I have a blog where I share the story of how my marriage survived my husband’s affair. Often, I’m contacted by skeptical women who want to know “do or can husbands still love their wives after an affair, or are they just saying that because they’ve been caught” or “how can he love me and still cheat, because these two things can’t exist together.”
I’ve done a lot of research on this topic through my own experience and through counseling, and I do have husbands who have cheated contact me on how to save their marriages, so I believe that I have a firm understanding on why husbands cheat and how they can still love their wives after and during infidelity. I will explain how this can be true in this article.
Why Husbands Really Cheat: I used to assume that affairs had everything to do with sex, restoring a man’s feeling of youth or attractiveness, or because men weren’t satisfied with their marriages. I was very shocked to find out that this is rarely the case.
There is a pretty well known infidelity study which shows that men overwhelmingly cheat for emotional rather than physical reasons (meaning it’s less about sex and more about feeling understood and valued.) And, I must tell you that this is confirmed from the men who contact me. I so often hear “I just wanted someone to “get me” or appreciate me,” or “I just wanted to feel desired again.”
Most times, I’ll ask “well, why in the world didn’t you ask this of your wife,” and they will usually answer something like, “I tried, but she’s too busy,” or “I didn’t want to make more demands on her.” I know this probably sounds crazy to you, because it does to me as well. But, understand that men and husbands are often awful communicators. Sometimes, they don’t even understand or fully process their own feelings, much less being able to accurately and properly communicate them. This doesn’t in any diminish their huge mistake, but this is their thought process.
The truth is, there are many reasons that husbands cheat, but most commonly, a man is seeking something that he feels has been lost, and often times, he’s trying to reclaim feelings of being worthy, attractive, and competent. So, although I know it can be very hard to believe, it’s less about you (or even her) and more about him. It’s his shortcoming, not yours. (Note that some men are thrill seekers who use risky behavior to feel worthwhile. This type is often a serial cheater. I’m not referring to these men in this article. I’m referring to the husbands who faltered once, deeply regret it, and won’t repeat it.)
How Husbands Can Still Love Their Wives During And After An Affair Or Infidelity: You should know that the overwhelming majority of men never waiver on their love for their wives. They are able to compartmentalize and see the two things as distinctly separate in a way that I probably never could. And, very often, they actually think they are solving their problems on their own and sparing you the bother. Often, they think that (and desperately hope) that you will never find out.
And the previously mentioned study (and my experience) indicates that they are overwhelmingly (over 90%) desperately sorry about their affair and wish they could take it all back. Of course, they can’t. But, so many of them contact me and want to know how they can “make it up to” their wives or “prove to” their wives that they are sorry, still love her, and want very much to save their marriages.
Know That Marriages, Can And Do Survive Affairs And Infidelity: So many women who contact me assume that I am somehow overly forgiving, overly sensible, or have some special skills. I’m not and I don’t. I struggled for a very long time with whether or not I wanted to, or was capable of, saving my marriage after my husband’s affair. There was many months when I would commit to being open to my husband, only to rage at him and close myself off hours later. My mood swings troubled me, but I now know that they were normal.
Eventually though, I learned that I needed to work on myself, and my own self esteem, to fully believe that I was worthy of my husband’s love and that I deserved (and would demand) some changes in my marriage. However, I also learned that I was participating in many behaviors that was closing me off and leaving my marriage vulnerable. Once I worked on myself, I had the confidence and conviction that I was ready to move forward.
The truth is, an affair can show you where you need to improve your marriage. My husband is a much better communicator and I’m much better at showing and giving affection. This has been a win / win. My self esteem is actually better now than the day I got married. We are closer than we’ve ever been. I can’t honestly say that I don’t wish the affair never happened, but it did provide a wake up call for us and our marriage is more fulfilling as a result.
At the end of the day though, the choice is really yours. In the end, I chose to make a conscious decision that my marriage and my life was more important and lasting than just one mistake. My husband hung in there and so do I, but every one is different.