By Kizzy Katawonga, Uganda:
“Me? I can never cheat on my wife. No woman can make fool me so easily.”
These were the bold words spoken by a friend not too long ago. They were shortly followed by the shocking admission that he had later fallen in love with another woman.
I was heartbroken. I had honestly hoped against hope that he would live to prove those words to be true but alas, he too fell.
Ever since I was a young man I’ve been faced with the terrifying possibility that like my fathers before me and countless other men, I too would inevitably cheat on my wife.
I have been forced to question if the stereotype – “all men cheat”, aren't only true but run deeper than we realize.
During my search for pre-marital counsel, I was met with a constant and consistent attitude that not only should I forget about ever being faithful but that I should even prepare for it in advance.
One man advised me to have a young twenty something girl who I’d turn to for company and not necessarily for sex. He said it would only be a short time before my wife, kids and bills would drive me off the cliff and that having a young consort to stimulate my senses would help keep my sanity!
I was so disturbed by such counsel from someone I had held in high regard that to this day I’m not even sure who it was that gave me that advice. I guess I blocked it from memory due to the trauma.
My wife was also counseled similarly. She was assured infidelity is inevitable and she should prepare her safety net for the certain eventuality. She was advised to get a secret bank account and buy her own house.
So my question is, am I born to cheat? Am I really incapable of being faithful to one woman? Is it such an anomaly when men stay faithful?
Looking at my dear friend confessing his bewilderment at having fallen so helplessly in love with another woman who wasn't his wife shook both him and me to the core and heightened my doubts.
There are so many reasons and circumstances that could lead a man (or woman) into cheating. Some extremely justifiable but most others born from selfishness and a lack of self-control.
It's extremely easy to cheat on one's spouse. Most people don't even start by looking to do so. It often starts with an innocent “hi” to that other woman.
What's worse is that we now live in an age where single women are boldly targeting married men. Few men are able to stop the advances of a determined woman. We simply aren’t used to being pursued. We are usually the ones doing the pursuing.
Am I excusing or justifying infidelity? Not at all. I'm merely trying to understand it. You can’t fix a problem unless you understand it.
I understand we men are hardwired to pursue a mate. I would go so far as to say it's an instinct; there is an inherent drive to mate. As human beings, what separates us from animals is that we have the ability to override our instincts. However, we often don't.
We give in to the old adage “The heart wants what the heart wants” which is total bull-crap by the way, because the heart is fickle, changing its desires at the slightest thing.
Which is why we are taught that marriage is a choice, a daily choice and not some mushy, fairytale lovey-dovey driven thing.
I know that despite what we hear, there is a greater proportion of men who DON'T cheat on their mates than those who do. However, like most bad news, it just seems to make things look a whole lot worse.
So what are we to do? Is it inevitable that we will all cheat eventually? I have to believe it is not. God wouldn't be so cruel as to make men incapable of staying true to one woman and yet he created marriage to be a faithful institution between one man and woman.
So yes, it is possible. I have learnt over time that there are a variety of things a man can do to greatly reduce the likelihood of cheating on his mate.
Simple things like refusing to be emotionally vulnerable and intimate conversation with any woman who isn't your wife or mother or sister.
Most affairs begin with a man being open to someone he shouldn't and the feelings developing as a result. It's not, as popularly believed, preceded by hot steamy liaison. That usually follows.
Also, men should continually work at keeping the spark alive with their own spouse. We men generally get lazy in the romance and pursue department after we get married. If we continued, then we would never see reason to turn our eyes to another woman.
Accountability with your mate is another powerful tool. My wife and I are honest when we find ourselves attracted to another person. The reality is that you can't control being attracted to another human being so put it out in the open. That has an immediate effect of neutralizing the thoughts or actions that could have led to you pursuing that person. Yes, it can be awkward but boy is it better than falling away.
Of course even the women can play a role in keeping their man from straying and I don't mean by controlling or manipulating. I mean by also romancing and pursuing your husband. Most women do not know that men too also love being pursued and desired. Make that effort too, put on that freakum dress once in a while, take care of your looks, be genuinely interested in who he is and not who you want him to be. Be the woman he used to date.
I believe that I can and will end my time in this world having been a faithful man of one wife and my Mukundwa will never have to regret not building a secret house for herself.
But it will take hard work on my part. I can't do it alone and I invite all my brothers out there to join me in breaking the stereotype. What do you do to protect yourself from straying? Are you close to straying and need someone to talk to? Have you already strayed? It doesn't have to be the end for you.
I'd love to hear from you.
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