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In the Valley of Decision

Which road

Dear Atiya,

I’ve been in a relationship with a man for about two years now and from the day we’ve met I’ve known that I could spend the rest of my life with him. About two months ago I found out that he cheated (from him) and the woman he cheated with is now pregnant. Yes I was beyond hurt when he told me; but I reminded myself no man is defined by his biggest mistake.

Truth is he really is a good man, so I decided to stay and see if we can get through this and continue to build back what was lost due to his infidelities. It’s been two months now and it’s getting harder and harder to build that trust back. I genuinely love this man and that has never changed despite his mistakes. The only thing missing is the trust (an important element in any successful relationship).

Well, the point is “I’m scared.” I’m scared that I’m wasting my time building something that won’t stand through the test of time. I’m young (just turned 25) and people keep saying that I’m wasting my youth with this relationship that I have too much to offer to put up with him and his baggage (being that I have no kids of my own). Honestly sometimes I think that also. There are times I want to let go and then there’s times I want to try even harder than the day before. I’ve prayed about it and listened for God’s guidance but as we all know it can sometimes be challenging to discern the difference between emotionally guided decisions and spiritually guided ones.

I love this man. He has elevated me to heights I may have never reached on my own. He has taught me that love can come without/before intercourse (that’s why this hurts so bad). I’m a young woman devoid of experience. I know that I’m not immaculate (and he never requested that I be) but I try. I always do but this time around I’m questioning if I should…. keep trying.

So tell me, should I give up all that I’ve built with this man because of one mistake and important missing element…. TRUST?

– Sincerely Torn

Dear Sincerely Torn,

WOW! I feel your heart in this letter and while it is not my place to make the decision for you as to whether or not you should stay or leave, I can offer some things for you to consider. The impression I am getting from your letter is that the two years you and this man have been seeing one another, you have not had sexual intercourse with him. If this is the case, I applaud you for practicing abstinence and it demonstrates maturity, amazing strength, and character on your part. The latter (character) is what I want to address.

Now, you mention in your letter that from the day you met him that you knew you could spend the rest of your life with him. The question I would pose to you is, “Has he ever expressed the same feelings toward you?” See some can argue that because the two of you were not married, in truth he was not cheating. However, I would say that if you two were in an agreed upon monogamous relationship and it was clearly understood between the two of you that your relationship was exclusive and marriage discussions were on the table, no matter how honorable it may appear to be that he himself told you of his indiscretion, the fact remains that he was not being honest, he was misleading you, and giving the impression that he was committed when he was not. Additional questions I would ask are, “How long has it been going on?” and “Would he have told you if the other woman was not pregnant?”

There are two very critical components to any relationship, let alone a marriage. They are honesty and fidelity. See, the willingness to be honest and true to whom you say you are and to your intentions lay a very strong foundation for trust in the relationship. If you are not able to trust the person you are with prior to marriage, what type of foundation are you building? How can you build trust in a relationship when there is lying and cheating going on?

You say he is a good man. What makes him good? A man’s character is determined by what he does, and while good is relative, there are certain characteristics that most people would agree makes up a good man and honesty and being true would be two of those characteristics. This is not to say that he is “bad” because he makes mistakes. We all make mistakes. But let me be straight to the point, lying and cheating my dear are not mistakes, they are intentional behaviors, and any reasonable person would question the integrity and character of a person who chooses to operate under the premises of lies and deceit.

I call a spade a spade and although you might remind yourself that no man is defined by his biggest mistake, I agree. But infidelity and adulterous behavior is not an accident. It’s intentional deception and paved by a road of calculated lying, deceit, sneaking around, secrets, and cheating. And, to further state after you’ve been caught that it was a mistake or not meant to happen is yet another lie.

I do not buy into the hype that all men are dogs or unfaithful. I believe that every man who chooses commitment over casual relationships has the opportunity and the fortitude to be faithful to their mates. They all have the mental, emotional, and physical strength and capacity to face and overcome the difficulty or adversity of temptation courageously. The question is not a matter of ability, but rather one of the willingness to do so.

Now I am not saying do not try working it out, because many relationships bounce back after infidelity. I want you to seriously consider what you may be in for. See the “one” mistake as you call it has a lifetime of consequences, and in today’s society one mistake can cost a life. This is real talk. Your man made a choice, and the choice he made did not just impact his life, it impacted your life, the woman’s life he cheated with, and now another innocent life coming into the world. See, it may be devastating that he is bringing a baby home, but in today’s society he could be bringing something other than the “bundle of joy” and that is nothing to play around with. So when you seriously consider whether or not you should stay or leave, you want to weigh things very carefully.

Should you decide to leave, let me say this, you are not “giving up all of what you’ve built,” he did, when he made the decision to step outside of the relationship.

Should you decide to stay, again, many relationships bounce back after infidelity and some become even stronger. Who is to say yours won’t be one of those. Keep in mind that if you decide to stay, there will always be the baby, the baby’s mama, and often “baby mama drama,” particularly when you are dealing with situations such as this. In any case however, if you stay, I would recommend you and your mate go to counseling and seek support in dealing with the blended family scenario as well as support on rebuilding trust after an affair.

I know this is a very hard pill to swallow, yet in truth, the ball is in your court. Whether you stay or leave, a word of advice, keep the cookie in the cookie jar until the honeymoon. This applies to whether you will be riding into the sunset with him or someone else. Only bring home bags you intend to unpack.

-ATIYA

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