Why People Cheat A couple of nights ago, David and I were sitting in an ice cream shop enjoying a quiet end to a beautiful evening when I noticed the song playing in the background. It was Johnny Cash singing, “Because you’re mine, I walk the line.” It’s been two and half years since D-day. Still, as I listened to the lyrics there it was again, that nagging question with no good answers. “So, why didn’t you?” I asked for what was probably the ten thousandth time. He didn’t have to ask me what I was talking about. Why didn’t he walk the line and remain faithful to me? And, like ten thousand times before he shook his head sadly and said, “I don’t know. I wish I did.” Whether you’re the betrayer or the hurt spouse, trying to understand why people cheat can be an infinity loop trapping you in an endless cycle of pain and frustration. In the face of wrong, people want to know who to blame, but when you’ve been betrayed by someone that you chose, you trusted, you believed in, blame becomes a lot more complicated. After I learned of David’s infidelity, I wondered what I had done to cause it. “Did he cheat because I wasn’t enough?” The pain of that thought was almost as bad as the pain of thinking his cheating was because something was wrong with him. If he was a loser, what did it say about me that I picked him? And that infinity loop wrapped my head in knots more nights than I care to remember. Eventually, I had to let it go and face the reality that there are no good answers to why people cheat. I’m not saying that there are no answers, just no good answers. Over time my husband began to understand how his own sense of failure and disappointment had played into his progressive sexual acting out and we both began to understand the situations that could lead him to relapse. These understandings have played an important role in our recovery; and for many couples in the midst of the trauma that an affair creates, knowing why people cheat can help them chart a path through recovery. Still, the answers uncovered won’t address the underlying pain and you can drive yourself crazy asking. That’s what I mean when I say there are no good answers. Eventually, I decided to let it go. It was like that scene in A Beautiful Mind when the schizophrenic mathematician John Nash, played by Russell Crowe, explains to a friend that he chooses to ignore the people that he continues to imagine. He says, “Like a diet of the mind, I choose not to indulge certain appetites.” That scene became a touch point for me. It didn’t happen all at once, but gradually I was able to see the question “Why did David cheat?” as an appetite that I cannot afford to indulge. It is like choosing not to eat a dish that makes me break out in hives – after feeling the pain once too often, it’s just not that hard to pass up. Still, sometimes if the right country song comes on, I find myself asking again. And sometimes it’s useful. Part of the trust that is growing between David and me is based on his promise to never tell me to “get over it.” He has promised to answer my questions about his infidelity for the rest of our marriage if I want. Sometimes I think I just need to make sure that promise is still true. When he answers me with authentic compassion and sorrow, I take a deep breath and relax. After all, the ice cream was great and I love Johnny Cash.