Why Do Men Risk Their Family To Have An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: Of all of the reasons that people give me for trying to save their marriage after infidelity, their children is the most common – by far. I can identify with this because I can honestly say that if it were not for my own children, I might not even have considered not immediately leaving my marriage the second the affair was discovered.

And while the desire to save the marriage for the kids is often there, the understanding as to why this is necessary is not. People just can not understand how a man who so clearly values his family over everything else would risk the very thing that he values the most.

A wife might ask: “I truly didn’t understand my husband’s affair yesterday, but this morning, I saw the other woman. And now, I really do not understand it. I’m more confused now than before. She’s not even attractive. She’s about twenty pounds overweight. I don’t get why my husband would risk his family – who I know he adores – for this ugly witch. I remember times when my husband would stay up all night with sick children. Very recently, he worked two jobs so that our family would have our dream home. He puts aside double savings for our retirement. He plans our long-term future. I know that he plans to be with his family forever. I know that he would be devastated if he didn’t get to live with his children. And I truly believe that he loves me. Why then, would he risk this for a stranger who isn’t even pleasing to look at?”

Any theories that I would come up with would only be speculation. I can tell you that from the men that I hear from, the vast majority of them are looking for ways to convince their wives not to leave them. Much of the time, they still love their wives. But almost all of the time, their first concern is their children. The number one thing that they want to know is how to save their family.

Quite frankly, these men all seem somewhat shell shocked. At times, I’ve wanted to ask them why they didn’t worry about all of these things when they were cheating. But perhaps this makes my point for me. I believe that they do their very best to push this possibility out of their mind. They are able to believe that this day will never come. They rarely intend to leave their wives for the other woman. They honestly don’t believe that this affair was ever going to be a lasting relationship.

In a sense, they are in a state of denial because this is the only way they are able to carry out their risky behavior and still be a part of their family. It is the way to them to keep juggling all of their plates on sticks without them all coming crashing down. It’s never that the men decide that they no longer want to be part of their family or their children’s lives (because not being able to be active in their children’s upbringing is often their very biggest fear.) It’s just that they never believe that it will come down to that.

It’s like eating burgers and fries when you know that this may eventually give you a heart attack.  You know that the risk is real, but you don’t allow yourself to go there because that is a future that you hope will never happen.  So you do not think of it as reality.

And that is why you will often see these men panic when they have to face that harsh reality. Because very often, the wife is not sure if she wants to save her marriage immediately. She needs time to process this and to eventually decide. And it is during this time – when he has no idea if he is going to be able to maintain his family in it’s current state – that he realizes that he has put it all in jeopardy. He hasn’t usually been thinking about that until now. And it is often at this point that he feels the deepest regret.

I can’t speculate about what he saw in the other woman, but I can say that it’s often my belief that it wasn’t that he found something particularly special or alluring about her other than the fact that she was there during a time where he was the most vulnerable or struggling with something. I honestly believe that an affair is about 80% due to something internal going on with the man and about 20% (or less) due to the other woman or the circumstances surrounding her.

In truth, I often think that she could be any one who came into his life at that time – regardless of what she looked like or who she was. I’m fully aware that many people disagree, but this is my take. And you will often hear men agree with this when they admit after the fact that they don’t know what they were thinking or what they saw in this person who is virtual stranger.

The short answer, though, in my view, is that at the time, he convinced himself that he was careful enough or the relationship was going to be short enough so that there was minimal risk. If men truly understood how big a risk they were actually taking, there would likely be much fewer affairs.

I believe that most men who beg their wives not to break up their family are genuine.   They are panicked because it’s only now that they see the risk.  Should they have thought about it before?  Yes, absolutely.  But you can’t change the past.  You can only decide how you want to move forward and then place your focus there.  I ultimately decided to maintaining my family was most important and then I focused on minimizing the future risk. You can read about that on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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