My experience is that even though infidelity is Not the fault of the partner, once the infidelity is discovered and the secrets exposed, couples progress to dealing with making the marriage far better than it was.
In dealing with infidelity, everyone must change. However, the dynamics are different for men and women.
Men cheat when they don’t feel good enough. Some men use women to make them feel like men. Men who don’t feel anointed by their father— don’t think they pleased him or lived up to his standards may cheat.
Then there are men who don’t recognize that personal conversations at work can lead to confusion about intimacy and fall into affairs that they didn’t see coming until the line is crossed. These men are still naïve and still versions of men who don’t feel good enough.
Some men have fathers who abused them emotionally, verbally, or physically. Some men have distant fathers who traveled, worked, or just didn’t teach the secrets of how the world works—-if they knew. Fathers who had fathers who didn’t know, don’t know. This applies to almost all the men I know.
When a man has intimacy and approval from his dad, as we see in Boys In The Hood, he doesn’t need approval from the other boys. He doesn’t need female approval. He has a moral code and can decide for himself.
The dynamic in infidelity is different for women. Women are raised to be in touch with feeling. When a woman cheats she is angry—with her husband and or a father, past boyfriends or all the above.
So when infidelity is discovered and couples talk about how it came to happen, they begin to address how it happened. We generally find a lack of intimacy in the marriage. We find men covering imperfection for fear of disappointing and women who feel alienated, ignored, or disrespected.
A better marriage means usually that everyone gets better at explaining the experience of being them. Couples learn to talk regularly about things that matter. They become better parents in that they are a better team. The marriage is safer because the safest spouse is the one who knows the imperfections of the partner and wants them anyway.
This discussion excludes philanderers. Some men and women can’t tolerate intimacy. Male philandering has a better prognosis than female philandering. But for the marriage to survive and thrive, cheating has to stop and couples need to live in honesty.