From Mistress to Wife: Now What?
Will He Cheat Again?
While there are no statistics on how many men who marry their mistresses go on to cheat again, the chances are that yes, he will. "Beware!" says psychologist Jill Curtis, author of How to Get Married...Again (Hodder and Stoughton, 2003). "Keep in mind that the number of second marriages that end in divorce is even higher than the 50 percent of first marriages that fail."
But even without concrete evidence, stories of a man who cheats again and again are legion. Ask some wives.
Katherine, whose 14-year marriage began after both she and her lover divorced, finds infidelity normal, almost predictable. "Did I think he would cheat on me, too? Of course! Most men do, eventually; some do all the time. I knew he would try, but I also knew with all my heart that he would never be able to get by with it, his heart wouldn't let him, he would feel guilty...and he did. He ended up having to tell on himself, and it made life crazy, but I learned a whole lot, and we survived."
Cynthia, who was married 20 years and finished raising her children before marrying her long-term lover, admits that "Yes, sometimes I do worry that 'once a cheat always a cheat,' but I know that also applies to me. I cheated too, I'm just as guilty, and just as suspect."
Sally, who has been married for 14 years to the man who cheated with her, discovered four months ago that he's been cheating on her for two years. She is resisting the divorce he wants. "I never thought he would cheat on me. Surprise. This is the second marriage for me that has ended, or been in danger of ending, because of a cheating husband. I really never thought I would be going through this again at 48. What is wrong with men, anyway?"
Perhaps, the better question is why women expect fidelity from men who've had a history of cheating. There is no way to predict if a man -- or a woman -- will remain faithful. Even a man with a "good" previous record can fall prey at midlife, or as a seemingly justifiable excuse to exit a bad marriage. All relationships are gambles, but there are some men who are worse gambles than others. It's wise to look at a man's past performance before marrying him.
"Every mistress who becomes a wife believes that she is his true love, " says Dr. Curtis, and that may, at times, be true, she adds. "But there are men who do not seem to be able to stay faithful to one partner. Some men relish the reputation of being a ladies' man and are loathe to change their behavior. So watch out -- some men can become addicted to the thrill of a secret affair."
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