Why Doesn’t A Wife Leave When Her Husband Cheats?

By: Katie Lersch:  I admit that when I used to hear from the “other woman” in an affair, I had preconceived notions.  I assumed that many of these women were not sorry and were without high morals or character.  I assumed that they cared about no one but themselves.  Over time, I had to admit that many of these women were as varied as the wives who sometimes reach out to me.  Sure, some of the cheating women were extremely self centered and spiteful – with no concern about who they hurt.  

But, others truly were sorry.  Some were every bit as damaged as the wife.  And many didn’t know exactly what – or who – they were dealing with.  Sometimes, the other woman truly didn’t know that the husband was married or she thought he was in the process of a divorce.

Still, when I hear from the occasional uncaring mistress who is exactly who you would picture as the stereotypical home wrecker, I realize why so many people have preconceived notions of women who have affairs.  Here is an example.  I might hear from a woman wanting to know exactly what she has to do to get the wife to leave the husband.  She has told the wife all of the sorted details.  She has made it clear that she has no intention of retreating.  She makes it clear that she does not intend to stop until the husband is hers alone.  It doesn’t matter to her if this breaks up a family or breaks someone else’s heart.  She is only looking out for herself.

She might say something like: “I do not get why the wife of the man that I am seeing is such an idiot.  She knows that he’s cheating on her.  She knows it because I have told her.  I have shown her pictures and texts and emails that leave nothing to the imagination.  I have told her that I have no intention of getting out of the picture.  I want her husband.  And he wants me.  I assumed that after we met and I was brutally honest with her, she would kick him out.  Nothing happened right away. So I figured they had to work out the logistics because of the kids.  But now it’s been weeks.  The guy is saying that he doesn’t know what they are going to do.  Why would she stay with him?  Why do people stay together when one of them is cheating?”

Well, I am not a woman or a spouse who has cheated on someone else, so I can not tell you things from that perspective.  But I can most certainly tell you things from the point of view of the faithful wife.  I can tell you why I didn’t leave.

I wasn’t about to let someone else dictate to me what I was going to do with my life.  When you have invested years into a marriage and a family, you aren’t going to simply walk away because someone else wants for you to.  You figure that you owe it yourself and to your children to see if you can salvage something.

And here is something which you may not have thought of.  Often, the husband is telling the other woman that he wants to be with only her, while claiming he that there is “nothing” between him and his wife any more. And yet, guess what happens once the wife finds out about the affair?  Much of the time, the husband is begging her to give him a chance to allow him to make this up to her.  He’s begging her not to throw his marriage away.

Of course, that is not what he is telling the other woman.  He will often give her vague phrases to indicate that he’s just not sure what is going to happen or he’ll say that his wife hasn’t done anything yet.  He’s not giving the other woman the entire picture.  He’s lying as he has all along.  And this is his fault.  But it is certainly not his wife’s fault.

She is operating under the information that he is giving her – and he’s likely giving her the information that is going to be more favorable to him.  So although he may be telling you that she stubbornly will not cut him loose, it may be that he is begging her not to.  Or, you may think of her as someone who is too stupid or scared to see the writing on the wall, but keep in mind that it may be you who doesn’t have all of the information.  Because you are basing your reality on what he is telling you – and he has already shown himself to be untruthful.

His wife may not be leaving him because he’s asking her not to.  She may want to save her marriage because of herself or her family.   It is her marriage, so that means that it is her decision.

Try to put yourself in her position.  How would you like it if a stranger came and told you that she wanted to take what you have worked years to build?  Would you willingly hand it over?  Or would you want more information and more time to think it over?

If you see her as a person, as a human being who is struggling with loss and betrayal, surely you can see that it is complicated.  Because you are clearly having a hard time walking away yourself.  Why should she be any different?

I don’t mean to come across as judgmental and unfeeling, but this is complicated, confusing, and painful for every one.  Try to remember that every one involved is human and has feelings. You can read more about my own struggles on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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