Lies. Lies. Lies. When you make a decision to go outside of your relationship with your spouse to get a certain need met that you are convinced you can’t have met within your marriage, you usually come up with some excuse that, on the surface, appears plausible. Well, let me cut straight to it. You are only telling yourself lies, lies, lies. For instance, here’s an infidelity coaching call with a client where she felt led to share her affair justification.
“After meeting _________ (affair partner), he inquired if I ever considered being a Director. I was taken aback by his view and confidence in my ability to perform in such a role. Truth be told, I was extremely flattered considering how hard I worked to become a Manager. The compliments and belief in me kept coming and kept flattering me, so much so I became engulfed in his narrative. He then sought my advice both professionally as well as personally. I felt so valued both personally and professionally by him that our exchanges turned our emotional affair into a physical affair”
“Did you feel bad about what you were doing?” I asked.
“Not really. I was brought up to believe if you genuinely loved your spouse you would not cheat. Therefore, I believe that is why I told myself repeatedly that if I truly loved my husband then I wouldn’t be cheating on him. I looked back on our marriage and relationship from the beginning and can’t recall ever feeling for my husband the way I feel for ________ (affair partner). So I told myself this must be divine, he’must be my soul mate. I hadn’t been happy in the marriage for years. This feels so right! How could it possibly be wrong?”
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So what makes a spouse decide to cheat? How do they rationalize their thinking? Some spouses justify their infidelity by convincing themselves they never cheated. As long as they don’t break their own self-generated rules regarding extramarital involvement, then they avoid feeling like they’ve done something wrong. They will somehow find a way to give an erroneous justification for their behavior. These justifications are thought patterns that push away guilt and allow the wayward spouse to deceive themselves into thinking they have little or no responsibility for their choices.
JUSTIFICATION #1: “Clearly I married the wrong person.”
Did you think you married the wrong person before the affair? Or did a magical light bulb all of a sudden go off after the affair? Our experiences taught my husband and me that there is no way our 16 years of marriage could begin to match the steamy hot & heavy phase that is year 1 of a relationship/marriage. Expectations and needs that go unfulfilled often leave spouses feeling they somehow made a mistake. Unresolved issues are excellent catalysts to justify our choices to cheat.
JUSTIFICATION #2: “Yes. I finally found my true soul mate.”
When we grow up with “Happily Ever After” fairy tales, soul mates must exist…right? We often use love and the idea of love to be the best justification of all. We live in a society where instant gratification is the norm so we tell ourselves that all yearnings and desires must be satisfied? The consequences of infidelity are repressed under the fantasy of falling in love, with little to no regard for our spouses.
We fail to see the selfishness of seeking our own happiness at the expense of our mate and forget they’ve continued to be with us even after the hot flames of romance have settled into glowing embers. When our own marriage hits the skids, we tend to look elsewhere rather than looking in the mirror. Much worse, we easily find a ‘vanity mirror’ like an affair partner to make us feel great about ourselves, rather than a make-up mirror which tends to reflect our own personal blemishes.
JUSTIFICATION #3: “What he/she doesn’t know won’t hurt them.”
Hurt is hurt, so thinking others won’t get hurt as long as you keep it hush-hush only serves to push away guilt. Infidelity is never without consequences, trust me I know this all too well. The very definition of infidelity is the keeping of secrets while intimacy means “into-me-see.”
Intimacy is a willingness to be fully known and to fully know another. How can that happen as long as you’re keeping secrets AND in charge of what information your spouse knows about you? Whether or not you get caught doesn’t change the disconnection that occurs for your mate as you close yourself off to them in order to give yourself to another.
JUSTIFICATION #4: “I love my spouse but I’m not in love with my spouse.”
This justification is based on the idea that marriage is about being “in love.” Marriage requires both spouses to DEVELOP a vision of love that lasts far beyond the “in love” infancy stage. The foundation of marriage is not feelings. Rather, it is choice and commitment. It’s easy to stay with someone if you love the way they make you feel. However, when life is hard and your spouse disappoints, unless you have a deeper understanding of love, it won’t be long until the justification of “being in love” surfaces.
JUSTIFICATION #5: “I didn’t have sex.”
While these people are committed to stay, they are not committed not to stray. For example, a husband may abstain from intercourse, but participate in oral sex since he might think “it’s not sex.” In his mind, he’s not really “having an affair.” A wife may disclose her inner-most thoughts and feelings to a man at work while leaving her husband clueless. She may justify an emotional affair as not “counting” as cheating so she frees herself to continue her behavior without remorse. While this justification may allow for the unfaithful mate to avoid guilt, it won’t protect their mate from feelings of betrayal.
Make no mistake, when you decide to cheat, you make a conscious decision to betray the commitment and vow you pledged at the altar before God and man. There is no justification for it…only lies, lies, lies.
BMWK, are you lying to yourself before stepping out on your spouse?