My Husband's Free Adultery Pass
A couple of years ago, I announced to Mike, “If you ever cheat on me (and then confess and feel really bad about it), I’d forgive you. I wouldn’t divorce you.”
This marked an important turning point in my conception of marriage. Before I was married, and even into the first couple of years of our marriage, I was convinced that if my husband was ever unfaithful, I would immediately kick him to the curb. The marriage would be over. Period. And how could anyone think differently?
But as for me and my marriage, I now think that I’d be unlikely to leave a loving and contrite Mike, a Mike who was willing to change and try to work things out. Perhaps this is due in part to my extreme pragmatism. I like being married. What would my chances be of finding a man as nice as Mike, particularly with baby in tow? And what about money? I have a couple of graduate degrees, but as a teacher, my earning potential is less than half of Mike’s. I could survive, but it would be difficult on my own with the baby. These are my sobering realities, and I suspect these are the sobering realities that a lot of women face when they consider whether or not to divorce a cheating husband.
Beyond all the pragmatic considerations, however, there have also been my dawning appreciation of Christian forgiveness and my realizations of my own fallibility. Let’s face it. I’m a screw up. We’re all screw ups to some extent. We all do stupid things. I want to think that my heart could be big enough to forgive the (nearly) unforgivable.
Don’t get me wrong. I would not stay in a perpetually bad marriage. I could accept and forgive an episode of regretted cheating more easily than I could accept continual unkindness, disrespect, or emotional distance.
My husband and I refer to my bald announcement as his get-out-of-jail-free pass. I suspect we are able to joke about it because Mike is about as likely to commit adultery as I am to fly to the moon. But I think it’s an intriguing topic. Is adultery a deal breaker for you? How bad does a marriage have to be before you would leave it? And how much should one take into account the pragmatic considerations when deciding whether or not to leave a marriage?