Do Husbands Cheat Because Their Wives Don’t Appreciate Them?

by: katie lersch: If you spend any amount of time researching why men cheat on their wives, I’m extremely confident that you’ll read about this theory of cheating.  Many experts have been quite outspoken about their assertions that a man’s cheating has less to do with sex or his attraction to his wife and more to do with a husband not feeling appreciated.  (In fact, who can forget Gary Neuman’s appearance on Oprah and the women audience member’s angry reaction to it?  (I don’t blame the women by the way.  I feel the same way.))

Supposedly, because of this lack of appreciation, the second another woman listens to a husband, notices his efforts and attributes, and seems to appreciate them, the marriage is vulnerable to an affair.  And if the woman suddenly appreciating him is affectionate, there, willing and available, then an affair is that much more likely and the marriage is that much more vulnerable.

I understand why the experts talk about and believe this.  And you really can’t blame them.  Their theories are a direct reflection of what men tell them about their reasons for cheating.  And men will definitely tell you that one of the major contributing factors to them cheating or having an affair is feeling under appreciated. 

I’ve had numerous men contact me on my blog and tell me the exact same thing.  And these men are very sincere and whole heartedly believe what they are saying.  They don’t see this as excuse.  They just see it as their truth.

Feeling Unappreciated Is Not A Valid Reason For Cheating, But This Reasoning Still Holds Important Clues For Us:  Here’s the point which I think many people miss.  While I don’t doubt that these men felt unappreciated, why is this an excuse for cheating?  In my opinion, almost every one feels unappreciated in their marriage at some time in their lives.  But not every one cheats.  I don’t doubt for a moment that people cheat when they feel that their spouse doesn’t understand them, listen to them, and value them.

But the real question, at least to me, is why they cheat and then create an even larger problem in their marriage?  Wouldn’t a better course of action be to ask your spouse for more attention and appreciation rather than just seeking the same somewhere else?  (Of course, many people who cheat will tell you they have done this and have either been ignored or told that they expect too much or are overreacting.) I believe that it’s very important that we change our mind sets about this.  It’s important that both spouses understand that there’s never any justification for cheating when you have the ability to communicate and ask what you need instead.  And because of this, it’s very important to create an open atmosphere in your marriage where both people feel safe and supported about bringing this sort of thing up.

The truth is, when someone cheats, there’s no way to take it back, no matter how or why it happened.  That’s why, to me, this argument is one that unfortunately comes after the fact when it’s too late to take any action.

However, this does give us some very important insights that we can use in the future.  It lets us know that this is one place where men in particular are very vulnerable. We don’t necessarily have to agree with or understand this reasoning to know it’s there. And this gives us some clues as to where we need to turn our attention if we don’t want to deal with infidelity again.

For example, although I don’t completely buy this an excuse, I want my husband to be faithful to me from here on out.  So I make it a point to make sure that we both feel appreciated, heard and valued.  It’s the right thing to do and it has benefits for me, my marriage, and my own well being as well.  I’ve found that if you go out of your way to provide your spouse with what’s important to them, they will often do the same, at least to the best of their ability.

How To Handle It When Your Husband Is Claiming He Cheated Because You Didn’t Appreciate Him:  So what do you do when you’re on the receiving end of this argument?  I know that it can be maddening to constantly hear what sounds like silly excuses for cheating.  I recently heard from a woman who said, in part: “he says he cheated because I didn’t appreciate him but what a ridiculous thing to say.  I’m the most under appreciated person in my family but I’m faithful.  I want to tell him he’s acting like a child.  Do I have to constantly feed his ego and reassure him for him to be faithful to me?  It’s just silly.”

I understand feeling this way.  These points are valid ones.  But sometimes you have to ask yourself which strategy is better for you in the long run.  The point is, you can debate this point endlessly with your husband and remain defensive about it, or you can try to come to some sort of understanding about it so that you can move on.

I’ve always suggested acknowledging it even if you don’t agree.  People can’t control what they are feeling, but they can control their reactions to those feelings.  When you are ready, a suggested script (especially when you want to save your marriage) might be something like.  “I hear what you are saying, although I don’t necessarily agree with it.  And I don’t think that feeling unappreciated is a valid reason to break your marriage vows.  I wish you would have come to me about this before you did something you can never take back.  In the future, you will have to come to me because it’s never going to be OK for you to cheat.  There will never be any valid reason that I will accept for infidelity. But the issue before us now is where do we go from here.  I want for us to rebuild a healthy marriage and I want for both of us to have what we need to be happy.  I will make an effort to make you feel more appreciated but you have to communicate your feelings and directly ask for what you need. I can’t read your mind so I can’t give you what you need if I don’t always know what your needs are.”

I know that dealing with these sorts of excuses can be maddening. But, always try to focus on moving forward despite them. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, I did eventually truly get over the affair. My marriage is stronger than ever. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Our bond and intimacy is much stronger and because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is in tact. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at


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