Infidelity is a topic that many men and women have to deal with at some point in their lives. A lot of us assume that the wronged partner usually heads for the door or takes revenge. One of the most famous movies about infidelity is Waiting to Exhale. Angela Basset’s character learns that her husband is leaving her for his secretary. She takes all his fabulous suits, loads them into his luxury car and sets everything on fire. This is a great scene for a movie, but jealousy and revenge can lead to jail or death in real life. And even though revenge on a cheater makes a great song, it is probably not the best way to deal with it in real life.
When I was doing research for this article, I spoke to quite a few people about their experiences with infidelity. Some were heartbreaking and some people had a more logical approach to the situation. Many folks seem to go from one extreme to another. What your attitude is about infidelity determines how you deal with it. Here are some common attitudes I found.
Preparing to deal with it
Some studies say that 60% of men cheat and 40% of women cheat. Other studies say it is more equal and roughly 41% of married people have extramarital affairs. Some of the reasons cited for infidelity are differences in sexual appetite, boredom with your partner, alcohol or drug use by partner, lack of romance and lack of emotional intimacy.
Some of the people I interviewed or who responded to my questionnaires said that they believe all men cheat and anyone who doesn’t think so is unrealistic. If you have this outlook, when what you believe is inevitable happens, you are mentally prepared to deal with it. The consensus of this type of person is that if the relationship is otherwise good, there is no need to break up.
However, sometimes the “every man cheats” belief can backfire. If you are constantly looking for reasons to be jealous, you will find them whether they exist or not. I spoke with several people who split just because they suspected something from a text or innocent situation. Some of them realized that they threw away a good relationship for nothing.
Keeping things quiet
When there is an affair, both sexes place more importance on keeping things quiet. Being publically humiliated or having all your friends and colleagues find out is very hard to overcome. If the infidelity was discreet and people don’t suffer backlash from their friends and family, there is a much better chance of staying together happily.
There is the money issue as well. Is the hubby putting a lot of money or time into the “side chick”? This sometimes hurts more than the physical infidelity because it is financial infidelity also. The worst betrayal is having a child with someone else. Then if you stay married or together, you have to not let your feelings about the other woman color your feelings toward the innocent child. Plus he will be tied to that other woman or family the rest of his life. When everyone knows about your partner’s infidelity, it is very hard to stay together.
Being overly jealous and paranoid
I have been in the situation where women were jealous of me for no reason many times in my life. I own a company that employs 25 men. I cannot tell you how many jealous wives and girlfriends have called my office or my cell phone wanting to know who I am that I dare to be talking to their man. There are legitimate business reasons that a man might call, email or text a woman. We women can interview and hire men. Women can be doctors, lawyers, and in a million different careers. So why do some women assume that they are the only women their husband’s would ever speak or have communication with? If your partner feels like they are being accused of cheating all the time, why not go ahead and cheat if they are going to be blamed for it anyway? Being overly jealous and paranoid can actually cause the situation you are so afraid of.
You can also ruin a good relationship because you have been burned in the past and it makes you overly suspicious now. Many people do not take kindly to having their privacy invaded by having their email and texts monitored. Some people even resort to spying on their partner when they are not home by looking at their security cameras remote feed. I even heard from one girl who put a tracker on her husband’s car. If a previous relationship broke up because of cheating, there are better ways to prevent it in this relationship than constantly monitoring your current partner. If you want to prevent cheating, it is better to treat your partner well and make sure they are glad to be with you.
To confess or not to confess?
Most people interviewed took a much better attitude towards a one-time thing. There may have been extenuating circumstances and many people can overlook a drunken one night stand when the partner is out of town than they can have an ongoing affair or serial cheating. Most people said they would prefer not to know about partner’s one night stand and they would not confess it themselves because it would only hurt the partner. The general attitude is that we all can make mistakes and what they don’t know can’t hurt them.
If you regret it and take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again, don’t hurt your partner or spouse. If it is a pattern, some people like to stay in denial but others suggested couples counseling as a way to fix whatever caused the situation that led to infidelity. If the partner is unfaithful frequently, you run the risk of getting HIV or other STD’s. Think back to Cookie Johnson when she found out Magic Johnson was HIV positive and she was pregnant. These nightmare situations are unfortunately happening because one partner is cheating or on the “down low.” Ignorance is not always bliss. If your partner is constantly cheating, you do need to know and probably move on.
Frequently, when a couple stops having a date night or pays much more attention to the children and not the spouse, it can set up ideal conditions for infidelity. Every single couple I know that has practiced attachment parenting by letting the child sleep in their bed has ended up getting a divorce. Anything or anyone who makes your spouse feel like second or third place can lead to cheating.
Some folks who have had a bad track record in previous relationships and don’t want to mess up their current relationships can take steps to avoid cheating. Don’t make a person of the opposite sex your confidante about your relationship problems with your spouse. Many times that understanding guy or gal at work who listens to your problems can end up being your new love. Avoid spending alone time with the opposite sex and situations that can lead to infidelity, like excessive drinking. Save your compliments for your spouse and don’t waste them on your office mates or “work husbands.” Don’t make a habit of going out to parties and bars frequently without your spouse. Occasionally is fine, but if you don’t spend enough time together as a couple, it is a problem that needs to be addressed. I spoke with one woman whose husband played golf 4-5 times a week. He would rather play golf than to go to social gatherings with her. They are divorced now and she has remarried someone who makes time for her.
Not all infidelity can be prevented, but it certainly can be lessened. Try and show more affection to your partner than your average family dog. Be happy to see them, listen when they talk, make time for dates and spend quality time together. Be generous with physical affection. Touch, massages, hugs and kisses along with words of affection keep that connection going between couples. If one person wants to make love and the other doesn’t, it is best to go along with the person who is in the mood. Don’t take your partner for granted. Give compliments and praise. Finally, remember that if you don’t treat your partner well, someone else will.