Do People Think About How The Affair Will Affect Their Spouse?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who just can not fathom how their spouse would have an affair when he must have realized how much of a negative effect this was going to have on his family. These confused faithful spouses will often tell you that their cheating spouse is a careful and considerate person, so they just can not understand how he could have done something like this.

Common comments are things like: “I am so shocked that my husband had an affair. I never thought that he was that type of person. He is a very good man and he has never done anything to hurt me before. We have had friends who have gone through infidelity and we have both seen how unbelievably painful this is for the entire family. I can’t believe that he would put us in this position. Don’t people who cheat or have affairs consider what this is going to do to their spouse?” I will try to answer these questions below.

Why Decent People Take The Risk To Cheat: I have to admit that I am the faithful spouse so I don’t have the direct experience of the cheater’s thought process. But I hear from many folks who have had affairs on my blog.  Most deeply regret it once the truth is out.  And from this correspondence, I have developed the opinion that although many do worry about what is going to happen once their spouse finds out, many are also hoping with everything that they have that their spouse is never going to find out. In fact, many believe that they are being extremely careful and that the chance of discovery is quite low. Also, most are not thinking very clearly during this time.

I have repeatedly noticed that affairs very commonly happen at a time of great stress. Examples are after becoming parents, after gaining or losing a job, or after going through a life altering experience like the loss of a loved one, an illness, or another “close call.” What I mean by this is that people are most likely to cheat when they are the most vulnerable. I am certainly not saying this in order to excuse the cheating. But it is my observation that it is true. And, the point that I am trying to make is that many factors can contribute to your spouse not thinking very clearly, which might be why responsible, caring, and conscientious folks sometimes cheat on their spouses. They take this risk even though in the back of their minds they know there is a chance that their choice is going to cause a lot of pain. And they do this even when they care about their spouse greatly. Because they are hoping that you will never find out and therefore you will not feel the pain.

Making Sure That He Knows How This Has Affected You: I have to say that most of the time, your spouse knows how much this has disappointed and hurt you. With that said, some people will try to downplay or diminish their actions because acknowledging reality is difficult and painful for everyone involved. You have every right to tell your spouse how this has affected you and your family. However, I also have to mention that there is a fine line between being open and honest and being repetitive. Cheating spouses often comment that although they are deeply sorry for the pain that they have caused, they can’t help but distance themselves from the whole situation as a form of self preservation. They often say that every conversation centers around how they have ruined everything. They will tell you that their spouse never passes up the opportunity to let them know how they have messed up. And as result, they will sometimes start to tune you out just because it is human nature to want to resist hearing negative things about yourself on a regular basis. So you want to make sure that they understand what they have set into motion, but you also want to focus on healing and rehabilitation because neither of you deserve to have every waking moment centered on something so painful.

But to answer the question posed, most people do realize that they are taking a risk. Often, they will try to put this in the back of their mind because they are often struggling on many different levels. Plus, they will often do everything that they possibly can in order to keep this a secret so that no one is hurt. When this strategy fails, they often see your pain first hand and they can’t deny the horrible affect this has had. But sometimes, they tune this out or distance themselves from it because it is very painful to face this head on, especially since they caused it in the first place. That’s why it can help for you to be very clear about the aftermath. But once you are sure that he understands the cost of his actions, then it is time to turn your attention to how you want to proceed and how (or if) you want to fix this. Because dwelling on the fall out can sometimes make your spouse retreat even further and that doesn’t benefit anyone.

I truly believe that my husband understood very clearly how the affair impacted our family.  There were times when he wanted to pretend that he didn’t. but I believe that deep down, he understand our new reality.  Regardless, I needed for him to work tirelessly to make this right again.  Both of us had a lot of work to do, but we eventually recovered.  If it helps, you can read more on my blog at

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