Test all things; hold fast what is good.
-I Thessalonians 5:21, NKJV
A master manipulator knows how to take a potential weakness and work it into a strength. They know how to leverage a situation.
Cheaters are master manipulators, IMO.
The speed at which a cheater can turn a confession of infidelity into a discussion of the faithful spouse’s “failures” is truly mind-blowing!
The sad thing is how a faithful spouse–hand raised–is sometimes a willing participant to this manipulation:
We think the cheater may have a good point or two about our shortcomings–whether or not they do is beside the point–and we are desperate to keep them. So, we take responsibility for that which we are not responsible! The fixing of the marriage ruined by their cheating suddenly becomes our job.
This unhealthy mindset is not helped by professionals–pastors and Christian counselors–who treat the infidelity as if it was a symptom of relationship issues as opposed to what it is–i.e. wicked sin calling for repentance.
To be sure, focusing upon the infidelity is uncomfortable. I suspect this is part of the reason we are all so susceptible to avoiding the necessary work of focusing upon the cheater accepting full responsibility and repenting of their sin.
As faithful spouses, we just want to return to the times before the sucker-punch discovery of infidelity. I know I did.
As pastors, we do not want to think someone is actually the bad actor–i.e. the perpetrator of evil–in this situation even though he or she is.
These are all powerful impulses that a cheater can harness for his or her purposes. They are master manipulators, after all!
Don’t let them.