I’ve had people tell me that there are two camps of cheaters, as follows:
1. Those who want out of their relationship (or are not fully invested in it) and therefore don’t care if they get caught; and
2. Those who hope and pray that they never get caught because they are still very much invested in their relationship or marriage and in love with their spouse or partner.
Many people have a very hard time understanding why anyone would cheat or have an affair when they are still invested in their marriage. It just seems to be a silly and risky thing to do.
I recently heard from a wife who said, in part: “I found out three days ago that my husband has been cheating and having an affair with one of our neighbors. When he confessed to me, I fully expected him to tell me that he wanted a divorce and was getting ready to pack his bags. But this isn’t what happened. Instead, he said that he wanted to be honest with me because he wanted to save our marriage. This just makes no sense to me. Why would you cheat on someone to whom you wanted to remain married? My husband knows me pretty well. He has watched me support many friends whose marriages were destroyed by infidelity and he knows that I have no tolerance for it. So, when he was cheating, he must have known that once I found out, there was a chance that I would leave him. And yet, here he is confessing but telling me that he wants to stay in the marriage rather than leave it. Can you explain the thinking behind this? Because I just don’t understand why a person who wants to stay in the marriage would risk that same marriage by cheating.”
In the following article, I’m going to try to explain what might motivate a person to cheat even when they fully intend to remain married.
Many People Who Cheat Never Intend To Get Caught And Intend For The Unplanned Cheating To Be A Very Short Lived Affair: Before I get into the reasons for cheating and then wanting to stay married, I have to tell you that you may not fully believe what I’m about to tell you. I completely understand that because, as a woman who has been cheated on, I don’t always buy what men tell me either. It is very hard for to understand a thought process that would never be mine.
With that said, many people who cheat will tell you that they didn’t go into it with any intention of being unfaithful. You will often first hear about a friendship developing and then you’ll hear phrases like “it just happened.” Whether this is true or not, most people overwhelmingly make this claim. And then they will say that once the unintentional cheating happened, they told themselves that it was a one time or short term thing. They planned to stop it before any one was hurt. Of course, sometimes it ends up lasting for longer than they originally anticipated.
Still, many people end up realizing that they have made a huge mistake about which they feel an awful lot of guilt. They often realize that they have taken a huge risk with the relationship that is most important to them. This is why many of them confess or at least own up to what they’ve done once they have been caught. They suddenly realize that they don’t want to surrender their marriage and they are hoping that either their confession or their remorse is going to at least give them a chance to maintain or save their marriage.
Suspicions You Might Have About His Claim That He Wants To Stay In The Marriage: Many faithful spouses meet the cheating spouse’s claims with a good deal of suspicion. People often tell me they fear that their spouse is just claiming that he wants to save the marriage because he knows that a divorce would end up costing him a lot of money or would risk him loosing some access to his children.
I also hear from a lot of doubtful but faithful spouses who suspect that their spouse just doesn’t have the courage or integrity to tell the truth about his feelings. Or, they worry that he wants to keep the cheating or the affair hidden from his extended friends or family and hopes that by staying in the marriage, his secret won’t get out. These are absolutely valid concerns. Dealing with the cheating is very painful. But dealing with the cheating while trying to save your marriage only to find out later it was all for nothing is nearly unbearable.
However, the problem often is that there is no way to know what is actually true until you see it through. You can’t read your spouse’s thoughts. You can’t possibly know exactly what they are feeling. So the only way to truly know their real intentions is to wait it out and see if their actions confirm their words. Because if he’s not being truthful about his commitment to the marriage, then that will become apparent soon enough. It’s very unlikely that he can keep up the facade for long if his heart isn’t truly in it.
And, his is not the only opinion that matters. You also will need to decide if you want to stay in the marriage. The decisions about your marriage are not his alone to make. You have a say. And you have your own set of wishes and intentions. Sometimes, his wanting to stay in the marriage is not going to be enough. You have to want it too. And you both have to be willing to do the work to repair the marriage and to restore the trust. Both of these things truly are possible. But in order for that to happen both people need to be absolutely sincere about their feelings and intentions.
If you had told me that I would ultimately save my marriage after my husband’s affair, I might have laughed at that notion at the time. But that is exactly what ended up happening. I had my doubts about my husband’s sincerity when he claimed he wanted to stay in the marriage, but his actions proved my doubts were unfounded. And today, I’m glad I gave him the opportunity to prove to me that his claims were true. If it helps, you can read more about my recovery process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/