Hearing your spouse has cheated on you can be devastating news. Often it signals the end of the marriage. This is especially true if the unfaithful spouse refuses to end the affair, shows little remorse and expresses no guilt about their harmful actions.
Many couples who choose to remain together, however, can find happiness, especially if they decide to stay married because they loved each other, rather than because of an external reason such as children or financial barriers to divorce. Others choose to remain married because of spiritual reasons, and many are able to use that same spirituality to bring healing and peace to their fractured relationship. Marital infidelity can also be a sign, albeit a devastating one, that can bring change to an unhappy relationship.
Cheating…why do we do it?
In a recent study conducted by a group of psychologists at Loras College, the main reason spouses cheat was because their spouse was not offering as much sex as they believed they needed or they wanted. Other reasons cited were that a spouse was not emotionally satisfied in their current relationship or did not feel validated. Next, some spouses suggested that they no longer felt they were in love with their spouse. Finally, spouses who cheated often cited reasons such as boredom, sensation seeking or revenge as a motivation.
How did the spouses feel after cheating?
As you might imagine, feelings about an extramarital affair run the gamut: shame, guilt, fear of abandonment, anxiety over being caught, pleasure, disappointment, and sexual satisfaction. The feelings differed based on why the spouse cheated in the first place. Often those who cheated just to experience additional sexual satisfaction report that they felt more “emotionally satisfied with the outcome.”
Interestingly, these same cheaters reported that they were more disappointed with their spouses than with themselves because they felt frustrated that their partners had not been giving them what they needed. Those who were hoping to get more emotional fulfillment or wanted to feel special, however, generally did not feel as satisfied after cheating on their spouse.
Do men and women feel differently about cheating?
Do men and women feel differently about cheating? In the particular survey discussed above, the motivation for women and men was not differentiated, so it is difficult to draw conclusions about specific sexes. The psychologists did note, however, that “in many respects women responded similarly to men.” They also stated they believe that women and men both can feel that “sex or emotional intimacy are missing from their relationship, and therefore seek either or both in an affair.”
The researchers also noted that cheaters often blame the other spouse for their actions, claiming that not only were their actions justified, but they had little reason to feel guilty. Others reported they experienced a high level of guilt. This was true for both men and women.
Cheating on one’s spouse is a risky venture, one which is likely to jeopardize the relationship. Although marriage is difficult and takes work, many who have cheated and destroyed their marriages have realized if they had to do it again- they wouldn’t.
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