Why is the betrayer willing to throw their marriage & family away?

The reason why I am healed today, the reason why I am no longer stuck, is that I get it. I get it how my husband could love me and still end up having an affair. – Anne Bercht

The question I am often asked is “Why is the betrayer willing to throw their marriage and family away for the other woman?” or “Why were you willing to risk everything you had for this other person?”

Like most of the questions that we, as the unfaithful, are asked, the answer is not a simple one, but rather a culmination of many factors that need to be looked at collectively. If this is not done, there is a level of contempt held by the betrayed spouse towards the unfaithful, as well as a level of inferiority held by the unfaithful towards one’s self. It will be much more difficult for healing to take place in this environment.

Here are six factors that play out in many people’s situations that will give an understanding into answering these questions. The factors are given in a chronological sequence, but they don’t always follow in order.

1. We didn’t believe that the affair would ever get this far. We thought we would be able to end the relationship at any time (it was not and would not be an affair); our involvement was not as serious as we thought.

2. We were not thinking about the consequences. We lived only in the moment and avoided thinking about the future. We didn’t think this would be found out. We didn’t allow our self to think about how our actions would affect those around us, we were only concerned with what is in it for me. Our fantasy did not include our reality.

3. We would enter our affair box. Many of us are able, for a period of time, to separate our fantasy (affair, emotional or sexual) life from our real everyday life. We are able, more so for men than women, to compartmentalize our two lives, and function adequately in both.

4. We do not want to face the pain, hurt, anger or disappointment. We do not want to face the anger or pain or hurt we will cause in our spouse. We do not want to deal with the pain of how we have acted out of character for our self. We do not want to face up to fact that we have disappointed our spouse, our children, our family, our friends, and our community around us and even disappointed the person we see in the mirror.

5. We hope the affair will end on it’s own. There are many affairs that continue on for extended periods of time because even though one person knows that what they are doing is wrong and harmful to their marriage, they don’t have the nerve, balls or courage to end it. We are expecting the other to do the ‘right’ thing. We hope that ‘we’ mutually decide to end it. We can’t see that we are either using the other person or they are using us.

6. Emotions over rational thinking. The power of emotion, excitement and secrecy has a greater influence in a person’s life than that of logic or rational thinking. The chemical reaction in our brains cloud out reason, sensibility, or sound judgment, thus hindering us from healthy, productive and sane decisions.

Finally, there are those who don’t care about who, how or what their actions affect, they are those who are willing to throw marriage away just to satisfy their selfish desires. These are the ones whom are not willing to reconcile their marriage or even look at why this happened. The above issues are not really applicable to those individuals.

To the betrayed spouse of the those who are taking responsibility for their actions, for those who are working on restoration, for those who are looking to bring healing into their marriage, and for those who still say they love you, I would like to say be thankful that you are married to an individual who has the courage and willingness to go through the work with you. Much of what they tell you does not make sense, there is rarely any yes/no answers, they could be telling you the truth (usually after they feel safe) and likely they were not deliberately or consciously willing to throw away you, your marriage or your life for this other person, even though their actions could have (or did) caused that.


Brian Bercht

©Copyright 2005 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.