How can I trust my boyfriend after his infidelity?

worried woman

Poor or lack of good communication can lead to multiple issues including the inability to resolve conflict

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Hi Pastor Kitoto

I am a regular reader of your column and I have learnt a lot from it.

I would like your advice on a matter that has been weighing down on me for some time now. I am 22 years old and a mum to a 10-month-old baby girl.

We parted ways with my daughter's father a month ago because of his infidelity. Prior to the cheating, we had a problem communicating with each other and I suspect this is what led him to be unfaithful.

A few days ago, we started talking to each other and it seemed like we had reconciled because he started coming home. However, it didn’t take long for him to start sleeping around again and this time, I moved out with our child.

Recently, he reached out to me apologising and asking that we talk things over and fix the relationship. It is hard for me to take him back because his apologies mean nothing. The sad part is that I still love him and wouldn’t want to raise my daughter without her father. What do I do?

Hi

Thank you for sharing. For most relationships, issues of infidelity, money, poor conflict management coupled with poor communication have sent many relationships on a difficult path that kills both fellowship and intimacy. The question is, “Why are many relationships unable to draw from their strengths and fix these issues?” What makes many spouses give up?

Your first part of the question exposed two issues. First, is the issue of communication. You rightfully alluded to the fact that the two of you have had communication issues. Poor or lack of good communication can lead to multiple issues including the inability to resolve conflict. This makes the relationship cloudy and cluttered with mounting unresolved issues. 

The problem with your relationship is that, because you could not reach an agreement on the initial issues under discussion, one partner (that is your boyfriend) felt that the environment at home was not good anymore. 

Instead of facing this and looking for ways to resolve the stalemate, he looked for friendship outside. This is where most spouses go wrong. I believe this is how he got hooked. If not, the temptation to pick the easiest way to satisfy his ego gave gloom a reason to justify his actions.

Second, the emotional toll on parents as they raise a toddler in the house cannot be underestimated. Could you be having some expectations of your man at this time that have not been met causing you to feel bad about him thus leading to intensified conflict?

 Of course, this does not mean that you are in the wrong, the truth is just that, young mothers can get exasperated by the indifference of their man during pregnancy or raising of a young baby. Men generally are not that keen to walk with their spouses through this season.

I must commend you for the effort to see this relationship work despite the challenges. However, I must also point out the inadequacy that both of you have in both communication and conflict resolution skills. Consequently, without these essential skills, a couple will hit a stalemate whenever they seek to resolve an issue. I see that, initially, you had no problem forgiving your boyfriend. 

But, he seems to take advantage of your merciful and forgiving heart. Where a couple falls short of skills in conflict management, they could easily be taken advantage of. In conflicts, issues must be fully discussed and agreements reached, values and boundaries re-established. Forgiveness must be followed by responsible behaviour. When this is not done, repeats of the same offences are most likely.

The next issue is why spouses fail to change even after being confronted by their wrongs. Whether the change involves a desire to abandon a bad habit or take responsibility for developing new behaviour patterns, most people will agree that making the change happen can be hard.

First, both of you have to acknowledge that, in some cases, changing one thing will affect many other areas. For example, leaving one’s drinking habit or abandoning a girlfriend could require breaking many friendships associated with the inception of that habit. In seeking a resolution to a matter, it is important to discuss this and whether he will make that sacrifice for the sake of the relationship. No one else can force such change on him.

Second, could he be refusing to change particularly when he feels like the current state of affairs provides him with a comfort that makes changing difficult? It is therefore important in such a case to resolve issues while looking at both causes of the affair and the effects. Sometimes we dwell on the impact of the affair and forget what pushed one into having an affair.

Now, you have mentioned two key issues that bother you. One is the fact that you would like your child to have a stable home with a dad. The other is the love you have for him. 

The truth is feelings of love without demanding accountability will not fix the issues you are facing. If he truly loves you the way you do, that love he has for you plus your commitment should motivate the desired change. Mine is to caution you to be careful with your commitments.

 Don’t act blindly. A spouse who is worth the salt should use the knowledge they have to be accountable and act both responsibly for the mutual benefit of the relationship. I see no commitment in this direction from both of you and in particular your boyfriend.

The decision you make must take cognisance of the facts at hand. First, be realistic about your boyfriend’s actions and his intention for change. Is he serious? Don’t let him take your kindness for granted and add you more problems in the future. Second, take great care when thinking about the future of your child. Don’t let the thought of raising your child as a single parent scare you into inaction or making an uninformed decision. 

Many children from single-parent homes have made it in life. Just create for your child the right growth environment. Finally, align your feelings with reality. The reality here is your child's future, your boyfriend’s lack of will to take responsibility to make the necessary changes, and your current single-parent status. Face these issues with the wisdom above.

If you intend to seek reconciliation, ensure you check on any other factors that could be pushing him to have repeated affairs. For example, is he addicted to alcohol and substance abuse, or to porn on the internet? Out of boredom, has he created for himself some unhealthy relationships?

Is he a man who listens to corrections from others? These and many more will help you navigate your future. Above all, seek inner healing and make the choice to forgive. Forgiveness does not mean he can still walk in and out of your life at will. 

On the contrary, forgiveness helps you avoid carrying unnecessary baggage. Choose to create a future of responsibility and a level of freedom that is healthy.

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