For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
-2 Corinthians 6:14b, NIV
Cheaters requesting post-divorce meetups is such a strange phenomenon to me. I know from reading others’ experiences that this is a real phenomenon. My cheater wanted to meet up after the fact (see post here).
I consider it strange as I never encountered such a request following a breakup. It was simply done when I broke up with another girl (or got dumped). I did not have to deal with a request months later to meet up and discuss how the relationship went sour. This request to meet up to discuss the relationship following divorce–the ultimate breakup–just strikes me as extremely odd.
I think such an invite is a tricky trap for Christians especially.
Faithful spouses got into their predicament by trusting the wrong person–i.e. the cheater. Also, I think Christian faithful spouses tend to want to do “the right” thing and meeting up to deal with unfinished spiritual business is a tempting offer. We might still be hoping the cheater takes full responsibility for what he/she did or maybe just hope they will finally come clean.
In addition, we may still be susceptible to religious manipulations fresh off a divorce–e.g. “You’re a bad Christian if you do not at least meet with the cheater as requested.” The cheater might not even have to say this. It might be an internal struggle for the faithful spouse with that inner voice condemning us for setting a boundary and not seeing our former spouse.
Tip to overcome this temptation and not step into the trap:
Assume the cheater is the same lying, manipulative, selfish person.
A liar will lie. A manipulator will manipulate. A selfish person will put their wants over your needs. Cheaters are minimally these three things! That is the sort of person you just divorced. Do not forget that!
We ought not to be shocked if they continue to act like who they are.
So, take stock of your own feelings before you decide to meet the cheater as requested:
Do you want to be lied to, again? Do you want to be manipulated, again? Do you want your needs to take second seat to the one who violated and humiliated you, again?
If the answer is “No” to any one of those questions, then I would recommend declining to meet. Why invite more “abuse?” Liars lie. Manipulators manipulate. Selfish people ignore your needs.
And let’s be clear:
The cheater is not entitled to such a meeting.
A truly repentant cheater with even a modicum of empathy will understand why a faithful spouse might not trust him/her enough to meet. That trust was destroyed by their adulterous, lying ways. They no longer get the “benefit of the doubt” on this one.
“What about forgiveness? What about reconciliation?” you say.
I say, “What about repentance? What about accepting consequences for one’s choices and actions? And what about making it about putting the victim’s needs first for a change?”
Trust needs to be rebuilt. Repentance needs to be demonstrated. What do faithful spouses have via solid evidence that the cheater has changed in character? Without such evidence, it is not wise to trust someone who has already demonstrated he/she is wholly unsafe for you.
Even with such evidence of change and repentance, the time may have passed for such a meeting. The faithful spouse may have remarried by now. It is not fair for the cheater to reinsert himself/herself into that family unit by insisting on a meeting. They gave up that position in the faithful spouse’s life by cheating and getting divorced.
Meet up? Ah…no thanks.