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Why Do Cheating Husbands Stay Married? 12 Reasons Unveiled

Last updated on November 7, 2022 by Danielle Harrison

When married people cheat, you would expect the marriage to end in divorce. After all, why would someone cheat if they still wanted to be with their spouse?

In reality, many men stay married after infidelity. In fact, one study found that only one in five1 relationships ended after an affair. In order to understand why, we need to understand why married men cheat in the first place.

Why Does Habitual Cheating Happen?

Married men have affairs for many reasons. The most common reason is unmet needs in their marriage. These needs may be sexual or emotional. Men may also cheat because they lack self-confidence and want the attention. This is especially true as they get older and wonder whether they’re still desirable.

Another common reason is anger or frustration at their spouse. They may feel neglected or unappreciated. Maybe they tried to work on some of their marital issues but their wife wasn’t willing to put in the effort. This leads to resentment and seeking affection elsewhere.

Others cheat simply out of boredom. They may desire more variety in their life and monogamy is difficult for them. Maybe they just had the opportunity and decided to go for it. They enjoy the thrill of experiencing something new. The very act of sneaking around may also excite them.

Some common relationship issues that can lead to cheating include lack of communication, emotional disconnect, physical disconnect, and lack of respect.

Why Do Cheating Husbands Stay Married?

Let’s take a look at some of the most common answers to this big confusing question – Why do cheating husbands stay married to their wives?

1. He still loves his wife

It’s a common misconception that cheaters don’t care about their wives. The truth is many cheating husbands stay married because they still love their wives. Even if he does feel like there’s something missing in his marriage, the love may still be there. 

He also may recognize how great the marriage is overall and he doesn’t want to let go of that. Maybe he thinks they can work out their marriage problems and he’s ready to end the affair with the other woman.

2. He doesn’t want to break up the family

he doesn't want to break up the family

Why do cheating husbands stay married? Well, if said husband has a family, he may want to stay in order to protect the well-being of his children. If his parents divorced when he was young, he knows how hard it can be and he doesn’t want to do that to his kids. Unfortunately, he may not realize that staying in an unhappy marriage can create a far more toxic environment for them.

He also may be afraid of losing custody or that his children will feel angry with him when they find out the truth. He doesn’t want to risk losing the relationship he has with his kids.

3. The affair is purely physical

A cheating spouse may not truly care about his affair partner at all. He sees no reason to leave his wife because he just wanted to experience some physical pleasure on the side. He may not put as much significance on a physical relationship. He may not even believe he truly did anything wrong.

If there was no emotional component, he may not even see the harm in the affair. Sometimes a cheating husband doesn’t even feel guilty in this scenario because he doesn’t believe he has really hurt his wife.

4. He stands to lose too much if he leaves

Another one of the most common reasons cheating husbands stay married is fear of what they might be losing. Along with their wives and children, cheating husbands also risk losing money and their social network.

He doesn’t want to lose half of his money through a messy divorce. Between alimony and spousal support, any divorce can be a financial nightmare. Yet, when you add cheating to the mix, he might owe even more since many prenuptial agreements now have an infidelity clause.

Apart from financial loss, cheating husbands may also stand to lose the people closest to them. When married couples split up, their friends are more likely to take sides with the wives than the unfaithful men who hurt them. This leaves the men alone.

5. He’s comfortable or attached to the way things are

Even if a cheating partner feels like there’s something missing in his marriage, he might be afraid to leave his wife because he’s used to the way things are. It’s all he knows and his marriage is a safe place for him.

Married life is stable and he doesn’t want to have to start over. He doesn’t want to leave his home, his family, and the life that he’s grown accustomed to.

This is especially common in men with low self-esteem. They crave attention or an ego boost, so they have an affair. Afterwards, they realize they really do need their wives.

6. He fears the stigma of divorce

In some cases, cheating men stay married because they feel like it’s their only option. The norms in many cultures strongly frown upon divorce. This leads to a lot of shame from society.

In addition to society’s opinion, some cheating husbands stay married because they’re afraid of what their friends and family will think if they were to find out. They might disown him or distance themselves. He also may feel like a failure and fear everyone else thinking the same.

7. He enjoys the thrill of the double life

Why do cheating husbands stay married? Because some men cheat more for the thrill of it, rather than any ill feelings towards their marriage. The constant fear of getting caught cheating might be exciting to them. They also may enjoy living two separate lives. In one he’s the responsible husband, and in the other, he gets to be wild and crazy. It could seem like the best of both worlds.

In some cases, he may crave the variety of different women in his life. Maybe he never really wanted to get married, and he only did it because it’s what society expected of him. He may not feel fulfilled by a life of monogamy.

8. He plans to change

he plans to change

Maybe he still plans on ending the affair. He may consider it a mistake, even if it keeps on happening. Or maybe he never had an affair. He may have just had a one night stand or two. He tells himself it will never happen again. Therefore, he doesn’t believe there’s any reason for his wife to find out.

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Unfortunately, in most cases, a cheating husband doesn’t change. He continues to cheat. He may lie to himself, but he still has a hard time breaking the cycle. 

9. There are no repercussions for his actions

Maybe he doesn’t think he will ever get caught so he doesn’t see the harm in continuing both the affair and his marriage. He wants to have it all and he doesn’t want to have to choose between his wife and the other woman.

On the other hand, even when wives know, they often choose to stay married. They don’t want to break up the family or start over. This gives him the freedom to continue hurting her because he thinks that she’ll stand by him no matter what.

10. He’s biding his time

In some cases, a man may stay married for now, even if he eventually plans to leave his marriage. Maybe he got caught before he thought through an exit strategy. Now he’s trying to bide his time until he can figure out his next move.

He may feel that his marriage is over and that’s why he cheated. Yet, he hasn’t figured out where he’s going to live, how he’s going to tell his friends, or what the divorce process would even entail. So staying married seems like the best option, at least for now. 

11. He feels bad for his wife

Sometimes, the husband cheated but doesn't want divorce out of guilt. He knows it’s not his wife’s fault that things have soured in the relationship. He feels bad that he did this to her – even if he keeps on doing it.

12. The affair made him realize how good he has it

In some cases, seeing what else is out there may make a man realize how lucky he is to have his wife, especially if the affair was disappointing. He may come to see how loyal, devoted, and giving she is and recognize that he’s not going to find anyone else who loves him like she does. He may see that the affair was shallow, but his marriage is real.

Should You Stay with an Unfaithful Husband?

should you stay with an unfaithful husband

So what should you do if your cheating husband wants to stay married to you? First, consider where you stand. Do you think you’ll ever be able to forgive and trust him? Or is the emotional damage just too deep?

Consider his actions since you’ve found out about the affair. Does he seem sincere and willing to change? He’s lied to you before so pay less attention to his words and more to his actions. Is he working hard to right his wrong?

Lastly, it’s recommended to attend couple’s therapy after one partner’s been unfaithful. This can help you build up trust again, heal the pain, and work on the issues that led to infidelity in the first place.

FAQs

Why do men cheat in good relationships?

Even in a happy marriage, men may cheat for many reasons. They may feel unsatisfied in some way. The passion or excitement may be lacking in their marriage, even if everything else is going great. They may also enjoy the ego boost, or the thrill of sneaking around.

Should you stay with a man who cheats?

Generally, you should only stay married to a cheating man if he expresses genuine regret and is willing to work hard to improve the relationship and rebuild trust. He should also be willing to attend therapy with you. However, this is a question only you can answer as every situation is different.

How do you know if a married man loves you?

It’s relatively rare for a married man to fall for “the other woman.” If you think that he’s in love with you, it’s most likely just the excitement and infatuation that he’s feeling since it’s been so long since he’s been with someone new. The only way to know for sure is to have an honest conversation.

How do I stop overthinking after being cheated on?

It’s normal to ruminate after being cheated on. You’re hurt and you aren’t going to heal overnight. Be patient and kind to yourself. Realize that it’s not your fault. Attend couple’s counseling if you plan to stay together so you can rebuild trust.

How do you know if he will cheat again?

It is hard to know for sure if he will cheat again, but most men who have cheated in the past will do it again. However, someone who only cheated once and came clean to you is more likely to remain faithful going forward than someone with a long pattern of infidelity.

Conclusion

So why do cheating husbands stay married? For numerous reasons, but most of them are quite selfish. Still, there are men who hope to stay married because they truly love their wives and want to work things out.

If you’re considering staying with an unfaithful husband, make sure to consider whether you can get past the hurt. Then, take a hard look at whether his effort towards change seems genuine. Attending couples’ therapy can help you mend the relationship.

I hope this was helpful. If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, let us know by commenting below and sharing it. We always love hearing from you and appreciate your support!

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Sources:

  1. Gary W. Lewandowski, Jr. (2021): Why Do People in Relationships Cheat?
Danielle Harrison
I have been writing for online publications for the last five years, using my background in Psychology to understand human nature. I am also a marketing copywriter specializing in sales funnels. In my free time, I'm usually traveling, hiking, or trying a new kind of tea.

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