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Why Some Men Cheat

Infidelity is as old as the concept of monogamy itself, just as crime is as old as the concept of law. Inherent to the establishment of rules is the inclination on the part of some to break them. Where marriage is concerned, the issue of men cheating falls into three primary categories: one with a short explanation and a lot of excuses (chronic cheaters), one with rationale that proves the old adage that it takes two to tango (men who have an affair), and the other brimming with psychology and possibilities (men who would seek a divorce before they resort to cheating to fill their needs).

Category One - men who cheat because they can. They cheat compulsively and usually often, and the reason has little or nothing to do with the state of their marriage or the woman to whom they are married. These guys are simply snakes. They have self-image and ego problems that lead them to the shallow and temporary illusion that they are fine through cheating on their wives. They think the word "character" refers to someone in a movie. Their moral compass is flawed, their wedding vows were just words that were spoken before somebody broke out the champagne. No amount of marriage counseling or behavioral modification on the part of the wife can change this man or this situation; you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. The wife has two choices: tolerate it, or dump the jerk.

Category Two - men who have the isolated affair (frequent affairs quickly qualify them for Category One). These are men whose excuse is that they are driven into the arms of another woman as an escape from the unhappiness of their marriage, or least to fill a legitimate need in their lives. If their marriage is just fine, even acceptable, or they are simply weak and easily seduced, then once again you have a Category One cad on your hands. But this guy, the Category Two cheater, isn't out there looking for infidelity, and when he finds his heart strings being plucked by another woman there isn't enough equity in the marriage to stop him from crossing the line. It's still wrong (and he knows it), and he's still weak and morally compromised, but in this case it isn't about getting his kicks or salving his wounded self-image, it's about falling for someone else in a very real, emotionally-valid sense. If he thought he could get what he needed from his wife, he wouldn't cheat. But in this case, he doesn't believe that can happen.

Category Three - men who, no matter how tempting the other woman and/or how broken the marriage, simply won't go there. An attraction to another woman - which happens to this guy for the same reasons is happens to the Category Two fellow - may be enough to cause him to move out and call his lawyer, but his moral compass is a huge part of his identity and he won't compromise it, at least in a sexual sense. The term "affair of the heart" falls into this category, where a man falls for a woman but waits until he's legally separated from this wife before consummating it.

Wives of men in these separate categories face vastly different challenges and have different emotions and opportunities that are unique to them.

If you are married to a serial cheater, a man so weak he can't stop himself (even if he claims he loves you), a man with no self-respect and no honor, then you have more reasons to divorce this clown than just the adultery itself.

If you are married to a man who is having an affair with someone whom he claims he truly loves, then despite your outrage and pain you need to bring a mirror with you when you go to counseling. Because something about your marriage has soured, and that always requires the requisite two to tango. Even if you've been near perfect, the fact that you and your husband haven't talked about his dissatisfaction, or that you haven't looked close enough to see it, places some of the responsibility in your lap. Women who divorce Category Two men rationalize it with their anger and righteousness, when it fact they might have had a role in driving their man to do what he did.

If you are married to man who absolutely won't cross that line, count your blessings and seize the opportunity to fix the marriage and perhaps your role in it. Time is short, but at least you have a guy worth fighting for, and the same strong character that kept him from cheating will keep him engaged in the conversation until it runs its course.

Nobody argues that marriage is difficult, but when it comes to the issue of fidelity, especially for men, things get black and white very quickly. They either will, or they won't, and everything in between involves the wife to some degree. Remember, women usually leave men for another life (see Why Women Leave), but men leave women for another woman. It is the wise woman who understands this subtle difference, and views that glass as half full in terms of her ability to influence the outcome.

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