**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a close friend, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
Nearly every month for their two decades of marriage, my friend’s husband traveled for business. As a system implementation consultant, it was his job to strategize, implement, and roll out systems that made companies more efficient.
My friend thought that marrying a guy who majored in industrial engineering would be a snooze fest. “He’s the most type-A guy I’ve ever met,” she said when they began dating. “But he’s also the sweetest, most thoughtful person I know.”
And she was right. He was incredibly detail-oriented and always had a plan. But he was also gentle and considerate, regularly sending her love notes while he was away on business trips.
One month, while her husband was traveling, my friend found a hotel receipt folded up in the pocket of his suit coat. She was in the habit of checking the pockets before taking his suits to the dry cleaners. The hotel name and location were different from where he usually stayed in Houston.
This would not have been a red flag, except this particular receipt wasn’t for business expenses. It was for a room my friend’s husband had rented for two nights, during which time he’d also charged meals and movies to the room. The total amount was nearly $1,700.
My friend called her husband immediately, but he didn’t answer his phone. She never concerned herself with their finances because her husband was better at keeping the books. But now, her “spidey senses” were tingling, so she did a little more digging.
She soon discovered that he had been checking into different hotels in every city he visited for business. So he’d stay a couple of nights in Extended Stay hotels for work, then he’d move to a different hotel and stay an additional two nights. This pattern coincided with when his company’s travel policy changed, and employees could no longer book multiple rooms at once.
When she confronted her husband about this, he didn’t deny it. He was surprised that she had finally figured it out. “I thought I was being so clever,” he said sheepishly.
It turns out that he’d been having one or two-night stands with women he’d met online. And he’d been doing it for years.
My friend was devastated. She felt betrayed, hurt, and embarrassed. Her husband was apologetic but assured her that the affairs were not emotional. “I was just scratching an itch,” he said. “It didn’t mean anything.”
My friend didn’t believe him. She felt like she couldn’t trust her husband anymore. And she was worried that he would continue to cheat, even though he promised that he would stop.
It’s been a few years since my friend found out her husband had been cheating, and they are still together. He doesn’t travel as much as he used to, but she still can’t shake the feeling that he’s up to something when he’s away.
Infidelity is relatively common.
If you’re married or in a long-term relationship, you have likely wondered if your partner is cheating on you. It’s a sad reality that infidelity is relatively common. According to a 2016 study by the Institute for Family Studies, 20% of men and 13% of women reported that they’ve cheated on a spouse or long-term partner.
Cheating happens among all party lines. Many cheaters report attending religious services regularly. College-educated people are as likely to cheat as people who didn’t finish high school. And it’s not just men who cheat. Women cheat, too.
There are various reasons why people cheat. Boredom, curiosity, dead bedrooms, and revenge are just a few. And some people cheat because they can, with no other concrete motive.
“In the 1990s, the infidelity rate peaked among men ages 50 to 59 (31%) and women ages 40 to 49 (18%). It was lower for both men and women at the older end of the age spectrum. Between 2000 and 2009, the highest rate of infidelity shifted to men ages 60 to 69 (29%) and women ages 50 to 59 (17%). Meanwhile, the gender gap at ages 80+ increased from 5% to 12% in two decades.” — Wendy Want, Institute of Family Studies
My friend’s husband seemed to have had space and opportunity. It had nothing to do with loving her or not wanting to be married. He didn’t feel unloved, unwanted, or unworthy. His self-esteem appeared to be intact. He grew up in a two-parent Christian household. He’d never shown any signs of being a risk-taker.
Perhaps he was going through a midlife crisis. He was in his early 50s when the affairs started. And until then, he had always been the type of guy who “did the right thing.” That is until he didn’t.
Do you think people cheat because they’re unhappy in their relationship? Or do you think there are other factors at play? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.