While there is never an excuse for cheating, it is important to understand why cheating happens in a marriage. Cheaters often do attempt to solve problems without any good results before they begin cheating. Maybe they were jealous that you were giving too much attention to your job or they had second thoughts about the marriage in the first place. Whatever the reason, they probably didn’t have the skills to communicate it or even be in touch with their feelings enough to realize the issue.
Trying to understand the reasons why cheating happens in marriage is more complex than you realize. Cheating is definitely rampant, with around 40% of marriages affected by infidelity. But even those who stray from the path do agree that cheating is wrong.
There are many factors in a relationship which increase the risk of cheating as we will discuss below. But did you know that some people are more prone to affairs and unfaithfulness than others? Now, being inclined to cheat does not mean people are going to indulge in the act of cheating; what is important is that you are aware of and understand the triggers that cause the cheating to happen in marriage to avoid some of the pitfalls.
The Cheater is Responsible
In this article, we will discuss the different risk factors for cheaters as well as causes for cheating. However, it is important to point out that no partner causes their spouse to cheat. It’s on the cheater who committed this act, and no matter what their reason was, it is still most definitely a bad thing. Whether it was an exit strategy, a cry for help, or revenge for being cheated on, the cheater is the one who is responsible for the act.
Differing Motivations Between Sexes
Women are less likely to have an affair than men, who are often seeking more attention and sex. Men have a tendency to express love physically and often don’t have the emotional capacity to communicate their feelings for their female partners. Hence, they place sex as the most important indicator of intimacy and connection.
When men aren’t satisfied sexually or feel that their spouse declines sex too often (even though any reason for declining is completely valid), they can start taking the rejection to their heart. They begin to perceive it as being unloved. This feeling of insecurity makes them more likely to cheat in their marriage.
When women turn towards cheating, the biggest reason is to fulfill any emotional void left by their partner. Cheating women may often complain about the disconnect they feel from their spouse or the lack of being cherished and desired. Women are likely to seek an emotional connection in the shape of an extramarital affair and may feel ignored or unappreciated.
For most women, the affair is a sort of transition between partners. They are seeking to end the relationship, and the affair helps them to do that.
This is not to say that sexual dissatisfaction isn’t a big driver for wives to have affairs. Boredom with sex can often lead both men and women to cheat. One study found that men and women who were involved in or pursuing extramarital relationships hoped to improve their sex life. They felt as though the marriage was lacking in the bedroom.
Risk Factors for Cheaters
Some individuals are more likely to seek out other partners and potentially mess up their marriage in the process. Here are some factors that will increase your chances of infidelity:
Substance abuse problems like drugs, gambling, alcohol, or anything else pose as a risk factor for cheating. Alcohol, especially, can result in reduced inhibitions that can push a person who would never otherwise think of having an affair over the edge into the realm of cheating.
2. Style of Attachment
Attachment style can include intimacy disorders, attachment insecurity, or attachment avoidance. This can increase someone’s risk of cheating. Insecurity and low self-esteem can result in cheating if the individual is looking for approval or worthiness in people.
3. Childhood Trauma
A history of unresolved childhood trauma is associated with a higher risk of cheating. This can include sexual, physical, and emotional abuse or trauma.
4. Early Exposure to Infidelity
If you were exposed to infidelity in your childhood, you have an increased risk of cheating. A 2015 study found that children of cheating parents are twice as likely to cheat themselves.
5. Mental Illness
Some mental illnesses are associated with cheating in marriage.
6. History of Cheating
Once a cheater, always a cheater. One study in 2017 found that people who were involved in an extramarital affair were thrice as likely to repeat the action in future relationships.
7. Psychological Problems
Personality disorders or narcissistic traits result in a higher likelihood of cheating. Narcissistic people may cheat due to a sense of entitlement and ego. People who have such disordered are very self-centered and often have a serious lack of empathy. They don’t care about the consequences that can occur on the partner due to their actions.
8. Sex Addiction
Nymphomania can increase the chances of cheating because a partner may be unsatisfied with the sex in their marriage. They are prone to seeking sex in any situation.
All of these predispositions can happen to anyone and result in a higher risk of cheating. Anyone with such problems should seek proper help from a professional rather than letting these issues fester until they hurt the marriage.
Reasons Why Cheating Happens in Marriage
As we have seen, why cheating happens in a marriage is a really complex issue. Your sex and your life experiences can both affect your risk for cheating. When people cheat there are always some reasons they give for their actions. Here are some of the most common reasons that cheaters give for their affairs:
- Lack of satisfaction from sex in the marriage
Lack of sexual satisfaction has been highlighted as a common reason for individuals to cheat. Both women and men wanted to improve their sex lives when it came to entering affairs. They can enjoy other activities and their life with their partner but can find that sex life isn’t good enough. They may seek sexual satisfaction from other people in such cases.
- The desire for more sexual occurrences
There are many reasons why people may seek more sexual occurrences from different people. While their sex life in the marriage can be quite satisfactory, they may seek sexual or physical connection from others anyway. This can stem from insecurities and the need to find approval and self-worth from others. For example, someone who isn’t doing as well at providing for their family may turn towards extramarital affairs to validate themselves.
- A lack of emotional connection in the marriage
If you are looking for why cheating happens in a marriage, it can often be due to a lack of emotional connection in the marriage. Looking for an emotional connection is as compelling as looking for a physical connection with someone. People who were seeking emotional intimacy with someone else felt that there was a lack of emotional connection with their partners.
- Needing emotional validation from others
Being appreciated is an important factor in any marriage. If a partner feels underappreciated or neglected in the relationship, they can steadily withdraw from the relationship. This can continue until they both feel neglected or unattended to in the marriage. Such a lack of emotional validation from each other can be a risk for cheating in a marriage.
- Falling out of love
This is definitely a significant reason because it can just happen to anyone. While love is so difficult to define, it is still a huge reason for people seeking to end the marriage by cheating or looking for a spark or a new rush of feelings elsewhere. However, in the larger sense, a lack of emotional and sexual connection seems to be a bigger reason for cheating than falling out of love.
- Falling in love with someone else
While it should never get to the point where you become so close to someone that you fall in love with them despite being married, it can happen very frequently. People who have been married for a while and have gotten over the first rush of love may often seek it elsewhere. Instead of looking to love more deeply and richly with your spouse, they may choose the new spark with someone and end up cheating.
- Seeking revenge
While this reason is rare, seeking revenge can also be a driver for cheating. If a partner is already suffering in a relationship and wants to hurt the spouse who is perceived as or is cheating, they may cheat themselves. It can become a toxic game of hurting each other instead of communicating and maybe ending things like healthy individuals.
- Curiosity killed the cat
Many people can get curious and want some new experiences from their lives. People who seek something new and are looking for sexual prowess may seek out people who seem to be more sexually experienced. The allure of something better and new can lead them to cheat on their partner.
Extramarital affairs usually occur due to a complex mixture of need for connection, anguish, and desire. It is very rare that the affair doesn’t occur due to distress or conflict with their partner. The cheating can be a cause of or even a product of the marriage hitting a climax.
As you can see, there are probably already some problems in the marriage that has been affecting the partners. However, this doesn’t excuse the behavior in the slightest, just explains it. If you or your partner seem to be suffering from any of the problems stated above, it is better to work on them. By improving communication in the relationship, you can improve a lot of problems.
You should also definitely consider going to a relationship coach if your marriage is suffering in any way. They can help you get a healthier emotional and physical connection that can reduce the risk or cause of cheating to almost nothing. It can help you get closer to your partner in every way and making the marriage more fulfilling to both.
To add, if you have been cheated on and were just trying to understand it, you may still need to talk to a relationship expert. It can be quite traumatic to have your partner cheat on your, no matter their reasons. You may need a helping hand to get over this problem and process what happened to you in a more substantial way.
Now that you know the reasons why cheating happens in marriage, you also know how cheaters think. Understanding a cheater does not mean you are excusing their behavior, but at least now you have a better understanding of their motives!