My Husband Says He Cheated Because Of Low Self Worth And Not Feeling Like He Was Good Enough For Me. Does This Mean He’ll Do It Again?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who are on the receiving end of an excuse for cheating that focuses on her strengths and on her husband’s flaws. In short, he is telling her that the reason he cheated or had an affair is because their relationship encourages (or causes) his low self esteem. This can leave the wife wondering if these circumstances are going to contribute to him cheating again.

I heard from a wife who said: “my husband had a very brief two night fling with a woman from his office. This caught me completely off guard because I thought that we were happy and I’m pretty sure that my husband has enjoyed being married to me. He has always told me that I am much more than he deserves. So I have repeatedly asked my husband why in the world he would cheat on a wife who has been nothing but loyal and supportive. He finally told me that he believes that he cheated because deep in his heart, he doesn’t believe that he is good enough for me. He says he knows that he married up and he always wonders what someone like me would see in someone like him. In short, he says he knows he doesn’t deserve me and he thinks that he cheated to force what he always knew was going to happen which was me leaving him. He says that he must have subconsciously thought that hurting me before I could hurt him would ease his anxiety and would be better than waiting for the shoe to fall. Does this excuse even make sense? And does it mean that he will cheat again? I’m willing to work with him to save our marriage but I don’t want this issue to keep coming up.”

My Take On The “I Wasn’t Good Enough For You” Excuse: This is actually a very common issue. All you have to do is look at any number of magazine at grocery store check out lines to see examples of beautiful and successful celebrities dealing with infidelity. If beauty, a stable relationship, or being a good person was a defense to infidelity, than much less of us would have to deal with it. But the truth is that many successful and very attractive people deal with this very regularly and their spouses often use this same excuse – that they knew they weren’t worthy.

Many people on the outside looking in will have some doubt about this excuse. But if you talk to the men involved, you will find that they truly seem to believe this. And once the cheating has been discovered, many of them will insist that now their worst fears are finally coming true, which must have been their subconscious motivation all along since their spouse would eventually realize what they already know – that they are not good enough for her. So where does this leave you? I’ll discuss that now.

Why It’s Very Important For Your Spouse To Overcome This Issue: Whether you believe that this excuse is genuine or not, if your spouse believes it, then there is always the chance that he will act on it once again. And you will likely always worry about this, which could further weaken your marriage. The wife in this situation told me that she had always told her husband that his worries were silly. But, even she admitted that her husband wasn’t the type of man to whom she was usually attracted. He wasn’t extremely handsome, but the attraction was because of his sweet personality and his powerful mind. She had become tired of men who cared so much about their appearance. And she was very disappointed that her husband now fit into that category. And, she very much resented that she was now in situation where she had to build him up or risk him cheating again. She was still very angry with him and wasn’t sure if she could even do this successfully.

Frankly, I don’t think it’s your responsibility to boost someone else’s self esteem. If their self worth doesn’t come from within, it’s not likely to stick anyway. You can certainly encourage him to work with a professional who can help him with this. You can work on your marriage and stress how much you value him and your relationship. But at the end of the day, he needs to believe this within himself. This is not impossible at all, but he needs to be motivated to work on it.

Low Self Esteem Doesn’t Ensure That A Man Will Continue To Cheat: Although I do think that many people struggle with this issue, I don’t think that it’s a valid reason to cheat. Sure, I concede that many people who cheat are completely motivated by their firm belief that they aren’t good enough for their spouse and that’s it’s only a matter of time before their spouse clues into this. But, every one can learn alternative ways to deal with their doubts or their insecurities. Cheating is not a valid way to do this.

So it’s important that your husband learns coping mechanisms and that he must come to you and talk about his doubts instead of acting on them behind your back. Because we all have things within our marriage that concern us, scares us, or discourages us. But there are many different other alternatives than to cheat. And if your spouse can learn to use or seek out these alternatives, there is no valid reason for him to cheat again. But he has to motivated to make a change instead of leaning on his weaknesses for an excuse.

So to answer the question posed, although low self esteem is a very common excuse for cheating, it’s not a valid one. Many couples are able to work through it by just being honest. And some learn new coping and communication skills that make it less likely for it to happen again. But the couples have taken the initiative to make this so.

Frankly, I would have been tempted to agree with my husband if he told me that he cheated because he wasn’t worthy of me.  But in the end, this probably wouldn’t have helped us.  What does help is figuring out the issues that left you vulnerable and to fix it.  Counseling is one way to do this, but there are others.  If you’d like to read about how I recovered in my own life, you can read that story on my blog

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