Now That I’ve Cheated, My Spouse Wants To Cheat Too

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from people who are terrified that their spouse is going to cheat on them.  Worse, they know somewhere deep in their heart that their spouse might have this right because the cheating would be in retaliation.  In this situation, one spouse has cheated so the other feels the need to also cheat either to retaliate, to make themselves feel more desirable, or to demonstrate how being cheated on feels.

I heard from a wife who said: “when I had a drunken fling with an old boyfriend, I immediately confessed to my husband because I didn’t want anything to destroy my marriage.  I have repeatedly apologized and have been a good wife ever since.  But the other day, I was looking my husband’s Facebook account and I noticed he had a lot of flirtatious emails from women from his old home town.  Worse than this, he is the one who initiated the contact.  At first, I did not confront him because I almost felt that I didn’t have the right.  I hoped that he would stop on his own.  But after several weeks of reading all of these emails that showed no signs of slowing up, I finally broke down and asked him why he was carrying on with these women.  He very calmly told me that he felt it was his right to experiment with other women if he felt like it.  He told me that he could cheat with one of them and I would have no right to become angry about it.  I then asked him if he was trying to have an affair.  He told me that maybe he was.  He said that if the opportunity presented itself, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do but he certainly wasn’t going to feel guilty for being unfaithful since I’ve already cheated on him.  This is tearing me apart.  My husband got his wish and now I almost know how it feels to be cheated on.  But my own infidelity has almost destroyed my marriage.  I don’t think we can withstand another infidelity.  What can I do to make him understand this?”  I will try to address these concerns in the following article.

Get Help For The Initial Infidelity As Soon As Possible: Often when the faithful spouse suddenly wants to cheat, it is because they are acting out of fear and insecurity.   Being cheated on has made them feel undesirable and anxious.  So in an attempt to restore their own self esteem, they will often see if they can appear attractive and desirable to someone else.  If they begin a flirtation with an attractive third party, then this gives them validation that they are desirable and that their spouse made a grave mistake by cheating on them.

Another reason that they will turn to someone else is for punishment.  Often, they don’t believe that their spouse is truly sorry.  Or, they believe that their spouse hasn’t yet paid the full price for the infidelity.  However, once you get help for the infidelity and you both heal, you can erase this problem so that your spouse no longer feels the need to lash out.

Make It Clear That Continued Infidelity Is Only Going To Cause More Pain:  One thing that you may want to try is to stress that their cheating is only going to make things worse for both of you.  And you want to make clear that you don’t need for them to cheat in order to feel remorse or to learn a lesson.  A suggested script might be something like: “I completely understand and acknowledge that I have hurt you.  I understand that I deserve your anger and frustration.  But cheating on me isn’t going to take any of that anger and frustration away.  It is only going to hurt both of us more and make us feel more confused.  It will only dig a deeper hole.  If there is anything that you need from me in order to feel better, then just say the word.  I am willing to do whatever it takes to show you that I am serious about our marriage and about rehabilitation.  But cheating on me isn’t the answer.”

Ask Your Spouse To Commit To Take A Set Amount Of Time Before They Act: Unfortunately sometimes, no matter what you do or say, your spouse is going to still feel the itch to cheat because they are still hurting.  That’s why it’s very helpful to try to get them to agree to a set amount of time to wait before they act.  For example, you might ask them to commit to going to counseling or to try facilitating healing on your own for six months before they make any final decisions.  The idea is that this will give you enough time to heal the relationship so that they are no longer tempted to cheat.  A suggested conversation might start something like this: “I understand that any one in your situation would feel justified to cheat in retaliation.  But if you do, this may destroy our marriage beyond repair.  I am asking you to give me six months to make this up to you before you act. ”

If you can get your spouse to agree to this, it buys you a lot of time which will sometimes be all that you need.  I know that this hurts.  But often, they are just trying to scare you and they are acting out of anger.  Try to understand their motivations so that you can remain patient.  Because if you overreact and become angry, then this will only push them toward cheating that much more.

I have to say that when my own husband cheated on me, the idea of retaliation cheating did cross my mind in the very beginning.  But I’m a very introverted person and I knew that I would never go through with it.  If I had, I suspect it would have completely destroyed my marriage.  In the end, it was the healing that allowed me to turn the corner and to not think about retaliation anymore.  If it helps, you can read my story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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