Revenge Cheating: 5 Ways it Sabotages Both Marital and Individual Recovery

BY: - 11 Sep '17 | Infidelity

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“Last night was well worth it!”

Imagine reading this text message on your husband’s phone. How would you react? Well, I don’t have to imagine and I can tell you exactly how I reacted…minus the cuss words of course. Being cheated on can cause you to lose your religion!

The interesting dynamic in our marriage is that we both cheated. Neither of our affairs was premeditated and, looking back, we were both naïve given the situations we allowed ourselves to get into. This is important to note and evaluate for your own marriage.  Please know I do not condone cheating and make no excuses. Rather, it is always important to consider and understand.

I cheated during our engagement and I told him.  A couple of days after my confession, I called my sister and, during our conversation, I shared the news.  I will never forget her response. ”Girl, you just gave him a get out of jail free card!” she said. Since I didn’t quite get it, she explained that telling him was like giving him permission to cheat on me, like revenge or retaliation.

Often times, we merely want our spouse to feel how we feel, especially when they have hurt us to our very core. It seems only “fair” that they FULLY FEEL the extent of the pain they’ve caused.  So we think that one way to achieve this after their affair would be to have an affair of your own. Sadly, along with your emotional and physical well being, retaliation affairs can damage your marriage’s chances of recovery. In other words, it yields results such as the following which are quite opposite of what is intended.

  1. You won’t get even. Your spouse’s affair broke the trust and shattered the bond instantly over what took you years to build in most cases. Your revenge affair can never have the same impact. Why? Think about it like this. When you break a vase it is broken, so if you drop it again, it is still broken, right? You can not break something that is already broken.
  2. You are not likely to make your partner feel victimized. Actually you can cause them to feel justified in having their affair. I have seen some use such actions as an excuse to continue their extra-marital affair.
  3. You will not make them ‘get’ how you feel. Rather than feeling guilty for betraying and hurting you, your revenge cheating will provide your spouse with an excuse to disregard your feelings while minimizing the consequences of their own actions.
  4. You are not likely “to teach them a lesson.” The only thing revenge cheating will teach them is that you have stooped to their level and have a spiteful spirit.
  5. You could possibly encourage them to cheat again. Your affair could make cheating seem acceptable in your spouse’s mind…after all you both did it, right? So why not do it again? These thoughts are likely to generate in your spouse’s head.

How it Sabotages Marital Recovery

  1. Guaranteed distraction that’s preventing you from addressing the real problems in the marriage that led to the affair in the first place.
  2. The marriage is already weak—a retaliation affair will negatively compound things so horribly that it sabotages any chance the marriage has to bounce back.
  3. A lack of intimacy is often an originator to affairs. Intimacy allows for connection and when participating in revenge cheating this will certainly cause you to disconnect even further and create an even greater emotional gap between you and your spouse.
  4. Bringing further betrayal to the marriage is like spraying weed killer on the foundation where you two will need to rebuild the groundwork of rebuilding trust.
  5. Revenge cheating often escalates hostility and can lead to domestic violence.

How it Sabotages Individual Recovery

  1. You can not conquer what you are not willing to confront. By participating in revenge cheating, all you are doing is using anger to “protect” yourself from dealing with the emotional pain you feel. Unless you deal with your pain you won’t be able to heal, nor will your marriage.
  2. Creating pain for your spouse will not make you feel better. Rather you will still feel just as betrayed, hurt, and outraged afterwards if not more because this can magnify already intensely raw emotions.
  3. Acting out like a child to your spouse is immature, unwise, and will likely leave you feeling guilty and regretful.
  4. Treat people how you genuinely want to be treated. This third party that you would be using is a real person like you with their own needs and feelings. This is not a time for you to risk further emotional casualties and complications.  You have enough to deal with in your marriage already. Yes?
  5. If you have not cheated thus far, then there is a reason. I’m guessing you are loyal, ethical, and value your morals. So compromising them can later cause feelings of regret and shame that are harmful to your emotional well-being.

Revenge cheating is a bad idea all around. Despite the hurt you feel from your spouse’s betrayal, if you truly want healing and a way to save your marriage, that’s just not the way to go. Take the time and seek the help needed to put your marriage back together, the right way.

About the author

Da-Nay Macklin wrote 58 articles on this blog.

Coach Da-Nay Macklin is a Certified Christian Life & Relationship Coach, founder of the Courageous Conquerors Mastermind and Author of Love After Adultery: The Breakthrough Journey of the Brokenhearted Available on Amazon She is one of the nation’s leading experts on infidelity and a thought leader on maximizing potential as she assists couples and individuals to live life by design and not default. Da-Nay has been has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s show Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal after successfully navigating adultery in her marriage, and named one of the 15 most powerful women on the south side of Chicago. She now resides in Charlotte, NC with her loving husband and daughter.


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He Cheated 8 Years Ago: How Do I Really Forgive My Husband?

BY: - 3 Oct '17 | Infidelity

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Dear Dr. Buckingham,

I have been with my husband for 17 years. I’m 30 years old and we have four boys together and a child on the way.

During our time together, my husband has cheated on me and I forgave him (at least I thought). He cheated 8 years ago and almost had a child with another woman. I found out while I was pregnant with our fourth child. Since then I have not been able to move forward with him sexually. I have not told him that I have been faking.

The way in which you view your situation will determine how you cope with it.

We are having another child together and he is a good man. He just made a huge mistake. I haven’t told him how I feel because I am scared of losing him again. Do I need fixing or what? How Do I Really Forgive My Husband and Move Forward?

Thank you,

Confused Wife

Ask Dr. Buckingham

Dear Confused Wife,

Therapists like myself help people develop new coping skills, adapt to change, and grow from adversity. I make this statement to help you understand that there is no such thing as “fixing” people. However, based on the fact that you are still holding on to the pain of betrayal and being dishonest with your husband, you should seek professional counseling.

The only way to really forgive your husband is to forgive yourself. The feelings of disappointment and betrayal are internal factors that are influenced or caused by external factors. You have to learn how to monitor your internal thoughts and emotions. This is extremely important because the way in which you view your situation will determine how you cope with it. The energy that you put into feeling unhappy must be redirected and changed to reflect the life that you would rather have with your husband.

I believe that forgiveness is not only about moving forward, but is also about moving up. When you forgive yourself you become a better you. The adulterous memories will resurface occasionally and it is in these moments where you have to focus on what you have. Do not deny yourself the opportunity to grow by holding on to the past. If you look forward, you cannot get stuck in the past.

Lastly, remember that forgiveness is not a secular skill that we embrace and practice well. Forgiveness is complex to us, but is really simple if we place God in the center of our lives. Forgiveness is a spiritual skill that flourishes when God is present. As you place God in the center of your life and marriage, practicing forgiveness will get easier.

Best regards,

Dr. Buckingham

If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to

Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.


About the author

Dwayne Buckingham wrote 219 articles on this blog.

Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham, author of Qualified, yet Single: Why Good Men Remain Single and Unconditional Love: What Every Woman and Man Desires in a Relationship, is a highly acclaimed international clinical psychotherapist, life coach, relationship and resiliency expert, motivational speaker and corporate consultant. He is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of R.E.A.L. Horizons Consulting Service, located in Silver Spring, Maryland. To learn more about Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham visit his website at


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