I often hear of wives who don’t understand the division between the man who begs them not to abandon him because of his affair and the man who risked literally everything to have the same affair. The wife often breaks her mind to find out what her thought process might have been. Because he seems completely sincere in being desperate not to lose his family now. But what about before? Why was he willing to risk them to carry out the matter?
A wife might say, “Honestly, my head is spinning. I really don’t understand. I have always told my husband that I would never, ever tolerate cheating. He seemed to understand this and said emphatically that he would never do that. He believed.” My husband is a man of great integrity. He is not in the habit of lying and being deceitful. He has been a good husband. But he cheated on me with a co-worker I really know. I’m in a club with her and sometimes we chatted about our families. My husband had to know this. And still, he had an affair. I knew very well that if I found out, I would probably take our children and move out. The other woman also children and a husband. Worse than this, in my husband’s company, they are not supposed to date coworkers. So they were both breaking the rules and there would probably be consequences for their careers if they got caught. Also, my husband was very careless, as if he wanted to be caught. But when I confront him about it, it comes out. He chases me around the house sobbing and saying he can’t handle it if he leaves it and takes the kids. When I tell him that he should have thought about this before, he says that’s the problem, that he wasn’t thinking. But the thing is, my husband is a thinker. He is not the type of person who does not know what he is doing. He had to be aware of the risks. I’m sick of you doing this. Why would an otherwise reasonable person risk everything to have an affair? In fact, he claims that he didn’t even care much for her. He insists that she means almost nothing to him. If this is really true, why would he risk all this to fool her? I just do not get it “.
I really understand what you are saying. I had the same questions. I asked my own husband these questions and the men I interviewed for articles. Although every man, every adventure, and every set of details is different, he tends to see the same themes crop up over and over again. I’ll share those now in the hope that something will help.
They minimize the risk in their own mind in any way they can: If you ask an honest man directly why he risked everything for an affair, you might be left with a blank stare. Why? Because when they think about it after the fact, the risk is staggering, but at the time, they didn’t internalize the risk. In fact, they did everything they could to minimize it in their own mind. This is why this is all so puzzling to wives. If most of our husbands sat down and thought about exactly what might happen if they got caught, most would never do it. Because that risk is simply not worth taking. But they don’t sit around and really think about it. They tell themselves it will be a one-time thing. Or that they can and will finish it very quickly. They tell themselves that their marriage and adventure are two different parts of their lives and that they can keep the two of them away from each other.
People who have had adventures describe it as juggling a lot of balls in the air, constantly keeping both things going. Some even try to break up the romance, but the other person tries their best to keep it up. Many of them are in the process of ending things when they get caught. At that point, they had begun to recognize the risk they were taking and began to try to untangle themselves from it. But of course, by then it is too late and they are captured.
I cannot affirm that there are not some husbands who are committed to the adventure and who want to continue with it even when they are caught. But in my experience, this is not the case for many. Most of them will tell you that if they had sat down and thought about it, they never would have. Most say they would give anything to get it back because they don’t want to lose their family. The statistics confirm this, as more marriages survive an affair than not. In short, most men do their best not to think about risk.
An everyday perspective: When I was trying to come to terms with this in my own life, I realized that if we are all honest, there are some mind games that we all play at risk, but on a much smaller scale. For example, I have a family history of skin cancer. When I drive a carpool, I am in the car (and therefore in the sun) for a long period of time. I know I should wear sunscreen and most of the time I do. But if I’m in a hurry and run out the door, there will be times when I’ll think “stop what you’re doing and put on sunscreen. You know you can’t leave your skin unprotected.” But since I’m late and I don’t want to be at the end of the line, I just run out of him. This puts me and my family at risk (if I had cancer). I know it completely. And yet I keep those concerns in the back of my mind and move on. I know this is not an apples to apples comparison. Sunscreen and an adventure are two very different things. But I wanted to point out that we all tend to minimize risks in our own minds. It’s just human nature. This does not excuse your husband for long. But I wanted to show the process that goes into the mind games that we all play with ourselves. On a larger scale, this is how people risk everything for an adventure. They just push the risky thoughts to the back of their minds, until they get caught or are trying to put an end to them.