Do I Need To Completely Understand The Reasons My Husband Had An Affair? Or Should I Let It Go?

By Katie Lersch:I often hear from wives who are desperately trying to understand the reason that their husband cheated or had an affair. But sometimes, despite their husband’s attempts to explain, they still just don’t get it. And sometimes, a husband can be reluctant to discuss the real reasons for the affair (because he may not even understand them himself or he’s trying to spare you pain) and there are times when he will insinuate that you should “just let it go.” It’s understandable that, rather than continuing to struggle to understand something that might be impossible to ever understand, you can begin to wonder if you shouldn’t just try to let it go and move on.

I recently heard from wife who said, in part: “my husband has tried to explain to me that he isn’t entirely sure why he had an affair. He says that it might have been because he was trying to make himself feel better or to make his life seem more exciting. He keeps hinting that he was at a bad place in his life at the time. He says he can’t just make me a list of reasons why he cheated because he doesn’t entirely understand it himself. And he says that my continuing to harp on knowing the exact reasons make him very frustrated and discouraged. He bluntly tells me he wishes that I would just ‘let it go’ instead of dwelling on ‘why answers’ that we might never have. So should I let it go? Is it that important to completely understand why he had an affair?”

These are tricky questions to answer. I will discuss the reasoning behind my opinion on this in the following article.

Why You Should Have A Reasonably Good Handle On The Factors That Contributed Most To The Affair: I actually do believe that it’s possible that a man could be telling you his version of the truth when he says that he isn’t entirely sure why he had the affair. One of the contributing factors to an affair can be that a man is trying to run away from this problems. So the very fact that he’s avoiding them so aggressively can be a contributing factor to him not being able to give you a list of those same problems right now.

Is this a valid reason for you to just drop it? I don’t think so. While he may not understand why he had the affair (or hesitates to fully explain it,) this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to do your best to understand it. And I can get you started with at least some common reasons that men give me when they comment on my blog for cheating or having an affair. Many will tell you that although they didn’t intend to cheat or have an affair, they found themselves engaging with someone else because they got caught up in feeling appreciated, exploring something new, or enhancing the excitement in their life. This doesn’t mean that you were lacking in any of these areas. It can mean that, for whatever reason, they weren’t reaching out to you at the time and someone else was in the right place at precisely the right time.

Men will often have an affair after a period of self evaluation where they feel as if they’re coming up short somewhere. So, when someone shows them some attention, this feels very appealing to them and they begin to follow the pay off. Other times, men who have affairs are reacting to personal loss. They may have lost a family member or close friend or perhaps they have recently been through a serious illness. This can sometimes make them feel as if “life’s too short” so they take risks or act in ways that aren’t typical of them.

These reasons may or may not apply to your situation. I’m just trying to get you started in brainstorming areas that you might address or explore in the future. It’s vital to uncover, understand, and then address any issues that may have lead up to the affair. Because doubt while trying to recover the affair will sabotage your marriage and bring it to it’s knees faster than anything else. Recovery from an affair is tricky enough and it’s extremely important that you’re not walking on eggshells because you’re worrying that you’re going to repeat the same mistakes or that your husband is going to react to the same set of circumstances.

While It’s Important To Understand Why The Affair Happened, You May Never 100% Understand Your Husband’s Thought Process And Motivations: I can’t stress enough how important it is to affair proof your marriage after understanding what left you vulnerable in the first place. With that said though, it’s sometimes unrealistic if not downright impossible to believe that you can completely put yourself in your husband’s shoes in order to totally understand why he had an affair. One reason for this is that you have been hurt and directly affected by his actions. Therefore, it is usually next to impossible for you to feel any objectivity. Not only that, but sometimes we are coming from a place where we’re thinking things like: “I don’t care how bad my marriage was or how unappreciated I felt, I would never cheat.” It’s just human nature and there is nothing wrong with this. Finally, there are two versions to every story. While your husband may see your marriage or even his life in one way, it’s probably a pretty fair bet that you see it in another.

So while I can not over stress the importance of digging deep to determine and then fix whatever contributed to the affair, I also know that it’s virtually impossible to understand every single angle of someone else’s thought process or actions. And, once you’ve done your best to understand and then fix the issues and you’re moving forward toward recovery and making real progress, then you’re sometimes at a point where continuing to look backward does you no good and may in fact end up holding you back rather than helping you to move on.

I really struggled with questions of “why” after my husband’s affair. I wanted to know the exact reasons that he would cheat on me. And although I did eventually get many of the answers I wanted, I also know that I’ve never 100% get it. But that didn’t mean that we couldn’t save our marriage, which is actually pretty strong today. It was a difficult process at times but it was worth it. If it helps you can read our story of recovery after infidelity on my blog at

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