“How could you have done this to me, to us? Who are you and who did I marry?” With tears in his eyes, my ex-husband shouted and screamed these questions at me on the day he found out that I’d had an affair. All the while, I stood there shaking, in shock, not knowing what to say that would make what I had done right.
I was a cheater.
Looking back, I realize that nothing in that moment would have given him the solace and comfort that he was looking for — or that I was looking for. His love and care for me transformed into pure disdain and hate for the monster I had become in his eyes.
The question that came up repeatedly after our marriage dissolved was: Why? Why did I cheat on him? Why would I do such a thing to a man who was caring, funny and generous? It wasn’t like he beat me up or anything like that.
If you are reading this and judging me, I understand — that’s human nature. And believe me, no one has judged me more harshly than I have (even now). Although it all turned out for the best, I wouldn’t go down that road again … although, at the same time, I now completely understand why women cheat. Unfortunately, my (ex)-husband now understands this, too.
According to the UK Adultery Survey 2012, cheating women are more likely to stray in order to seek emotional fulfillment, enhanced self-esteem and romance. When women cheat will depend on how fulfilled they feel in their marriages. But according to the survey, wives who cheat will do so five years into their marriages whereas men will do so seven years in.
After much soul-searching, I finally began to understand the factors that drove me to cheat:
1. Chasing false happiness
Back then, I was still living with the illusive notion that happiness is something I could acquire from an external source, so I bought into the fantasy (one that I also see many of my clients buy into) that somewhere in the world a magical one-dimensional man exists for no other purpose than to bring ME happiness.
I believed that because I wasn’t happy in my marriage with my ex-husband, that someoneelse could dish happiness up on a silver platter for me. Surely someone else could, right? But, of course, this is simply not true, and never will be. In fact, the whole ordeal of the affair stressed me out and exposed me to more confusion and unhappiness.
Lesson learned: Being part of the cheating wives’ club, I understand now that running away from myself was not the answer and that I am responsible for my own happiness and fulfilment. My happiness is no one else’s responsibility — not my spouse’s, not some lover’s — but mine!