Probably not what you think.
Firstly, she is just as shocked as you.
Yes, we all have the stereotypical picture of a woman who cheats, you only have to look around the room at a party or event. Watch out for the woman who possessively places her hand on her partner's arm. "He’s mine!" she's saying. "Watch it lady."
Now, I’ll bet you a pound to a penny that that kind of woman is never your wife. Much as that woman is attractive, you're pretty relieved that she isn’t yours.
You like that your wife is much more in tune with other women, the sort who is always available to help out, her friends out in the hour of need, the school run, at work, with family and even at home, yes she is utterly non-threatening.
No, you're pretty certain than no one has ever possessively placed a hand on their husband in your wife’s presence.
But, now she love cheats. How could it have happened? What changed? Or is it that you never really knew her?
Here's the thing, when you ask her why she cheated, she most probably won’t be able to tell you.
She's just as shocked as you are. It’s so far removed from her own moral compass that she is struggling to wrap her head round it, she has become the sort of woman she never thought she could be.
Every story is as unique as the person living it, but here are some broad-strokes:
1. "I was lonely and felt completely misunderstood."
The woman who has an affair is suffering. She is unhappy first and foremost with herself, though she doesn’t realize it. It manifests as follows seeking reassurance, love and a sense of worth from the outside world and most certainly from you as a husband.
She has been questioning the truth for a while now — she may have been sharing with you how unhappy she is, questioning whether your partnership is a solid one.
Maybe your response was:
- denying that there is a problem, thus denying her feelings and emotions.
- suggesting that she is the problem with all her complaining, thus questioning her place in the relationship.
- getting angry and refusing to discuss it, therefore creating a distance between you and with it that dreaded loneliness.
Her need to feel what she is feeling is not being honored, and worse still, you're making her question the right to feel or even the validity of those feelings.
2. "It was a cry for help."
She tries talking to you. You don’t listen.
But he does — he lets her talk, and she feels good about herself. He pays attention to her, validates her feelings and emotions. Do you know what that feels like? Pretty special. She feels pretty special.
It isn’t that she wants to sleep with him, she doesn’t want have an affair — but she does want to feel listened to — but, oh how attractive is the person who gives us what we most crave most.
3. "I felt isolated and disconnected."
Here are some of the words women use to describe how they felt before embarking on an affair.
"I felt completely flat, isolated, and in disbelief that my husband couldn’t understand how I was feeling," she says.
Enter stage right — the lovely guy who seemingly soaks up her every word.
"At last, someone who understands me," she thinks. "It feels great just to talk and share and feel understood."
We all need to feel connected that is part of human nature, it is why we are here. So let's look at the two scenarios:
- "At home, I feel isolated, flat and I’m beginning to wonder what is wrong with me."
- "This guy hangs on my every word. He's interested, and he's kind with his thoughts and his words."
Not enough to embark on an affair maybe, but let's not forget your wife’s self-esteem and self worth are pretty low at the moment and us women to tend to go into pull on people pleasing mode at this point.
She's been doing this with you for years, which is great for you... or maybe you haven't noticed?
She didn’t mean to have an affair, she doesn’t love this guy — but he was so kind and loving, and he listened. He made her feel like she mattered, he didn’t tell that it's all in her head, that it's her fault.
He made her feel less lonely and more validated, showed interest in her emotions and now she feels like she should repay his kindness.
Suddenly, she is an adulteress and no idea how to get out of it. This is her worst nightmare, and whichever way she turns, she will hurt someone. A people pleaser can’t bear to hurt anyone. She would rather live in their own misery for three lifetimes than hurt you... any of you.
So what can you do to help your wife and rebuild your marriage?
Well, if you're the great guy she thought you were when you got married, you can help her love herself. Step out of those destructive patterns that leave her feeling worthless. Help her build a serious love affair with herself.
This is a process of creating a relationship with ourselves, the one we wish to have with others. If the problem is her turning elsewhere to have her feelings and emotions validated, then surely the solution lies within her. She need validate herself, she needs to listen to herself and create what she needs from others from the inside out.
She needs to think, "Surely I must be the change I want to see and if I am prepared to take on this responsibility for my own happiness I will no longer need to look outside for it."
Of course, things will change and we are always resistant to change. Mostly she will become more assertive, she may shake up some house rules and the rules on engagement, roles may change, and boundaries will be imposed for the health of your relationship.
But how attractive is that? A woman who knows her mind, stands in her power and better still — she is yours.
To know more on how Allison Reiner works and how she can help you, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.