Forbidden fruit seems so much sweeter. Cheating spouses is nothing new. However, studies have shown that the number of cheating women is nearly parallel to unfaithful men. I spoke with two women who we shall call “Sally” and “Darla” to protect their identity, regarding extramarital affairs. The question is, “Why do women cheat?”
According to Darla, she was married to a minister. Her husband focused his energy on helping the church and others. Emotionally, Darla felt neglected. Feeling lonely, and missing her husband’s affection, aided in Darla’s decision to seek companionship outside of her marriage. Although she knew that her behavior conflicted with her spiritual beliefs, she still indulged. For Darla, sex with her husband had become stale and predictable. Largely due to the emotional disconnect. Living a double life wreaked emotional havoc on her psyche. She became depressed, and extremely confused. Unable to trust her own judgment, she sent mixed messages to her husband. On the one hand, she showed him love motivated by guilt. On the other, she no longer desired his touch, which caused additional marital breakdown because of the lack of intimacy. When asked if it was worth it, Darla replied, “No. If I could do it over again, I would be far less selfish. When my husband found out about the affair, it nearly killed him. He suffered a heart attack, and was hospitalized. Now we’re divorced, and I have paid the price. I had to file for bankruptcy, lost my house, car, and friends. In order to deal with the guilt and shame, I took Prozac.”
Sally has had multiple extramarital affairs, and is the mother of three. When asked why she cheats on her husband, Sally replied, “Because I don’t love him the way a wife should love her husband.”
“Then why not divorce him,” I inquired.
“I don’t know. I have thought about it lots of times, but I don’t want to leave him without having someone better to go to.” Her eyes watery, she continued, “My marital relationship is volatile at times. When we fight, we yell, throw things, and sometimes it gets physical. I have a lot of built up resentments toward him, and it’s hard for me to respect him.”
“It sounds to me like you have fallen out of love with him. Is that true?”
“My feelings have changed, and I don’t love him like I used to.”
“Does your husband know that he is loving on borrowed time?”
“No.” She laughed.
“Do you regret cheating on your husband?"
“I know it’s not right, but it helps me cope. It’s an outlet.”
“Have you considered marriage counseling?”
“I have, but he won’t go. He says that it’s a waste of time and money.”
“What about talking to your clergyman?”
“We did that before we got married, and it helped for a little while. Then he went back to his usual ways.”
“Seeing fault with someone else is easy. Looking within and finding a flaw with our own character is difficult. Would you consider seeking individual counseling instead?”
“I never thought about it.”
“I’ve heard lots of therapists say that change comes from within. We can’t change anyone but ourselves. Perhaps you should do a self evaluation to find out why your response to a bad relationship is to cheat.”
Crying, she said, “It’s the coward’s way of dealing with a situation. It doesn’t solve the problem, but it gives you temporary relief. I will go to counseling, because this is a pattern that I’ve been dealing with for years. It’s time for a change.”
After speaking with Sally and Darla, I had a better understanding of “Why women cheat.” I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist, but I am a woman. The common thread between both women was pain. They were each involved in dysfunctional relationships that took an emotional toll on them. Feeling helpless, they sought refuge in the arms of other men. There is no one reason as to why women cheat. The reasons vary from woman to woman. Some women cheat for emotional support, others for money, and some for sex. Whatever the reason, it’s a problem. In order to deal with unfaithfulness, the cheater must want to reform. If not, there won’t be a change. Don’t wait until you get caught to straighten up. If you love the person you’re with, you owe it to them and to yourself, to be faithful. Infidelity destroys families, and has cost people their lives and livelihood. If you’re unhappy, look within for the answers. If that does not suffice, seek professional help. You’re a lot stronger than you think you are, and you don’t have to depend on someone else for your survival. Even if you need to go back to school to further your education in hopes of getting a better job, and increasing your earning potential. The bottom line is that you are where you are today because of the choices you made yesterday. Henceforth, choose wisely.
Copywritten by Dwan Abrams