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Cheaters: "Certainty" vs. "Uncertainty"
Why! ... and What to do "If" or When you Learn
Your Love is a Cheater



Between Tiger Woods, Larry King, Sandra Bullock and Jesse James, and countless others, infidelity has been in no short supply, at least in Hollywood. In your neck of the woods, though, extramarital affairs may be more common than you think.


Nearly one-quarter of men, and 14 percent of women, have cheated.

A study by University of California researchers estimated that 24 percent of men and 14 percent of women have had an affair, and a USA Today/Gallup poll found that 54 percent of Americans say they know someone who has an unfaithful spouse.

Ironically, 92 percent of those polled by Gallup agreed that extramarital affairs are morally wrong … which suggests some people who end up cheating believe their actions are unethical. Yet, something pushes them over the edge, leading them to betray their partner.

But what?

The Truth About Why People Cheat

Sex is often the implied reason for many an extramarital affair, especially those committed by men. But in reality, more people cheat due to emotional dissatisfaction than sexual dissatisfaction.

In fact, when marriage counselor M. Gary Neuman surveyed 200 husbands (some who had cheated, some who had not) for his book The Truth About Cheating, he found that 48 percent cheated primarily because of emotional dissatisfaction. Only 8 percent noted sexual dissatisfaction as a main factor in their affair.

"Our culture tells us that all men need to be happy is sex," he said in Redbook magazine. "But men are emotionally driven beings too. They want their wives to show them that they're appreciated, and they want women to understand how hard they're trying to get things right."

Women, too, have a need to feel appreciated and valued by their spouse, which is why when either partner begins to take the other for granted, their spouse may look elsewhere to have those feelings fulfilled.

In other words, if your relationship has fallen victim to the status quo, where you expect your partner to fulfill certain roles without so much as a pat on the back, and vice versa, you’re both prime candidates for having an affair.


What often causes wandering eyes is not a “lack of communication” but a desire for uncertainty that is unfulfilled.

Why Too Much “Certainty” is Not a Good Thing

When we have great "certainty" there is an urge for most of us to seek “uncertainty.” In the case of marriage, your “certainty” quotient is filled; your relationship steady and secure. And the more you’ve fallen into the marriage rut, with little spontaneity, silly fun, appreciation and value for your partner, the more “certainty” you have.

If you can predict you and your spouse’s nightly routine perfectly because it never changes, we’re talking to you -- likewise if both you and your spouse greet each other with half-hearted hugs and then retreat to separate corners of the house. At first this may seem comforting -- you know you have each other and there’s very little effort involved -- but this can quickly turn into a marriage that has become complacent, obligatory and expected … then bored and stale.

Eventually, this sense of not being fully alive or excited any longer drives us to seek the other end of the spectrum, or look for “uncertainty.”

By seeking uncertainty, we are looking to fulfill that unmet need for excitement, which may include:

  • An affair
  • Thinking or fantasizing about cheating on your spouse
  • Immersing yourself in new hobbies that don’t involve your spouse
  • Changing your attitudes or interests to invoke more excitement in your life

The key here is that if you think your marriage has too much certainty, cheating is not the only solution -- far from it. Some people who have great certainty in their lives channel their desire for uncertainty into risk-oriented sports or hobbies like skydiving, mountain climbing or, crazy as it might sound, ballroom dancing (especially risky if they are introverts for example).

You can also get more “uncertainty” back into your relationship by focusing on spontaneity. This needn’t be anything as drastic as skydiving or really even out of your comfort zone. For example, you could plan a last-minute weekend getaway to somewhere you’ve never been together, sign up for a couples cooking class or start working on a project you’ve always wanted to complete on your own. There are many options to fulfill your need for “uncertainty” without cheating on your spouse.

Unfortunately, for many the easy way to channel these feelings of too much certainty is to seek out a risky relationship and have an affair. The ironic part is, often once you’re in the middle of an affair, you’ll start longing for the simple life you had with your spouse, and often regret it ever happened. It’s a classic case of the “grass is always greener on the other side.”

Once you’re on the other side, you realize it’s fraught with its own set of problems, and the side you came from probably wasn’t so bad after all.

What it Takes to Repair After an Affair

If an affair happens to you, does it mean your relationship is over? Not necessarily. Surprisingly, it may even make your relationship grow stronger.

“Honest, open communication is absolutely critical when it comes to repairing a relationship that has been damaged by infidelity,” says Rachel G. Baldino, MSW, LCSW, author of the e-book, Loving Simply: Eliminating Drama from Your Intimate Relationships.

Further, there are specific strategies to employ that will make it more likely that your relationship will recover. Baldino points to advice given by couples’ therapist Betsy Bergquist, who believes personal relationships "have the best chance to survive an affair if the following steps can be taken:

  1. The affair is ended, and all contact with the third party is ended.
  1. The one who had the affair is willing to listen to their partner's hurt without being reactive or defensive and also willing to express remorse.
  1. The couple is willing to look at the relationship prior to the affair, and both parties equally own the lack of connection and intimacy and failure to communicate dissatisfaction to each other that led to the affair.
  1. The couple is willing to look at hurtful childhood experiences and how early childhood family relationships (for example, infidelities in their own families) may be undermining the present relationship."

In the end, your relationship must be more important than the immediate psychological damage to your ego and trust. If it is, you have the power to make a choice about continuing on with the relationship.

On the other hand, there are circumstances when an affair may not be forgivable. Baldino cites infidelity expert Ruth Houston, author of the widely acclaimed book, Is He Cheating on You? 829 Telltale Signs, who says infidelity is, "Definitely not forgivable if the cheater:

  • Feels he/she has a right to cheat
  • Feels no guilt or remorse for having hurt his/her partner
  • Wants to sweep the affair under the rug and proceed as if nothing has happened
  • Does not feel that the cheating was wrong
  • Refuses to sever ties with the affair partner
  • Continues to lie about the affair
  • Is a habitual or serial cheater who has had one or more affairs in the past
  • Is a sex addict who refuses to seek help”

How to Overcome the Certainty Vs. Uncertainty Dilemma

When we have great certainty we’re willing to take greater risks in order to achieve a certain level of uncertainty (such as having an affair), but if we are living with great uncertainty suddenly even the smallest of risks seems like too much.

The bottom line is that if you decide to cross that line and go back to living in uncertainty, suddenly you will likely start longing again for the certainty you once had.

The solution is to acknowledge that you may be seeking out that which you do not have, and instead learn to embrace the present moment, including your marriage, and savor it exactly as it is now. Then, if there are aspects you’d like to change or improve on, discuss them with your partner and develop concrete strategies you can both work on.

An excellent start is to choose to have a positive attitude about your marriage. You control how you view your situation and whether you perceive it negatively or positively. So if negative thoughts enter your mind, do not give them any attention. Instead, focus on the many good things in your life and relationship and be grateful for what you have, especially the things you may take for granted about your spouse.

Be sure to also let your spouse know that you love and appreciate him or her on a daily basis. A touch on the shoulder or back, a sincere compliment, hugs and kisses are all forms of staying connected with each other and can make a big difference in the strength of your relationship.

Make a point, too, to let your partner know that you believe in them and encourage them to accomplish their goals and dreams. Keeping this type of open and honest relationship with your spouse naturally builds the trust factor while allowing your partner to seek out his personal goals.

And while you’re at it, establish and keep your own personal goals and dreams and continue to pursue them as well so you don’t risk losing your individuality. This will help keep your need for “uncertainty” fulfilled and maintain self-fulfillment in healthy ways that will only make your relationship stronger.

SixWise Ways!
SixWise Says ...

“The man’s desire is for the woman; but the woman’s desire is rarely other than for the desire of the man.”

--Samuel Taylor Coleridge


Recommended Reading

Are You at Risk of an Unnecessary Divorce? The Secret Relationship Killer You Need to Know About

In Marriage, Will Love Really Keep You Together?

Sources April 21, 2010 June 25, 2009 March 25, 2008 December 3, 2008

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