I’m Cheating On My Wife (part 2 of 2)

Yesterday I told you about my choice to cheat my family. Today I want to talk about why.

First, I think it’s important to realize we have this choice. Everyday YOU get to choose what you’re cheating. I can’t blame this on anyone else. I can’t blame this on my job or my boss. This is MY choice.

I’m choosing to cheat my family for a variety of reasons…

I cheat because I get lazy. In this particular case I allowed a bunch of meetings to pile up and did not take the time to realize how this was going to impact my family life. These meetings could have easily been spread out, but instead I approved each and every one of them rather than finding an alternative to cheating my family.

I cheat because it’s easy. While I have plenty of people saying they need my time or they need my presence here or there, my family is quietly sitting at home waiting for me to choose to engage with them. A lot of time we cheat our family simply because we mistakenly think we can.

I cheat because I forget. I forget that home is the one place where I’m irreplaceable. I realized a long time ago that I’m totally replaceable as the pastor of Cross Point Church. If something happened to me tomorrow they could and would go out and find a new senior pastor.

The reality is I’m the only husband my wife has. I’m the only father my kids have. When I’m not there nobody else is doing what God has called me to do in the context of my family. So when I cheat my family they pay a much greater price than if I were to cheat whatever church or organization I might be serving.

I cheat because I rather be loved than love. This is a BIG one and I need to spend some more personal time processing this.  Most of us get quite few accolades for the hard work we put in at the office. When I work 15 hour day I often feel a great sense of accomplishment. I love the high risk decisions, the writing under pressure, and the raw excitement of ministry. In fact, being loved for doing ministry can be exhilarating and addictive. It feeds my ego. This is why so many people end up with an inflated ego and a deflated family. Doesn’t sound like a very good trade off to me.

So do you know why you’re cheating whomever or whatever your cheating?

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46 Responses to “I’m Cheating On My Wife (part 2 of 2)”

  1. Jan Owen says:

    I cheat on my health because I don’t like to exercise and when I’m tired the last thing I want to do is exercise. I am lazy in some ways and just want to relax at the end of the day. I also can’t figure out how to “get it all done” so I think i’m going to have to lower some expectations somewhere else.

  2. Marla P says:

    Is cheating and procrastinating on the obvious the same thing? I struggle with procrastination in so many areas of my life. So I guess I am cheating myself in many areas. I spend so much time not only thinking about the things I NEED to do but worse, the things I haven’t done. This way of living not only affects me but the ones around me that I love. I believe we not only cheat by over committing but by sometimes under committing. I guess which ever way it is I have to find a balance. And that is something I’m not very good at. I pray that I can start to scrape the surface on this issue during this series. Thanks for admitting your reasons for cheating. I will work on my own list this week. This is a start!

  3. Tommy Sircy says:

    I didn’t say anything yesterday, mainly because I spent all day trying to think of something clever and witty to say; something that would make me feel like I’m not a cheater. Truth is, I’m the worst offender. I cheat because it’s easy. It’s easy to cloak the abdication of my responsibilities with busy-ness.

    I have a pastor friend who is constantly saying, “if you can’t say amen, say oh me. All I can say is, oh me.

    I can’t wait for the rest of this series. Now if I can just find my steel-toed shoes. They have to be around the house somewhere.

  4. Pete Wilson says:

    @Jan Owen, Sounds to me like you need to choose to cheat. Just make sure you’re cheating the right things. This morning I cheated some writing time so I could see the boys before they went to school. I was happy with that choice to cheat.

  5. tawny says:

    I don’t think a week here and again is really going to hurt your family. This week probably helped them because it caused you to refocus and appreciate them. It is when we fall into a lifestyle of wrong priorities that we are cheating our families. Can we think up a word for the opposite of cheating for when we do the good cheating? Like cheating vs choosing? I don’t want to have to call myself a cheater when I am making a good choice. :)

  6. tawny says:

    I am loving your honesty and I loved Brandi’s comment yesterday too. I just don’t want you to be too hard on yourself. It sounds like you are doing a good job balancing this to me.

  7. I cheat my priorities because I dont’ defend. I don’t defend having nights that are reserved just for my wife or family. Why is this random meeting over here, more important than my marriage? I don’t defend my role in ministry, and I allow others to gently broaden my role to include unsustainable activities. What I’m learning now is that “to cheat” means “to defend”.

  8. ally says:

    I want people to think I’m a hard worker and can do anything that is thrown my way (work-wise), and I don’t want to have that uncomfortable feeling of saying “No” or “I can’t.” It’s easier to say yes even though it means I end up cheating priorities that should easily outrank work. I also constantly underestimate how long work responsibilities will take, thereby overcommitting myself when the project ends up taking twice as long as I’d expected. I need to remind myself that my value is not in how much I accomplish or what people think of me.

  9. Adam says:

    “I cheat because I rather be loved than love.” Thats it right there. A million percent for me. Why do I care so much what random people/coworkers/people I am trying to impress will think of me.

  10. tonyyork says:

    I think you have been peeking behind my eyelids. I raise my hand and join the group that is piling on that last point. I do need to be loved and for some reason, I feel that in return for the love I receive, I need to spend more time giving it away. Sometimes that giving away is to the wrong causes – I have a cause at home that needs it.

  11. Pete Wilson says:

    @Adam and @Tonyyork, That’s a painful one to admit isn’t it? I had a hard time writing that one out. I bet I erased it half a dozen times.

  12. I think for most of us in the ministry, we do these things for the right reason…well, most of the time. We have a calling…we want to live out that calling…and we see so few others doing it–so we do their part, and our part…

    A pastor friend of mine got a call once from his wife. She said that a family in the church was really hurting, the husband wasn’t around much, the kids were reacting to his extended absences, the wife was lonely. The pastor’s wife was wondering if her husband could set up an appointment to go minister to them. Gladly, he said he would. Just tell him when, where, and who…The pastor’s wife said, tonight would be good, where–your own home, who–your family!

    Painful lesson…but lesson learned…

  13. kc says:

    All 4. Good stuff, Pete. Thanks.

  14. Marlen says:

    I cheat myself and my kiddos by not taking care of myself properly. I need to eat better and exercise and I just don’t because I am lazy and it is easier to eat junk and be lazy – no energy exerted there! Thanks for your posts. Always thought provoking and challenging. I think I am going to get my tennis shoes on and take the kiddos for a walk!

  15. I absolutely love your raw honesty here. You have just admitted something that most pastors stuggle with daily, but will never admit to….Especially the end part. Thank you for that.

  16. godzgaljen says:

    BAAh. I guess it’s laziness here.

  17. Shelby says:

    Ahh Pete, the need to be loved…I have been so good at loving and putting others first, especially my family, but recently some people can into my life and I mistakenly thought they cared for me. To have received that kind of attention and false accolades seduced me into neglecting a lot of things in my life. I have a loving family and they show me everyday, but somehow this outside “acceptance” really drew me in. It fed an ego, I never knew I had. The relationship ended when the people I thought cared, didn’t and walked out on us and I realized what a fool I had been. I think the need to be loved is so very important, but it is important that we find it in places that are healthy and godly. I tell ya what…even though it felt good for a tiny bit to be “loved” it felt empty and now that I am back to my focus of giving and caring and loving others, I am so fulfilled and feel so like myself again. Thank God!!!

  18. Milan Ford says:

    Pete –

    Your last point about ‘cheating to be loved rather than love’ was one I have to say I’ve been guilty of often.

    Seeking approval through ministry can be quite dangerous. I am grateful to God for breaking me out of that system last year.

    Painful – but so needed. Thx again for this post.

  19. ErinLeigh says:

    I appreciate this, Pete. Thanks. Now time for some Holy Spirit heart searching…

  20. tonyyork says:

    @Pete – Yes it is. I am finding that I am admitting it more often recently.

    I think there is part of me that reads Paul and wants to be like Paul but forgets that Paul wasn’t married. Of course, Paul was the same guy that instructed us to be thinking about our family situations in light of ministry or our ability to minister in light of our family situations.

    There is a balance somewhere and I am looking for God’s direction in that one. I’ll be praying for you as well.

  21. stugray says:

    Wow Pete – Great Post. Thanks for your thoughts on how easy it is to “cheat”

    I Rather be loved than Love. That is a thought that I will be thinking about for a while…it hits close to home for sure.

  22. Pete Wilson says:

    @Shelby, I’m really sorry to hear about your experience. I know it happens more often than it should. I’ll be praying for your healing.

  23. sara says:

    This reminds me of a talk I heard about going to reconciliation. They told us not to worry so much about confessing our sins, but focus more on confessing what inside us led us to sin. It changed my whole perspective on that sacrament. Your line about being loved is so hard to read but so true. For me, it sums up every time I want what I WANT before what is good for anyone else. It’s selfishness, but in a quieter way that doesn’t look as selfish on the outside as it is on the inside. Makes it easier to let myself get away with it.

    But for me, I think the biggest way I cheat myself and God is with apathy. The feeling that if nothing can be changed, then what is the point? I had so many gifts and talents I no longer have, so why even try to use the ones I have left? Apathy.

    Then I borrow Tom Sircy’s steel-toed shoes, give myself a swift kick and get on with the business of living. :)

    sara
    http://gitzengirl.blogspot.com

  24. Jan Connair says:

    I said yesterday that I cheat myself by thinking that I am less talented and able than others. By not realizing that the truth is, I am beautiful and gifted and capable because that’s the way god made me. I started dumbing myself down years ago when I was in grade school, because I got tired of being called, “The Brain,” and having other kids look at me funny when I used a big vocabulary word. And I just sort of kept it up, building other people up by tearing myself down. All I can think is that I too wanted to be loved more than I felt I was. Why didn’t I, and why don’t I, depend on God’s love? I guess that’s the next question I need to answer!

  25. Tanilan says:

    Wow! That was a big wake up call for me! I don’t know what led me to this blog! But thank you so much, because I have realized a lot since I read this piece!

    Again, thank you so much!

  26. Glad you told janowen that there is a “good kind of cheating.” I was wondering if when I steal time to do something I like to do that is fun if it is ok. Today I went for a 25 mile bike ride just because it had been since Saturday and I needed the exercise. I cheated on office time. Other than feeling like I need a nap now :) I really do feel refreshed. I think you cheating on writing time to be with your boys was the most excellent use of your time. Writing can wait. The boys can’t. They grow up too fast and need to know their dad. Good choice Pete!

  27. ransom33 says:

    I am afraid I have to agree with one of the comments in Part 1 which states that perhaps you have cheated your readers by using such a misleading title to your post. How far are you prepared to go to ensure a large number of people read your blog? I am a Christian and the issue of cheating is a very sensitive one in my life too, and I was not amused by the misleading of the title of your post, regardless of the fact that the content is very worthy of discussion and is obviously making many people accountable.

    The way to overcome our shortcomings and failures has to start by paying attention to how we conduct ourselves in the little things, such as this. That is just my opinion, nothing more.

    Blessings,

    ramsom33 at http://www.ransom33.wordpress.com

  28. tam says:

    ive been cheated on by my husband, in this context, a lot of times. the pastors at our church finally came to agreement that they are not to be out more than 3 nights a week, for “church” related things. they make it work and a priority. and it has worked. they will come up along side the other and pick up the slack if needed. but what this has done is forced them to manage their time better and also weed through the necessities.

    the families at home are very grateful for this :)

  29. Pete Wilson says:

    @ransom33, I’m sorry you felt mislead by the title of the post but not real sure how you couldn’t make the connection. I don’t see anything misleading about the title at all. I clearly explain in the post how it is that I’m cheating my wife.

    Cheating on your spouse is never isolated just to sexual encounters. You can cheat on your spouse in lot’s of ways.

    I’m sorry my sin was not as sensational as some would have thought.

  30. Randi :) says:

    thanks so much for your openness here. you’re awesome pastor pete. the ability to examine yourself like that is always the first step to allowing Him to do drastic awesome things in our lives right?

    These things you mention are all things that as a church ‘regular’ I pray about for those in the church ‘leadership’ roles…. but most especially the last bullet.

    I used to be such a driver & recognition/praise addict and when I was given my son so unexpectedly and basically stripped away of everything I thought made me valuable…. only then did I found out how valuable I truly was and what (who) gave me worth.

    I have loved the freedom that has come along with being at rock bottom emotionally, rock bottom according to worldly significance, rock bottom in being recognizede/acknowledged for my work… having the plans *I* had for my life wiped away, being at our rock bottom financially, etc. etc. etc. I hated going through it… yet what was the hardest time of my life and the hardest struggles eneded up being the life-changing events that finally forced me to open the door that Jesus was knocking at for a long time.

    Looking back I keep thinking of the beautitudes during that season of my life. It took a lot for God to get my attention & my time & to deflate my ego & to change my standards that I used to value people. I still have a LOONG way to go. It’s something I will always battle I guess. we all want worldly significance & praise and to fit in with the world… but yet we don’t and God loves us too much to leave us with just that eternally insignificant ‘crap’. I’m glad He got my attention when He did… I think He knew that I would be totally destroyed if I had been even more successful and had a huge ‘crash’ — His timing is perfect.

    When I see people fighting that same fight I did…. I often pray for God to open their hearts & eyes sooner rather than later. I know that He is willing to do anything to have us come back to Him and He will go to any extreme imagineable. So what will He have to do to get our attention and get us back on track.

  31. Beth Taylor says:

    Honestly, in all humility, I think feeling that we are cheating something or someone is not how He intended us to live. Jesus did only what His Father told Him to…when He ascended there were still sick, broken and hurting people left behind. There were still undiscipled people, but He did what God wanted Him to do. And nothing more. Most of us commit to far more than God would ever want us to. Maybe we should hold our calendars up to Him and let HIM plan our schedules. Sometimes saying no is music to His ears.

  32. Tracey says:

    I think for me it’s mostly laziness. It’s just easier NOT to do the right things that I need to do.

  33. ransom33 says:

    Of course I know that your intention was not to offend anybody, but I struggle to believe that when you chose to give your post such an “explosive” title, you did not take into account the impact and appeal that a phrase such as this must have immediately created and led others to think that perhaps you were indeed “cheating your wife” in the sense most of us understand that expression.

    I know you meant no harm really, but I think you can benefit by knowing how something like this can affect people’s feelings out there. There will be hundreds of people reading that post whose main understanding of “cheating on my wife” means what it says, because that is their own personal experience and for some it may still be very raw and painful. Until you have been there, you cannot know the misery that something like this can help re-emerge.

    Thanks again. Like you said, like iron sharpens iron so we are meant to help each other out in those areas where perhaps mistakingly we perceive each other failing. I thought it was worth taking that risk and I am sorry if I misunderstood you.

    God bless you

    ransom33

  34. tam says:

    the title, and post, may also reveal to someone who may have been a victim of “infidelity” to see that there are many, many ways in which a spouse can be neglected, hurt, and cheated. the truth of it is, in either case, the marriage/family relationship/dynamic has been put on the back burner (even if for a ‘time’) and is playing 2nd chair. they are being “cheated on”. i totally agree with Pastor Pete for calling it like it is. this kind of “cheating” is probably more common than having an extra marital affair, although i cant say for sure, but can be as damaging. pete, im not speaking to you or in any way suggesting you are damaging your family here…im just trying to make a point in general.

  35. Ginger says:

    I think you are on target, I think we do cheat on the one we love, whether that be a spouse, ourselves, our God, this is something that I deal with as well. I am very busy in life, my job, those things I do at church, that I find I am cheating on God. Not spending enough time with Him, placing the busy work at church prior to my relationship. I felt that this morning prior to reading your post. I think you for your honesty. I think the title is good, I got it, know what you are saying. I am anxious to hear your new series… someday I am going to have to come visit your church. Be blessed for I am sure our Daddy is smiling at you.

  36. jeff says:

    Pete, for me the last paragraph of you post hits the target. There is a great Henry Nouwen book ( In the name of Jesus) in which Nouwen reflect on Christian leadership. He says ” I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his of her own vulnerable self”. In sharing his reflections Nouwen uses two stories for the Gospels: the story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert (Matthew4:1-11) and the story of Peter’s call to be a shepherd (John21: 15-19). It’s a small easy read, I think you would like it. Thanks Pete for offering your vulnerable self, it’s the sign of a great Christian leader.

  37. toughlove says:

    Pete, you stated above that “Most of us get quite few accolades for the hard work we put in at the office” You also admit to struggling with that. I just don’t see that for you. I have seen videos that count the number of hugs you get each Sunday. I have seen you with your family. I have heard the praise, thanks, and congratulations on your great messages Sunday after Sunday. So here’s some tough love….GET OVER IT, you are more loved than most people on any given day and it is well deserved :-)

  38. Pete Wilson says:

    @tough love, I think you might have missed the point. I wasn’t saying that I was struggling with not getting enough praise. My point is that I do get it. And that “praise” if not accepted correctly can lead to an addiction of wanting more. An addiction that can lead you to cheating your family so that you actually work harder to get more of it.

    I’m in no way saying that I want more. I’m saying that I shouldn’t strive for it. I’m saying the love of my family should exceed the desire to try to get others to love me.

    Either way, thanks for the tough love though. Consider it accepted. I agree this is an area I need work. Your made up email was whimp@google.com. If you’re actually a friend of mine then I agree with the name you made up for your email. :)

  39. angelbearoh says:

    Although I don’t have a family to cheat on, I can see where you’re coming from about what motivates it. I want to be loved—or at least liked—for having amazing technological powers that can save my company’s customers from cyber-criminals, Murphy’s Law, and their own stupidity. I want to pull people’s butts out of the fire. I want to be the hero, because that’s what I’m led to believe I’m being paid to do. I’m worthless (or so I’m led to think) if I can’t do it.
    I’d give anything to be able to pry my mind out of my job and get it back on my personal life.

  40. jihunpark says:

    I loved that last point I would rather be loved than love…WOW good stuff

  41. danielle says:

    Pete,

    These are some really great thoughts. I feel like I cheat a little bit of everything because guilt :shock: drives me to not miss anything and yet at times I’m not fully engaging any part of life.

    I’ll have to get that book.

  42. Thanks for your honesty Pete. It’s an accountability issue to our families and to those we work with. Its a constant burden to balance work and family. We have to realize that even Jesus knew when to rest and retreat.

    I would agree with Tawny that you understand this. That is why you’ve laid this out so well and why we can learn from it.

  43. Boomer says:

    We don’t need you so much that your family suffers. This is the reason after several offers over the past few years I never “went into ministry”. People in ministry could rarely tell me how they balance it all. In buisness, I just do as much as I can in the time that is appropriate and hand the rest off to God.

  44. Totally agree. Except, of course, that I don’t have a wife and kids.

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