Why Did My Spouse Cheat? 5 Reasons That Lead to Affairs
By: Brian M. Murray, MS, IMH
Why did my spouse cheat on me? While there is no simple answer to this question, there are no doubts that when the news hits someone about a cheating spouse there is a flood of emotions that come with it. After the initial shock and emotions have subsided they begin to search for the answers as to why it happened. Some personal blame may begin to creep in, or guilt and shame that there could have been something done to prevent it from happening. Initial reactions typically run through the entire list of painful negative emotions such as anger, sadness, anxiety, worry and fear just to name a few.
Looking for answers, the non-cheating spouse will often try to rationalize the behavior or search for meaning as to why the affair happened. Sometimes the answer can be simple but usually there is something going on that is more complex. Here are 5 reasons as to why a spouse can have an affair.
1. They chose to have one. Let’s just cut right to the chase. Regardless of the underlying reason, on the surface there was an opportunity to have the affair and they chose to move forward with it. There is always a choice whether to have one or not and to speak a simple truth in love is to expose how somewhere along the way that choice was made to have sex outside of the marriage. Like any decision in life there is a choice involved when faced with situations that are within a person’s control.
2. Unmet emotional needs. One of the most common reasons is unmet emotional needs such as safety, love and nurturing, feeling supported and validated so that the other person feels special and important. When the need is not met then they begin to search for it outside of the marriage. Often this is a feeling or emotion that is running in the background and often not right on the surface and yet there is something that feels unfulfilled. The missing piece is unfulfilled love and intimacy which often becomes confusing by thinking sex is the cure. Feeling the need for sex outside of the marriage is a clear signal that help is needed in order to process through what is going unfulfilled in the relationship.
3. Unresolved conflict. Marital discord creating anger can manifest outward in a dysfunctional way. Unresolved conflict can lead to feelings of fear of approaching the other spouse leading to perceptions of rejection in an attempt to avoid negativity. The spouse becomes angry and resentful of the spouse and seeks to get consoled elsewhere.
4. Self pre-occupation. A spouse can feel left out of a marriage because the other spouse is too busy with themselves. This includes working, spending time with other friends and hobbies and a big issue today is spending too much time on the computer and social websites. This becomes an issue with the ignored spouse dealing with loneliness and seeks relationship elsewhere. An increasing factor of marital affairs are due to hook-ups on social websites. Marital affairs have doubled in the past 20 years of which most of it is attributed to people connecting on the internet.
5. Poor counsel. Where is God in the marriage? What does God’s counsel say regarding marital affairs? Proverbs 13:20 (MSG) “Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.” In other words, the choice of poor company to hang out with creates a negative influence on the marriage. If a spouse is hanging out with a crowd of people who feel indifferent or think that marriage infidelity is acceptable, then watch out, it is conflict with the values that are reflective of what God has created within the context of marriage. The idea is to hang out with like minded people who support marriage and the values that honor the marriage. Listening to God’s word and accepting it covers a multitude of issues regarding marriage. For any marital affair, God’s wise counsel says it plainly in Hebrews 13:4 (NIV) “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”