Is There Ever Justification To Cheat On Your Spouse?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from people who feel very justified in their cheating.  And I sometimes hear from spouses who want to know if those justification arguments are valid.  The truth is, it is very common for people to feel as if there were circumstances that almost excused or justified their cheating.  Common circumstances that I’ll hear are a loveless or sexless marriage, a spouse who is emotionally or physically absent, or a spouse who has “let themselves go.”

I heard from a wife who said: “my husband says he was fully justified in cheating on me and therefore will not take full responsibility for his actions. He also doesn’t appear to be all that sorry for his cheating.  I will admit that I wasn’t keeping up with him sexually.  If my husband had his way, we would have sex every night.  Last year, I was going through some health and family problems and my libido was much lower than his.  He would constantly complain that he was getting enough sex and that, when we did have sex, it wasn’t very exciting or adventurous.  When he would say things like this, it would make me angry.  So I would make comments like ‘why don’t you go out and find someone who satisfies you then?’  Needless to say, my husband took this to heart and did just that.  He started cheating with women he met at bars.  When I found out, I was furious and devastated.  But my husband doesn’t understand this and says that I pretty much gave him permission to cheat on him when I wasn’t interested in sex and when I had let myself go.  I wasn’t serious when I told him he should go somewhere else.  I just wanted him to drop the subject.  So who is right? Is there every any valid justification to cheat on your spouse? He says he wants to save our marriage, but when he tries to justify his cheating, it just infuriates me and I want nothing to do with him.”

I have a definite opinion on this. And I will freely admit that it is not a very objective one.  As a spouse who has been cheated on, I do not think that there is ever any valid justification to cheat.  I do understand that sometimes people can feel so unhappy that they want to take drastic action.  I do understand feeling so frustrated that you feel that you might burst.  But, there are always different paths that you might take before you take the action to cheat.  In this case, the husband did bring up his dissatisfaction to his wife, but he left it at that.  As soon as he didn’t get the reaction or actions that he wanted, he chose to cheat rather than to continue to talk about it, to suggest compromises, to seek counseling, or to suggest a separation or a divorce.

I understand that plenty of folks are going to disagree with me and that is fine.  Others will probably argue that this is an easy side for me to take since I was the cheated on and not the cheater.  This might be true.  But I firmly believe that no matter how frustrated or unhappy I was, I would either pursue another way or I would end my marriage before I was intimate with someone else.  This is only my opinion of course.  Every one is entitled to their own and it certainly may be different than mine.  I would also argue that placing the blame shouldn’t be your primary concern if you truly want to heal, which leads me to my next point.

How Much Does Justification For The Cheating Really Matter?: I fully understand that the person who was cheated on might dwell a good deal on their spouse’s attempts to justify their cheating.  Likewise, the spouse who cheated will often use the justification as a defense mechanism.  After all, who wants to place the blame firmly on their own shoulders for something that is so damaging?

I would argue that eventually, all of the justifications and excuses do not matter as much as the healing.  And quite honestly, often the cheating spouse will initially attempt to justify their actions, but then back off on this once they see how much this hurts their spouse.  And sometimes, when they have some time to clearly think about their actions, they will see just how wrong and misguided they truly were.  Often, this whole cycle just takes time.

What often becomes more important than the justification is whether or not both parties are open to healing.  Because the justifications can and often do change and sometimes, your outrage at the same will stop you from even stepping up to the plate and beginning the healing.  Believe me, I do understand the outrage that come along with these justifications, but don’t let this stop you from placing your focus on your own healing and your own ability to move on.

So to answer the question posed, I personally don’t think there’s ever any justification for cheating.  But, I also know that getting stuck on this issue can keep you from healing, which is much more important than worrying about who is most right and who is most wrong.  Even though my position on this is clear, I don’t think that it’s any one’s best interest to be so rigid that this is the only issue that is addressed.  I was always very clear on my opinion that my husband had no justification whatsoever for cheating on me, but this didn’t keep me from reconciling with him and saving my marriage.  If it helps you can read our recovery story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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