Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?
You’ve probably heard this statement several times. ‘Once a cheater, always a cheater.’ But is it true?
Today, I am going to give you our thoughts on this statement, and it might not be what you expect.
Infidelity nearly broke us, and now we have dedicated our lives to serving marriages experiencing the trauma of affairs. So, we definitely have an opinion on whether or not this statement is true.
Let’s break it down.
Recently, I had an online interaction with a woman who needed to tell me that, because my husband had ‘cheated’ once, it was inevitable he would eventually ‘cheat’ again.
We had a mostly-cordial interaction. I shared pieces of our story and gave her my reasons for trusting my husband completely. However, it was clear she believed wholeheartedly “once a cheater, always a cheater.”
Why would someone feel so confident in their belief that they are comfortable claiming that belief for another person?
Why do people end their marriage because they believe their spouse’s infidelity is certain to happen again?
Why is it especially easy to label someone as a ‘cheater?’
A lack of hope.
There is absolutely no hope in the statement, ‘once a cheater, always a cheater.’
There is absolutely no hope in the statement, ‘once a cheater, always a cheater.’ -Lisa Goldberg, Side By Side
To me, it sounds the same as a doctor telling a patient, ‘there’s nothing else we can do for you.’
The weight of hearing a statement like this is crushing. But, just because it’s horrifying doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Sometimes, there really IS nothing else they can do for you. Sometimes, people who cheat do it over and over again.
You may be saying to yourself, “Wait, Lisa…are you saying that the statement ‘once a cheater, always a cheater’ is TRUE?”
Yes. Sadly, sometimes it is true.
“But what about your husband? You believe he won’t cheat again. So, is the statement FALSE?”
Also, yes. Because of HOPE.
Friends, hope is a lifeline. It’s a total game-changer. A dismal, dark situation can completely change with this one truth.
Let’s dive in further.
Using the words of Paul David Tripp, “Hope is not a thing, not a location, not a situation, not an experience. Hope is a person, and his name is Jesus.”
“Hope is not a thing, not a location, not a situation, not an experience. Hope is a person, and his name is Jesus.” -Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies
You may be rolling your eyes or ready to click on the next article, but please hear me out.
When my husband was caught in his affair, he didn’t believe in God. He had no consideration of who Jesus was. In fact, he believed my renewed faith was “good for me” but he wanted nothing to do with it. (For some, it’s not a lack of belief in Jesus but a gradual fade away from their faith)
His ‘cheating’ started out as him fulfilling a need that was missing in our marriage in the wrong way. It became a shackle of darkness, weighing him down so heavily that he wished he would die.
When the affair was revealed, it was the hope of Jesus shining through me that pulled my husband out of that darkness. Gradually—and not without some REALLY hard times—our marriage was revived.
More importantly, my husband was reborn! He built a relationship with hope…with Jesus.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
-2 Corinthians 5:17
My husband is NOT ‘once a cheater, always a cheater.’ He is a new creation in Christ.
Could he cheat again?
Sure. He’s a sinner…we ALL have the potential to make grave mistakes.
Guess what? I could cheat. YOU could cheat.
Unfortunately, Christians are tempted to (and do) ‘cheat’ just as much as non-Christians. (read more on that here)
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. -Romans 3:23
But the God of the universe has already forgiven us! When we live in His hope, we can’t be doomed. We have the hope of Jesus living in us. When hope is alive in us and we are actively pursuing God’s plan for our lives, we are much less likely to fall into the pattern of habitual sins.
So, is it true or false?
Without hope, ‘once a cheater, always a cheater’ could be a very true statement.
With hope, the joy of the Lord helps us to resist the temptations around us, making the statement false.
Remember the woman online? She wasn’t a believer. She doesn’t have the hope I’m talking about. Therefore, she wasn’t able to comprehend how Jesus–hope–saved me, my husband, and our marriage. I pray that God will intervene in her life and give her freedom from those shackles.
With the hope of Christ, we are free. We are no longer labeled by our mistakes. We are given new life.
God’s love and mercy offer a fresh start, free of blanket statements like ‘once a cheater, always a cheater.’
So, what do you think? Is it true or false?
Have you ever labeled someone by their mistakes?
Do you believe that the hope of Jesus is real?
If you are uncertain about what this hope looks like, we would be more than happy to chat with you about it. Send us an email here.