Hello faithful followers!
Today’s blog is in respond to Meg’s comments to my blog: Wedding Bands, Vows & Infidelity!
We all have heard the reasons why married men who cheat find the sex with these forbidden relationships exciting. But is sex the only reason why men cheat? According to some men, it is not always because of sex. Often what men are lacking in a relationship is often what woman are lacking; the emotional bond and the need to know and feel that, “I matter in this person’s life.” A husband may question his role by asking, “What is my purpose in this relationship?” A man needs to know that he has some meaning; a purpose for being; and if the answer is not apparent, he will ultimately go elsewhere. This is especially true when he is doing all the right things: being the good husband; the attentive father; the proud provider; and coming home every night. When all of his needs are being met, a grown, mature man is not going to cheat. I also believe that for every married man who cheats with the other-woman, there is a man out there who is committed and happy and loves his wife. The lack of attention from a woman, or a woman who fails to show her husband that she loves him, makes a man feel obsolete or that he does not have any purpose. He will naturally seek validation from another woman.
Some men are prone to cheat as if it is second nature to them. You can pay attention in doing all the right things to keep your man happy and no matter what you do, greedily he will still want more from another woman. A wife may feel she has every right not to forgive her husband, and forgiving him is easier said than done. However, to be unforgiving means to live in the bitterness, hatred, and the anger entrapped within one’s self. It is a form of self-punishment and being unforgiving has a direct effect on your mental and physical well-being. Forgiveness is healing, whereas un-forgiveness dims the light in you, which stagnates your living. Forgiveness releases you from reliving all the wrong that has been done to you over and over again, helping you to move on and live more brightly. An individual’s capacity to forgive can be difficult in repeated patterns of offensive behavior such as chronic cheating or a long-term affair. Remember that forgiving doesn’t mean you are required to allow someone back into your life. If the person is worthy, and you desire their presence in your life, forgiveness must be gifted as an absolute. You may feel it is difficult to put all that has happened behind you and out of your mind. That’s okay: This is a natural response of the human condition. Forgiving doesn’t require self-induced amnesia on your part, but by forgiving, you make the decision not to use someone’s past against them.
Women are more capable of forgiveness than men, and are more likely to forgive instances of cheating while men are intolerant of forgiving a single indiscretion. There are men who will cheat for no other purpose than cheating–risking all that is important as if they are confident about their cheating. Could it be they know their wives will forgive and take them back in time? Could it be they know they are in is no real danger of being banished forever…just hysterical crying and screaming, angry veil threats, and maybe a few nights on the couch?
Most women, in time, will forgive and take a cheating husband back. One thing he can bet on is your memory of his infidelity. It will be long and no, you will not easily forget his betrayal. But you will forgive him although if the tables were turned, husbands do not tend to be so forgiving. This age-old double standard has plagued the roles of men and women for generations. If a man cheats…well, it happens. He is just being a man. When a woman cheats, she is viewed as lacking virtue, a harlot, and this act is unforgivable, especially by the man in her life. In general women are most likely to forgive cheating and infidelity more so than men.
As the wife, you’ve been taught or told to stand by your husband’s side and hold your marriage together! As women we understand the concepts of love, unspeakable devotion, and unwavering allegiance based on trust and loyalty. When a man cheats, he is fully aware of what the affair will do to you and how much it will hurt you. It is difficult to forgive and the heart wants to be unwilling to forgive anyone who has hurt you. It is like saying to the perpetrator, “it’s okay that you did me wrong.”
Just the same, keep in mind that although the husband says he is sorry and you say, “I forgive you,” it does not mean that the communication with the other woman is over. Especially if the relationship is ending only because you found out about it and demanded that he not see her again. Unless the other woman is a fatal attraction type, it is not logical to believe that they will stop being in each other’s life–even as friends.
If your husband is still seeing, or is resisting or fails to stop the affair with the other-woman after you have knowledge of his cheating, understand that aside from the common perception of sexual driven cheating, his desire for her may be emotional as well as sexual. Although most affairs are just about sex, the average amount of time spent during sex, according to research is a length of time between 3 and 13 minutes. A man who is in a long-term affair may not be risking his marriage to see the other woman for “just sex.” His persistence in the affair is satisfying some need that is not being met at home and at the same time, his remaining in the marriage may mean that it is also meeting a need as well.
The wife is in the unfortunate position of trying to find a way to win back her husband who is in love with the other woman. I know there appears to be an in-balance with the notion that a wife must compete to get her husband back from the other woman, but emotions are subject to giving, taking, and transitions. If he has fallen in love with her, you will have to fight (i.e., not in the physical sense) for him or totally risk losing him and your marriage falling apart. This may prove to be difficult and in the end, may not be worth the stress associated with trying to unplug his feelings for her. You could issue an ultimatum, but do not force his hand unless you are absolutely sure that:
1) You are prepared to follow through. Failing to follow through on what you state you will do weakens your position and lower your creditability in demanding change; and
2) You can live with the outcome if the ultimatum doesn’t go according to plans and back fires because it is taken seriously and he chooses the other woman.
If your husband has fallen in love with the other woman, getting him back will require work on your part. No matter how you may feel about the relationship between them, they may have developed real emotions for each other. It is not realistic to expect or believe him when he tells you that all communication and contact have been broken off. If they’ve had a long-term relationship understand that they history together, they have connected and of course developed a physical love for each other as well. I know how this may sound, but you will have to sermonize lovingly the incentives in being with you for his ending the affair with her. Make it known and understood that his affair with her must end and be certain of his acknowledgement and sincere agreement.
You can recover if the both of you want to save your marriage. You can recover through the rage, bitterness, and the reliving of the hurt and disappointments. All of these unpleasant feelings will persist for a time, but they can be managed. Just the same, believing him when he says that he will not see her again is not logical. Thinking otherwise will leave you living on edge worrying about his cheating track record and future cheating especially if you are forcing fidelity. This is what you are doing when you issue ultimatums, reprisals, including threats of having him followed, and coerced promises–you are forcing fidelity on his part. No one likes being forced to do something when the heart is not in it, especially when someone else has a part of that heart.
The wife of a cheating husband also told me that she has the passwords to her husband’s cell phone, email, laptop, and Facebook accounts, etc., as a way of keeping him honest and responsible to their marriage. Managing your husband’s accountability to your marriage by having access to all of his accounts passwords isn’t making him responsible; it is forcing fidelity. Supervising a husband in this manner will have the opposite effect and he will always want to break free. I once heard that the only thing that locks do is keep an honest person honest—that a thief will find a way to break into whatever he wants. This is exactly the same concept with trying to force fidelity in a marriage. If a husband wants to cheat, he will find a way including acquiring a secret, extra cell phone, and creating new secret email and social network accounts. You will not be able to thwart every clandestine opportunity that may come his way 24/7. Keeping him under your thumb by demanding to know his whereabouts at all times, all his comings and goings, and whom he had lunch with, is tantamount to treating him as if he is a little boy. You will not keep him if you treat him in this manner. If he did not admit to the affair and you know without a doubt he cheated, he may cheat again. If he admitted to the affair, chances are he wants to be forgiven and make amends. Is forgiving divine? I have no idea, but I do know that it is necessary. Some wives never let go and never forgive an affair that took place years ago. Redemption is a gift that you must learn to give and receive. You simply cannot make him pay for one egregious mistake for the rest of his life and your focus cannot be whether he continues to see the other woman.
As I will continue to say, in most cases he will have some form of contact. Your priority is saving your marriage and not attempting to police his behavior when he is not with you. If he sees that your attention is more about controlling him versus trusting him and mending your marriage, he will only push back in her [the other woman] direction. I am not saying to give him carte blanch to continue to see or even chat with the other woman as much or as often as he feels the need. On the contrary, you do not open the door to the hen house for the fox. What I am saying is do not make hammering him over the head about the affair and the likelihood of future cheating your life. If you want to make your marriage work, you have to forgive the affair, and forgive him. Easier said, I do understand, however you have to be a realist and create an atmosphere where your husband can also be a real and honest. In the beginning when you became aware of the affair, emotions are high and volatile. The husband, seeing and perhaps feeling the hurt he has caused you will react with the usual remorseful, perfunctory apology. He will beg for forgiveness and tell you that he does not want the marriage to end. He will say that the affair did not mean anything; it was just sex; and you are the one he really loves. Can you trust and believe that any of what he says is true? Can a man who has been involved continuously in a long-term love relationship with another woman truly not have any feelings for her? This is worth exploring so allow for sincerity and truthfulness without emotional outbursts so that you can get an honest answer…if that is what you want. Heartbreakingly, he may acknowledge that he no longer wants to be married to you. Without a doubt, it will hurt, but in the end, you will be happier knowing that you had no reason to fight for someone who no longer wanted a life with you.
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