For better and for worse; would you take him back if he cheats?
“I take you to be my lawfully wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part. And hereto I pledge my faithfulness.”
These are the wedding vows we make to each other when we walk down the aisle. In a perfect world, we would respect those vows and never cheat on our spouses. Sadly however, we don’t live in the mythical Garden of Eden. We live in a world where it’s become almost ‘normal’ for one to cheat on their partner.
But the question is, what would you do if and when you found out that your husband was sleeping with someone else on the side? Would you forgive him? Or would you kick him to the curb, take the children and divorce him?
“I decided that a four- months- affair would not ruin my marriage”
Before the cheating scandal, 34-year-old Stella* had been married for eight years with a son and daughter. Her eldest son Aaron* was four and her daughter Angel* was just two when her husband Brian*got a scholarship to study abroad.
“I was happy for him when he got a two year masters degree scholarship in Europe although I felt we would miss him as a family. Luckily, his sponsors had promised to send him home anytime he missed his family or as a family, we could go and visit him,” Stella narrates.
Husband and wife communicated on a daily basis. After six months, he came back to visit the family and brought them a lot of gifts and went back after two weeks.
“When he was leaving, he left me with his iPhone but little did I know that he had left me with a heart breaker. His emails, chats and so many social networks were active. I think he forgot to delete them before giving me the phone. When he left, I inserted my simcard; I started getting his notifications. On opening one of the notifications of the Gmail account, it read, ‘So sweetie, have you asked her for a divorce? Love Teddy’. I froze. I don’t remember for how long,” Stella solemnly narrates.
“Several hours after I recovered from the shock of my life, I decided to re-open other previous emails from Teddy. My husband was having an affair with this Teddy woman who was his classmate four months before he returned home. With each email I read from Teddy, I felt like my world was breaking piece by piece.”
“I called him two days after he had reached Europe and I told him about the emails. He apologised to the extent that he travelled back home after two weeks so that we could talk and deal with the matter. Although it took me time to forgive him, I decided that a four- months- affair would not ruin my marriage if I still loved my husband and family.” Stella expresses.
“I wasn’t going to suffer for the sake of the children”
While some women can understand why Stella made the choice she made, many others would not be able to forgive the betrayal.
Celestine*, a business woman and a mother of three, met her husband 15 years ago. They were a couple envied by everyone. She knew he was with the love of her life. They didn’t waste time and walked down the aisle after a year of dating.
She narrates, “I thought I knew him well and was ready to settle down. I was happy that I was with a man who I loved and loved me back. I trusted him with my life.”
The husband was good to her for those 15 years in every way. She became comfortable in the marriage. But the comfort and happiness didn’t last for long when she found out her husband was cheating.
She found out about his cheating ways when she took their children to the village during their school holidays. Her original plan was to spend a week there but then decided to return earlier. Celestine didn’t inform her husband of her decision because she wanted to surprise him.
However, as it turned out, she was the one who was surprised. There he was in their marital home with his office assistant.
“What hurt me the most is that I had trusted him but he broke that trust,” she says. “I never cheated on him and I had never even thought of doing so.”
She says she doesn’t know how long the affair had been going on but she didn’t want anything to do with him. She believes that old habits die hard.
“I knew there wasn’t much I could do to change him. I wasn’t going to suffer for the sake of the children. I was so hurt that had I stayed, my children would have been affected to.”
Celestine left her marital home and stayed on her own with the children. Her ex-husband comes once in a while to check on the children and also pay their school fees.
The major religions see things differently
According to Bishop Alexis Bilandabagabo of Gahini Diocese, nothing should break up a marriage. Marriage is for life. He says that although cheating is one of the most terrible things a spouse can do, they can always repent and seek forgiveness. “I have seen spouses - both men and women - cheat but they ask for forgiveness. They have been forgiven and they now have wonderful families.”
He insists that the only reason that should separate a couple is death. The Bishop goes on to say that if they have children and a woman cannot stay for the husband, then she should stay for the sake of the children.
In the case where a man brings chronic sexually transmitted disease to the home, he advises the woman to stay and work it out with the husband. He believes that there is no obstacle that can’t be overcome and concludes, “If people tame wild animals, then why can’t we tame human beings.”
Islam is a bit more flexible when it comes to the issue of cheating and divorce. According to Sheikh Yusuf Mugisha, for one to be found guilty of adultery four witnesses have to prove that they saw the person cheating on his or her partner.
“However, it’s different when the couple is reporting the case because they don’t have to prove that their partner cheated. The only proof for the couple is to take an oath four times (I swear to Allah that my spouse cheated on me and if I’m lying, may Allah punish me). This acts as proof that what they are saying is the truth. After this oath, the couple is free to separate,” Mugisha explains.
He further adds that if the couple or one of the spouses does not want to separate and wishes to make amends, they can work out their differences.
“In Islam hearsay is unacceptable because the person bringing such allegations could have ill motives. We always advise couples that cheating or adultery is an extremely grave sin since it is compared to murder, given the consequences that may arise from cheating on a partner,” Mugisha emphasises.
*Names have been changed
HAVE YOUR SAY
I would not advise a couple to separate because a partner has cheated. I know that cheating on your partner is a very bad thing and it is extremely hurtful but separating should not be the solution. The consequences of separating with a partner could create more problems because many people involved will be affected.
Vicky Byicaza Ntabaye, Coordinator Panos Paris
I would take him back if love still exists. We all know it is impossible to forgive him when there’s no love.
If a partner cheats, he or she should first acknowledge the fact that what they did was not right. They should ask for forgiveness from their spouse and promise never to cheat again. Separating is not the solution to cheating. So I would advise couple to always work out the problems they encounter because when you separate, what guarantee do you have that the new partner will not cheat as well?