Given my husband’s attraction to other women over the years, it was almost a given that someone would later ask me, “Have you ever cheated on your husband?”
My answer: “No, I have never cheated on my husband, and for a long time I thought it was because I was so happy in my relationship. But looking back, this wasn’t the case.”
I never cheated
For most of my marriage, I remained militantly faithful. I became quickly disgusted with guys who didn’t want to honor my marriage, or me.
Case in point–I’d been attracted to a guy at work before meeting my husband. He wasn’t interested in me at all. But this changed right after I was married. The week I returned from my honeymoon, he began showing lots of interest in me—stopping by my office, catching up with me in the hall, finding reasons to hang around my department.
I could have used it to feel good about myself, but in reality, it offended me. “I’m the same person I was before. The only difference is I’m wearing a ring, and this guy shows up with one goal: to slowly take the ring off my finger.”
This guy wanted to boost his ego, indifferent to the fact that his power-trip would completely screw up my life. No thank you.
Another guy stopped by my office often to chat with me. I could tell he was interested, but my schedule was packed so I easily dodged him. Then one day he came into my office, elbows on the counter, leaning toward me and talking in a low voice. Then he took the glasses on his face and pulled them off to the side, like he was Clark Kent turning into Superman.
It was hilarious. Inside, I rolled my internal eyes. Outwardly, I sighed plain-faced—trying not to smile. I think he got the picture as he never came back.
(The heart-breaking thing was this: A couple hours later, he walked by my office with his wife and happy young child. The pain in his wife’s eyes was apparent. I felt bad for her.)
I wasn’t this cold to every guy though—just the ones who wanted to use me to prove something to themselves. There were plenty of guys I had friendships with, simply because they acted like friends and they valued me as a person. I appreciated these guys.
So, no, I never cheated, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t want to sometimes.
But I’ve been tempted to cheat
Have I ever been tempted to stray? Yes.
Early on the temptations were easy to dismiss, but after my husband confessed to entertaining his own temptations and watching pornography, I was attracted to other men in a way I’d never experienced before.
One guy showed up in my neighborhood from time to time, doing work on a neighbor’s house. He was very good looking, very hard working, and—this was key—he noticed me. When I realized my thoughts kept drifting to him, I told my husband (and later a friend) about it. Then I avoided him.
I saw another guy on a weekly basis. He was free-spirited, attractive, and well-established. And he noticed me too. I talked to my husband about my growing attraction toward him, but it was the words of a friend that immediately cleared the issue up for me. She said, “Isn’t that such a lie? Isn’t that such a lie from the enemy?”
The truth of her words would come to mind many times thereafter.
It felt good to be noticed by other men—very good.
And there was a part of me that wanted to be noticed by other men. But what I wanted more was to be noticed by my husband.
I’d tried to get my guy’s attention. But while he was missing those opportunities, other men weren’t.
I didn’t encourage their attention in any way, but I couldn’t deny their attention was healing to me—healing in ways my husband hadn’t yet learned how to do.
In fact, it felt so good to be noticed by other men, I had to combat these temptations by talking to someone about it early and often.
Why I choose to stay faithful
I used to think I was determined to stay faithful because I was happy in my relationship, but looking back, it was my way of bargaining for my husband’s faithfulness. “If I’m faithful to him, he has to be faithful to me. Right?”
And my husband was faithful—but only technically, which is another story.
So, no, I never cheated, and I never allowed myself to be tempted for long. But it wasn’t because I had a happy relationship, it was my bargaining effort to make a happy relationship.
For the Gals
When your husband’s wandering eye or straying heart harms your relationship, you may find it more difficult to not find other men attractive. It’s especially tempting when these other men notice you.
I get it because I’ve been there.
I understand how deeply unsatisfying a dying marriage can be. I understand how a long glance from a guy is a “tall, cool drink of water” to an unnoticed soul. I understand how living in fantasy can be a distraction from the pain of our partner’s fantasy life.
But instead of letting temptation ruin your life, allow it to show you your current reality: You marriage isn’t fulfilling. You want something more. And you want something more from within your marriage—not from some guy who will mess it all up.
If your husband has been less than faithful, whether through porn use or sexual addiction, find out how to heal from the damage it’s caused you.
And ask him to get help because you’ll never heal from something that continues to harm you. Ask him to get help so you’ll want to draw near him again.
It’s not bad to want a better life; it’s just difficult to create a better life using the very thing that’s destroying yours.
For the Guys
If you struggle with fantasizing about other women, get help. Your actions send a clear message to your wife, and you can’t predict where that message will take her. If you want to be the spiritual leader of your family, then do so—just be careful where you’re leading.
Lori Pyatt blogs, speaks, and mentors with a passion to help women who’ve been sexually betrayed. After experiencing her husband’s betrayal, she researched the issue for many years to find what works and what doesn’t. Now they’re both Certified Mentors helping men and women break free from the destruction so they can find healing and peace of mind. She recently completed APSATS training on partner trauma in order to help women get their life back more quickly. Find out more at His Porn. Your Pain. Healed., and download her free guide.