A Male's P.O.V. ...
"Hey Kristen, why don't you write an article on women cheating on men?" asks my friend Alec, who is going through a personal meltdown after finding out his fiancée had been having a little something on the side for the last six months.
"Guys feel it too," he reminds me.
The twenty-first century has spawned a sort of equal opportunity for cheating. It is no longer a predominantly male issue. In a recent poll, taken by the University of California, Irvine, statistics showed that women are twice as likely to cheat on their spouses during the first five years of marriage.
When we hear about infidelity, it is mostly from a woman’s point of view. Women are the victims, women have been used and deceived; their trust has been betrayed. It is a terrible experience, no doubt about it. But, men are just as much victims of infidelity as are women.
They just refuse to talk about it. There is a gender specific reason for this. Both sexes take infidelity in a personal way, but with men there is a very masculine twist. Where a woman has a need to talk about the whys of the affair, a man will retreat into himself.
He may refuse to discuss the pain even with his partner. Men are less likely than women to openly acknowledge the cheating issue and, even if they grudgingly admit it to themselves, it is very unlikely that they will discuss the infidelity with anyone else. Most men keep the hurt and deception buried deep inside, seeing the infidelity as a slur on their manhood. A man who accidentally found out his girlfriend was cheating on him through an email message, says:
“When I found out that Em had cheated on me, the first thing I thought of was the word ‘cuckold.’ Maybe an asinine reaction to have but that word came up in my mind in PowerPoint lettering, big time.
"I had first heard that word in a high school literature class and I remember my friends and I used to snicker and make rude sounds whenever we found it in the story. Even though the definition of cuckold simply means the ‘husband of an unfaithful wife’, and we weren't even married, the unspoken definition is that the man is a fool, a dumb idiot who had it coming.”
Marriage and cheating brings its own special pain to a man. Besides acknowledging the trauma of having the woman who promised you that she would "forsake all others", being unfaithful to a married man has other aspects with which he has to deal; children, money, and the end of a legal marriage.
As far as the ‘whys’ go, he will blame himself for not having been “good enough” as a man. He sees himself as a failure in all ways. The cheating impacts him on every level of his being; as a provider, a husband, a father, and, most importantly, a lover.
The devastation is real. If there are children involved, a man fears what a woman rarely thinks about; not being the custodial parent and having to fight for visitation rights.
“After I had gotten over the shock of my wife telling me she had been having an affair for over a year, my first thought was to get a divorce as soon as possible and move to another state.
Then, I thought about my kids. I couldn’t leave; I was afraid that I might lose them if we divorced. Don’t most courts still award the mother permanent custody of the kids? I decided to leave the house but stay in the same area. I couldn't not be near my children.”
Financially, since the man is usually the one who moves out of the home, an additional worry is how he will be able to support two separate households. Even though both husband and wife may work, it usually falls to the ex-husband to still provide financial support for his children--and that includes a place to live. And, as far as salvaging a marriage, while many women may stay with a husband who has cheated, and even resume sexual relations with him, a man is more likely to end it. His self-esteem makes it almost impossible to see himself with “another man’s woman.”
There are therapists who are now specializing in counseling men through this difficult part of their lives. Counseling and time are necessary components to heal anyone who has been the victim of a cheating spouse, female or male.
The important thing to remember, for both men and women, is that you are not personally responsible for any infidelity. The blame is not yours.
© 2011 Copyright Kristen Houghton
Kristen Houghton is a well-respected Lifestyle journalist who writes for many media outlets, including The Huffington Post, More Magazine and OWN.
She is also the author of the top-selling book, And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First