"Why did my husband cheat on me?" is the agonizing question that plagues betrayed wives. And we ask it for a good reason. You see, the reason why our husband cheated tells us everything about whether our marriage is salvageable or not.
Not every act of infidelity ends a marriage. Sometimes we feel that our husbands, deep down, are good people, or at least have some redeeming qualities worth working with or saving the relationship for. And other times, we feel the cheating was a deliberate attempt to hurt us and destroy the marriage. Or we come to realize that they are not the person we want to be with and know that it's better to end the marriage.
But before we decide whether we can work at our relationship after infidelity, we often find ourselves obsessed with wanting to know the answer to why they cheated. In this post, I want to look at some of the reasons why husbands cheat.
You Were Not the Reason Your Husband Cheated!
First, let me say that your husband’s choice to cheat was never your fault, so you must never accept blame or take responsibility for their actions. You did nothing to make them cheat. And while you may get some insights into why they did cheat on you, there was nothing you could have done to prevent them from cheating. You are not in control of their thoughts or actions; they are. So please never blame yourself or accept blame because cheating was not their only option; your husband had other choices.
A cheating husband must own their unfaithful actions and choices.
Sadly, men who cheat have already made justifiable reasons as to why they can commit adultery. Some husbands convince themselves that they are not cheating and if they didn't have sex, they therefore consider their emotional betrayal wasn't cheating. Still others make up the belief that cheating was their only logical option, like they had no other choice. However they spin it, cheating was a choice that they did not have to make. Your husband had many other logical possibilities, and no amount of excuses will change that fact.
When your husband cheated on you without your knowledge or permission, they broke their promise to remain emotionally and sexually exclusive with you. And this has caused you an enormous amount of suffering. Taking full responsibility for their actions and the suffering they have caused you is the first step in healing the relationship if it is possible to save. And this starts with them owning why they emotionally and/or sexually cheated on you.
Infidelity destroys safety and trust
When a cheating husband minimizes, rationalizes, or justifies their cheating, we don't feel safe. Lying, manipulating, and keeping secrets from us erodes trust in the very person who promised to keep us safe, our husband. A lack of safety makes healing the relationship impossible and has us cycling in a downward spiral of pain ongoingly. We will only feel safe when they consistently and honestly take accountability for themselves, their choices, and actions.
Why do husbands cheat on their wives?
While there could be one single reason for your husband cheating, several factors usually steer a husband toward infidelity. When they come to understand and own why they cheated, it can stop them from repeating the same patterns or behaviors that led them to cheat. Looking at the reasons why the betrayal happened can help you both see where they stepped outside of their integrity and commitment to the marriage and you.
Take a look at some of the main reasons why men cheat and ask yourself which of these fed into your husband's infidelity. Understanding why they cheated also helps us grieve the many losses infidelity causes.
Did your husband cheat because they are selfish?
There are people in this world who are just plain selfish. And a selfish husband, whose primary consideration is for himself, does not honor his commitment to his marriage and wife. Selfish husbands see their marriage and wife to be worked around and used for their own benefit. Husbands who are selfish, either don't have a moral standard or have a double standard, one for themselves and one for others.
A selfish husband will lie and keep secrets from his wife and rationalize acting out in order to do or get what they want. Some even married without the intention of ever being faithful to their wives. They cheat without remorse and readily invent stories to cover their asses.
Sadly, a selfish man knows that his actions will devastate his wife, yet he will still cheat. And to make matters worse, these types of men are experts at projecting onto their wives by accusing them of lying or being selfish. And when confronted with their cheating, they lash out instead of owning their behavior. It doesn't matter to a selfish husband that his wife will be traumatized by infidelity because their own self-centered wants always come first.
Did your husband cheat because he felt entitled?
Some husbands believe themselves to be above their wives. They feel that they are unique, special, different, and deserve special privileges. Therefore they don't think that their marriage vows apply to them, so they are free to do as they please.
Other husbands can feel that their partner is there for them whenever they want, regardless of how their wives feel. Men like this believe their wives should meet every whim or desire for them. And if their expectations don't get met, they look to someone else to meet them.
Entitled husbands who lack a commitment to their wives and the relationship seek to meet their own needs through affairs. They readily blame their wives for the fact they cheated by citing things like, she let herself go, they fell out of love, they needed a fling to spice up their sex life, they had a high sex drive, or that their marriage was dead and their wife boring in bed. Entitled and selfish men can justify cheating by blaming their wives.
Did your husband cheat because of a psychological issue?
Mental illness patients can be at a higher risk of cheating. Some pathological disorders cause a lack of empathy and cause one to feel entitled, self-centered, or be ego-driven. Having a personality disorder with impulsivity, unreliability, and undependability increases the chances of a husband being unfaithful.
Did your husband cheat because of childhood traumas?
Sadly there is a high correlation between unhealed childhood traumas and infidelity. And children who had a parent who cheated are twice as likely to cheat. If your husband had a traumatic experience as a child, cheating could have been how they were treating or comforting their attachment or intimacy wounds.
Did your husband cheat because they are insecure?
Feeling insecure is a vulnerability that puts us at risk of cheating on our partner. An important consideration as to whether we stay after we discover infidelity is to learn the story our husbands are telling themselves. Do they feel 'enough' in life? Do they believe they are handsome enough, financially secure enough, intelligent enough, entertaining enough, fit enough, exciting enough, or even too old or too young for us? It is not your fault if they feel unworthy or undesirable. But insecurities may have led them to compensate by seeking validation and attention from other women instead of you.
An insecure person often puts conditions on love and can only feel loved when these conditions get met. The danger here is that when insecure husbands feel unloved, they will look for love elsewhere. Most often this isn’t love at all, it is limerence.
Did your husband cheat because of a mid-life crisis?
A mid-life crisis, an acute sense of one's aging, can be the cause of looking for validation outside the relationship. These affairs can often result in a husband pursuing relationships with younger women, even the same age as their daughters. Reaching middle-age can be seen as life passing us by, or worse, questioning whether this is all there is in life instead of seeing it as a transitional season. If your husband feels insecure about moving from young to old, he may have sought to bolster his ego by proving that he is still virile and desirable.
And just in case you were wondering whether they cheated because you are getting older, know this isn't the case. Men who cheat around this milestone are insecure about themselves aging, not you!
Did your husband cheat because they wanted your attention?
Sometimes husbands cheat as a cry for help. They use the affair to force their wife into facing the problems in their marriage. Usually, you both know that the issues are there and either aren’t facing them or don't know how to fix them. Husbands who cheat like this often try to get caught because they want to bring the issues to the forefront. There were other ways of dealing with marital problems and they didn't need to cheat to get your attention.
Did your husband cheat to avoid conflict?
Some men cheat on their wives rather than address marital issues. Cheating to avoid conflict is a table turn on a husband who cheats to bring attention to problems in the marriage. These husbands fail to communicate honestly with their spouses and run away from problems rather than address them.
Did your husband purposefully cheat to hurt you?
Was your husband angry with you and deliberately wanting to hurt you by flaunting an affair in front of you? Or was he after revenge, so he wished the pain that cheating brought on you? Men who cheat for revenge or anger usually don't bother to hide or lie about their affairs because they want to be offensive and cause pain.
Did your husband cheat to end your marriage?
If your husband believed your marriage was a mistake or miserable, he might have cheated to end it purposefully. This is not a cry for help or to bring attention to unmet needs in the marriage; it is an exit strategy.
Some husbands lack the courage to tell their wives the truth, so they cheat instead. Others either set up a new relationship first, so they have an easy transition from one partner to the next, or they use a relationship with another woman as the excuse to leave. Leaving the marriage was the goal; cheating was the excuse to leave.
Did your husband cheat because of poor boundaries?
Poor boundaries in marriage increase the chance of cheating. These can range from unplanned opportunistic affairs, regular porn use without your knowledge, online infidelity, work trip affairs, one-night stands, visiting strip bars behind your back, or being a people pleaser, keeping a female friendship a secret, and finding it hard to say no. Without knowing what your marital boundaries are, and what cheating means to you, your husband can start down a slippery slope into adultery.
Did your husband cheat because they were immature?
Immature men cheat on their wives because they don't consider the consequences of their actions. Perhaps they had no role models and limited experience in what commitment and marriage meant. Sadly, they start affairs without understanding the pain they will cause their wives. Seeing the consequences of their actions and the hurt they have caused you is a very sobering experience. Marriage is not something that can be stepped in and out of when a man feels like it. A mature man can keep his wife's feelings in mind and understands the consequences of his choices; he never forgets he is married!
Did your husband cheat by watching porn?
Watching pornography has been proven to weaken marriages and can be a gateway for some men to cheat on their wives physically. Porn, a readily available form of self-gratification, can destroy or undermine a mutually healthy and intimate sex life. Masturbation and watching porn can take precedence over mutual bonding through intercourse or lessen its frequency. It erodes relationships because porn is an unrealistic view of what a healthy sex life can be and does not invite the deferring of sexual desires so they can be shared together in the marriage bed. Wives whose husbands watch porn can feel cheated out of getting a healthy shared sex life, and even connection.
Did your husband cheat because he is an addict?
Infidelity and addiction often go hand in hand. Addicts compartmentalize their lives and lie, which is how they hide their actions. The loyalty of an addicted husband is for his addiction and not his wife. So wives of addicts often feel neglected and taken for granted. Moreover, the cheating and the secrecy can keep the thrill of the addiction alive.
Dopamine, known as the "reward" neurochemical, is the comfort addicts seek. Each encounter with their addiction brings a sense of pleasure to their brain. Consequently, an addict's brain continually craves the experience he is addicted to.
Drinking and drugs cloud perceptions and lower inhibitions which can cause an addicted husband to discount how devasting both their addiction and their cheating are to their wife. Some may blame the drink or drugs for their behavior rather than taking responsibility for their adultery, while others use them to cheat or deal with their shame over cheating. Still, others are so ashamed of their addiction that they seek comfort from other addicted females for fear of being rejected or judged by their wives. And lastly, some addicts are in so much fear of losing their wives who they love or losing their wives' respect because of their addiction that they desperately seek comfort and find it outside of the marriage. When struggling with substance abuse, a husband has a skewed view of the consequences of their cheating and the far-reaching impact on their wife.
Did your husband cheat because he is a sex-addict?
A husband with a sex or porn addiction uses these like drugs, engaging in sexual activities outside the marriage bed. And just like an alcoholic or a junkie, they use their addiction to numb painful feelings, to cope with mental or physical discomforts, and to feel pleasure. If your husband is a sex or porn addict, they may have other addictions as well. Sex or porn addiction is like a drug that may have your husband locked in a vicious cycle.
The act of sex, or the person they are cheating with, is the means an addicted husband uses to escape their pain. And they can seek this despite having an excellent relationship with their wife. Sex addicts are not looking for a good time but looking to feel good.
Did your husband cheat because he didn’t know the difference between limerance and true love?
When we enter a new relationship, we get a neurochemical rush of our pleasure hormones, called limerance, or falling in love. Falling in love can be giddying but also can create an addictive high. The characteristic of this attraction phase is that it creates a beautiful euphoric feeling that causes us to focus all our energy on one particular person. However, mistaking this temporary state for true love can lead a husband to pursue another woman.
Did your husband fail to understand that all relationships eventually move out of limerick high and into a less intense but more meaningful form of connection? And that every relationship moves from connection, disconnection, and back to reconnection in a constant cycle. It takes work to keep connected and to make a marriage work. After the spark of falling in love wears off, we can build far deeper connections with each other that create true and mature love.
Did your husband cheat because he was depressed?
Depression can be a risk factor for having an affair. Decreased serotonin happens in both being depressed and during the attraction phase of a relationship. When around someone who we are attracted to, we get a shot of dopamine making us feel euphoric, and when the object of our attraction is out of our presence or unhappy with us serotonin levels drop making us feel flat and even sad. Over time all these falling-in-love neurochemical secretions stop. Was your husband's affair an attempt to feel good, to overcome their low serotonin levels?
Did your husband cheat because he was unhappy?
We are all responsible for our own happiness in life. However, the stress of work, family, and commitments can take precedence over us making space to feel good. When we constantly fail to replenish our reserves, resentments can build or burnout can happen. Moreover, we must understand what heals us personally, and who builds us up. Being a part of the wrong crowd of man friends can be as harmful as not taking time out to be with friends. Not living according to our core values exhausts us and makes us feel unhappy. Sadly when husbands feel unhappy, some can blame their wives instead of taking stock of their lives and making time for themselves to unwind in the ways that personally work for them. Or they wrongly believed that you would meet all their needs so became disillusioned with the marriage. Failure to take responsibility for their personal and emotional needs can put a husband at risk of cheating on his wife.
Did your husband cheat because the reality of marriage didn’t match their expectations?
Could the expectations your husband brought into the marriage have been too high? What emphasis did they place on appearance, sexuality, roles in the union, personality traits, or communication styles? Having too high of an expectation on what marriage and life should look like can set one up for disappointment. Men vulnerable to disappointment can choose to cheat when their expectations go unmet.
I Would Feel Too Guilty to Cheat on My Husband!
Hiding, minimizing, or justifying their affair doesn't mean that your husband doesn't feel guilty about cheating. Somehow they came up with a way to give themselves permission to cheat and be OK with it. In their mind, they abdicated taking responsibility for their infidelity or the guilt of cheating, even though they knew it was wrong.
Blaming, justifying, rationalizing, minimizing, or denying are ways cheating husbands use to put the guilt out of their minds. And the longer they cheat, the more they cement their thinking into believing that they are entitled to betray you. While they appear to have no remorse when cheating, it doesn't necessarily mean they don't have a conscience.
Unless your husband is pathological, their guilt is there. And after they see the pain they have caused you, they should be feeling it. Sometimes they may hide it through compartmentalization, or maybe they become too overwhelmed by it and slip into shame. But in order to heal the relationship, guilt must be experienced by the cheater. The uncomfortable feeling of guilt is what teaches them to take responsibility for their actions.
Their conscience stops husbands from cheating
The truth is that most husbands don't cheat because they understand how much it would hurt their wives. Instead, they keep open communication about trust, intimacy, and especially how they will handle the temptation to cheat. As betrayed wives, we never want to experience the pain of betrayal again, and only want a safe relationship with a man who is honest and open about everything.
What to do After Discovering your Husband Cheated
If you and your partner are struggling to answer why they cheated, please check out DISCOVERING WHY INFIDELITY OCCURRED COURSE, written for unfaithful husbands. It supports you both through the process of accepting their choices by unpacking what was behind their infidelity. As your husband gains an understanding of their behavior, they see more reasons for why they cheated and that you were not the reason. Over time, they can change and modify their reasons and gain clarity on who they were. Initially, getting insight into why your husband cheated is an essential first step toward making the best decision for your future.
Your healing is important too. And that is why your self-care at this time is paramount. Take the SELF-CARE AFTER INFIDELITY COURSE and learn practical steps and habits that heal the pain of infidelity. Please prioritize yourself at this painful time. You can heal after being cheated on, and you deserve to live a life free from the agony of your husband's painful choice to cheat.
Please reach out if you want more support or have any questions.
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