Why Would The Husband Choose The Wife Over The Other Woman?

By: Katie Lersch:  Most of the correspondence that I get comes from husbands or wives who are dealing with an affair within their own marriage.  Sometimes though, I hear from the “other woman” or the “other man.” Much of the time, this person is very disappointed because they feel as if they have been lied to.  They often reach out once the relationship is over (and has usually been ended by the cheating spouse) because they are confused about what went wrong.

They may have been dealing with a man who didn’t seem all that in love with his wife or all that committed to his marriage who is now suddenly saying that he wants to work on his marriage again.  The “other woman” has believed the claims of a loveless marriage all along and is now confused that he is actually choosing his wife over her.

She may say: “I can’t believe that the guy I’ve been dating has actually broken off the affair to be with his wife. When we first started seeing each other, I was shocked that he never seemed to want to go home or to cover his tracks for the benefit of his wife.  He only seemed to want to be with me.  It almost seemed like our relationship was an escape from his terrible marriage.  I assumed that in time, we would end up together and he would get a divorce.  I am floored that now he is staying that he wants to go back to her.  I am floored that he is now in counseling and seems enthusiastic about making it work.  His wife is old and is not nearly as pretty or as active as me. Why would he want to go back to that same old, stale relationship with her when he could have me?”

Know That Your Perception Of The Wife May Not Be Accurate: I will try to answer your questions as objectively as I can.  But before I do, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the picture you have of this wife is probably not accurate.  You don’t know her and you were hoping to have a relationship with her husband.  So it is easy to make her the villain or assume that she has nothing to offer.  But she is a real person with a real marriage that she has put years of effort into.  She has real feelings.  I know this because I was her.

Why Men Who Have Affairs Ultimately Decide To Return To Their Wives: As to why a man may ultimately decide that he wants his wife, I believe that there are several reasons but I will start out by using the words of a man in this situation.  I overheard this conversation a while back, but I have never forgotten it because I think that it’s very telling and it confirms what I suspect.

Two men were sitting at my kitchen table.  They are friends of my husband.  One of the men took out his phone and showed a vacation photo of him and his wife.  I did see the photo. And it was an incredibly flattering picture of this man’s wife.  She looked very young, and very happy, in the picture.  The other man commented that the photo displayed a beautiful woman and he said: ‘sometimes you get it right the second time around.’  The assumption was that the wife in the photo was the second wife.

The first man said: “no, there was no second time.  We’ve been married for over twenty years. I’m not stupid.  I want someone who grew up listening to the same music I did.  I want someone who understands what it  means to be the age that I am.  I want someone who doesn’t judge the fact that I can’t run marathons anymore, but I like to try.  I want someone who doesn’t make me feel stupid for not knowing the latest songs and trends. I want someone who knew me when I had nothing.”

I hear variations on this theme quite a bit.  Men will often say that the affair made them feel young, but just for just a little while.  But as time went on, it actually made them feel old.  Because they began to see the true differences and incompatibilities brought about by the differences in life experiences and outlooks.

Often, men who have affairs with younger women think that they are on top of the world initially, but then eventually realize that every one is looking at them not with envy, but with knowing.  The middle aged man who is trying desperately to hold onto his youth by cheating isn’t an ideal.  He is a stereotype.  Every one sort of snickers, thinking they know what he is up to and what he is trying to acheive.

Once the cheating husband realizes all of this, his marriage starts to look really good to him.  He starts to see that his marriage wasn’t stale, it was stable.  He starts to believe that maybe, with some work, they could fix what wasn’t working and he could still be with his best friend who has known him for most of his life.

He begins to think that just maybe he doesn’t have to let go of this person with whom he has built so many memories. (Of course, this assumes that his wife will give him the chance.)

It is not your fault that you don’t have a long history with this man.  But she does.  She has done the work.  She has seen him through hard times.  It can be hard to compete with this.

I’ve heard men say that sometimes, an affair is like a shiny new car with technology that you don’t really need.  It seems really cool at first.  But eventually, you just want your old, reliable truck back.  Because it felt wonderful and familiar. And it was filled with memories.  Shiny, new things can turn our heads momentarily.  But they do not bring long term happiness or contentment.  And many men do realize this at the end stages of their affair.

I hope that this helps some.  I do understand the other woman’s confusion at times.  Cheating husbands will paint a picture that just isn’t true.  It’s understandable that someone invested in the relationship would want to believe it.  But sometimes the healthiest thing for all involved is to move on and be grateful that you were able to get out relatively early before more damage was done.

If you’d like to read about a marriage that survived an affair, here is my blog.

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