Why Do Women Cheat?

Women comforting women
Emotional unfulfillment is a big reason why some married women stray. (iStock photo)

One of my favorite movies, particularly this time of year, is When Harry Met Sally. There are so many famous lines and funny moments. In one scene, Billy Crystal's character, Harry, is at a football game with his friend Jess talking about how he and his wife are separating. Among a cheering crowd doing the wave, he tells his friend the humiliatingly sad story of his wife deciding to move out and leave him. He describes his wife as saying she wasn't sure she wanted to be married anymore.

It was not personal; she had just become unsure about the institution of marriage. When a moving company immediately shows up to move her out, he knew something was up. He eventually finds out that she left him for another man. That's when his friend Jess responds, "Marriages don't break up on account of infidelity. It's just a symptom that something else is wrong."

There are always things below the surface that cause people to cheat. NOTHING ever justifies cheating, but there are reasons it happens. There's a big difference between the two. Knowing the reasons gives our marriages a better chance at not falling into this unfortunate end.

Disconnected Relationship With Christ

See the post from my last post. It's the same advice.

Disconnection From Spouse

More than anything, women are fulfilled in a relationship from the emotional connection. When they feel like their husband no longer listens to them, hears them or understands them, they feel alienated and alone. The only thing that relieves the pain of loneliness is connection. If it does not come through their husband, the temptation to relieve the pain somewhere else is born.

Win Early: While there are some women who cheat while regarding their husbands as "the perfect guy," the chances are significantly reduced when there is a connection. Listen to her and communicate as much as possible.  


Everything has gotten comfortable. The monotony of the same thing day in and day out leads to her being bored with her life and marital dynamic. When everyone is tired, it can be hard to create romance and experience new things. Women long for the excitement of being pursued and feeling attractive. Some go searching for it and some have their head turned in a moment of weakness.

Win Early: Switch things up and try new things together. Let her know how passionate you are about her and never stop pursuing.


This is simple. The husband cheats and the wife sets out to get him back by doing the same. Women that engage in revenge affairs rarely end up feeling better. Normally increased emptiness follows.

Win Early: Stop yourself immediately if you are doing, or even thinking about, something you wouldn't like your wife doing.

Unmet Expectations

They have needs from their husband that are left unfulfilled: sexual, emotional support or time together. The list can go on and on. Disappointment and sometimes bitterness sets in so they go looking somewhere else to meet the need.

Win Early: Communicate openly about expectations. Meet expectations where you can, but there should also be give-and-take. Some of her needs may need to be sacrificed, and yours as well. A spouse can never fill the needs of another completely. That's where forgiveness and grace are so important.   


Deeply embedded wounds resulting from past abuse include a low self-esteem and dissatisfaction in sexual relationships. Oddly enough, validation is sought out through promiscuity and attention from men. This may even happen when the husband gives his wife significant validation and attention. It is just not enough to heal the wound.

Win Early: Validation is good, but it is treating the symptom. Both of you need to see a counselor regularly.   

For a view of the other side of the coin, see Monday's post titled, "Why Do Men Cheat?"

Sound Off: Has your wife ever expressed any of the traits above?

Huddle up with your wife and ask, "What is your greatest need?"

© 2015 All Pro Dad. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks. Used with permission.

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