18 Tishrei 5782 / Friday, September 24, 2021 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
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A person who cheats, for whatever reason, obviously knows that if his partner found out, it would destroy him/her. Isn’t that why they try to keep it a secret?


Dear Racheli,


I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for seven years. It has been complicated, due to many factors, such as my strained relationship with his mother and sister. The other thing that complicates this relationship is that my boyfriend cheated on me in the beginning. He swears he has been faithful since then, and has finally asked me to marry him. I don’t know what to do.






I’z about to give u sum tuff luv. It’s been seven years. He cheated on you at the very beginning of your relationship. In most relationships the beginning is the honeymoon period. By the time the couple gets married, they can barely stand each other! His mother and sister don’t like you.


Seriously, Kim, what are you doing with the guy?


It’s a fact that when a person is involved in a difficult situation, it’s hard for him to see things clearly and objectively. Don’t worry - I’m going to help you clarify things just fine!


First clarification: you’re together for seven years. Seven years! Does seeing it written in italics make things clearer for you? No? Then let’s try it this way. SEVEN YEARS!! There. That’s better.


Why has it taken him this long to ask you to marry him? Have you guys broken up like a zillion times during those seven years? Have either of you dated other people in between your break-ups and make-ups? If so, what keeps bringing the two of you back together? Is it the scary lack of familiarity after being together for so long? We’ll get back to that in a moment.


Second clarification: your potential mother-in-law and sis-in-law hate your guts. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad. But do you understand what you may be getting yourself into? It’s true that many mothers-in-law think that no woman will ever be good enough for her son, and the unfortunate daughter-in-law will have to take that in stride. However, is this all that it is?


After seven years of a strained relationship with them, I have a feeling that it’s more than just you intruding on her territory (her son.) Whatever the reasons for her dislike of you are, you should know that, unless you are both actively willing to deal with your issues together, your relationship with her will never get better. When you have kids, it will likely aggravate your already strained relationship. The bottom line is that you will never feel like an accepted member of the family, even though you may have given her beautiful grandchildren.


Third and most important clarification. He cheated on you. Clear enough? I am sorry to rub salt in your wound, especially since you did your best to forgive him. Kim, you need to understand something: a person who cheats is consumed in selfishness and does not love his partner at all. Boy, I can already hear all kinds of objections. But this is a simple and harsh fact.


A person who cheats, whatever reason or justification he may think he has, obviously knows that if his partner found out, it would destroy him/her. Isn’t that why they try to keep it a secret?? What are they going to say? “Honey, I’m going out tonight to have an affair with your best friend!” as he heads out the door. “Okay, babe, have a great time,” you respond.


I guess there is such a thing as too much honesty…


Kim, I am positive that you have never stopped wondering if he has cheated on you since that first time. And why would you? Haven’t you heard of the saying, “Once a cheater, always a cheater”? I knew a couple in Miami whose husband was caught cheating on his wife one time. Much later, it was revealed that he had been cheating on her the entire time! And we’re talking many years!


Unless a person is working very hard on improving himself spiritually, he will remain with all of his garbage until his dying day. Whatever caused him to cheat on you, whether it was his uncontrollable animalistic lust or something deeper (such as emotional trauma), that trigger has not gone away unless he has made a very genuine effort to overcome it. That’s the spiritual reason of “once a cheater, always a cheater.”


Even if he hasn’t been unfaithful since then, it could be that he still fantasizes about other women. I have a suspicion that this guy doesn’t guard his eyes!


Is this the kind of guy you want as your husband, Kim?


Earlier, I mentioned that the fear of a lack of familiarity might be the glue that’s keeping you both in the relationship. This fear is what keeps many couples in a dead-end relationship. They know that they’re not with their best match, but they’re too afraid to do anything about it. When children are involved, this certainly makes things more complicated.


Kim, I think the real question is not if you should marry him. I think the real question is: why have you been with him this long? Aside from the aforementioned fear, it seems that you might have a negative perception of yourself. Do you worry, deep down, that no one else will want you? Do you feel that you’re not good enough to get a decent man?


You need to fix your relationship with yourself before you can have a good relationship with someone else. If not, your issues will continue to be suppressed, possibly for years. But I’m warning you - they will come out. And when they do, it will be like an explosion.


What is Hashem trying to show you? Among other things, He wants you to build yourself up! You are obviously a good woman, with a big heart and a good moral compass. Your willingness to forgive him shows you have a big heart, and the fact that you haven’t cheated on him shows you have good morals.


I am confident that there is a long list of great things about you. Take Rebbe Nachman’s advice and look for your good points! Why not make yourself a list? I have no doubt that you will be pleasantly surprised at how many wonderful qualities you have. You will find many that you never even consciously knew about!


Kim, take some time off from men, and enjoy just being with yourself! Once Hashem sees that you are making a genuine effort to appreciate the unique and special woman that you are, He will send you the right guy - a guy who is worthy of being with you!


Read “The Garden of Gratitude” and “Women’s Wisdom.”


Warmest Blessings,




* * *

Feel free to send Racheli your questions, particularly in the areas of marriage, dating, child-rearing and women's role; write her at racheli@breslev.co.il

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