Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.
-Matthew 5:37, NLT
When cheaters talk about being “trapped” in their marriage, I have little sympathy. Of course, I am willing to grant that they are experiencing “trapped” feelings. But to suggest the faithful spouse is the cause of this state is grossly unfair to the faithful spouse as well as obscures the cheater’s agency in this matter.
No one held a shotgun to their head on their wedding day, after all!
I suspect some of this language is a result of the cheater recognizing that he or she may face consequences for breaking up the marriage. So, they do what cowards do:
They play the martyr while they are making crappy decisions by lying and cheating behind the faithful spouse’s back.
An adult either ends the marriage and accepts the consequences of that decision or–even better–an adult decides to work at making the marriage better via counseling, etc. A cheater is no more trapped in the marriage in reality than he or she was coerced into the marriage. It is to believe a lie to think otherwise.
This is true for faithful spouses as well.
We have a choice to make in whether or not we stick around to tolerate the cheater’s shenanigans or not. Remember:
Not choosing is a choice.
Options are truly limited for faithful spouses when making this choice. I still believe all good ones are off the table following infidelity (see post here). Every option involves excruciating pain. But that does not mean we are trapped without choices. It just means the choices available are less than optimal.
Whether you are a cheater or a faithful spouse, you are not objectively trapped in your marriage. You freely entered your marriage and you can freely exit it–in most cases (legally speaking). Playing the martyr simply obscures this fact of agency. It is wasted energy.
For cheaters, this self-pitying “excuse” is a particularly lame one for committing adultery. So many better options are out there than raping your partner’s soul.
For faithful spouses, this mentality just reinforces powerlessness in an area where the faithful spouse actually has power! You do have the power to decide whether or not you will tolerate the infidelity by staying or not. That is within your power to decide.
Marriage is not a trap. It is a relationship both parties entered into freely. Both parties can decide–like adults–whether or not they will stay or not taking responsibility for that decision’s consequences either way. After all,
A shotgun wasn’t there on the wedding day!