MARRIAGE, INFIDELITY AND KEEPING YOUR SANITY
By Tinuola Agbabiaka
“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” -Franklin D Roosevelt
One of the first few advice I got from a well-meaning Sis in law (love) when I newly got married, was to be very alert in my home and if at any time I had reasons to doubt my husband’s fidelity, to search and keep evidence even up to checking trouser pockets for receipts or any other incriminating evidence that can be used to “nail” him!
I pondered on the tips and I was more awed by the fact that this was her brother that told me to check out and monitor. I loved her the more for it. What a wonderful sis in law (love)? Clearly watching out for me. Telling me things no one else would just do because she loved and accepted me? Or was her concern based on her personal experience that she didn’t want me to go through too as a woman? Either way, I was very grateful for her advice but there was one problem… It made me lose my mind! At least temporarily, as I immediately started wondering if I had “entered one chance.” I just couldn’t brush it away…Different questions ran through my mind …who really did I marry? Why did his own sister think it was important to warn me? Why didn’t she “warn” me BEFORE I married her brother? Am I going to be a detective now? When and where do I start “searching” from? How do I even start the search? And so on.
That is how losing one’s mind in a relationship begins!
“A sick thought can devour the body’s flesh more than fever or consumption.” – Guy de Maupassant
When someone, usually someone who loves us or clearly wants the best for us, drops in our minds information about various situations, that person may have inadvertently sowed the seed of distrust and fear in our homes. Then if you have an imaginative and active mind, this would be built upon into areas that no one else ever thought of or could have contemplated.
Who are the people likely to give you information?
- A) Parents
- B) Siblings
- C) In-laws
- D) Close friends
- E) Acquaintances
- F) Hired help
- G) Social media
What type of information can be given?
- A) The truth
- B) Perceived Truth
- C) Unverified rumour
- D) Personal experience-based information
The information and informants we allow into our marriage can be the catalyst to the way we relate to our spouse. A lot of people give information based on their own personal experience and while it is not all advice that should be discountenanced, for the sake of our sanity and health of our marriage, a lot of information should be sifted or taken with a pinch of salt. Allow the spirit of God to tell you things you need to know and how to handle the situation. No one kept a marriage by listening to different voices and chances are that the minute you show or indicate that you are interested in whatever information they may have for you, there will be the tendency to cook up stories just to have something to say.
- A) FRIENDS: keep the right type of friends. Have friendships that watch out for each other in a positive way rather than a negative one. Friends that seek out bad news to give you should be done away with. You don’t need them. Even if you have a cheating spouse, chances are that you know already the weakness of your spouse. So being given a blow by blow account of his activities and rendezvous will not only make you go crazy, it will make you act crazy which will drive your spouse further away. Who wants to live with a crazy woman?
- B) GUARD YOUR HEART: your well-being is your first obligation. You must keep yourself sane for you and for your children. Don’t be so consumed with hatred and bitterness which will eventually make your children miserable and probably end your marriage. Ask the Lord who is the balm in Gilead to soothe your heart and give you a heart free from bitterness so you can live your life to the full rather than be consumed with the disappointments of life. By the special grace of God, I have seen cheating spouses turn a new leaf and a home that was once ravaged by infidelity restored to the glory of God. But if you lose your mind and/or life in the process of going through a challenge, where is the testimony?
- C) BE ENGAGED: Don’t be idle. Do something that will keep you and your mind busy. Start a new vocation, hobby or training. The idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Stop losing sleep over someone having a good time without you. Closer to God, volunteer in the Church or in your community. So much to do in the world and fewer people doing it.
- D) APPEARANCE: Take care of your appearance. How you look and act. Do not dress like a crazed person or act like one just because you have been fed unsavoury information about your spouse? And even if you have it confirmed, there is nothing you can do except hand the situation over to God. Dress well, live well, and eat well. And let the one who can handle all things handle it for you.
- E) FAMILY: Don’t feed your family with stories about your husband. You married him, didn’t you? You chose him to deal with the situation. When you feed your family with stories about your spouse, you have inadvertently invited them as an active member of your home. Even if it’s positive info. You can’t take one and leave the other. Once you allow it, they will come with all sorts. Learn to separate your extended family from your nuclear family.
So what do you do when married to a confirmed philanderer?
- A) Communication: Request a talk time
Do not assume your spouse knows the effect of his actions towards you and your children. Calmly explain that to him. Let him know that in as much as you and your children love him, there are situations that are not acceptable to you. Let him know you are ready to support him through this period of indiscretion if he is willing to stop it before it causes an irreversible effect on your home.
- B) Explain consequences: you will be surprised how men believe they are in control which indulging in extramarital affairs, hoping to be able to continue to “eat their cake and have it,” until of course, they get into trouble and can’t find the way out. So if you can, calmly explain the consequences of his actions in a non-threatening way to him. If you can’t be calm, don’t bother because screaming and cursing will only worsen the situation.
- C) AVOID DESPERATION: Shed tears if you must but make sure it’s not in the presence of the cheating spouse just because it almost never works! Don’t beg either. These are desperate moves that usually harden the heart of a cheat because it is expected. Weep in the presence of God who is compassionate and He will turn the situation around. Don’t give yourself heartache by weeping and begging someone who has been spiritually chained/bound. It’s a waste of time. Take the situation to God who is able to lose all chains.
I understand a lot of women in psychiatric homes are on account of failed relationships or marriages while the erring spouse is walking around freely and probably remarried! No one/situation is worth you losing your sanity…don’t do it. It’s not worth it.
“The difference between faith and insanity is that faith is the ability to hold firmly to a conclusion that is incompatible with the evidence, whereas insanity is the ability to hold firmly to a conclusion that is incompatible with the evidence.” -William Harwood
I used to know someone who lost her sanity on the account of her marriage and she not only lost her home, she lost her children and her job, while the man kept marrying other women. Things got so bad that she took to the streets. She was eventually taken off the streets and taken care of. But things were never the same again. On her daughter’s wedding day, though she was alive, someone else sat in her place. She was too embarrassed to attend, claiming people will be looking at her funny.
Whatever you do in a relationship, remember your mental health is very key so Please STAY SANE WHILE MARRIED…..
For more information and counseling, contact:
Certified Relationship Counsellor & Professional Therapeutic Counsellor