"How could you have done this to me, to us? Who are you and who did I marry?" With tears in his eyes, my ex-husband shouted and screamed these questions at me on the day he found out that I'd had an affair. All the while, I stood there shaking, in shock, not knowing what to say that would make what I had done right. I was a cheater.
Looking back, I realize that nothing in that moment would have given him the solace and comfort that he was looking for—or that I was looking for. His care and love had been transformed into disdain and hate for the monster I had become in his eyes.
The question that came up repeatedly after our marriage dissolved was "Why?" Why did I cheat on him? Why would I do such a thing to a man who was caring, funny and generous? It wasn't like he beat me up or anything like that.
If you are reading this and judging me, I understand—that's human nature. And believe me, no one has judged me more harshly than I have (even now). Although it all turned out for the best, I wouldn't go down that road again ... although, at the same time, I now completely understand why women cheat.
According to the UK Adultery Survey 2012, cheating women are more likely to stray in order to seek emotional fulfillment, enhanced self-esteem and romance. When women cheat will depend on how fulfilled they feel in their marriages. But according to the survey, wives who cheat will do so five years into their marriages whereas men will do so seven years in.
After much soul-searching, I finally began to understand the factors that drove me to cheat:
Back then, I was still living with the illusive notion that happiness is something that I could acquire from an external source, so I bought into the fantasy (one that I see a lot of my clients buy into) that somewhere in the world a one-dimensional man exists for no other purpose than to bring me happiness.
I believed that because I wasn't happy in my marriage with my ex-husband, that someone else could dish happiness up on a silver platter for me. Surely someone else could, right? But, of course, this is simply not true, and never will be. In fact, the whole ordeal of the affair stressed me out and exposed me to more confusion and unhappiness.
Being part of the cheating wives' club, I understand now that running away from myself was not the answer and that I am responsible for my own happiness and fulfilment. My happiness is no one else's responsibility—not my spouse's, not some lover's—but mine!
The guilt factor
I honestly believed that I was a bad person for no longer feeling attracted to my ex-husband. So as not to hurt him, I kept quiet as that waning desire continued to fizzle away. I just couldn't find the words to tell him that I no longer found him sexually attractive. I was scared that if he that find, that made me a "bad person". Instead of being able to communicate honestly with him about my feelings, I ended up really being a "bad person" when I cheated (while also hoping he wouldn't find out about that either).
Deep underneath this pattern of guilt-leading-to-silence thinking was a belief that I was not worthy of someone loving me as much as my ex husband did.
What I now realize is that our beliefs and how we see ourselves can lead us to do some very crazy things. Belief systems are a powerful catalysts for behavior. By working on myself, I was able to finally overcome this pattern and now, find myself in a new, truly loving relationship.
Lack of maturity
I realize now that I lacked the maturity and the life skills needed to properly face the problems my ex-husband and I were experiencing at the time. We would argue, get upset and as a result, our communication would break down and, as a result, so did our intimacy. I didn't know how to change that dynamic or manage my thoughts about those conflicts either. Any time we argued, I honestly believed that he didn't love me. So, I "acted out" to have my own back.
Keeping communication channels open is vitally important because, once by the time you sense communication shut down, intimacy has usually already slid away from you (and full connection breakdown follows quickly). Before you know it you are yearning for intimacy and connection deeply just no longer with your mate. I've often heard wives who cheated did so because of this communication break down in their existing relationship. They felt frustrated, no longer heard or misunderstood and they sought comfort, connection, and refuge in the arms of someone else.
The passion died
At the time I had my affair, passion in my relationship felt dead. I wanted to feel that my ex husband longed for me, that he wanted me and that he cared enough about me to woo me. But our relationship fell into a day-to-day routine, taking all the excitement out of it and the passion died. I wanted to break free from this and thought that the best way to do so was through a selfish act (having an affair).
I now realize that looking for passion outside of my established relationship was only ever going to be short-lived, which it was. Working on rekindling what my ex and I once had—which was a lot—would have probably been the better option.
All of these reasons may sound like excuses and, you know what—my affair was a selfish act.
I will be the first to admit it. I had options, choices, but when I put myself in the shoes of that young girl I was at that time, I really felt then that an affair was the solution.
My overall feeling now is that if you are a woman who is contemplating becoming part of the cheating wives club (or you are a woman who already has cheated), then I ask you to seriously contemplate what you hope to get out of it and what has turned you toward such an action. If you're chasing happiness, I'm here to tell you—happiness comes from within. No one else can create that happiness for you.
Ultimately, I don't regret what I did (though I regret the hurt I caused) ... as a result of the affair, and then later, our divorce, my ex gave me the best gift you can give anyone—the opportunity, finally, to find my happiness within myself.
If you want to move from powerless to powerful and get off the emotional rollercoaster ride of infidelity, connect with Marina and download your *FREE* chapters of Goodbye Mr Ex and instead free yourself of the pain.
More juicy content from YourTango:
- Three Reasons Women Cheat
- Are Women More Likely To Cheat Than Men!? Yes, And Here's Why
- How To Have An Affair Without Getting Caught