I'm not saying it was the right thing to do but, at the time, it felt like the only option.
"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 love and care for me transformed into pure 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. Unfortunately, my (ex)-husband now understands this, too.
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:
Chasing false happiness
Back then, I was still living with the illusive notion that happiness is something I could acquire from an external source, so I bought into the fantasy (one that I also see many of my clients buy into) that somewhere in the world a magical 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.
Lesson learned: 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!
Sneaking around instead of speaking up
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. Instead of communicating honestly with him about my feelings, I ended up truly being a "bad person" when I cheated (while I also hoped he wouldn't find out about either).
Deep underneath this pattern of guilt-leading-to-silence was a belief that I was not worthy of someone loving me as much as my ex husband did.
Lesson learned: 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.
Remaining stuck in an immature mindset
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.
Lesson learned: 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 often hear that wives who cheat do so because of this very same communication breakdown in their existing relationship. They feel frustrated, no longer heard or misunderstood and they seek comfort, connection, and refuge in the arms of someone else.
My need wasn't wrong, but my actions were
At the time I had my affair, passion in my relationship felt dead. I wanted my ex husband to long for me, want me and care 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 that and thought 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 a short-lived solution, and that's all it ever could be. Working on rekindling what my ex and I once had—which was a lot—would have probably been the better option.
All of my 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 do deeply 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.
"From my mom and dad, because they're happily married for a long time: Just listen. Listen to him. I'm so independent and driven and stubborn. Just let him talk. It's about not being so stubborn and having to win every argument. My parents set a great example. They love each other and take care of each other so much."
"It's kind of cheesy, but my mama, who you all have seen on the show, says to cook for your man. She's Southern, so when he comes home, be pullin' a pie out of the oven. That's always been her advice, and you know what? It works. Your man wants to see you in the kitchen, puttin' some love into some food; it works for Eric, that's for sure."
"The best advice I've ever been given is being handed a Bible. That's the blueprint for marriage that we go by, and that's what our marriage is grounded in. We also have other married couples who are examples in our lives. My parents have been married over 40 years, and both sets of grandparents for over 65 years. When you see couples in long-term relationships and you see them go through good times and bad times, you realize it's about being committed enough and loving your partner enough to hang in there regardless."
"My mom told me, "It shouldn't be that difficult." My parents had their moments for sure, but the majority of their relationship has been really great. It shouldn't be that much work to make love work."
"You've got to be good to each other … it really comes back to respect. I was raised in a very Catholic, Italian family and it was all about respect. Don't talk badly about [your partner] the second they walk out the door; really preserve your relationship and be good to each other. Treat it like gold."
"Don't lie to your partner. Ultimately the expression on your face gives you away, and they feel betrayed by the lie. If this is the person you're going to be with—forever and ever, for better or worse—they will love you for all of your good and all of your bad. They'll love you for you. So open communication is key. I have no secrets and no skeletons in my closet with my husband, and I love that. I feel comfortable and at ease with myself when I'm around him. I love the woman that I've become with him."
"I think the best love advice I've ever received is really about understanding that communication is key, of course, but also that there's not one perfect person for you. You kind of have to accept what are the things that are negotiable for you and what are not."
"My mom always told me, "Whatever happens, will happen" or 'Whatever is supposed to happen, will happen." I've learned you'll know when you find the right person. When I found the right person, I knew it immediately."
18. The Five Love Languages Author Dr. Gary Chapman
"Before I discovered the concept of the 5 love languages, a bit of advice I was given was to become a student of my wife and to take time to learn what makes her feel loved. I soon learned that what makes her feel loved may not always be the thing I want to do because it may not come natural to me. But learning to love her in the way that makes her feel loved is a greater demonstration of my love for her, because I've chosen to do it with a goal of pleasing her."
"Pay attention to the girl, instead of myself. A bunch of people [told me that]. It's terrible. I'm very into myself, so people are always like, "Pay attention to the other person. Don't ever separate yourself." It's a good lesson. I'm learning. I'm doing good."
"Don't get divorced after your first argument! I have a lot of friends that have one fight and that's it, they get divorced. I go, 'Wait a minute! Oh my gosh, you guys! Calm down! You'll forget in three days what you were fighting about. I promise. So just let it marinate a little bit—that's my best love advice."
21. The Real Housewives of Miami's Adriana de Moura
"When I was about 15, [my grandmother] said something I will always remember: 'Love comes before money.' I will never let anything like greed come between us when it comes to love. She was married to my grandfather for 70 years. It's very hard to have a long-term relationship and if you're not sure, it's not going to last. Make sure that you truly love."
"If you're looking for love, focus on something you love to do and work hard. Love will find you. Basically, love yourself before you love anyone else. A lot of girls have such insecurities nowadays that you have to be comfortable with who you are before you can really have a good relationship with someone else."
"Love advice is like life advice, so there are so many elements of that. I think humor, patience, admiration are really important love elements. Love and respect. You have to respect the person that you're going to love, and you have to be confident in yourself and love yourself."
'Think about how much you'd miss that if he were gone tomorrow.' This is my senior producer's advice in my ear during our news show if I'm grumbling about my hubby, whether about his habit of leaving dirty clothes around, or the way he goes into la la land while I'm talking with him, or that he wakes me up being loud overnight. How true! Heaven forbid, but if something ever happens to our loved ones, oh how we'd long for them to be back, and their little aggravating habits would be something cherished.
"On the other hand the best love advice I've ever given is: Gals, don't marry someone for their looks. Sooner or later we all age and start to droop. Don't marry someone for their position and don't marry someone for money. Money comes and goes, and since when is that love? Marry someone because they make you laugh. Humor is always sexy. Besides, it's awfully hard to get mad at someone while they're making you laugh."
30. The Real Housewives of New York's Heather Thomson
"Well, it's one of the oldest. It really is paradoxical, but it's true: You just can't go to bed mad. You have to make up, because there's only one alternative, and that alternative is not being together. So, my husband and I always decide we might as well make up, whether we agree to disagree or not. We understand we are individuals and that together we're unbelievably powerful and that we have a family that is the most important thing, and that I wouldn't trade him for the world. So, love is about give and take, and love is about understanding that you're individuals and together as a couple, you're the strongest there ever is ifyou're in the right couple."
"I was going to say, 'It's work, relationships take work,' but that makes it sound like relationships are hard, that they're work. Rebecca and I have always gotten along really well. We've always had a really strong connection. I'm the last guy that should be giving people advice on love, that's for sure. But I have a great marriage. I just got lucky, I guess."
"I lost my dad back in the fall, and my dad said something to me a long time ago. He said, 'Are you happy with who you are now?' because we just had a real serious talk. And I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Then you can't regret what got you to where you are. So whatever you do and whatever mistakes you make, learn from them and grow. And just always treat people with kindness,' which I've tried to do."
"My mom always used to say, "You can't say I love you before you can say I." And I think that sort of makes sense."
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