Expert Warns Couples Of The 5 Common Habits That Lead To Cheating

Most affairs can be prevented.

Woman and man arguing on a beach because he cheated Shutterstock 

Nobody goes into a marriage hoping to have an affair. Unfortunately, between 10-15% of women cheat in marriage, and between 20-25% of men do so. These are disturbing numbers. What is interesting, however, is many affairs can be prevented with some attention by both spouses to the marriage itself.

During my decade as a relationship coach, time and again, I see the same things happening in a marriage that set it up for one or both spouses to cheat. But it can be avoided!


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Here are the 5 biggest risk factors for infidelity in a relationship.

1. Not putting issues to bed.

I remember when I was married, we had issues pop up over and over and over. How he would never come home on time for dinner. How I wouldn’t go to every family event. Whether or not we forced the kids to eat their vegetables. How to budget our money. And we fought about those things over and over and over.

What we never did was settle them. During a fight, one or the other would storm away, maybe sleep in the guest room, simmering with anger. The next morning, we would act like nothing had ever happened. We might be distant from each other for a while, but the heightened emotions would go away, and we would go on with our lives until the issue came up again.


Because these issues weren’t put to bed, they only became bigger over the years. We both saw each other’s actions as signs we were no longer loved. Dinners would be full of tension around who would eat what. And don’t even get me started about money.

It is essential if you want to affair-proof your marriage, you put issues to bed when they arise so they don’t rear their ugly heads over and over, causing more damage than they should.



2. Not being honest with each other.

How many times have you not told your spouse the whole truth? Perhaps it was a lie by omission. Perhaps, it was a white lie, too insignificant to be important. Perhaps, it was a lie to protect your spouse from something. Whatever the reason, it was a lie.


It is essential for a healthy relationship that everyone is honest with each other. Couples must be honest about how they feel about what is going on in their lives, and the lives of their children. About how they spend their time and their money. About all of the things that are part of everyday life in a marriage.

Lies, like unsettled issues, only erode a relationship. When caught in a lie, someone loses another’s trust. And, once trust is gone, it is hard to be regained.

How can you love someone who you know you can’t trust, with things big and small?

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3. Starting to think of each other as opponents.

Has this happened to you? When it’s time to discuss something with your spouse, do you go into it and think they are your partner and the discussion will go well because you have a common goal? Or do you go into a discussion ready to fight, knowing no matter the issue, your partner will push back?

For many couples, years and years of not putting things to bed and telling each other half-truths can set them up to be adversaries. Think about it like you would someone you worked with. If you had issues with a co-worker and talked badly about each other, could you ever work together well? Or, every time an idea came up, would you shoot it down, even if it was a good one?

Marriages are partnerships, and if the players don’t go into a discussion recognizing that partnership, resentments, and anger will only build, eroding the marriage even more.

couple stands back to back with arms crossed.


Photo: Luisa Bayona via Shutterstock

4. Not being clear about what they need.

Many of my clients come to me because they are unhappy in a relationship and their partner doesn’t give them what they need. I ask them what they need from their partners to feel happy. Almost without exception, they have no idea. They want to “feel loved,” and that is it.

Spouses must figure out what they need from their partner and ask for it clearly. This is especially important for women. Many women just want to “feel loved,” but they don’t know what it means. And that phrase, for men, is a mystery.

Men need concrete information, and when given it, they can often step up to give their partner what they are asking for. And, for women, they often give their spouses what they need (think love languages) but not what their partner needs because they have no idea what it is.


Before you head into another marriage counseling session where you talk about your feelings, instead talk to each other about what you need in the marriage. Doing so will keep your partner from going elsewhere to fill those needs.

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5. Not making each other priorities.

I know, I know. Your world is an unpredictable place. Between work, kids, dogs, bills, in-laws, sports, and chores, there are barely enough hours in the day. Then how can you make your partner a priority when there is so much else that needs to come first? I know it seems impossible, but really, it isn’t.

I am guessing that in the past, your partner was a priority. Perhaps not the top priority, but at least in the top three. But over time, their place on the list has probably gotten lower, perhaps even without you noticing it has.


Many couples let their partners slip down the ladder of priorities because they take them for granted. They believe, despite their lack of importance to them, they made a vow, they are married, and it means they will always be there for each other, no matter what happens.



I know my ex-husband promised me he would never leave me. And I took it for granted. I pretty much ignored him much of the time and prioritized everything else because I believed he would always be there. And then, he wasn’t. He found someone else who would make him a priority, and he left me.

So, be sure to keep your partner in the top three on your priority list. Let them know you love them and appreciate them. It will keep your relationship strong and leave no space for infidelity.


If you have read this far, I am guessing infidelity has made its way into your marriage. Maybe the door is just cracked open, or a full-blown affair is happening. And good for you for trying to figure out what happened in your marriage that has opened the door and what can be done differently going forward.

While there are large percentages of people who cheat, the percentage of those who don’t is larger. You can be one of those 75-85% of those who don’t cheat with a little bit of time and attention.

You can do it!

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Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate who works exclusively with women to help them be all they want to be. Mitzi's bylines have appeared in The Good Men Project, MSN, PopSugar, Prevention, Huffington Post, and Psych Central, among many others.