Infidelity And Income Or Finances. Are The Wealthy Or Poor More Likely To Cheat? What About A Change In Financial Status?

I often hear from people whose spouse was faithful until there was a significant change in financial status or income.  Sometimes, this is a huge promotion or a significant raise where the spouse has much more money than he’s ever had in his life.  Other times, the infidelity comes after a job loss or demotion.  Whatever the reason, wives often wonder if there is any correlation with the affair and the change in finances.

Someone might say: “honestly, I believed that wealthy men were more likely to cheat.  My family has never been wealthy, but things have never been as bad as they are right now.  My husband lost his job last year.  I started working more hours and he took over care of the household.  Instead of being grateful that I kept us afloat, I found out that while he was supposed to be caring for our kids, he was carrying out an affair.  I am shocked at this.  He’s never been unfaithful before.  My mother thinks that perhaps he felt badly about himself because of the job loss.  Is this possible?  Why would any woman want to cheat with an unemployed man who is home all day?”

Another example is the wife who says: “I am furious that my husband cheated on me.  I have been loyal to him for our whole married lives.  I worked to support him while he went to graduate school.  As he was building his business, I scraped and pinched pennies so that we could make the business a success.  But now that he is successful at this business that I helped him to build, he repays me by cheating with a much younger woman.  Maybe I’m crazy, but now I wish that I hadn’t helped him become so successful.  I honestly feel that if he didn’t have money, the other woman wouldn’t have thrown herself at him.  Am I wrong to think this?  Does success have anything to do with men who cheat?”

Statistics Show That It’s More About Equality Than Money: From my research, it appears that equal status among the spouses has more to do with who cheats and who doesn’t than actual dollars and cents.  In other words, just as we have seen above, the highest risk for cheating spouses is when one spouse makes much less money than the other, especially when the man’s earning capacity is less than the woman’s.  This doesn’t always make sense on the surface because you’d think that a husband in that situation would be on his best behavior.  After all, infidelity could potentially cause a divorce and what happens then?  But as we see with people who cheat when they are aging, people often cheat in order to feel better about themselves.  So a man who has lost his job and who feels that he isn’t contributing financially to his family’s success might be particularly vulnerable to an affair, especially if the other woman focuses on making him feel more worthy.

Likewise, men who earn significantly more than their wife are statistically more likely to cheat.  That may be because, as the wife above said, men who are seen as wealthy are more likely to have opportunities to cheat.  However, both of the above scenarios are why some experts will tell you that it’s really inequality rather than money that changes the dynamic in the marriage.  That said, everyone is different.  There are certainly stay-at-home or unemployed moms and dads who go their whole marriage without even considering cheating.  (I was one of them for many years.)   There are also successful and wealthy men and women who are completely faithful to their spouses despite ample opportunities to cheat.  So while money can play a role, so can anything that places stress on your marriage.  Frankly, money can be one of the biggest stressors to any marriage, so it makes sense that it might also contribute to infidelity.

I know that this can be frustrating and can make you hesitate to celebrate your spouse’s success or to be honest when he struggles financially.  But again, statistics don’t tell the whole story.  Plenty of people in this situation don’t cheat.  And even marriages marred by infidelity can recover and can even become stronger.  If you want to save your marriage, it is possible.

My husband’s affair did come after a promotion that required travel.  I used to blame this situation somewhat.  However, human beings have free will.  So my husband’s situation most certainly did not excuse him.  He made a choice and he had to take responsibility for that, which he did.   Once we healed our marriage, we made a conscious decision as a couple that neither of us would take work that requires long periods of time away from our family.  This has worked well for us, but each couple has to decide what works for them. If you’d like to read more about what that process was like for me, check out my blog at

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