Why men cheat—and what to do if it happens to you

Why do people cheat? What can you do to prevent it? And how can you move on if it happens to you? All is answered.

Cheating has almost become a norm among today’s public figures. Over-the-top scandals regularly occupy dinner table conversations around the country, and have forced us to re-evaluate the state of marriage.

But why do people cheat? What can you do to prevent it? And how can you move on if it happens to you? We spoke with M. Gary Neuman, rabbi, marriage counselor and author of The Truth About Cheating, who, through his research, gave insight on how to keep a healthy marriage.

So why do men cheat?

I can tell you why men don’t cheat. It’s usually not because of sex: Only 8 percent of men who cheat said it was because of sexual dissatisfaction. Rather, 48 percent of men who have cheated said it was because of emotional dissatisfaction. Men’s egos are not as strong as they think, and therefore, they are highly susceptible to someone serving them up admiration outside the marriage, especially when the man is not properly connected with his wife. It often starts as emotional infidelity, where he will use a relationship outside the marriage to satisfy an emotional void.

How can you tell if your husband is being unfaithful?

If you ask him and he is extremely defensive and tries to make you feel like you’re crazy for suspecting anything, then that’s a key indicator.

Related: The Jedi mind tricks that reveal when your man is lying

But the cheating man does more than lie, he will then try to turn it around and make the woman feel like she’s out of line. A man who has not cheated is usually more understanding and shocked. A tremendous push back on his part is an indicator. If he denies it, don’t put your head in the sand; start checking his phone.

Are there other signs?

Yes, there are a few: decrease in sex and eye contact. If you hear a lot about one particular person — usually someone from his work, which is the number one place where people begin affairs — this could also send up a red flag.

Related: 15 signs you’re in danger of cheating on your partner

Being cheated on can be devastating. Why do we see so many women stay in their marriages after their husbands have cheated?

Women are conditioned to believe that men cheat, and they seem to be willing to hang in there. Women tend to think first about the family, thinking, “If he will stop, I can get through this.” And if it works out, then she will have saved her family. The disadvantage is that it causes women to just accept lame apologies or shallow remorse, which makes them highly susceptible to being cheated on again.

So how can you approach the situation if you have suspicions?

First, you need to ask. However, most men will lie repeatedly and only about 7 percent will tell you without being asked. Even worse, about 86 percent of men will lie even after being questioned with evidence.

But you can persist. You can approach it by saying, “If anything is going on, we can handle this if we work through it, but we won’t be able to if you continue to lie, so this is your opportunity to be honest.”

Suppose you do find out that he has been unfaithful. How can you work together to repair the relationship?

A few things need to happen:

  1. He has to be remorseful.
  2. He has to understand what he has done wrong on his part.
  3. He needs to dig deep and understand how he got there. For instance, 77 percent of men who cheat say their best friends have been cheaters.
  4. You both need to look at the relationship. Is there physical and/or emotional distance between you? There is often too much fighting and not enough nurturing.

Put time and energy into the marriage. The average American married couple spends 12 to 18 minutes talking per week. You should have a weekly date night without other couples, during which you can’t talk about money, work or children. None of those subjects got you to where you are today with your spouse, so go back and find what initially connected you to each other.

You have to be honest with yourself about the relationship. Many women are convinced that you are building a life together and you are “not supposed” to be close when your kids are young, thinking, “When they are older, we’ll be closer.”

This is a recipe for disaster. You are supposed to be in love. Sure, you can argue, but there is supposed to be a consistency, and you should want to spend time together. You need to put your marriage first, next to children and money.