I Drove My Husband To Cheat

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I Drove My Husband To Cheat
Contributor
Love

I'm a firm believer that when the balance of a relationship is destroyed by cheating, not all the blame lies solely with the offending party.

Don’t get me wrong — there are definitely times when a cheater is fully at fault for their own flawed decisions. They may have the most caring, dedicated, and compatible partner in the world, yet they give in to temptation in a moment of weakness for purely selfish reasons.

But I think that’s the exception to the rule. In most cases, the relationship is falling apart in some way before the cheating even happens. And when a couple starts experiencing major conflict before any cheating has occurred, it’s usually the fault of both to some extent.

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Often there are hurtful mistakes committed by both sides, and one half of a couple eventually turns to cheating as a way to cope or distract from the bigger issues.

What leads to cheating?

Imagine that a wife loses her job, and it places a ton of stress on her marriage financially. Say her husband starts drinking to deal with the stress. Say she loses her libido as a result of her stress and the fact that she feels neglected by his drinking. She eventually starts arguments with him, because she’s rightfully upset. But in her arguing, she insults him and verbally abuses him. She hits below the belt, so he does the same in return. His response is to eventually storm out of the house and go to a bar. At that point, he turns to cheating on her because it seems easier than dealing with the constant conflict in their marriage.

In this hypothetical scenario, both members of the marriage have made poor decisions. Both have mistreated their spouse in one way or another.

My intention is not to excuse anyone who cheats. I don’t think it’s ever a helpful or moral option. However, I do think when cheating happens, it is often a result of an already fractured couple, where both members have hurt each other in one way or another.

In other words, it’s not just the cheater’s fault.

Looking For A Way Out

When I found out my husband was cheating on me, I felt a strange sense of relief. We’d had a tumultuous marriage for over three years. He worked a second job at a bar on the weekends, and he started seeing a college girl he met there. I actually got a chance to talk to her on the phone and confirm the rumors I’d been hearing about the two of them.

It was a bizarre, almost out-of-body experience to talk to the woman who’d been dating my husband on the side. Especially because I wasn’t angry at her. I thought that my marriage had jumped the track long ago and, right or wrong, I saw this as my get-out-of-jail ticket.

Honestly, I should have left long before it got to that point. I was young and stupid and I’d married too quickly. I could say the very same thing for my now ex-husband. We should have seen how we were tearing each other apart and amicably agreed to divorce.

But he was totally against that idea. Divorce went against the strict religion he was raised in. Divorce would anger God. But I guess, for whatever reason, cheating was the lesser of two evils?

After that, I started an emotional affair with another man. My marriage continued to spiral out until I ran out of the house one day, my toddler in tow, and went to live with my sister.

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And here’s the kicker: I don’t fully blame him for cheating on me. Here are a few of the ways I played a part in the destruction of my marriage.

I pushed him away.

Soon into our marriage, I purposely pushed my husband away from me, both mentally and physically. There came a point in our rocky relationship where I had to fortify an emotional wall around myself just to keep my sanity. We disagreed on all the big things — from wives working outside the home, to how to raise kids, to how many kids we should have.

The way he argued with me, raising his voice and breaking things, scared me. So I’d freeze him out, ignore him, and try to avoid him. It only made things worse.

I loved when he was out of the house.

My husband went away on a business trip only once during our 4-year marriage, and it was glorious. I enjoyed spending quality time with my son, who was a toddler at the time. I enjoyed the peace and solitude when my son was sleeping. I enjoyed getting to do whatever I wanted to do for once, and not have to be bogged down by cooking my husband dinner, folding his laundry, or doing his dishes.

When he got a second job at a bar on weekends, I was thrilled. I didn’t care if it would separate us further. I liked being apart. And I think he did too.

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I no longer showed him attraction or affection.

This one’s easy. I no longer felt an attraction toward my husband, and I was never great at faking it, so I just … stopped giving him affection. Being intimate was a chore, and I avoided it as much as I could.

The truth is, cheating stems from a deficit in the relationship. The cheating partner is lacking something and looking elsewhere to find it. And it’s not always a physical thing. Maybe the sex in your relationship is still present. Maybe it’s even fulfilling, but there’s some other disconnect between you and your partner. Maybe they are yearning for a deeper emotional or intellectual connection. Maybe they form an innocent friendship and, unintentionally, fall in love and start an affair.

Or maybe the physical intimacy has gone out of your relationship, and your partner craves human touch. They need that physical connection in order to feel whole, to feel alive. And when it’s gone from the relationship, the temptation to go outside of it in order to have physical needs met is strong.

Cheating is Dangerous

In my situation, staying so long in an unhealthy relationshp was the wrong move. My ex and I were both too ingrained in our own beliefs and incompatibilities, and we were never going to see eye to eye. I did things to push him to cheat and he did things that pushed me to push him away. Not every marriage is worth saving, and this was one such case.

Some marriages are worth saving, however, and it takes a lot of hard work and sometimes professional couple’s counseling to do so. Especially when both parts of a couple have hurt each other over and over again.

When a relationship is in trouble, I don’t think cheating is the right answer. While things can work out okay in the end for some, it’s too big a risk. Cheating can break people. It can lead to abusive arguments or physical violence. It can lead to mental distress or maybe even suicide.

Couple counseling, ethical non-monogamy, or breaking up is usually the best way to go. And while it’s not always easy to see or work on the more difficult solutions, being aware of your options is a good start. Rather than going behind your significant other’s back and hiding secrets, honesty is the best policy.

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Holly Bradshaw is a curious creature, pursuer of passion, unbeliever in limiting or lengthy bios. She also hosts a sex and relationships podcast called The Sex Curious Podcast with Holly Bradshaw.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.