Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Why She Cheats

why she cheats

For the sake of clarity, I’d like to share a few of my observations as to why women have affairs.

Typically the driving forces for a woman’s affair differ from that of a man. The first part of this series will review common justifications used by women and the second part will focus on risk factors that make women vulnerable.

Understanding the reason behind infidelity is crucial to recovery. Without a basic understanding of why someone cheated it’s difficult for the betrayed spouse to determine the probability of future safety. The task of understanding the “why” behind their mate’s infidelity is further complicated by gender difference.

One of the biggest mistakes betrayed spouses fall prey to is mistakenly assuming their mate’s motivations for cheating are similar to what their motivations would be, and usually that’s clearly not the case.

Assumed similarities are the primary barrier to
understanding the “why” someone was unfaithful.

This series is intended to bring clarity to the characteristics common to women yet also continue to shed light on the complexity of affair recovery.

Over the past 24 months, my staff and I have seen a sharp increase in the number of unfaithful females who are reaching out for help. I also hope this series will serve as a warning sign for those who have actually been betrayed, but are also at risk for acting out with an affair of their own. 

One of our sayings at Affair Recovery is: My mate is never my problem (that is not to say my mate doesn’t have serious problems), my mate really just reveals the problems in me.

Two people can be in a bad marriage and only one will cheat. The following poem is an example of a common justification used by women.

But, before you read it, please understand the scenario described below may be true, and it may be painful, but situations like this simply do NOT justify an affair.  Other choices are always readily available:

AN UNFAITHFUL WIFE TO HER HUSBAND

Branded and blackened by my own misdeeds 
I stand before you; not as one who pleads 
For mercy or forgiveness, but as one, 
After a wrong is done, 
Who seeks the why and wherefore. 
            Go with me 
Back to those early years of love, and see 
Just where our paths diverged. You must recall 
Your wild pursuit of me, outstripping all 
Competitors and rivals, till at last 
You bound me sure and fast 
With vow and ring. 
I was the central thing 
In all the Universe for you just then. 
Just then for me, there were no other men. 
I cared 
Only for tasks and pleasures that you shared. 
Such happy, happy days. You wearied first. 
I will not say you wearied, but a thirst 
For conquest and achievement in man's realm 
Left love's barque with no pilot at the helm. 
The money madness, and the keen desire 
To outstrip others, set your heart on fire. 
Into the growing conflagration went 
Romance and sentiment. 
Abroad you were a man of parts and power-- 
Your double dower 
Of brawn and brains gave you a leader's place; 
At home you were dull, tired, and commonplace. 
You housed me, fed me, clothed me; you were kind; 
But oh, so blind, so blind. 
You could not, would not, see my woman's need 
Of small attentions; and you gave no heed 
When I complained of loneliness; you said 
"A man must think about his daily bread 
And not waste time in empty social life-- 
He leaves that sort of duty to his wife 
And pays her bills, and lets her have her way, 
And feels she should be satisfied." 
            Each day 
Our lives that had been one life at the start, 
Farther and farther seemed to drift apart. 
Dead was the old romance of man and maid. 
Your talk was all of politics or trade. 
Your work, your club, the mad pursuit of gold 
Absorbed your thoughts. Your duty kiss fell cold 
Upon my lips. Life lost its zest, its thrill, 
            Until 
One fateful day when earth seemed very dull 
It suddenly grew bright and beautiful.

I spoke a little, and he listened much; 
There was attention in his eyes, and such 
A note of comradeship in his low tone, 
I felt no more alone. 
There was a kindly interest in his air; 
He spoke about the way I dressed my hair, 
And praised the gown I wore. 
It seemed a thousand, thousand years and more 
Since I had been so noticed. Had mine ear 
Been used to compliments year after year, 
If I had heard you speak 
As this man spoke, I had not been so weak. 
The innocent beginning 
Of all my sinning 
Was just the woman's craving to be brought 
Into the inner shrine of some man's thought. 
You held me there, as sweetheart and as bride; 
And then as wife, you left me far outside. 
So far, so far, you could not hear me call; 
You might, you should, have saved me from my fall. 
I was not bad, just lonely, that was all.

A man should offer something to replace 
The sweet adventure of the lover's chase 
Which ends with marriage, Love's neglected laws 
Pave pathways for the "Statutory Cause."

 

Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Written around 1885

 

Little has changed in the last 135 years. For this woman, her husband’s neglect made her vulnerable to another’s affection, but even so, that’s no excuse for infidelity. If that were the case every married person, at some point in the marriage, could find a justification for infidelity.

Below, are two videos from our members only Q & A where I address two specific questions unfaithful spouses have recently submitted.  I hope you enjoy the videos as they’ll provide insight into the infidelity-specific questions we discuss throughout our Hope for Healing course.  

 

 

 

 

World Voices by Ella Wheeler Wilcox 
New York : Hearst's International Library Company, 1916.

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Comments

Yes I can truly understand

Yes I can truly understand how this had happened to my wife, I can not go back a d undue what has happened but at the same time love and marriage is a kind of two way street how had would it have been for my wife to set my heart and attention back with just a little effort on her part.I had never stopped loving and doing things for my wife and would have done things differently just never knew. Yes there are so ma y other things going to take me away, but there were times it felt like staying away because I did not feel wanted or needed. Wanted to make things better just did not know what was needed, she would tell me I did not lover her and I would be just floored I was doing everything I could for her as best I knew. She just could not communicate to me what she was missing and needed and I just felt rejected and hurt and confused so instead of staying and trying to understand I would pull away a bit which would only make her even more distant. Now I will not let that happen I may pull away for a short time because of pain felt but after I have had a chance to think things over I now explain to her what I was feeling and how I was trying to show loveto her and was hoping from her. I just wish the time will come when she will come to me and share here ffeelings so I can have a better understanding of her heart and needs. My word of advice to None out there would be do not let distance build between each other, humble yourself if you have to but fight to stay close know each others feelings do not shut down thinking it will blow over address it and own your mistakes and forgive theirs. Do not accept silence chance are they want only the best for you also just not sure how.
David

So true

This comment is so true and so perceptive. I share all of these feelings. Very well spoken.

David - Thank you. I love

David - Thank you. I love your thoughts about staying close, which I copied here with some extra punctuation:

"Do not let distance build between each other. Humble yourself if you have to, but fight to stay close, know each others feelings. Do not shut down, thinking it will blow over. Address it and own your mistakes and forgive theirs. Do not accept silence. Chances are they want only the best for you also (and are) just not sure how."

The poem itself, and Rick's interpretation of why women cheat, seem very, very old fashioned, even antiquated to me, but then people do hold out-dated expectations about life and the people around them. Why in the world is it considered the husband's responsibility alone to keep the flame of love and desire alive in a marriage and to continually adore his woman and shower her with gifts and affection? I see this sort of "trophy wife" attitude in so many couples. And could anyone possibly maintain the romantic state of early love over many years? Once again, Rick has really gotten to the heart of some assumptions that can lead to a very painful time for so many couples.

Yes this my story

Yes the poem and David's story is also my own. When the separation begins to fell like rejection I just withdrew more and now she thinks she could never love me again.

Sounds like an easy way out

So lack of romance is the justification for a married woman to default in her vows?
How ridiculous! How selfish, egotistical and self serving!
Instead of respecting and regarding the institution, they just decide that they need attention!!!

It is their own fault for having no God, no moral code and no respect.

Actually, it wasn't easy at all.

Hurt spouse here,

First thing to point out: Lack of romance is just a part of how she became vulnerable. Other factors can come into play as well, such as mismanagement of finances. But the fact is that all the responsibilities of a husband are there to create SAFETY for your partner. Safety is key, and without it, your spouse will be left vulnerable to a myriad of things. It could be alcohol, anger, passive aggressiveness, depression, drug abuse, dishonesty, resentment, and adultery.

Romance is huge in a relationship, and key to many levels of safety a spouse needs to feel loved, adored, desired, and secure in the marriage and that she the one for you. It speaks volumes, and I cannot express it more. I know this, because I absolutely sucked at it. I thought I was OK, but just a busy husband and dad. Unfortunately, I knew I wasn't a Romantic, and I never took the steps to fix it. If I planned dinner dates without her asking, it would show safety in that I could manage time, that she was a priority, and I was thinking of her. If it was a nice restaurant, and every time I got her flowers, it would show safety in that I am managing finances, and that I make it a priority to budget for these special things for her and I.

Please understand, it is often said that when a wife cheats, she is pretty much done with the marriage. So the act of adultery hurts, absolutely.. probably more than anything I have ever felt in my life. But understanding that there was pain before, years before her decision, and that there is responsibility for the vulnerability. If I was more romantic, budgeted our finances better, kept her in the loop and made her feel SAFE, I guarantee my spouse would never have looked twice at that uber-Romantic jerk who "wow'd" her into a limerance relationship that totally left me in the dust.

There is pain on all fronts, and I'm ABSOLUTELY not diminishing the pain of infidelity. I know it as much as anyone. Knowing that your spouse made her decision in a state that was not where she is meant to be, is taking steps in looking at it with empathy. We can all be better spouses, and we all continue to grow in it everyday, for the rest of the marriage. We never stop. To understand, is to try to feel what she feels, and I'm not talking about the "selfish, egotistical and self serving" things. Those are a front, a wall. It's a self preservation method. There s something else she feeling, and to understand her is to try and see what that is and how it relates to you.

Just my 2 cents from a dude, in a place, and seen A LOT of messy stuff.

Painfully accurate

This was so painful to read, it made me cry. I could of written this. Not an excuse, but this is how it happens.

Sounds like blameshifting to me

"You might, you should, have saved me from my fall."

So basically if the husband wasn't so "dull and commonplace" she wouldn't have cheated? Sounds like a double standard to me; would we be reading this poem if it were by a man calling his wife dull and saying that she should have stopped him from cheating by being a better wife?

Filling that void!

Yes as a most females we like to feel special & cared for & know that we matter & are most important... But I have come to realize that when we start feeling like we do not matter it's usually just life happening & work & being tired & just knowing husbands are comfortable at home & can kick back & rest & be himself. I have visited people in nursing homes when I start to get down.. I leave there feeling so good that I was able to make someone else feel like they mattered -instead of making sure someone made me feel I mattered . Those things are the best medicines! When we start down that road of thinking "he doesn't love me like he used to" -I have found out they actually love you more - yes -take time to communicate -go on a date -have fun with each other -& when we are feeling the blues of not "feeling special" snap out of it!!!! Go for a walk -pray & call someone you haven't talked to in a while -you will feel much better!!! Having an affair brings pain, grief & much guilt.. It's only "exciting" for a little while-then it's sad, hard, hurtful, sorrow, shame! Listen to the voice that says this attention /affair is NOT A GOOD IDEA! save yourself & your spouse from horrific pain!

ironic

The irony of this poem is that it resonates really strongly with where I was - and my husband is the one who had the affair.

I read the poem above, and

I read the poem above, and thought the same exact thing. The difference was that while I was the neglected wife, my friend, who was also neglected, is the one that had the affair with my husband. I don't understand how I could keep it in my pants, and these two couldn't. He wasn't neglected; in fact, and he will agree with this statement, he was the center of my world, and given whatever he wanted. Just a spoiled, entitled, selfish man.

It is not black and white

I think that poem is just to illustrate the sorts of things that can be underneath infidelity. I don't think we should pick over the bones of each line.

Of course lack of attention is no justification for cheating and of course it is not just the man's job to pay attention (bear in mind it was written in the 1800's when men/women roles were quite different). But the point I think that it underlines is that (based on my experience as an unfaithful wife):
- many women have self esteem issues - this is driven in part by society/culture focus on body image and things like that
- all marriages will evolve over time - nothing can sustain the initial period when you first meet and all that excitement
- the challenges of kids, work, day to day life etc often takes over the marriage so there's a lack of focus on fulfilling each other's needs (on both sides)
- this creates an environment where people are vulnerable - both sexes of course. But maybe women are especially vulnerable because we are emotional creatures and "neglect" whatever form that takes is often just simply lack of emotional connection. It's often hard to talk about what we need or want because we are so busy focusing on everything else we don't even realise there's a hole
- and then someone comes along who fills that hole ... and they are charming and caring and you don't intend to start out having an affair but somehow it starts running away with you and you start craving that attention and that feel good factor and of course it then gets harder and harder to talk to your spouse.
- and then next news you have started down a bad road and it's now too hard to turn back the clock and it spirals from there.

that's how it happens. Not an excuse just an explanation.

So all of you who are outraged by this post - of course there is not a justification for that cheating. But what Rick is seeking to do is explain how it can happen and how there are vulnerabilities and how we should look for other ways to address that. Both spouses need to fill each other's needs but it's hard to discuss

What made her do it

I am very glad to see an article on this. As a betrayed husband, I have struggled with this for more than 3 years now. We were almost divorced because my wife would not come clean and tell me the truth about what she did.

We have been married for 31 years and for many years prior to the first disclosure, I know she was unhappy but she would not tell me how she felt or how I could help. I was very frustrated, as I felt rejected, attacked, and after several years of this, I just started pulling away too. Prior to her infidelity, I would ask her time and time again what was wrong and she would be dishonest and tell me nothing was wrong. We both knew she was not telling me the truth about how she felt but she refused to tell. So we were left waiting for the bomb to explode. I know that I could have been a better husband, but she could have also been a better wife. That's no excuse for infidelity. It take two people both committed to a marriage.

Things are much much better now, and after a few days from being divorced, we started talking again when she decided to be honest. We haven't healed completely but we both now have hope for a brighter future.

true

My husband and I have been married 30 years, 33 together years. High School sweethearts. I have been in an affair off and on now with the same man, the past year and a half, regularly. My husband doesn't know anything about it. I love my husband, no intention of leaving him. He is a good man, we are both followers of Christ. I hate myself and want to end the affair. My husband adores me, my friends are envious of our marriage. Why am I doing this? Because I was looking for attention. Things began to get complacent. The man was my friend first, for 4 years, NEVER did I believe I would ever do this, never. It's so easy to judge people until it happens to you. Now I understand how easy it is to leap into that pit. Lack of communication is the biggest killer in a marriage. The man I'm involved with started as a friend and now i want to get out, but now I've let my emotions get in the way. No excuse for having an affair, I'm just speaking from the cheaters heart. I'm slowly
dying, but I know my God loves me and He is giving me the strength to do what I need to do.

Common Theme

I am a betrayed husband. Difficult as it is to admit, this is what my wife would say AFTER she had the affair and got caught. But is it the real reason it happened at the time? Or is it revising history. Guarantee a lot of that went on in my case. No doubt my wife experienced chemical/emotional changes and developed a strong "girls just want to have fun" attitude. If they had Facebook in 1885 that woman would have been having a blast! Wasn't so fun for me though having to carry the load around the house and care for elderly sick parents, etc.. The lies, deceit and contempt were sickening. I can give a laundry list of fun things we were doing and places we were going, but it wasn't fun enough.

I think this site is great though, and has been one of the best for me to understand the dynamics. I hope part 2 brings this back into the arena of own up to and be accountable for your own actions. Invest the time and energy in your current commitment, don't break your vows and ruin peoples lives.

Common Theme - Wasn't fun enough

I am the betrayed wife, but definitely related to your sentiments about not being fun enough. He was off traveling and having affairs with three different women who worked for him.....drinking, traveling, entertaining. When he was at home we hiked and vacationed and had fun with the children, but I had no idea I wasn't fun enough. We had sex weekly...but not enough. Everything was always pushed to the very breaking limit....nothing was ever good enough. Always had to be better....faster....more. Never enough. He told me he loved me over a dozen times a day and like you by reading the texts you would have thought everything was fine. Great FUN TIME guy......for whomever he was around. He ruined my life and our daughters.....but boy was he having fun.

Why she cheats

I must've missed something in the explanation of why women cheat. What happens when you have no clue. You still love them very much and didn't have a clue. He wasn't being neglectful nor putting anything or anybody before her. She was telling him she loved him and reading their texts to each other you would never realize their was any issue. Yet she cheats anyways. She claims that her going through menopause was a contributing factor. She also wanted to feel attractive again. Even though she was constantly told how beautiful I thought she was and is. Also rarely if ever did a day go by when I didn't tell her that I love her. No, there were no warning signs. At least none that man who trusts his wife would pick up on. After it came to light I could see somethings clearer.

Does this apply if she was

Does this apply if she was having an affair before marriage? Then more and more of the double life revealed 14 years in another affair? The secret life that was before and during the marriage? What about a maniputive person that you have uncovered and the mask has slipped? That they weren't the person they said they were and you have woken up and revealed multiple affairs that happened with the last boyfriend? The same patterns with previous partners? Do we as men and the betrayed somehow take responsibility for that? Is there a certain female this applies too and a certain female that it doesn't? I have been told that I have been deceived and that my wife was never the person she pretended to be. This information is used by the certain unfaithful spouses for manipulation in my opinion. Careful to certain followers that you aren't held responsible for things that were never as they seemed.

Precisely my experience as

Precisely my experience as well.
I think that the reasons presented here do indeed apply to some but certainly not to all.
My husband has never been faithful to any woman whom he has been involved with longer than 3 - 6 months. His second marriage ended when he began an affair during the anniversary month celebrating his first year of marriage - at that was at least his second affair on that wife.
I suppose I should feel accomplished in that he didn't have his first affair on me until we had been together 2 1/2 years (LOL)
My husband's wounds go far deeper than anything which can be encapsulated in one or two sentences and he certainly presented himself as someone he wasn't in order for me to have an interest in him. Like you, I was married to someone who never existed - I was married to a facade, a simulcrum, a fictated persona; someone who my husband perhaps would have liked to have been but certainly not someone whom he ever was.

Rick, what's your point

At home you were dull, tired, and commonplace.
You housed me, fed me, clothed me; you were kind;
But oh, so blind, so blind.
You could not, would not, see my woman's need
Of small attentions; and you gave no heed
When I complained of loneliness; you said
"A man must think about his daily bread
And not waste time in empty social life--
He leaves that sort of duty to his wife
And pays her bills, and lets her have her way,
And feels she should be satisfied."

As a woman who has been betrayed, I take offense at the insinuation that this poem and reflection would somehow help guard me from the path of infidelity. Although I absolutely realize we are all human and capable of such behavior, if you think for one minute that those of us who have experienced infidelity haven't already lived the reality of abandonment, neglect and loneliness, you're crazy. I have been the woman "housed, fed, and clothed" yet left outside of my husband's inner emotional circle, and I STILL chose to remain faithful, as I'm sure was the experience of most of the betrayed women out there. I can't speak for the men who were betrayed, but for many of the betrayed women I have spoken to, we are only too well aware of this dynamic of disinvestment and yet we are the ones who continued to work and pray and support our husbands and be faithful, only later finding out that what we thought was consumption with work, career, money, perhaps boredom in the marriage was actually something we never could have fathomed: infidelity. So I'm not sure what you think most of the women reading this would learn that they don't already know. And as to the previous writer's question about whether there are just different kinds of people who respond differently to such situations, is there anything to that?

I agree with you. I too for

I agree with you. I too for many years held onto the hope that whatever we were going through would pass and made the choice to remain faithful. I was completely neglected and rejected and given no love or support for years. Then to find out that this was being given to someone else. This had been promised to me, not her. So in response to your comment that you and I stayed faithful, it shows who we are as true women. We are strong and faithful people who are not selfish. We chose to do what was right only to be destroyed. It sucks!

Betrayed yet faithful

I agree with you ladies on the fact that we have the same feelings of loneliness and neglect.
I too have remained faithful to my husband who cheated on me. But let’s not forget that although it appears our commitment is to our husbands, for those of us who subscribe to faith, it’s first and foremost to God. If we believe what he says, he has a greater reward For us than a good and loving husband. God promises us that we WILL suffer in our life , for a little while and after that he will restore us and make us fit for His kingdom.
That is our hope ladies- again for those who believe in God, he has something better for us than we can imagine.
Cling to Him during this horrible time in your
Life. He is Close to the broken-hearted -Psalm 34:18.
Remember also, that Satan is close and ready
Too pounce on us and solidify the bitterness that can come when going no through this.
But God is going to use this pain for his glory and essentially our good.
God bless You

I agree

I agree, Robert, as a betrayed husband that I have to really, really direct my mind and heart toward Christ during this time of immense pain since discovering my wife's 2-year emotional affair and it has been 2-plus years since discovery and there is still so much disconnect. This disconnect -- even though she says she gives it over to God daily to stay in our relationship -- I have to constantly battle Satan being close and ready to increase bitterness and resentment in my heart to what I see as a distant and uncaring wife. I know I wasn't a perfect husband, but to have to expose the affair and bring it out in the open was the hardest realization I have ever had in my life and the daily pain is so incredible it is hard to move forward at times.

I’m in the same boat

I did everything to be the best wife to my husband. For years and years I foolishly believed in and followed relationship and marriage rules in books that were supposed to keep this deep pain away from my heart...always doing extra for him and making sure he knew how much he was loved so we could have a wonderful marriage and keep faithful to one another. He is an introvert so him not responding to my efforts was the norm. I have never given up on him. I have been by his side through it all making sure he knows he has a loyal and loving partner, but often I feel so alone. It is very hard but marriage isn’t supposed to be easy right? I remain faithful even though I have had opportunity not to be through all of these years. I stay true to him for us. And for our family as a whole. I realize how hurt everyone would be if I ever strayed and that my integrity would dissolve in an instant. My word would be worthless. Why couldn’t he do the same for me? Why wasn’t our children and I worth the same effort on his part? He could have opened up and helped me make our relationship less one sided..do for me like I have done for him so often. I think you hit the nail on the head in your reply. Selfishness. Selfishness is the only “reason” for infidelity. Nothing else is the “cause”.

How do I feel better??

I am struggling so badly. I totally agree with what both of you are saying. My husband had a two year affair with his high school girlfriend and I am the one paying the price. We didn't have a good marriage, but I kept trying and kept trying. I NEVER thought he would betray me with infidelity. It has been almost six months since I found out about the affair and I still feel as though it was yesterday. He says he wants nothing to do with her and has apologized. I just don't know how to get past the feeling that he is still talking to her. I was so blindsided the first time, even though looking back now, there were so many things that I just let go when I knew, deep in my heart, what it all meant. How do people move on and start to feel better? Is it all up to me or does he have to have some part in it other than just telling me that he will not do this again. I can't believe what he says since he lied for two years and betrayed me so deeply. She lives in another state, but did come here in April and they were together the entire weekend, including having sex. He says it was a mistake and doesn't want to even talk to her again, but he never told her it was over so I still do not feel safe that this will not happen again. Not sure where to go from here, just feel as though this is how I will feel for the rest of my life.....

Don't have the answers. Looking for them also

I'm over 3 years now since I found out my wife was having an affair. We've been together since the summer I graduated high school. "1989" it's been rocky for sure many times, but I wasn't prepared for infidelity. I still struggle every day. Any day could be my last. I wish I'd found this site 3 years ago. So much pain. It's the only real hope I have left. Hopefully you, I and many others will find peace someday with the help of AR.

Dcabbarno,

Dcabbarno,
I usually don't respond to many things I read, but I felt an overwhelming inclination to respond to you. I was betrayed by my husband of 26 years (at the time of discovery). That was 3 1/2 years ago. Things have improved for us, but I still struggle to stay in our marriage. My best advice would be to listen to that inner voice that speaks to you. We place our total trust in our mates and totally ignore the very thing that God placed in us to inform us when something is awry. Please be concerned about your healing. If your husband really wants his marriage, he must step outside of his self-centeredness and make investments in both his and your healing. He has made the relationship unsafe for you and if you need confirmation that he has ended his indiscretions tell him what would make you feel safe with him. If he refuses to give you what you need and continues to make everything about him, then change has not taken place! People who project themselves as one way and secretly live another are troubled within. If he never makes changes to become a person confident in who he is and gains integrity, chances are he is more likely to continue his destructive patterns. I pray you'll find the path for your complete restoration and healing. I know my husband's indiscretions has led me down a path to a better, stronger, more integral, and wiser me!

I agree!!

I agree with you two ladies. I, too, made a decision to marry a man who purposefully chose NOT to dissclose his sexual addiction. 10 long years I prayed for God to show me what was so wrong with my miserable marriage. He chose to lie..over and over and over. One day his heart opened and my husband had hit bottom...he was very remorseful about what he had been doing. We chose to stay and work on the relationship....glad I did!! He really is a jewel underneath all the garbage he heaped upon himself. Its been 24 years since D day....I finally learned about 5 years ago that all the trauma brought on PTSD (or otherwise known as PISD). But the point is I lived lonely..but married. Nothing he dished out would make it okay to cheat on him. Choices bring blessing or consequences...if we would be so mindful about all the choices we make..own up to them...take full responsibility for them.

Your comment could have been

Your comment could have been said by me !! 35 years of doing EVERYTHING to make everyone in my family’s lives great my “wonderful “ husband had an affair with a younger version (co-worker, surprise surprise). Now what do I have? Big empty house, kids all grown and in their own. I’m clothes and fed but all alone. What a waste of all my hard work. Gone are the plans of our future. The RAGE consumes me but I’m supposed the “get over it”.

My husband

This is my life he had an affair with a co worker too younger version and its going on 3 yrs and I'm still can't get over its so hard but hang on to Gods hands we have a long road to travel 32 yrs of marriage disappear like That I just walk through the motion daily

Excuses for cheating?

Yes, it's like she is also using excuses about her husband to justify her infidelity. I'm sorry, but you did such and such just doesn't work for me!

Where was he insinuating that

Where was he insinuating that this would help anyone avoid the path of infidelity? He was just stating why one woman said she was unfaithful. Rick is saying that there is no excuse for being unfaithful.

Insinuating here

Where he says this:

"I also hope this series will serve as a warning sign for those who have actually been betrayed, but are also at risk for acting out with an affair of their own."

Agree

I'm a betrayed husband. I thought he was just giving insight into what the wife may need to keep in mind, but also what the husband needs to know about his way of living life that could cause those feelings, that could lead someone down the wrong path

I am grateful for this timely warning

As a woman who was betrayed, I'm immensely grateful for what Rick said. Probably because I'm in danger of being this woman. I have been ignored, clothed and fed and barely acknowledged. It doesn't show any signs of getting better. Now there is a man who has come into my life who believes in me, who listens to me. And the temptation to talk to him, to reach out and be seen, is growing strong. This reminder that indulging this desire will lead to shame and guilt, not fulfillment or contentment,is very timely.

Assumptions

While I certainly understand the sentiment, as I am a betrayed husband, or should I say ex-husband, this is like twisting the knife that is already well lodged in my heart. I wake to the pain of my failures as a husband every day, as I see the empty space in the bed where my wife used to lie. I hear that failure every time my children ask why their mother can't come back. I see that failure every time I show up at a lot luck with tortilla chips and salsa, again. No doubt I had a role in the breakdown of my marriage, and the loneliness that my wife felt. However, I too was alone, feeling unloved, and unappreciated. What I wouldn't have given to just hear, "Hey, I'm having a seriously hard time in our marriage, and I am at a breaking point. I really want us to get some help."

This poem is just a reminder of the rationalizations and delusions that I was bombarded with, and are demons that haunt me every day.

Truth

I agree

She's a good writer but her frilly words offer no justification!

Infidelity is a choice, not a pity party. I agree with the other comments-- I am a woman who was married to a cold narcissist for 20 years. I was lonely, I was neglected, I put his needs before my own every day. I felt empty, alone, and I felt that something must be wrong with me. We grew apart, but that will happen when a spouse puts another person between your marriage. To say I was devastated to find out "Mr. Faithful" had several affairs, the last culminating in a child, is an understatement. It is two years since "D-Day", and I am still shell-shocked. Despite all that I was missing in my marriage, I remained loyal. Just because a woman (or man) is lonely and feels neglected is no green light for an affair. I hear no violins for the poet. She sounds just like my ex-husband trying to justify what he did.

Right on

Betrayed husband. Over the last 28 years, our relationship has been very hard at times. ..still no excuse. As unhappy as I've been many times I've stayed loyal. ...even the 3 years after finding out we weren't both loyal :-(

I hear you

Totally understand, Cudatango. I was going through some extremely hard times battling unemployment during a few years and I found out that I overwhelmed my wife during this time period. She gave me no warning that she was drifting from our marriage, never said we needed to go to counseling or get help from another couple or anything. Just like you, over the 20-plus years of our marriage I was also unhappy and lonely in our relationship but remained faithful, so I think it is major BS for any spouse to play the "excuse" card. There is always a choice to be made.

I know Rick was just the messenger

Just want to clarify that I do not think Rick was offering a justification. He clearly states that there is no reason for infidelity. He was just shedding light on why some women justify cheating. My comment speaks to those women.

Agreed

I believe that too

Why she cheats

For years I was the devoted wife to my cherished husband since right out of high school. The love of my life. Then as he became more successful in his career, he became more critical of me and picked up a drinking problem. But still he was my rock, my best friend. I thought. Until I discovered his years of a double life at age 50. Years of hookers, strip clubs, affairs, gay affairs, lies and gas-lighting to my face every day. My marriage was a lie. He made it financially impossible to leave. Do I believe God has this in store for me? No, I can't believe he does. I don't think this man deserves my loyalty anymore. He virtually destroyed my life.

Rewrite

Lots of comments here, most of them unsupportive of the woman writing the letter. I'll pile on.

Betrayed husband here, still trying to learn to trust 4 years after. My wife could have written that letter. I heard much of the same - AFTER - I discovered the infidelity - NOT BEFORE. These justifications and reasons spewed out amongst continued lies, deceit, contempt and rewrite of marital history. It was denial, self defense, blame-shifting.

Our marriage was not perfect, no. But it was really really good. Most would have envied us and did. Good kids, good living, fun times as family. When menopause, empty-nester syndrome, mid-life crisis, self-absorption and social media obsession led her back to her high school boyfriend of 25 years ago, what little self-control she had left vanished. It was over. Never again can I feel 100% trust, 100% loyalty, 100% faith in our marriage.

Most people who cheat have to write their story like this woman did (cognitive distortion) to maintain some sense of self-worth and self respect, in my opinion.

Why? you all ask and want to know.

Isn't the point of this post WHY? Why did they do it? How could this happen? Isn't this the million dollar question?
Anyone betrayed wants to know why. Rick's point here is not to offer an excuse or justification for the betrayer, but to shed light into that million dollar question. Why?
I was the cheating spouse. 5 years ago I had a 3 month affair. Why did I do it? I could say something similar to the poem. But that doesn't matter. I can tell you how I was feeling prior to the affair. But that doesn't matter. I made the wrong choice, I chose the wrong path to deal with my feelings of neglect, or worthlessness, or loneliness...or whatever. But it doesn't matter. I can tell you how I felt and what I was feeling when it happened, that I was hurting inside. But it doesn't matter. It's not what you want to hear. You ask me to explain and I do. But then that becomes my 'justification' or my 'excuse.' Or maybe you feel that I am trying to shift the blame on you, the betrayed?
No. It's an explanation of feelings. You asked and wanted to know. There is no excuse or justification - cheating is the wrong choice in any situation. I don't have an excuse and I don't blame my husband. I made bad choices when I was hurting. (4 solid yrs of counseling have helped me regain the strength I threw away) Most of you reading this as the betrayed can say, 'I was hurting or lonely or whatever too, but I remained faithful.' Good for you because you have that strength, honor and integrity. I did not. But you asked why? The answer is that I lost my strength, honor and integrity. I was weak. But if you want to understand and try to heal, when you ask the question why - then listen to the answer. It won't be what you want to hear.
But the point is- you asked. So listen. If you want to know, listen. Is it painful to hear? Yes, but if you ask and you truly want to know, listen and hear what is said. If you want to throw the answer you get back at your unfaithful spouse and only hear them trying to justify or make an excuse, then you don't really want to hear why. There will never be a good or acceptable answer to that question. But if you truly want to know and heal, listen to what is said. There is never a justification for cheating, but there are reasons. They will all be weak reasons no matter what. But you can take those reasons and work together to go beyond, if you choose.

Fair Point

Fair point JA. A lot though depends on how the answers are delivered. Voluntary disclosure with remorse? Or drug out kicking and screaming with contempt? With sincerity, empathy and goal of mutual understanding? Or with impatience, minimization, hostility and goal of shutting down the discussion and shutting up the one asking. Just saying, I've seen both and the delivery immensely affects the message.

Thank you

I wanted to say thank you for this. As a betrayed spouse, this was one of the trickiest parts of recovery for me: learning to listen to valid points and feelings while understanding that the actions resulting from those feelings were choices. Its good to be reminded.

I totally get you. You see I

I totally get you. You see I had affair at the time my husband was recovering from a surgery. We were having diffcuties before that. I felt like every time I wanted to talk to him he just dismiss me which made me feel insecure in myself. I just shut down even though he said to get help because I felt like it wouldn't do any good he won't change. Just from some of his statements he make when I would talk about things that bothered me. I wasn't giving him sex regularly so he went out and got it that why he had to have surgery cause he hurt himself trying to look overly fit. I try to explain myself and tell him how I felt insecure and that he didn't care about my feelings but he calls me names and how could I do that when he was in the shape he was. My affair was 14 months with same guy can't believe I did this I really am angry at myself more than my husband thinks. Well as soon as he recovered he continued to have affairs even after mine stopped. I did take care of him during that time not faithful but I didn't not help him. I ended my affair because I did love my husband and I didn't like myself even more I just lack courage to end it sooner. I was like well this is just husband I love him even if he don't always listen. I can't believe I let myself get weak. My husband calls me all sorts names but I know I made huge mistake and am sorry. I hurt him and I wish to make it right. He tells me he wants me but needs to know why I tell him and he says not good enough. Idk what to do I love him and wish he wasn't talking to women. He says it because of what I did all of it even his side. He says he wants space and wants me to move out. I really just want to be with him even though he doing what he is doing and testing me like garbage. I know this is just pain and hope that we can work out everything and stay together.