanctuary in Makawao. It is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For coaching or speaking events, call (808) 573-7700. Website: www.EveHogan.com Blog: www.AskEveAdvice.com. Send questions to AskEveAdvice@aol.com.