My Husband Said His Affair Gave Him Confidence

By: Katie Lersch:  It’s very common for a cheating husband to justify the cheating by telling himself (or his spouse) that the cheating made him better or enhanced his life in some way.  This can be very hard for the faithful spouse to take because it can be obvious to them that these enhancements are all in his head.  One example of this is a husband who is claiming that the affair made him more “confident.”

A wife might say: “my husband is reluctant to end the affair and I am at a loss as to how to force this on him.  He is telling me that he thinks he still wants our marriage. But, at the same time, he admits that the affair made his life better.  He says that it gave him a confidence that he hasn’t had for years.  He said that before the affair he felt like an old man who wasn’t relevant or worthwhile anymore.  But the affair made him feel like he was still in the game and that he still had something to offer.  I am at a loss as to how to deal with this.  She wanted him because he has money, so I’m not sure this had anything to do with ‘still being in the game.’  It has to do with an opportunist setting her signs on him and nothing more.  But I am not dumb enough to tell him this because if I did, I know that this would just escalate his insecurities which is what got us here is the first place. But this whole things scares me.  Is he going to cheat on me every time he feels insecure about himself?  I’m aging too and there’s a lot that I don’t like about it.  But you don’t see me going out and cheating just to make myself feel better.”

I know that this must be frustrating.  And it’s very common for a man to cheat because it somehow makes him feel better about himself or about his life.  Frankly, many men do not admit this.  And many men don’t even see this dynamic at play.

So it’s encouraging that he has admitted this.  But the admission doesn’t fix it.  In order to fix it, he needs to do some self-work in order to obtain confidence separate from external confirmations that aren’t real anyway.  True confidence comes from inside.  It is not the result of what you have, or who you are with, or the sum of other people’s perceptions of you.  It is the result of knowing that you are a good person who contributes your unique gifts to the world.

Some people are able to make this realization on their own and others come to understand and accept this through counseling.  The fact that he not only sees this – but admits it – is an encouraging sign.  But he may need help with the next step, which is learning to stop looking for confidence outside of himself.

His reasoning is not at all uncommon.  I believe that most people who have affairs are doing so in order to feel better about their lives and themselves.  It often doesn’t have as much to do with their marriage or with their spouse as people tend the think.  Instead, it has everything to do with them and their own insecurities.  And this reasoning is, at least in my opinion, actually more fixable than other issues like sex addition or a lack of impulse control.

A lack of confidence being a common reason for an affair doesn’t necessarily make it a valid reasoning.  Although every one can understand wanting to feel like you are attractive, charming, and worthwhile, not all of us cheat.  Wanting self confidence is no reason to cheat on your spouse.  There are much healthier ways to develop confidence.

Healing from this will often will come down to your spouse’s commitment to the marriage and his willingness to see this through and to seek rehabilitation.  Not every man is willing to admit his shortcomings and then try to fix them.  So the fact that he has the self awareness to see this dynamic at play is very encouraging.  The next step would be for him to learn to cultivate confidence in the appropriate places.

Many of us struggle with our confidence when we go through the aging process because we are witnessing changes in our bodies and ourselves that are not always encouraging.  However, you can learn to look at these changes differently.  And frankly, although the affair can appear to offer some relief in the area of confidence, this is often only temporary.

When the affair is found out or the other woman gets a better offer and moves on, then the newfound confidence can take a huge hit.  He’ll not only feel like an older man, but he will feel like a silly older man who has been fooled and taken for a ride and who now has a marriage in jeopardy and a hurt and angry wife.

So while the lack of confidence excuse is common and fixable, it doesn’t give him a pass. But if he’s willing to get help to address it, then it’s my opinion that it’s treatable. My own husband definitely had struggles and stressors before he cheated.  This had to be dealt with, but it didn’t excuse his behavior or bypass the need for healing. You’re welcome to read about my own journey on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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