Infidelity is the biggest fear in any relationship, especially marriage. While it is said that it takes two people to make a marriage work, what is often left unsaid is that it takes just one promiscuous partner to make it fail.
Affairs are devastatingly common. Around 15% to 20% of married couples have admitted to cheating sometime during their marriage. It happens due to various reasons, including lack of affection towards each other and unaddressed marital problems. Although cheating is a heartbreaking and life-changing experience, couples can learn to heal from it together or even separately – the key is space, communication, and support.
Why Does Infidelity Happen?
There are multiple reasons why affairs happen. According to Dr. Robert Weiss, Ph.D., MSW, who wrote an article for Psychology Today entitled 13 Reasons Why Men Cheat, almost every husband who cheats implies that they have done it because they believe it’s the only logical solution to the issues they are facing, whether at home or elsewhere.
Listed below are some of the most common reasons you might have heard:
- Men are men. It is natural for them to want to have sex with as many women as possible, so when there’s an opportunity, they grab it and think, “Why should I be any different?”
- There isn’t enough affection and intimacy between husband and wife (though he can still cheat if he’s in love with you).
- The wife has changed her appearance or isn’t the doting wife the husband wants.
- Stress from work
- There’s no harm in sexting, flirting, or a lap dance at a club – anything that didn’t lead to sexual contact with another woman is considered as “harmless” and not exactly infidelity. While that can definitely open up a whole can of worms, let’s just keep that for another day.
Nevertheless, all of these are merely excuses for the real reason why husbands cheat. Dr. Weiss also wrote that this series of reasoning is what is called denial. It’s a list of internal lies men say to themselves to justify their actions.
So, Why Exactly Does A Man Want To Cheat?
According to Dr. Weiss, a man’s choice to sleep with another woman would be driven by one or more of the following factors:
The husband hasn’t handled committed relationships before or doesn’t have as much experience as his partner to fully understand that his actions would have dire consequences and cause pain to his partner.
He’s Over It
There are apparently two versions to this. One, he wants to end things but doesn’t want to be the one to do it, so he pushes his partner to break things off by having sexual relations with another woman. Or two, the husband is ready to end things and move on to his next relationship.
Some men prioritize themselves more and feel that all the means to their gratification are justified and if that involves infidelity, so be it.
The husband may have unrealistic expectations of his wife, wanting her to always be attractive, always care for him, and always be at his beck and call. Neanderthal thinking, I know!
His actions now may be a result of childhood abuse, including neglect or emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. It makes him unwilling or unable to commit fully to a relationship.
Other factors include:
- Issues with alcohol, drugs, or sexual addiction
- Lack of support, especially from male friends, that causes him to find fulfillment from someone else
- Mistakes romantic intensity for long-term love
- Believes he is unique and deserves something special
- Anger or revenge
- A feeling of entitlement
Trauma Left by Infidelity
Cheating leads to a roller coaster of emotions. The pain of knowing that your husband is seeing another woman behind your back can be gut-wrenching.
You’d often find yourself asking, “why am I not enough?” “Why does my husband want to sleep with another woman?” Most women begin blaming themselves for not being good enough, or pretty enough or smart enough. You’ll find plenty of reasons to whip yourself, but you need to remember that if your husband does betray you, it is a reflection of his character, not yours.
According to Psychology Today, the person who has been cheated on is frequently emotionally tortured and is clearly traumatized. They would show symptoms common with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), including:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Repeatedly having intrusive thoughts
- Feeling like you’re out of your body
- Emotional instability
- Alternating between feeling numb and striking out to retaliate
- The feeling of overwhelming helplessness
- Feeling extremely broken
- Unable to stop finding new information about your husband that may cause more distress
- Blaming others, especially your husband, to help regain self-worth
Where Do You Go From Here?
If both of you are resolved to putting your marriage back on track and making a go of it, you will both first and foremost need to heal together. For the woman, it’s more than just forgiving and forgetting. Many say time heals everything, but as long as one or both of you have unresolved trauma, it could ultimately ruin your relationship. Nevertheless, it does take time to heal. Coming out, confessing about it won’t instantly fix the issue, and most likely, couples would have to seek professional guidance to work things out.
Can Marriages Survive the Affair?
I have a more complete guide on how to save your marriage, which gets more into the details but all advice should be taken within the context of your own marriage. Statistically more marriages survive an affair than you might think, especially if both of you are working together to move forward and heal together. Some even use it as an opportunity to grow and become even closer together.
One important thing to remember here is to think things through before you choose to either continue or end your relationship. A decision should not be made during the height of your emotional struggles.
Having said that, some marriages can’t and aren’t meant to be saved. It may be time to surrender if infidelity is only one of the signs of domestic and/or emotional abuse. One sign is an ongoing pattern of cheating and sleeping with someone else. This kind of relationship is toxic and will never make the other partner will feel safe.