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Social Psychologist & Personal Advisor

Below is Dr Matt's Answer
to a Burning Question


He Promised not to Cheat, then He Cheated Anyway

Dr. Matt,
My name is Angelina
I live in Oregon.
I'm a female, my age is 42.
I am married.
I need advice! After I confronted my husband about an emotional affair he was having with a female friend and he promised to stop contacting her, why then has he started back calling her frequently and yet denies it with a straight face even though I know the truth.

Thank you!

Dear Agenlina:

There are two questions here:

Why did he return to his cheating ways? And why did he then, lie about it?

Why he lied is because you've caught him with his pants down, and it's embarrassing to admit that he not only broke his word, but he also violated your sacred marital vows . . . again.

In this life, whenever we make a mistake, we have two fundamental choices before us:

Rationalize or Renew

Because your husband is a man capable of cheating, it is consistent with this lack of character, that he would also lie about it, when caught.

Now, let's grapple with the more foundational question: Why does he cheat in the first place, and why did he return to cheating after giving his word that he wouldn't.

Your husband gave a "promise" to stop contacting this other woman with only his Lips, but not with his Heart. The fact is . . . your husband has shown by his actions, that he is currently incapable of promising with his Whole Heart—for that kind of integrity is NOT in him. As legendary trumpet player Louis Armstrong quipped:

"If you ain't got it in ya, . . . ya can't blow it out."

Your husband does NOT possess strength of character sufficient to make this kind of promise, . . . and then keep it. The unfortunate fact is that the desire to emotionally cheat remains in his heart. You can better understand what I'm talking about through the story of the Scorpion and the Frog.

The Frog and the Scorpion

One day, a scorpion looked around his habitat and decided that he needed a change. He could see a great place to relocate, but it was on the other side of a river, and of course, scorpions cannot swim.

What luck! He noticed a frog sitting in the rushes by the bank of the stream, and decided to ask the frog for help getting across the stream.

"Hello Frog!" called the scorpion, "would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the river?"

"Well now, Mr. Scorpion! How do I know that if I let you hop on my back and give you a ride across the river, you won't sting me and kill me?" asked the frog hesitantly.

The scorpion replied, "Because if I kill you, I wouldn't be able to get to the other side of the river!"

Now this seemed to make sense to the frog, but he inquired further, "what about when I get close to the river bank? You could still try to kill me!"

"This is true," agreed the scorpion, "but then if I kill you, we both would drown in the river, for you see, I cannot swim!"

"All right ... but how do I know you won't just wait till we get to the other side and THEN kill me?" said the frog.

"Ahh..." crooned the scorpion, "once you've taken me to the other side of this river, I will be so grateful for your help, that it would be unfair to reward you with death, . . . right?!"

So as the scorpion made a promise not to kill him, the friendly frog agreed to take the scorpion across the river. The scorpion proceeded to crawl upon the frog’s back, pricking sharp claws into his soft hide to get a good grip, and then the frog slid into the river.

The frog stayed near the surface so the scorpion would not drown. Swimming steadily against the river's swift current, he kicked strongly to reach the halfway point in the stream.

The frog and the scorpion were in the middle of the river moving steadily to towards the opposite bank, when suddenly the frog felt a sharp pain, the scorpion had plunged his stinger into the frog's soft skin.

"You stung me!" croaked the frog, “Why did you do this? Now we both shall die!

The scorpion replied, "I could not help myself. I'm a scorpion--it's my nature."
Then they both sank into the muddy waters of the river.

Just as the scorpion gave a promise to the frog that he would not kill him, in a similar manner, your husband gave you a shallow promise with his lips—while the intent to continue his emotional cheating remained in his heart. Because of your husband's current character, the act of cheating is natural and consistent with the very "nature" of Who He Is—he's a scorpion!

Before your husband can give you a promise that he can keep, . . . he needs a New Heart—he needs a Change of Heart.

Your husband would be greatly benefited by reading my book, "Changing Your Stripes." But it is not likely that your husband would be willing to read my book, as long as he has no heartfelt desire to change. You see, this problem is self-perpetuating: Scorpions cannot do anything but think and act like scorpions—as long as they remain scorpions and resist becoming a new kind of creature!

I also call this problem "Einstein's Mind Bind." Read more about this by clicking the hyperlink at the lower left side entitled "Einstein's Mind Bind."

Here's an excerpt from my book that describes this self-defeating bind:

Here’s the problem: You can’t choose "the best things in life" if the emphatic energy to "be the best" is not in you! You can only choose and you will only choose, those options you presently feel to choose according to the current condition of your disposition; hence, you will choose something less-than-best because of the animal you are. Just like a tiger will always be a tiger, and act like a tiger . . . until that tiger becomes a new kind of creature, you will also be who you are until you . . . Change Your Stripes. (Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, pages 43-44).

The key to Changing Your Stripes is in experiencing a genuine Change from your core—a Mighty Change that only occurs with the Help and Healing of Heaven.

Now, the challenge for you, Angelina, is this: It is your husband that has the primary problem, and it is your husband who needs to change; thus, all you can do is "influence" him, that he might be motivated to embark upon the path of real and lasting Change.

This means, you are not in Direct Control of this problem; this is what I call an Indirect Control Problem. Visit this page—3 Problems—and you can glean a few ideas about what you can do to BEST approach your husband, that he might feel to choose the BEST things in life; that he might feel to become a new kind of creature, with a new heart.

The truth is . . . most of the couple counseling that I do happens under the duress of an ultimatum (usually coming from the woman in a relationship, but occasionally from the man). As long as your husband knows that you will stay with him--whether of not he experiences a genuine lasting change--then, you really have little influence to motivate him to change.

But, when the realization hits him that you will leave him if he does not change, . . . he will suddenly become highly motivated in a hurry (I've seen it a hundred times). But beware . . . the broken-record-routine may again appear, that he will simply give you "lip service" in his overtures to change, . . . instead of truly change from his heart.

The Change of Heart that your husband needs (and that we all need at different levels of growth and progression) is not had through an exercise of mental will, . . . in fact, it happens in precisely the opposite manner: It happens through a complete release of mental will.

The process of experiencing a Change of Heart is thoroughly detailed in my book.

Let me know what happens in the coming days,


Matt Moody, Ph.D.
Social Psychologist

* * * * * * *

The Greatest Prize
for Life's labors isn't
in material possessions
or impressive accomplishments,
but in the progress of personal character.
You labor for your own becoming, this is your richest reward.
Who You Become is your greatest possession,
make it your Masterpiece!

(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 274)

The book, "Changing Your Stripes" presents principles for getting out of
the ditch in which you've been dumped (the difficulties of which you are a victim), and
the ditch in which you've jumped (the difficulties for which you volunteer).

"Mastering a challenging situation
is ultimately a matter of
mastering yourself!"

- Matt Moody 

"Changing Your Stripes," teaches you the principles that lead to lasting change,
making you a new kind of creature capable of communicating
with calm, even as storms of contention swirl.

If these principles resonate and ring true,
then . . . this book is for you!

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Changing Your Stripes is a
unique reference book that will help
you understand, . . .
and solve all of
Life's ever-appearing problems.
Here are more reasons to buy

Changing Your Stripes

Social Psychologist & Personal Advisor

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