Why Wives Stay After Their Husband Has An Affair

by katie lersch: Much of the correspondence that I get on my “surviving the affair” blog is from wives whose husbands have cheated. But on occasion, I also sometimes hear from “the other woman,” the mistress, or the person who had a relationship with a married men.  The correspondence is quite varied.  Some of the women are actually quite remorseful for the cheating or affair and are looking for some way to help to make it right.  (The best way to do that is to leave the man and his family alone so that they can heal.)  Many tell me that it’s not until they see or accept the reality that the man has a family does the situation become “real” to them.  And it’s at this point that they realize what a huge mistake they have made.

Some of the women have a negative attitude though.   A good number are very defensive and blame others for their own actions.  Many will tell you that the husband was the aggressor who came onto or pursued them.  And some actually have questions or want my advice as to how to hold onto the husband or how to keep the affair from ending.  (I don’t offer this, of course.)  I recently heard from a woman who had had an eight month long affair with a married man.  The woman actually contacted the wife and alerted her to the affair.  She hoped that by doing this, the wife would kick her husband out and she would then have him all to herself.

This isn’t what happened though.  Her information forced the husband to come clean about the cheating.  In the process of doing this, the husband decided that he wanted to save his marriage and he ended the relationship with the other woman, who was shocked and furious.  It had now been several weeks since the affair was revealed and through mutual friends, the other woman had learned the wife was still living in the house and was committed to staying with her husband in spite of the affair.  She said in part: “I can’t believe she’s staying with him.  He cheated on her and had an affair with me for almost nine months.  He told me he loved me.  We made plans for our future.  He told me his marriage was just an empty shell and that he no longer felt anything for her.  He didn’t pay her much attention, take her out, or spend any time with her, so why is she staying?  Why would a wife stay with a husband who had an affair?  Is she stupid?  Does she have no self esteem?  Does she have no other options?  Or does she just want to make my life miserable?”  I’ll attempt to address these questions in the following article.

Keep In Mind That There Are Two Sides To Every Story: This woman wasn’t the first who told me that a husband recounted a loveless marriage that was practically dead or dying.  But few actually stop to ask themselves if they can trust the account of a man who is already opening lying to someone to whom he vowed to be faithful.  The point is, it’s not unheard of for a married man to lie about his feelings for his wife or the state of his marriage in order to carry out the cheating.  His saying it does not make it true.  It’s not at all uncommon to hear from a mistress who compared notes with the wife and who found that in fact the husband was still intimate, involved with, and loving to the wife at the same time that he was cheating or having an affair.

So while it might make it easier for both unfaithful people to believe that the marriage is just a shell or a farce, this is often far from accurate.  Sometimes, the truth is the exact opposite of what has been portrayed.

Does A Wife Stay With Her Husband After The Affair Because She’s Stupid, In Denial, Or Has Low Self Esteem? Is It Because She Has No Other Options, Or Wants To Make The Other Woman Miserable?: Those sentence were a mouthful, but I wrote them because I intend to address all of the questions asked of me.  And, I need to make clear that I’m not answering or attempting to speak for anyone else.  I’m speaking for myself out of my own experience, although I know that many (but not all) wives have similar feelings.

So to answer, no, wives who stay after a husband cheats are not stupid.  We’re not in denial.  We are often fully aware of just how serious this situation really is.  In fact, I would argue that we are more aware of this than almost anyone.  Because we’re the ones picking up the pieces when we didn’t do anything wrong.  And although many of us take a hit to our self esteem because of other people’s actions, I would feel safe in saying that few of us stay because we don’t have any other options (although some of those options may look bleak by comparison.) We don’t stay because we want to make the other woman miserable, although her happiness isn’t our highest priority.  Mostly, we just want her out of our lives so that we can rebuild.  Now, onto why we do stay.

The Reasons That I Think Wives Stay After Their Husband’s Affair: Again, I’m speaking for myself.  But I believe that wives stay because their family is the most important thing in the world to them.  When you have children and have built a family, then you are not in any hurry to let any third party tear it down.  Many of us have worked too hard to just walk away from the lives that we’ve built.   We are aware that our husband is at fault and was not an innocent party in all of this (and he is often dealt with accordingly.)   But our anger at him doesn’t always mean that we will just hand him over to someone who means nothing to us (and who he often claims means nothing to him.) We usually have a long and deep history with and love for him.  This doesn’t just disappear. We are just trying to keep our family together and I can’t imagine how we could be faulted or judged for that.

So no, we aren’t stupid or desperate.  We are trying to keep our family together.  This desire doesn’t reflect our intelligence, our self esteem, or our options. I hope this article has answered some of the questions that were posed. Despite the obstacles against us, my marriage today is stronger than ever after my husband’s affair. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it.  If it helps, you can read more of that personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

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