My Husband Cheated On Me When I Was Supporting Him Financially

By: Katie Lersch: It’s not uncommon for me to hear from spouses who have been cheated on in all sorts of unique situations. Make no mistake about it, being cheated on at any time is painful and unfair. But there are some circumstances that seem particularly cruel.  Being cheated on while pregnant or ill are two good examples. Another example is being cheated on when you are making some sacrifice for the good of your husband, your marriage, or your family and he cheats on you anyway.

For example, I might hear from a wife who says: “for most of our marriage, I have made more money than my husband. And honestly, we have both always been OK with that, although some of our friends and family have made a big deal about it. Honestly, it never bothered me. I am fortunate enough to have lucked into a wonderful career that provided lots of room for advancement. My husband wasn’t so lucky, but he has always been a hard worker, and, until recently he always worked a full time job to help out. Recently though, my husband confided in me that he had started to feel like a bit of failure when he realized that he was approaching middle aged and had little to show for it financially. He told me that he would like to go back to school. I have always been very supportive of my husband and I did not bat an eye before I agreed to this. My husband promised me that he would support me once his career got going should I want to return to school myself, but honestly I never intended to take him up on this. I am happy in my job and I was happy to support him. To be clear, I have been paying for his schooling as well as the household bills for the last eight months while he has been in school. Plus, I have shouldered many of the household chores so he could study. I never complained when he had to go on campus during times that he would normally spend with me. Well, come to find out, he has been having an affair with a woman who he has classes with. He accidentally left a chat up with her on his computer and I saw their conversation, which made it obvious that they have a romantic relationship. My husband broke it off immediately and is begging me not to leave him. Some of my friends are sarcastically saying that of course he doesn’t want me to leave him because if I did, who would support him financially then? This girl he is cheating with is only a student and is broke. I want to save my marriage, but part of me worries that he is only with me because of the financial support I give him. Do we even stand a chance?”

I believe that any time that you have two individuals ready and willing to put in the time and effort, you always have a chance. And, I do understand why you feel doubly betrayed. It’s bad enough that he has cheated on you. But it was made worse that he was taking advantage of your generosity, your loyalty ,and your support and then he decided to cheat on you anyway. This can make you feel extremely used and taken advantage of. And of course it can make you doubt your husband when he says that it is you that he wants. It makes you wonder whether if the other woman was wealthy or able to support him, would he chose her over you?

Here is the thing though. You can’t know this. You can’t turn back time or move it forward to test out either scenario. So you have to get quiet, search your feelings, gather as much information as you can, and then watch your husband’s actions very closely in an attempt to get as an accurate picture of reality as is possible.

I think that it could possibly be a mistake to assume that your husband has been someone who has always taken advantage. The wife herself said that he had always worked and done his fair share of labor. He didn’t get equal pay. But he put in an equal amount of hours. It wasn’t as if he had taken advantage of her generosity during the entire course of her marriage. And frankly, if she felt like he was taking advantage of her generosity right now, she could always tell her husband that she is no longer comfortable with supporting him financially, considering the turn of events.

If he really cares the most about his marriage and not about the financial support, then he will accept this. Plenty of people go to college part time while also working part time. It’s not ideal, but countless people do it every day because it is reality.

Here is one more think that you may want to consider. You can’t possibly know if the changes in your marital roles contributed to the affair. You can examine this and try to determine a causal relationship, but you have no way to know if your husband would have cheated if he had stayed at his past job and never gone to school. If you go to therapy to recover from the affair, that is something that I would suggest the therapist help you explore.

Only you can decide if you want to try to save your marriage. But many marriages do survive this. And this does give you a unique opportunity to decide which parts of your marriage work and which does not. If the financial arrangement makes you uncomfortable, you are well within your rights to change, end, or to tweak it.

I didn’t support my own husband financially, but there were certainly areas in our marriage where I felt taken advantage of after his affair.  So, I examined these areas and I made the appropriate changes so that I would feel more comfortable and confident.  If it helps, you’re welcome to read more about how I navigated my life and my marriage after his affair on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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