Cheating is back in fashion again − or so it seems. Whether it’s a political wife standing stoically by her husband or a gorgeous celebrity humiliated by a dogging spouse, we often ask ourselves: What would I do? Kick him to the curb? Forgive and move on? These answers aren’t easy. Read on for the top 10 cheating questions. Plus, will your guy cheat?
Top 10 Cheating Questions
It’s easy to feel sympathy for the victims of a straying spouse (let’s call them the cheatees). And even easier to vilify the cheaters.
“We think of people who betray us as cads, bad people, immature,” says Steven Solomon, Ph.D., author of Intimacy After Infidelity: How to Rebuild & Affair-Proof Your Marriage (New Harbinger, 2006) “But most are normal folks who get lost in not taking care of themselves and their marriage.”
That’s not much comfort to the cheatees, who probably have a lot of anger, hurt and questions. Here are the answers to the Top 10 Cheating Questions:
1. Did I do something to make him cheat?
“The short answer is no,” Neuman says.
Solomon agrees: “You didn’t do something that excuses cheating.”
Even if you’re the worse spouse on Earth, your partner can find better ways to deal with his unhappiness. “You can’t make someone cheat any more than you can make someone drink or abuse you,” he says.
But that’s not the whole story. Solomon says people usually cheat because of fear, loneliness or anger. “The betraying partner’s failure to deal with these feelings is what causes him to be unfaithful,” he says. Why else does he stray? Check out 6 Reasons Why Men Cheat to find out.
And many relationships that fall into infidelity aren’t that healthy to begin with. “That’s what lays the groundwork for infidelity,” Solomon says.
2. I forgave him once, but he’s cheated again. Now what?
You’ve busted him a second time and he says he’s sorry… but is he? The aftermath is the key to figuring out when – or if – you should leave.
“If you hear and see the same things as after the first infidelity, you need to get out of the relationship,” Solomon says. “But if something fundamental has changed and he wants to make amends, there’s hope.”
The trouble is, after a first affair, many couples sweep problems under the rug. The cheater promises to change, the cheatee feels steamrolled into agreeing. But the first or second infidelity has to be followed by genuine remorse and a change. And if it happens a third time, just like in baseball – he’s out.
3. Should I forgive him and stay in the marriage?
It depends on his next step, Solomon says. Does he seem to sincerely want forgiveness? And how would you know?
First check: Is the infidelity over? If so, is your husband willing to do whatever it takes to mend the breach?
“A person has to be willing, at least for a time, to be transparent,” Solomon says. “You have to be able to see emails, have passwords, see calls, reach him at any time, vent without him getting impatient or defensive.”
Figure out what you’ll need in order to stay and use that list as your yardstick: Is he sticking to your list or making vague promises to improve? Don’t decide based on his words, but on his actions over time.
After a while of having your needs met, you may no longer need to call as often, to check every call, to see his emails.
“If you see that something has changed in him and his attitude,” Solomon says, “you can allow yourself to forgive, move on, and remain in the marriage.”
4. How do I know if he’s had safe sex?
You don’t. No matter what he says, you can’t be sure. And some diseases, such as venereal warts and herpes, can find their way around a condom. So don’t sleep with him – or at the very least, use protection – until he’s been tested.
“How demeaning and foolish would it be to put yourself in an unhealthy place?” Neuman asks. “If he did not have safe sex… he was making tremendous mistakes that could have killed you both.”
That just shows how lost he was and how much counseling is needed, he says. And if he refuses a test, then your answer to Question 1 is a big, fat “no.”
5. How do I let it go?
Forgiveness is important even if you leave the marriage. To be able to trust in your next relationship, you’ll need to move out of the angry, bitter place you’re in.
“Forgiveness does not mean forgive and forget,” says M. Gary Neuman, author of The Truth about Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do to Prevent It (Wiley, 2008). “Of course, you can’t just throw your whole heart back into the relationship.”
There has to be a plan for going forward, he says. Ask yourselves: What will you change in the marriage to re-establish an emotional connection?
For his book, Neuman surveyed 200 men in the U.S.: 100 cheaters and 100 who hadn’t. His findings? “The cheating group had a lot more distress and dissatisfaction in the home,” he says.
If he’s doing his part by letting you in on his day-to-day communications, then you have to do your part: Plan a new way to listen to and address his issues. That way, you’re part of a team, with a project you’re both working on.
6. What are my rights if my spouse is cheating?
– You have the right to be angry. You don’t have the right to turn that anger into a lifetime of bitterness.
– You have the right to divorce. You don’t have the right to move the kids without legal action.
– You have the right to demand counseling. You also have the right to leave if he refuses.
– You have the right to ask basic questions. You also have the right to ask detailed questions about sexual specifics, positions, sounds or techniques, but asking them may start a rabbit hole of obsession.
– You have the right to direct, honest answers, but be very careful not to ask a question you don’t want to hear the answer to.
– You have the right to know that you were right about this all along, especially if he made you feel paranoid for being suspicious.
7. How can I tell if this was a cry for help… or an escape?
An “exit affair” that starts because a partner wants out of a marriage is rarely a conscious choice. As you go through counseling, you have to gauge if your partner is really trying to get back the intimacy you lost.
Be prepared to let him go “if he’s just going through the motions, if he won’t answer questions forthrightly, if he wants you to get over it already,” Solomon says. “It takes a ton of courage to turn your life upside down, but it’s the right thing to do if you no longer trust or love someone.”
8. Is counseling necessary? Or can we deal with it on our own?
Counseling is a must, Neuman says. In some cases, cheating is a signal he’s having an emotional breakdown, so it may be a good time to get him into therapy.
Even if your relationship is irretrievably broken, counseling can help you both to move on, co-parent if needed and have healthier future relationships.
Remember: A therapist’s job is not to punish the cheater or blindly back up either spouse. You have to be open to receiving constructive criticism.
“At the very least, get a book,” Neuman says. “But too often, people cheat, cry about it, and move on with no plan. Counseling forces you to admit there’s trouble, so you are both committed to making some sort of change.”
9. Do I tell the kids? If so, how?
Fire any therapist who says it’s okay to tell the kids. It is never okay to inform children, tweens, or even teens of a parent’s sexual infidelity. The momentary satisfaction you might feel at being the “good” parent will be stamped out by emotional problems down the line.
“It causes a much greater struggle for the child if he or she is angry at one parent over the other,” Neuman says. With one parent, the child’s anger can remain longer and cause much more damage.
“Ideally, you actually want the child to be angry at both parents because a child can’t stay angry at both for long,” he says. “They have to work it out.”
With one parent, the child’s anger can remain longer and cause much more damage.
But sometimes telling is unavoidable, if say, the cheating spouse introduces a child to the other woman or man or the cheatee blurts it out.
Then, Neuman says, “all the betraying parent can do is explain, with honesty and integrity and genuine sorrow, that [he or she] made a terrible mistake and that they’re working to correct what led to that mistake.” To the child, it’s a reassuring message that sometimes good people make mistakes and do bad things.
Children may worry their bond with their parents will be broken. The betrayed spouse should explain that their parent-child relationship is separate from the one between the adults. If you decide to stay together, show them that you’re both trying to work it out.
10. How about our friends? Should we tell them?
Anytime you share this, ask yourself: Why are you telling this person?
“Are you telling because you want to hurt, humiliate, embarrass your partner? Or is it to get support?” Solomon asks.
If your motivation is revenge, zip your lips. You may get back together, and then you’ll have some explaining to do.
If you divorce, your ex will likely be at your kids’ birthday parties and school events, and your kids will be aware of gossip or hostility.
In extreme cases, a scorched-earth approach could push him to move away, making custody exchanges harder than they need to be.
Of course, you need support! So pick tight-lipped friends who understand the stakes. Get a therapist, talk to clergy, blab to your lawyer if you must (though, at $400 an hour, that’ll get expensive).
To everyone else, “we grew apart” will suffice. You’ll feel better later and know you did the right thing.
Thanks for stopping by our post about the Top 10 Cheating Questions, please come back as we update daily with new articles, videos, and blog listings.
If your still thirsty for more information on this subject, check out these great products!