Today, I am going to explore several popular myths concerning cheating within a marriage. Part of the reason that affairs are such a big issue is because of the myths and labels within affairs. These ‘statements’ often interfere with marriage recovery and recovery of self after infidelity has entered the home. Below are some of the most common myths and my thoughts around them.
1. Myth – ‘Cheaters are bad people’. Reality – Most of the time, we have husbands that cheat, not bad husbands that cheat, there is a difference. Yes, there are some bad human beings that cheat. Cheaters that do not care at all about their wife, has cheated and lied during the entire marriage, and will never stop – it’s a part of them.
But this is not the case for the majority of men that cheat. The majority of men that cheat are husbands, they are the ones that take our kids to basketball practice, they help us when our car breaks down, they provide for the family. They do not intend to get married just so they can cheat and hurt their wife.
As wives, we often are mentally torn after the affair, because for years we have images of a ‘cheater’ being this evil, vindictive, person that is selfish, careless human being. So when we find out our ‘husband’ is cheating, we can’t wrap our arms around the concept that a ‘good father’ or a ‘good family man’ can cheat, but it happens all the time.
We have to get to the point as a society where we recognize both types, and stop labeling all ‘cheaters’ as horrible casts offs. Because of the labeling, many men that cheat don’t want to have the open and honest conversation with their wives because they are afraid of the societal ridicule. As wives, we want to know the truth on if you want to work on the marriage, without having to think ‘Is he saying he wants to work this out to avoid ridicule or because he is sincere about saving the marriage?’.
Also, because of the label that ‘all cheaters are bad people’, it causes the wives that stay to feel intense shame over staying in the marriage. That should not be the case. Yes, the actions of a cheater are bad, it’s a selfish act, that is devastating on many levels, and I absolutely hold a person that has an affair accountable for their actions, but their actions often do not define every aspect of their being.
2. Myth – You are weak if you stay married after your husband cheats. Reality – working on repairing a marriage after an affair is in my opinion, the most difficult stage of any marriage. The emotions are so intense and strong, you have anger mixed in with betrayal, shame, not to mention the affair causing your deepest insecurities float to the top of your mind. Mix this with love, sex, bills, house cleaning, kids, and family and friends, when are you going to repair the marriage?
You are not weak if you stay married. Like one of the community members said, it takes strength to stay and strength to leave. I have been amazed at the strength of some women fighting to save their marriage. The key is to remember this: You can’t fight for your marriage alone, as a woman you can have all the strength to fight, but if your husband doesn’t step up with the same type of ‘fight’ and effort to save the marriage, it’s not going to work out, no matter how hard you try. And it often takes some time to determine if your husband steps up to the plate, and that is ok, doesn’t mean you are weak, it means you are a wife trying to figure out if your marriage can be saved.
Myth 3 – A cheater is a cheater is a cheater. Reality – there are different types of cheating and affairs, it is not one size fits all. The type of cheater that has an entire family in another state is different from the cheater that has a one night stand. I believe and have seen marriages recover after infidelity. I have seen stories where the affair open up conversations within the marriage and bonded the individuals together in a way that they never have before, so it is possible, but it all depends on the actions of the person that cheated after the affair, and the wives ability to heal from the devastation.
Myth 4 – All men cheat. Reality – All men do not cheat. I have had many men write to me just as devastated finding out their wives cheated. Yes, the site is primarily about women recovering from the affair simply because I am a woman that went through that experience. If I was a man that created a site about women cheating, that site would have tons of stories as well. Despite hearing thousands of stories of men cheating, I still have faith and know there are good, faithful men.
Infidelity is a difficult situation. During the lifetime of a marriage, both parties will have an opportunity to cheat. How we respond to that moment, combined with how we handle problems in the marriage prior to that moment, are KEYS to preventing affairs within the marriage. We have to start turning the ‘labels’ into conversations so we can understand and promote healing at all levels.