The Real Reason Your Husband Will Cheat On You

Infidelity: The Real Reason Your Husband Will Cheat On You
Self, Heartbreak

Your husband is bored with you and that's why he cheated. Don't shoot the messenger, I'm just telling it as I hear it. I'm a psychotherapist which makes me, if nothing else, an expert listener. And that's what I'm hearing, time and again, from my middle-aged, long-married male clients who come to me disillusioned and unhappy with their wives. To clarify, this isn't an article about how middle-aged men don't appreciate all you do for your family. And it's certainly not about bashing your choices or the things that make you happy. (To be clear, I'm a sister-friend to the end.)

Your husband isn't bored because you're the only woman he's had sex with for years. Or because you putter around the house in those dingy, flannel pajama pants every day. Nope. It's because you haven't grown up.

In his humble opinion, you're still the young woman he married — and not in a good way. You just haven't, well, evolved. You're not exciting. You're not interesting. And, more than that, you simply don’t act like an adult.

I don't mean to imply that you wear your hair in braids (OK, maybe you do in a cool, sexy way) and play jump rope in the schoolyard. Or that you don’t know how to tie your own shoes or make a cup of coffee. Of course you do. But emotionally, there’s just something lacking.

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Think about it, ladies. Your husband presumably goes to work every day where there are vibrant, smart women doing similar work to his. These women are engaging with your husband around topics they're both interested in. Perhaps they discover they have similar personal interests as well. (If you've ever wondered how affairs start, this is how.)

So, your husband comes home and you’re in aforementioned dingy flannels and all you've done today is grocery-shopped and returned some stuff to Marshalls. Maybe you went for a walk with a friend and ferried your kids all over creation. These are all fine things, but this is what your husband hears when he asks about your day: (insert white noise here).

But it's not that you haven't cured cancer or run the marathon, according to your husband, it's that you also seemingly can't handle life's difficulties. Issues and relationships that are more complex or that take emotional maturity to manage bring you to your knees. You crumble because someone keyed your car. You tearfully obsess over that birthday party your daughter wasn’t invited to.

But here's where I blame the guys. When they married you, they wanted to be in charge of the big decisions like how the money got spent or what kind of house you would buy. You seemed happy to let him take the wheel. Maybe that's what your parents' marriage was like and it looked pretty good to you. All fair. But now your husband doesn't want that passive woman anymore. He wants someone who can bring home the turkey bacon and fry it up in the pan. He wants a well-rounded, emotionally reliable, strong woman as a partner. He may even still want you (and often that’s the case) but he wants a more grown-up and evolved you.

Years ago, a male client of mine had an affair with a woman he worked with. This woman was ten years older than his wife and wasn’t remarkably attractive. But she was successful and smart in the same ways he was. His wife was home with their three young kids. Any small glitch (the ATM eating her bank card, for example) reduced her to tears. She was a lovely person, he claimed, but childlike in many ways. And he wanted the company of a full-fledged woman, someone whose conversation excited and stimulated him. 

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We can all envision the prototypical image of the middle-aged man who has an affair with his twenty-something secretary. And certainly those men are out there. But some research shows that when men have affairs they're not involved with someone prettier or younger or fitter than you, they're involved with someone more interesting. Surprising?

Psychologist Thomas A. Habib reports that men enter relationships with passive women initially because they are easy to be with and malleable. The problem lies, he writes, in that men eventually become bored with these women and their respect for them dwindles over time. He warns that a woman needs to be her own person, one who exercises her independence and autonomy, in order to stay interesting to her husband.

A wise mentor of mine once said that successful marriages are the ones in which each partner finds the other infinitely interesting. And, implied in that, is that we should strive to remain interesting to our partners. Doesn't that make sense? 

You might be thinking that this is your husband's problem. You’re who he chose to marry, not some other version of you. And you’d be inarguably right. So, don’t grow or change or learn or evolve for him. Do it for yourself. You may just find it improves your marriage at the same time. And, inarguably, there’s nothing wrong with that.