If you are married or have ever been married, you know that marriage is hard work. It’s nothing short of complicated and exhausting, and it’s also the most magical and mind blowing partnership one could ever imagine. I can’t speak for every marriage, but in speaking for my own, I can also say it can be the most fun and amazing experience on a daily basis- if I allow it to be. And it is without question that my husband and I are responsible for making choices that create the most healthy atmosphere possible in our marriage.
But what happens when we don’t?
What happens when one or the other of us begins to make choices that do more harm than good to our relationship? And then what happens when those choices begin to pile up, resulting in consequences that seem greater than our ability to manage?
Or, the thing you are all wanting to know and wondering when I will explain…
What happens when your husband cheats on you?
Well, first of all, to be very clear- there are multiple ways we can cheat on one another in a relationship. And for the sake of this article, I want to clarify a few things. I am referring to cheating as any act, hobby, or engagement that my husband (or I) could either intentionally or unintentionally use to replace one another. Whether it be social media, video games, golf, or, heaven forbid, an emotional or sexual affair, when we create idols in our lives that take the place of intimacy with one another, we are cheating on each other.
He’s done it, and I have done it. And while I don’t really feel I owe the internet world an explanation for anything, I do want to honor my husband by making it darn clear that he did not cheat on me sexually.
And while it’s easy for us to justify our sins with a lesser sin, it’s really no different. An unhealthy addiction to something that consumes a person is equally problematic in a marriage.
So yes, my husband and I have cheated on one another. With social media, with work, with pointless internet browsing about penguins. We have replaced intimacy with one another with pointless and meaningless things, and we have had to backtrack and find ways to recover. We have placed higher value on things other than one another, and we have paid the consequences in equity of relationship and intimacy. We have made mistakes, but we have picked up the pieces.
Praise the Lord, we’ve lived to tell the tale. And I want share our lessons with you in hopes that you might know what to do when your husband cheats on you. And even more importantly, perhaps you may realize it and stop yourself if you are doing the same.
So first of all, dissect your marriage and evaluate the situation. There’s a time and a place for hard work. If your spouse has a huge project due at work, and truly cannot afford to come to bed rather than working until 2am, then it could be fair and right to grant him that space. If your husband is simply laying in bed scrolling through Facebook for hours but “does not have time to be intimate,” it is important to recognize that as a problem and determine the cause. Know the situation and know what the true motive is behind it. Knowing what is really going on helps us to make fair evaluations rather than harsh judgments.
There’s an innate impulse desire in all of us (at least in most of us- the others don’t admit it) to jump to conclusions and assume the very worst thing. (Think back to your first thought when you saw the title and clicked on it). We are ready to pounce and ready to expose our spouse before he can get two words out. This has to stop. If we want healthy, God-honoring relationships, we have to start being better listeners, and start giving our loved ones the opportunity to truly share their heart.
It is then and only then- when we truly listen and offer our husbands a chance to share- that we can start the process of figuring it out. And here’s a little insight for the “figuring it out” process- make a point to not be critical of one another. It is so easy to just throw punches left and right. Our way is the right way, and therefore nothing he says is a reasonable explanation, right?
Absolutely not. We have to make a point to be understanding. And I am not talking about allowing others a free pass to sin. But we are complex and unique individuals, and when your husband cheats on you, whatever that looks like, he deserves a right to fair trial. Okay, just kidding, but he does deserve a chance to be heard and to be understood. Don’t deny him that.
Finally, when your husband cheats on you, you need a game plan. You need strategy to overcome. And while it might look different in every single marriage, here’s what having a game plan looks like for us:
First of all, we believe in heavy doses of authentic communication. We don’t believe in letting our hearts and feelings go unspoken at the risk of hidden feelings damaging our relationship. Second, within that communication, we believe in expressing very clearly our needs and expectations. And that’s a big one. Any time we have not been clear about our expectations, we have gotten ourselves into trouble. Most importantly, we set boundaries. Those boundaries look different for each scenario, but we have learned that they are absolutely vital to any healthy relationship. Creating boundaries allows you to have agreed upon parameters, and gives you the right to express concern when one or the other of you steps outside those boundaries. If the boundaries are not set, however, then it’s often unfair to assume the other person was intentionally doing wrong.
So when your husband cheats on you, don’t throw in the towel. Don’t assume the worst. Do communicate. Do express your needs and do set boundaries.
And do fight for more love, more kindness, and deeper connection. There’s always a winning solution.