What makes men cheat? Marriage counselor M. Gary Neuman dug through past research on male infidelity and found that most answers came from the wife's point of view. Wouldn't it make more sense to ask the guys? he thought. So for his new book, The Truth About Cheating, Neuman surveyed 200 cheating and noncheating husbands to get at the real reasons behind men's infidelity — including what cheating men say could have prevented them from straying. Here, some of his findings:
48% of men rated emotional dissatisfaction as the primary reason they cheated.
So much for the myth that for men, cheating is all about sex: Only 8 percent of men said that sexual dissatisfaction was the main factor in their infidelity. "Our culture tells us that all men need to be happy is sex," Neuman says. "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." The problem is that men are less likely than women to express these feelings, so you won't always know when your guy is in need of a little affirmation. "Most men consider it unmanly to ask for a pat on the back, which is why their emotional needs are often overlooked," Neuman says. "But you can create a marital culture of appreciation and thoughtfulness — and once you set the tone, he's likely to match it."
66% of cheating men report feeling guilt during the affair.
The implications are a little scary: It isn't just uncaring jerks who cheat. In fact, 68 percent of cheaters never dreamed they'd be unfaithful, and almost all of them wished they hadn't done it, Neuman says. Clearly, guilt isn't enough to stop a man from cheating. "Men are good at compartmentalizing feelings," Neuman explains. "They can hold on to their emotions and deal with them later." So even if your husband swears he would never cheat, don't assume it can't happen. It's important for both of you to take steps toward creating the marriage you want.
77% of cheating men have a good friend who cheated.
Hanging around friends who stray makes cheating seem normal and legitimizes it as a possibility. The message he's subconsciously telling himself: My friend is a good guy who happens to be cheating on his wife. I guess even the best of us do it. You can't simply ban your husband from hanging out with Mr. Wandering Eyes, Neuman says, but you can request that they spend their time together in an environment that offers less temptation, like at a sporting event or a restaurant for lunch rather than at a bar or club. Another strategy: Build your social circle around happily married couples that share your values — it'll create an environment that supports marriage.