Why Men Cheat
Gary documented these findings—and many others—in a groundbreaking new book. To write The Truth About Cheating, Gary surveyed hundreds of faithful and cheating husbands to uncover the real reason some men stray.
Gary says his work as a marriage counselor inspired him to write this book. "For over 20 years, [I've been] living along with women, counseling, seeing the devastation and how overwhelming it is when they are cheated on and what it subsequently does to the children and the family," he says. "You want to help children of divorce? I said, 'Well, let's get really down and dirty and find out what we can do to save marriages and make them better.'"
Although Gary discusses how wives of cheaters can factor into affairs, he says he wrote the book to empower women. "It's not about blaming the wife. It can't be. I mean, cheating is ridiculous. It's wrong. And you can't justify it," Gary says. "My book is about one thing. It's really about empowering women. If I can give you knowledge that says that I could have proof that if you do certain things, you can lead your relationship to a better place, that will be much better for you as well because it's not just about stopping tragedy. It's about building a much more mutually beneficial relationship."
Josh says he cheated on his wife, Jennifer, because he felt underappreciated at home and started feeling insecure. "That insecurity was really the catalyst," he says. "I didn't feel comfortable going to the one person in the world I should be going to, which is my wife."
With daily worries like bills, children and chores, Gary says it's easy for couples to drift away from appreciating one another like they should. Gary says the other woman often makes the man feel better about himself. "[She] makes them feel different. Makes them feel appreciated, admired," he says. "Men look strong, look powerful and capable. But on the inside, they're insecure like everybody else. They're searching and looking for somebody to build them up to make them feel valued."
Don't be afraid to praise your partner or tell him that you appreciate what he does, Gary says. "We get married because we want one person in the world to really think we're wonderful for doing all the things that we do. We all want the same thing," he says. "And the more we give it, the more we get it in return."
For the first five years of his marriage, AJ says things were rocky with his wife, Janet. "We got to the point where we were really living in separate parts of the house. I went downstairs every time I came home from work," he says. "So when somebody else took an interest in me and was interested in what I did, interested in my job, interested in what I wear—you name it—before I had the self-awareness to understand my vulnerabilities and take responsibility, I liked it—even though it was the worst decision of my life."
Every couple will eventually face certain life changes, but Gary urges couples to think back about the interest they took in one another when they were first dating or newlyweds. "Everybody deserves that. Everybody wants that," Gary says. "Because it's not about the sex, what everyone's been made to believe. Anybody, no matter how you look, can be admiring and kind and warm and give you that extra little pump and that extra kindness and hang on your words."
In 2004, Colleen discovered that her husband, Scott, was having an affair and says she caught him several times. The first time she says she caught Scott was on Father's Day when the other woman called the house. "I was standing there right with him in the kitchen so I heard her, and she said, 'Are you okay? Are you okay? Hang in there,'" Colleen says. "He tried to tell me it was a dispatcher from work and that was very suspicious."
Colleen says Scott's affair was painful, but the lying was worse. "When you've been married for so long and you trust someone so much and they look you right in the eye and they're telling you a lie, it takes a lot to move past that," she says.
Gary says Colleen's desire to believe her husband is common. "The problem is that that's the moment where every woman has to look at her husband and say, simply, 'Look. The fact [is] that I think you may be cheating. I'll trust you at your word. I've got no choice. But there's something wrong with us.'" Gary says.
Just as the little things are often signs that something is wrong, the little things can also help rebuild relationships, Gary says. For example, if a man tries to make breakfast and burns the toast, Gary suggests staying positive. "[Men] want to feel like they're pleasing their wives. ... When you give him the message mainly that you screwed up, then believe it or not, it makes him feel insecure. [He thinks,] 'I can't win,'" Gary says. "Engender the good feeling of the trying and the effort that he's made. That's where the love really is."
"One night I saw his phone on the counter and I looked at it, and it somehow came right to this picture of him naked and aroused from the waist down. ... I asked him about it. He denied anything. He said he took the picture to send to me, which I know is a big fat lie because I wouldn't approve. And so that was one thing. And then I've also seen e-mails from women from Russia, wanting him to be their lovers."
Katherine says she has tried tracking him with a GPS unit and installing spyware on his computer, but he found both and disabled them. Gary says Katherine should try getting him to submit to a lie detector test. "Obviously we all think here that he's up to no good," Gary says. "The question, Katherine, that you have to face, and this is hard for a woman: Do you want to know?"
Gary says the truth can be very difficult for women to face because it could be the end of their marriage and the beginning of a painful divorce. Gary says the cheater's lying is really the ultimate betrayal. "I say to men, look, do yourself a bigger favor, be honest with your wife when you're just beginning to get interested in somebody else. Sit down with your wife and say, 'Listen. Something is wrong,'" Gary says.
If you suspect your husband is cheating, Gary says there are unobtrusive ways of investigating, such as looking at cell phone records or computer histories, or try using an automobile GPS tracking device if necessary. But first, find out if GPS tracking is legal in your state.
"I was always under the belief that affairs happened to people in either bad marriages or where there's no sex going on. And because we had both of those things, I was really unaware of how easily I could slip into an affair," Brian says.
Brian says he started having his affair with a person who at first was just a friend. "And then you develop some sort of a connection with them through some sort of common interest," he says. "I didn't choose to go have an affair. It just sort of happened."
Gary says Brian is right that most men meet the person they have an affair with in one of two places—at work or through a hobby. "It begins as an emotional relationship. There's a friendship that develops. It's not just looking for the sex," Gary says. "We all have this picture of cheaters as the bad guys. They're horrible, rotten, not nice. No, they can be nice people who get lost, who do the wrong thing—and they can be your husband."
Anne now runs a support group for betrayed spouses called Beyond Affairs Network, and they both conduct Passionate Life seminars across North America for individuals and couples looking to improve their marriages.
- He spends more time away from the house.
- You have less sex.
- He avoids contact.
- He does not answer his cell phone.
- He criticizes you more.
Gary says another precursor to a man's cheating is when he suddenly cannot stop talking about another woman. "So many women, when they find out their husbands cheat, they know right away who he's been cheating with because he's been talking about her," Gary says. "He's been talking about lunch and the project and they're building things together, whatever. They're doing all kinds of stuff together."
Gary says men often try to hide their cheating, even if the relationship has ended, because they cannot bear the guilt and are trying to cover it up. But if they are confronted by their wives, he says they need to come clean...but not necessarily about everything. "There's a very negative effect to telling everything, even if you as a woman must know," he says.
Gary says the best questions for a woman to ask are ones that will help her get a full picture of what happened and how to protect herself in the future. Gary says these are questions like: Who is she? Where did you meet her? How long ago did it happen? Do you still have anything to do with her? Do you still love her?
The questions to avoid are those that focus on specifics. A cheated-on woman should absolutely not ask: Did you tell her the same things you told me? Was she better at sex than me? What color underwear did she wear?
"It's very hard to get further past that when you have all that information," Gary says. "And here's the bottom line that a woman has to understand if you're going forward in this relationship and he's confessing and he's remorseful, and that is he was screwed up before. He made a mistake. He knows that. ... But right now he's saying, 'I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I really messed up.'"
He says he finds this surprising because so much media targeted to women try to stoke other worries. "Women's magazines make women believe that they have to have a PhD in prostitution education or else the husband's going to cheat," he says. "It's just a matter of frequency."
Gary says sex for men is an emotional act, and a woman initiating sex is "like getting flowers and him washing the dishes for us."
"It's saying that I adore you, I care about you, I want to do something nice for you. It's a way that they connect," Gary says. "He wants to do it with you because he wants to feel love. He wants to have that loving connection—the touch, the feel, the sensuality, the passion that comes through a sexual connection."
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