The sacred vows of the institution of marriage do not come with the guarantee of fidelity. We, however, have grown up in a society that teaches us that love means being with one person for the rest of your life. Hence, when a loving husband cheats on his wife, many women are left asking, “How can my husband love me and have an affair?”
If the husband has an affair, it’s only natural for the woman to think that he is done with her. The act of infidelity is deeply hurtful because it essentially tells the person who has been cheated on “you are not enough”. As you’re making sense of the what and how of it all, asking yourself, “Where was I lacking? Why wasn’t I enough?”, what if he makes gigantic claims of undying love? The truth is, it’s possible that guys cheat even if they love you.
We understand how confusing this can be. That’s why we’re here to answer the million-dollar question: how can my husband love me and have an affair? With insights from relationship and intimacy coach Shivanya Yogmayaa (internationally certified in the therapeutic modalities of EFT, NLP, CBT, and REBT), who specializes in different forms of couples counseling, let’s ascertain if a man can cheat and still be in love with this wife.
Can A Man Cheat But Still Love His Wife?
There are many interpretations to this question, and many women have spent numerous hours wondering, “How do I know my husband loves me after cheating on me?” However, there are no absolute answers to this question. Whether or not you believe a man can love you and still cheat on you depends on your understanding of a relationship.
Maureen, who is still healing from the scars of her husband’s affair, doesn’t believe that to be the case. “No. To cheat is to act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage for yourself. It is betrayal, and to betray a person is the deepest emotional wound you can deliver to them. There is no love in dishonesty, unfairness, or taking advantage of someone for your own pleasure. There is no love in betrayal. None,” she says.
While most people believe that to love is to commit wholly to a single person, there are others of the view that love and physical needs can be separate and you might not get both from the same partner. When a husband has an affair just to fulfill a sexual desire or need, it is possible that he still has a love for his wife.
Shivanya says, “People’s understanding of love and the way they handle their intimate relationships is changing. Apart from love, factors like compatibility also come into play when a person chooses a life partner. But they may still seek adventure and exploration. Even when they are happy in a marriage and still love their wives, men cheat for the sake of validation and a taste of the forbidden fruit.”
Related Reading: Why Do Married Men Cheat? Our Readers Share The Reasons
“As we age, a relationship becomes predictable and mundane. That’s when people seek excitement in the form of a one-night stand or an affair. The husband still sees the wife as a lifelong partner but seeking novelty as an antidote to the mundaneness of his everyday life can become a motivation for an affair.”
When a man chooses to be in a monogamous relationship, he is promising to respect and love one person: his wife. With time, the nature of love may change but mutual respect and the promise to be faithful should be maintained. And that respect should be enough to stop a man from being unfaithful to his wife. But that’s not always the case and lines of fidelity are often breached. When that happens, how does a cheating husband feel about his wife? Maybe he does love her. Does that justify the infidelity?
Shivanya says, “In a monogamous relationship, cheating is never justified. However, If you are in a toxic marriage where your wife rejects you sexually and emotionally, then an affair becomes understandable. The man may feel compelled to fulfill his needs outside the marriage because his wife is rejecting him.”
How Can My Husband Love Me And Have An Affair?
If a man breaks the sanctity of marriage, does he still love his wife? Well, he may. Human relationships are often too complex to be boxed into absolute rights and wrongs. A man may well feel love for his wife and yet continue to cheat on her. And the reasons can range from unmet needs in the relationship, unresolved emotional baggage, or simply, the thrill of it.
For a lot of women, infidelity isn’t always a deal-breaker because most husbands claim that “it was just physical and I still love you” or “I’m sorry, I got carried away and it made me realize you are the only woman I want to be with”. In such situations, they may find themselves open to the possibility of rebuilding a relationship after infidelity.
However, before taking that leap of faith, it’s important to answer the following question: how can my husband love me and have an affair? Well, to decipher the answer, here are 5 things you should know:
1. The gap in monogamy
When we look at a man who has had an affair, we always wonder, does he still love his wife? And accepting that an unfaithful husband does harbor feelings for his wife can be somewhat bizarre. And we often justify it by saying, “Men will be men.”
Do guys simply cheat by nature? Although such a belief may be viewed as having a somewhat unfavorable opinion of men, some social science scholars claim that it is a biological fact. In his book The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating, Eric Anderson makes the contentious claim that males are built to cheat.
Professor of Sociology at a prestigious university in the UK, Anderson conducted research on 120 men and discovered that most of the subjects who had cheated had done so because they had grown weary of having sex with their spouses and partners, not because they had lost interest in them. Similar research on female infidelity has discovered that women most frequently cheat for emotional reasons rather than physical ones. Maybe, then, it is safe to say that somewhere in some corner of their heart, men do love their wives despite the infidelity.
Related Reading: When To Walk Away After Infidelity: 10 Signs To Know
2. The best of both worlds
How can my husband love me and have an affair, you ask? Because he wants the best of both worlds. We live in a predominantly patriarchal society where men have it easier in most aspects of life and are bestowed with the privilege of acting with impunity. Since many men view affairs as a means to physical release or sexual gratification, they may believe they can have the best of both worlds: a devoted wife, who is also a trustworthy companion and friend, and sex outside the marriage, with a variety of women or a steady affair partner. This mindset is obviously toxic.
“Boredom in a relationship can be the primary reason for infidelity on men’s part. However, seeking what’s lacking in your marriage outside is a convenient shortcut and can hardly be justified. Both partners are responsible for keeping things exciting in the relationship.
“Most couples don’t experiment or communicate their fantasies, which results in a boring sexual life. If a man feels that he cannot express his desires or his sexual fantasies to his wife and things remain monotonous in bed, he may use this lingering boredom and predictability as an excuse to cheat. This can be prevented by keeping the relationship exciting and interesting through means like dressing up or role play,” says Shivanya.
3. You don’t validate his inner hero
Ah, the age-old hero complex. James Bauer, a relationship expert, came up with this interesting theory about what really motivates men in relationships and is embedded in their DNA. He called it the hero instinct, which essentially means that a man needs to feel wanted and needed by his partner to stay invested in a relationship. The hero instinct is the modern-day equivalent of the knight in shining armor rescuing a damsel in distress.
Once activated, these drivers transform men into the protagonists of their own stories. When they find someone who can trigger the hero instinct, they feel better, fall in love more deeply, and make deeper commitments. Sadly, most women are unaware of this and hence unable to trigger a man’s hero instinct to keep him invested in a relationship.
Jenna, 32, who strongly feels that the hero instinct cost her her marriage, says, “My husband and I were childhood sweethearts, so when I found out that my husband was having an affair with our babysitter, I was devastated.
“I confronted him but he claimed he loved me and begged for forgiveness. I thought, how can my husband love me and have an affair? Turns out, he was attracted to because she seemed like a damsel in distress. I have always been a fiercely independent woman and wasn’t igniting the hero in him who needed to rescue me. I left him immediately.”
Related Reading: 17 Signs There Is Someone Else In Your Partner’s Life
4. He loves you but doesn’t like you
The question of how a man can cheat on a woman he loves doesn’t baffle women alone. Men too wonder, “Why did I have an affair when I love my wife?” Sometimes, the answer could well be that even though a man loves his wife, he may not like the person she has become. Yes, loving and liking someone are two separate things.
There are various stages of intimacy or love and couples often connect on different levels – physical, emotional, and intellectual. In simple terms: how passionately you feel about each other, how powerful your sentiments are, how enjoyable your talks are, and how in sync you are intellectual. These levels largely wax and wane. It’s possible that your husband may grow to dislike certain aspects of your personality but may still have a deep emotional attachment to you. That’s exactly why he allows himself to cheat despite not having fallen out of love with you.
Shivanya says, “It is not necessary to always like the people we love. Besides, in a marriage, love transitions into a habit of being in each other’s presence. In such a scenario, men love their wives out of habit and don’t want to build an entirely new relationship with a person. Most affairs are limited to fulfilling a sexual desire and not restarting an entire relationship.”
5. He is feeling overlooked
Sometimes, guys cheat even if they love you because they feel ignored in the marriage. Perhaps, he feels that in managing your myriad responsibilities, you have started overlooking him, or that the relationship has been placed on the back burner for too long, or that he has slipped down your list of priorities. This can make a man feel hurt and rejected, cheating can be a way of dealing with these uncomfortable emotions and seeking validation.
“Modern-day women are becoming more independent and self-sufficient. They are no longer the meek, submissive partners that a man needed to protect and provide for. This can leave a man feeling insecure. As a result, he may seek outside validation to “feel like a man”. He may search for a woman who needs him and whom he can protect. Strong women make men feel emasculated, hence to feel useful or worthy, he may seek liaisons outside the marriage.”
- A husband can cheat on a wife even though he loves her because the affair is purely physical
- As couples become older, the boredom in the relationship can become a trigger for infidelity
- Men love their wives and still have an affair because they want a companion at home while also having someone to fulfill their fantasies with
- When a woman does not validate the hero instinct of a man, he, despite loving the wife, seeks a partner who can provide him that validation
- Loving and liking a partner are two separate things. When a man stops liking his wife, he seeks a partner outside of the marriage
- A man can love his wife and still have an affair if he feels ignored or overlooked
There is no definitive answer to “how do I know my husband loves me after cheating on me”. While cheating is a dealbreaker for most couples, some see it as a setback they can move past. It all depends on what kind of relationship you share and what you’re ready to put up with in the name of love. Whatever the cause, infidelity can be a deeply scarring experience. If you are struggling to heal from this setback and looking for help, skilled and licensed counselors on Bonobology’s panel are here for you.