Why do people cheat?

It’s widely thought that cheating is all about the sex, but I disagree. Sex might be one reason, but there are many others including…stress level at home and work, age, personal emptiness, life lessons a person can’t get within the relationship, revenge, and sometimes, just plain curiosity.

My husband of seventeen years cheated. After much introspection, counseling, educating myself about affairs, even writing a book about our experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that his actions had more to do with where he was in his own life than our marriage. Did we have a perfect relationship? Of course not. There’s no such thing. So certainly, the weaknesses in our marriage played a part, but they weren’t the biggest cause of what happened.

What was? Well for one thing, we found that the marriage certificate was actually hurting our relationship. Both of us came from very controlling backgrounds and after a while, all of the “rules” began to get in the way of our love. So he had an affair and we got a divorce, which took us out of the grip of the rules, and lo and behold, our love began to flourish. Instead of “until death do us part,” we came up with our own agreement as to how we would be together. A way that works for us. If or when our agreement stops working, we will revisit it and change it so that it fits how we’ve grown.

Another reason was that my husband had things to learn that our marriage couldn’t provide. He needed to explore outside of our relationship in order to learn these things. Add to the list of causes, a pattern we established early on: I helped him too much with his emotional life, which led to his feeling too dependent, and me feeling worn out. The cheating helped me to realize just how destructive that pattern was to both of us, and gave me the impetus to change it. Today we are happily divorced and together.

Our new level of being together did not come instantly. In fact it happened over a period of time (years) with both of us doing our personal growth work in order to gain the wisdom and insights that have allowed us to go deeper with each other. I think when cheating happens, it’s not a good idea to just “cut your losses and run.” There is a lot to learn from the situation, and an impulsive decision just might bring regrets down the line. Others can look really good when everything is brand spanking new. But after a little time, things change and you might realize that you didn’t have it so bad after all. You might even realize that you had it really good, but didn’t appreciate it. And that might be one of the greatest lessons coming from the situation—appreciate what you have, instead of always thinking there’s a greener pasture somewhere out there. And in fact, that was one of my husband’s great lessons.

Has your partner cheated on you? Did you cut him/her out of your life? Are you still together? What lessons did you learn from the whole thing? I would love to hear from you.

Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, to learn how my husband and I got through our crisis and made our bond ever stronger.  You can buy it on Kindle worldwide from all Amazon websites, including www.amazon.com

 

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