Rethinking Fidelity: Cheated on, or cheated out of?


Many people will agree that being cheated on, is one of the worst betrayals. To break your marriage vows, to be unfaithful, to break the boundaries you have set in your own marriage – simply terrible. I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment – it would be the ultimate betrayal.

As much as being ‘cheated on’ is horrible, I think there is something as equally insidious. That’s being ‘cheated out of’ something. What do I mean by this?

The standard marriage vows go something like:

I, take you to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part

You might not cheat on your partner, but are you cheating them out of a promise? Affection? Financial support? Love? Tenderness? Communication. Warmth. The list could go on. Things, that if a one off, probably aren’t going to ruin a marriage. You have a bad day, you don’t feel like talking and all you can muster is a ‘meh’ and an evening on the couch. But you can cheat your spouse out of the intimacy of knowing you, buy establishing a lifestyle of coming home and basically ignoring them. You could say the same for a range of things – sex, a hug, quality time, proper communication, domestic organisation. Missing or forgetting something important once or twice probably isn’t going to starve your partner, but continued practice will cheat them out of a promise you made to them.

It’s so easy to cheat out of things these days. Clocking into work 5 minutes late. Taking that stationary home from work. Using margarine instead of butter (BIG no no!!).

I’ve found in marriage, there are no shortcuts. You can’t rush intimacy. You cant hit ‘fast forward’ on hard times. You can’t hit rewind after a great evening with your spouse. You can’t mute the everyday and expect to draw closer to your partner.

Cheating on your partner is a pretty deliberate act, and an absolutely rotten thing to do. It’s just as easy, however, to cheat your partner out of your promises. I truly believe both are detrimental to a marriage. Being faithful to the ‘everyday’ promises is what strengthens a marriage – things you are probably doing anyway! It’s being present at the dinner table, chatting with your partner and children. It’s turning off the TV and asking each other how you are going. It’s seeing a job that needs doing around the home and simply doing it, rather than wait for your partner to do it. It’s extending warmth and love to your partner, even if you’re not feeling that way yourself.

I don’t want this to be a depressive post – to the contrary! We all get stale in many areas of our lives – our jobs, families, community work, marriages. The main difference in these, however, is that marriage is an explicit promise. It’s not a contract, like a job. It’s not an expectation, like your family. It’s a promise. A promise to be an active partner in your marriage, not a passive one.

Have a think today about if you’ve let passivity enter your marriage, and perhaps what you can do to deliberately love your partner. Don’t cheat them out of the love you promised – let them know you love them!

Have you found that you’ve unconsciously (or even consciously!) cheated your partner out of a promise? Was there a wake up call? How did it turn out? I’m interested in hearing!

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  1. paulfg

    “Don’t cheat them out of the love you promised – let them know you love them!”
    Now this is a post brimfull of love! Beautiful reminder of those “vows” and what they really mean!

  2. secretangel

    Love this!! Excellent advice. Too many marriages fall apart with broken vows. I had a posting about vows planned for this week. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Pingback: Marriage as a Garden (by St. Rosemary) | vidinsinbrisbane

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