I received a vm from ‘cheating wife’ asking for guidance. She stated she has been with her husband since she was aged 16. They have been together for 9 years. Caller stated she, “…constantly seeks attention from men” and last year she actually had sexual intercourse with a man which resulted in two treatable sexually transmitted diseases. Caller noted “…I’m an intelligent woman… but I just cannot forgive myself… and I don’t know where my mind’s at…”
1. Cheating is an emotional decision – not a logical one: Most people cheat on a partner because something in their relationship is missing. That does not mean that the innocent partner is defective or at fault. It just means the cheating partner is seeking something that feels missing in their current relationship, or within themselves.
2. When someone is constantly seeking approval from the opposite sex: Generally speaking, it is because that is their place of emotional wounding. Typically the wounding is from their opposite gendered parent. In other words, sometimes women with emotionally detached, inattentive, or disapproving fathers will attempt to work out their father complex by seeking out approval from every male possible. The attention-seeking behavior is compensatory for the father’s emotional detachment.
3. Spouse’s Sexuality: You mentioned the possibility that your husband is gay… this knowledge could certainly impact your self-esteem as a woman. How are you together sexually? Do you have good chemistry, are you physically compatible? How do you feel about his [alleged] bi/homo-sexuality?
4. Husband blames himself: Why? Is your husband conflicted about his sexuality and feels guilty for his possible bi-sexual feelings, so he forgives you over and over again? He would benefit from therapy too.
5. Tried therapy – but therapist justified your behavior: It is never a therapist’s job to shame a client. If s/he did, I would recommend you RUN. Why? Because that would indicate that their own moral judgment is sneaking into the therapeutic session – that is always an unwelcome, unwanted guest. A therapist’s judgment is counter-productive for the client.
6. Where are you going wrong? You’re looking for external validation instead of finding it internally. No one can ever ‘complete us’ or endlessly fill us up. It’s not our lover’s job. It’s our own work to do. For emotional stability and happiness, we must look inward. Each of us is responsible for our own emotional health – and as long as we seek external validation we will be riding an emotional roller coaster with someone else in the drivers seat.
7. Two treatable STD’s: What a gift. Yes, a real wake-up call for you. If you’ve been unfaithful since you’ve been together – this is a chronic situation. When cheating on a partner is chronic it suggests so much more is going on on so many levels.
8. What to do now? Go back to that SAME therapist. She sounds like she knows what she’s talking about. Sorry, I know that’s not what you want to hear. But, she sounds right on. Tell her you were disappointed, upset, and maybe even angry when she “justified” your cheating. Process it with her. If you still don’t like her, for some other reason then ask her to refer you to someone else. She sounds competent. Again, it is not her job to shame you!
Lastly, what will it take for you to forgive yourself? How long will you hold yourself with such contempt and self-loathing? Your behavior results from the only way you know how, at this point, to get some deep need met. This doesn’t make you a bad person. You’re doing the best you know how to do; but in an unhealthy and potentially life-threatening way. When you understand your underlying motivation – your behavior will make perfect sense. Then, you can break the dysfunctional cycle. You can heal. I forgive you, can you?