I sometimes hear from wives who very much want to save their marriage but who don’t know how much longer they are going to be able to tolerate feeling as if they need to compete with the other woman. Often, the husband has promised that the relationship is over. And yet, for whatever reason, their husband breaks his promises and goes back to the other woman more than once. This can leave the wife asking why this keeps happening when the intentions seem to be good.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband had an affair with one of his old clients last year. When I found out, he asked me to give him two weeks to make a decision. I wasn’t happy about this, but I figured my choice was to either give him the time or to walk out on my marriage, which I didn’t want to do. So after a few weeks, he came and told me that he would end it and work on our marriage. However, it was very obvious that he was sad to be ending it. He did what I asked him to do, but it was clear that his participation wasn’t completely enthusiastic. About three months later, I picked up his phone and saw a text from her. It turns out that he went back to her about a month after we tried to reconcile. And, this has happened two additional times. He will promise that he is done with her and then a few months down the road, I will find out that he isn’t. At this point, I feel like I am almost done with this whole process. I just can’t deal with this anymore. But when I told my husband this, he begged for me to give him one last chance. I told him that to even consider that, I needed to understand why he keeps going back to her. I needed to understand what she has that is so desirable and impossible to get over. His response to me was that he had no idea why he couldn’t seem to let her go. Obviously, this isn’t the truth. Why does he keep going back to her? She’s not particularly beautiful or even interesting in my view. I just don’t get it.”
It’s possible that this husband wasn’t being completely deceptive. He may well have not understood his behavior himself. Men often comment on my blog and say that they don’t know why they keep bouncing back and forth between the other woman and the wife. They have every intention of moving on and then they find themselves going back. Why? Well, there are various reasons that he might have trouble breaking away. I will discuss them below.
He May Perceive That He Needs What She Has To Offer: I probably sound like a broken record when I say once again that the attraction often isn’t to the woman herself. It is to what he thinks the other woman offers. For example, if she makes him feel young and then he breaks it off and starts to feel old and stagnant again, that attraction to wanting to feel young doesn’t just miraculously go away. And if he doesn’t do anything to address this need, then he begins to feel like the only way that he will get some relief is to go back to her.
Yes, he may hate himself for it. And he may tell you that he never intended to make that mistake twice. But, whether he realizes it or not, whatever need she filled in the beginning has not yet been addressed, so he needs to keep repeating the relationship in order to continue to get that pay off.
They May Have Gotten Into A Destructive Cycle: We’ve all known couples who break up and get back together multiple times. And this happens not because they have some great chemistry or some awesome relationship. It happens because over time, it has become a habit. It’s almost a script that both people are playing over and over again because neither person is strong enough to be the one to stand up and break the cycle.
He May Not Think Your Marriage Has Been Healed Enough: Many men confess that they had good intentions of going back to their wife but when they do so, they find that healing the marriage is either taking too much work or isn’t working out very well. So, he will follow the path of the least resistance and figure that it’s just easier to go back to the other woman because she’s so desperate to get him back that she’s trying to present it as if there are no strings attached. Of course, we all know that this isn’t really true, but that is often the way that she will try to present it.
In all of the above scenarios, you can hopefully see that self work is needed in order to move past these things. Healing your marriage and breaking a destructive cycle are not things that happen easily or quickly. They take work. They take commitment. And sometimes, they take your being very clear on the fact that if it doesn’t end, you’re no longer going to take him back so easily each and every time. He has to know that being indecisive and pulling every one is opposing directions isn’t healthy for any of you.