Your husband cheated. And now, you are suffering through the pain and anguish that often lies in the aftermath of an affair. Cheating is often seen (and felt) as the ultimate deception – the downright deal breaker in a marriage. It is perhaps the most difficult indiscretion to forgive especially since it involves deception at so many levels of the relationship. For women, who are often quick to forgive (but not forget) the biggest question after an affair has been discovered is can cheating husbands change their ways?
Is the old adage, ‘Once a cheater always a cheater,’ true? Can relationships really survive infidelity? Is there anyway to ever really trust a man that has already cheated on you once?
Relationships are 100% about compromise. When a couple isn’t happy, there are always little ways that each partner can compromise and make small changes within themselves and their own behavior to make things better. A woman can learn to nag less. A man can learn to purchase flowers every once in a while.
But can the circumstances that led to the sexual betrayal be fixed in a similar way?
Statistics on Cheating
According to relationship experts, the answer of whether a cheating husband can ever change their ways lies more within the individual man and in the relationship itself than in statistics. Every relationship, and every form of infidelity is different. What caused a man to steer toward another woman varies greatly from one man to another. Some men simply need to keep variety in their lives and are constantly looking for ways to inflate their ego. For other men, it is a lack of sexual satisfaction at home leads to infidelity. For others, it involves an adrenaline rush and can become a psychiatric addiction.
According to research from the Wall Street Journal, around 60% of men admit to cheating in one form or another on their partners. However, according to many sources, around 91% of men who cheat whether physically or emotionally will deny their involvement with another women unless they are completely ‘caught with their pants down,’ so to speak. For this reason, the statistics on how many cheat are quite skewed.
The risk of cheating is highest within the first three years of marriage – then falls slightly and then steadily increases with age, with older men – around the age of 45 being the most likely to seek external affairs. Sociologist expert Diane Solee with the Smart Marriages Coalition believes that affairs are more common today than they were in the past because technology has enabled couples to have more autonomy and secrecy in their life. Many people initiate what is considered harmless interactions with people over the internet or through text messaging and chat room or social networking sites and find themselves running headfirst into an emotional affair that turns physical. Yet, while 90% of the population today still believes that cheating is wrong – under any circumstances, infidelity remains the number one cause for divorce.
He Cheated. Can You Trust Him Again?
Once an affair is revealed, the couple is left to deal with a malady of emotions from anger and resentment to hate and anguish. In a book written by relationship expert and Rabbi, Gary Neuman called, The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do To Prevent It,” women play a major role in whether men can be trusted again after infidelity. In his research which included a large amount of men who admitted to cheating on their wives (many more than once) the answer whether to trust again lies in your husbands response to the infidelity. He says,
“If you have a husband who does NOT show remorse, who blames the women for the infidelity and/or is not willing to be completely transparent moving forward and is not truly apologetic for what he has already done, then I don't see how a woman could entrust her vulnerability to that man again.”
Dr. Phil the popular television therapist believes that women have to hand down circumstances to a man after cheating. Most often, women go through a cycle when an affair is suspsected. The ‘not knowing’ phase drives them insane and they may feel off balance or crazy. Once the indiscretion is revealed however, women tend to level out and more able to deal with the situation. Far too often, they feel guilty or at fault for the affair, and will quickly try to do things to ‘save the marriage.’ Men, often take advantage of this ability to ‘let it go’ and end up not being forced to deal with any repercussions of the affair. Dr. Phil’s advice is for women to remove themselves from the situation for a while so they can think, develop questions and find a way to cope with the infidelity with balance and common sense.
He also is firm that women have to be able to get ALL the information that they desire – about the details of the affair, in order to process it psycologically. If a man is unwilling to give full disclosure, chances are he will cheat again and the relationship will never be repaired.
Dr. Phil also warns women that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Let’s repeat that phrase because its meaningful and accurate!
THE BEST PREDICTOR OF FUTURE BEHAVIOR IS PAST BEHAVIOR
And this is where every women who has been the victim of an affair has to make a choice. Many women find that being cheated on puts them in a position in the relationship to have control for a while. When something goes wrong, they can always draw the, “You cheated on me,” card to ‘get their way.’ Yet this is simply a way that women empower themselves to play the victim. As a wife of a man who cheated, you have to ask yourself what YOU are gaining from ‘playing the victim’ in the relationship and whether it is truly an abundant way for you to live your life – or a good example for your children.
Additionally, it is important for a woman to understand WHY the man cheated in the first place. Was it sexual dissatisfaction? Many men cheat with women that are less attractive than their wives and who would not make an ideal choice as a life partner because they aren’t really looking to escape the marriage. Is it ego driven? Was it an accident?
And perhaps most important for a woman who has been the victim of infidelity is to consider this further advice from relationship expert Dr. Phil:
“Forgiveness is a choice. It doesn't mean what your partner did is OK. How much you trust your partner is in part, about what your partner does, and in part a function of whether you have confidence to handle it if he/she disappoints you. If you find out that he/she strays again, can you handle that?”
Obviously, there is inherent risk when trying to rebuild a relationship after infidelity. Statistics indicate that around 20% of all men who cheat once WILL CHEAT AGAIN. And further marital statistics show that 70% of the time, women who have been cheated on eventually divorce their spouses due to the infidelity.
The choice is yours. But be forewarned. When wondering whether a cheating husband can change his cheating ways or not, the answers are almost always readily available inside your heart and intuition. Truth is, YOU deserve to be able to trust your partner – and YOU have to be the one to set firm limits and boundaries in your relationship. If you are not willing to do so, you will likely end up with a serial cheater.