The other day, I received an email from a wife who told me that her husband had been having a two month affair with a coworker that she had recently found out about. Of course, she was shocked, confused, and hurting. But, to make matters even more confusing for her, the husband had been asking to return to the marriage -- fully committed to saving it, and making all sorts of promises to make this right and to make all of this up to her. At first glance, this all sounded good to the wife but of course she had nagging doubts. She asked me: "why exactly do men come back to their wives after an affair? Is it because they've been caught? Is it because the other woman has broken things off? Is it because they realize that the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence? What is it?"
In truth, it can be all of these things, but more commonly, it's something a little more deeper and complicated than those things. I'll explain this more in the following article.
An Affair Or Cheating Is Often A Plan That Seems Good At The Time Which is Later Exposed To Be What It Truly Is - A Terrible Mistake: This truth is often hard for women to understand because our thinking is much different, but often an affair is a man's attempt to deal with issues or problems with his self esteem. I know this both from research and from the large amount of married men who visit my blog and write to me about the huge mistake that they made when they cheated.
And, most of them will say that they don't know what in the world they were thinking and that they should have approached their wives because their mistake altered her life forever. But the story they tell is one where they were feeling doubtful or bad about themselves. They were under stress or in a slump or worried about aging or feeling as though they were a failure or on their way down rather than on their way up. Many weren't looking for an affair, but the circumstances were such that the other person was truly at the right place at the worst possible time.
Most will tell themselves that the cheating is only going to be a one time or fleeting thing which will make them feel better or relieve some of their stress and that no one will need to be hurt by this because no one will need to find out. Of course, the plan almost never turns out this way. People do find out. People are deeply hurt. And soon, the hard reality is impossible to ignore. The affair has only made the husband's problems much worse. He still has all of the insecurities, doubts, and stress, but now he's damaged his marriage and hurt someone that he was supposed to protect.
And guess what? Now his already struggling self esteem takes an even bigger hit. Not only does he not feel any better, but now things have gone from bad to worse. His terrible mistake is exposed. He can not undo the damage and his vulnerability and stupidity is exposed for all to see.
Men Who Cheated Often Return To Their Wives Because They Want Their Life Back: As I said, it often doesn't take too long for it to become apparent that there were very serious flaws in the husband's thinking. This is about the point where he panics and beats himself up and starts muttering phrases like: "how could I have been so stupid? What it the world was I thinking?" And this is often the point where he'd love to take everything back but realizes that he can't.
No, he can't take it back. But, if he is able to convince you that he's sorry and if he promises to make things right and to work with you on saving the marriage, then maybe, just maybe, he can have his old life back. Because it's now very clear to him that he had no idea how good he really had it. The trick of course (and this is a very tall order) is to convince you, his wife, of this. Because you're not likely to truly believe much of what he says at this point.
Setting Boundaries And Getting What You Need To Let Him Back In: Many wives write to me and admit that they want to save their marriages but they also admit that they just don't trust what their husband is saying. This is completely understandable. You'd be silly and self destructive to do this and even if you could swing it, you'd still likely have doubts that would plague you.
So, it's important to define exactly what it's going to take to restore your trust and to gain your cooperation and then to speak up. Because if you don't ask for this, then you may well not get it. And, in not getting it, you're setting yourself up for failure. If you want or need him to go to counseling, ask that he does. If you want reassurance and transparency, then demand that you get it. If you want to be alone for a while, then ask him to give you space. In short, you are in the driver's seat here and you don't have to trust him or give him your cooperation until he in turn has given you what you need to begin the healing.