First off, this article is NOT meant to let men off the hook. Or that it’s only men who have grievances against their spouses. Or that only men are susceptible to affairs. Not true. I hope some Former Cheating Female writes something similar from the female POV. Truly. I just wouldn’t be qualified to do so. That being said….this is a topic I’ve thought long about, based on what I’ve seen on blogs, read in books, and heard in a roundabout way from a variety of on-line therapists and psychologists. What is the common thread for why most men cheat?
Because their wives are no longer their ‘girlfriends.’
Now, before some of you have a knee-jerk reaction and jump all over me, pounding your keyboards silly in response, “BUT WIVES ARE NOT TO BLAME FOR WHY SOME MEN HAVE AFFAIRS, YOU NUMBSKULL!!!”, take a moment and read below. And read other parts of my blog. I’ve never said that anyone who has an affair is anything but 100% responsible for their own actions — they are! And the reasons for an affair are not the same thing as an excuse for having one. Having affairs is not justified and is not the answer to marital problems. I’ve said it over and over again.
However, what is clear from a wide range of psychologists and other experts on the subject is that critical unmet needs in a marriage/committed relationship create emotional distance and a dangerous vacuum and sometimes the reaction is to get those needs met elsewhere. Pretty simple, really. Powerful concept, when properly understood. Nobody is 100% happy all the time and that’s not what it means – but needs that are so critical to someone aren’t being met consistently and over the long-term in a marriage/relationship, frequently, those needs WILL get met. Yes, some will quietly and sadly accept their fate and deal with it. Others will just walk out. And some have affairs to get them met. So let’s put that aside. I would refer to the reader to other articles I’ve posted about affairs on my site to debate this point.
So we’re not talking about sex addicts and serial cheaters here. They are their own class and will cheat if given the opportunity, no matter what’s going on in their relationships or marriage. But they are the minority. No, what we’re talking about is the majority of cheaters who strayed because of extreme unhappiness in their marriage due to long-term, unmet critical emotional needs.
I am only going to speak of men here, because I “are one.”
But that said…what is the common thread for men that cheat that I’ve gleaned from reading dozens of blogs, books, and listening on the radio? What is that one thing — that one absolute truth — that jumps out at me as why a lot of men stray from their wives (including me)?
That their wives were no longer their girlfriend. That they became something else after marriage. The men no longer feel appreciated, wanted, understood, and yes, DESIRED! It might be a cliche that women seem to lose interest in sex after marriage — but it’s a cliche because in too many cases it appears to be true. FOR WHATEVER REASON (I’m not blaming any gender here in particular — each situation is different – so I’m dealing with generalities).
Old joke here: Q: What food cures nympho-mania? A: Wedding cake.
Your “girlfriend” was always interested in sex. She wanted it and was plain she wanted you. Do you remember how when you saw each other, you couldn’t wait to get each others’ clothes off? How you “did it” in the car sometimes? Or you gave oral without being asked to? In fact, you acted like it was the most amazing thing on earth? She dressed like she cared what you thought and to flatter herself and her figure. All the time.
And now? What once was a cute, snug top with a pair of flattering hip-hugger jeans, with some cute little matching panty and bra set from VS’s….now has turned into granny panties underneath sweats. Sweet, flirty and loving messages sent back and forth all day by text when dating are now nonexistent, or worse, are instead comprised of a list of “chores” you’re expected to do, and direct or indirect criticisms.
And sex….What I hear from a lot of men — including friends who are married but unhappy — is how their wives range anywhere from only semi-interested in sex now to not interested at all. And how much this hurts them to feel this sort of rejection of them as men and sexual beings. Yes, it IS rejection. It’s like your wife giving you the finger concerning something that IS emotionally-based and part and parcel of your identity. A cold rejection of something that I truly believe is the glue in a marriage or a relationship — not “everything”, but critical. A leg on a bar stool. Nobody likes to feel undesired, unattractive and undesirable. It’s an utter and complete rejection.
But it’s not just sex I’m talking about here. Many men miss the dates. The fun. The shared interests and hobbies. The emotional intimacy they had with their wives when they were girlfriends. How they and their relationship was the central part of each others’ lives, not far down on the list of priorities. “Us” was the priority.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger wrote a whole book that I think goes to this point — “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” (or something like that). It was a best seller. It pointed out obvious truisms if you want to make a married man a happily married man and your marriage “affair-proof”. Some sneer at it, but gosh, who WOULDN’T want to the “keys” to how to make your spouse happy? This is just one book. There are many. This one sold a ton.
You will find a lot of resources on how men fall short in marriages that tend to drive their wives away from them. Tons of resources. I am speaking only as a male, a husband, a former cheater. So do not take this as a sexist treatise. Both genders have much to learn. As a generation, we generally suck as marital partners — both sides. But I think I could relate to this concept.
Looking back, my OW was my “girlfriend” — filling all those roles that my wife had long abandoned. And sure, I was no longer my wife’s “boyfriend”. I was becoming resentful. Distant. We weren’t openly fighting, but I was disengaged — from her, from her needs, from our lives. I was going through the motions. Fulfilling my duties. Having fun mostly without her (hobbies, etc). A huge chasm opened up between us. We weren’t anything like the promise our wedding day held.
And you see where that ended up for us last year. Not good.
I now have my ‘girlfriend’ back. My wife and I “date” again. We have fun. We are sharing hobbies, not having separate ones. Sex is a priority, frequent, active and inspired. It’s anything but rote and predictable now, as it was for so many years. We spend a lot of time talking and listening to each other. We now both feel “heard,” “appreciated,” and “understood”, as well as “desired.”
Like we did when we were dating. Before kids. Before a mountain of other responsibilities. Before resentments on both sides started to erode our intimacy.
It makes all the difference in the world to man to have his wife be his “girlfriend” again. A simple, yet powerful concept that would “affair-proof” a lot of marriages out there.
- From a Mistress, Advice for Wives (happolatismiscellany.wordpress.com)
- 8 Top reasons why men cheat (insightnewspaper.wordpress.com)
- Dating your Husband (www.sheknows.com)
- Make Time For Breakthrough In Your Marriage (menofredemption.wordpress.com)
- Why Men Screw Up (kikirichcreek.wordpress.com)
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