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Besides sex -- other reasons men cheat

  • Story Highlights
  • Survey: Ninety-two percent of men said it wasn't primarily about the sex
  • Eighty-eight percent of men surveyed said other women were no better looking
  • Only 7 percent of men who strayed told their wives without being asked
  • Expert Gary Neuman shares the cheating signs you could be missing
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Oprah

(OPRAH.com) -- In a new study conducted by marriage counselor M. Gary Neuman, it's estimated that one in 2.7 men will cheat -- and most of their wives will never know about it.

M. Gary Neuman tells Oprah Winfrey there are unobtrusive ways of finding out if a husband is cheating.

M. Gary Neuman tells Oprah Winfrey there are unobtrusive ways of finding out if a husband is cheating.

Gary documented these findings -- and many others -- in a groundbreaking new book. To write "The Truth About Cheating," Gary surveyed hundreds of faithful and cheating husbands to uncover the real reason some men stray.

Gary says his work as a marriage counselor inspired him to write this book. "For over 20 years, [I've been] living along with women, counseling, seeing the devastation and how overwhelming it is when they are cheated on and what it subsequently does to the children and the family," he says.

"You want to help children of divorce? I said, 'Well, let's get really down and dirty and find out what we can do to save marriages and make them better.'"

Although Gary discusses how wives of cheaters can factor into affairs, he says he wrote the book to empower women. Oprah.com: Is he cheating on you?

"It's not about blaming the wife. It can't be. I mean, cheating is ridiculous. It's wrong. And you can't justify it," Gary says. "My book is about one thing. It's really about empowering women. If I can give you knowledge that says that I could have proof that if you do certain things, you can lead your relationship to a better place, that will be much better for you as well because it's not just about stopping tragedy. It's about building a much more mutually beneficial relationship."

Don't Miss

  • Oprah.com: How to affair-proof your marriage
  • Oprah.com: Men reveal the reasons they strayed
  • Oprah.com: The 'other woman' speaks out

Top reason for cheating?

What's the number one reason men cheat? Ninety-two percent of men said it wasn't primarily about the sex.

"The majority said it was an emotional disconnection, specifically a sense of feeling underappreciated. A lack of thoughtful gestures," Gary says. "Men are very emotional beings. They just don't look like that. Or they don't seem like that. Or they don't tell you that."

Josh says he cheated on his wife, Jennifer, because he felt underappreciated at home and started feeling insecure. "That insecurity was really the catalyst," he says. "I didn't feel comfortable going to the one person in the world I should be going to, which is my wife." Oprah.com: The signs you could be missing

With daily worries like bills, children and chores, Gary says it's easy for couples to drift away from appreciating one another like they should. Gary says the other woman often makes the man feel better about himself.

"[She] makes them feel different. Makes them feel appreciated, admired," he says. "Men look strong, look powerful and capable. But on the inside, they're insecure like everybody else. They're searching and looking for somebody to build them up to make them feel valued."

Men have a winning mentality, Gary says. Just think about how the men in your life act while watching their favorite sports teams.

"They love to win," Gary says. "Does he have ownership in the team? It looks like that. But as long as they're in the game, even to the very end, they'll watch. Once it's a blowout and they know their team can't win, television goes off. And what a lot of men will say to me through this research is, 'I just felt like I couldn't win.' Now they might not have been great guys to live with, I'm not saying it's her fault, again. But if you want to secure your relationship and understand and have the knowledge of men, make them feel like they're winning with the things that they do for you."

Don't be afraid to praise your partner or tell him that you appreciate what he does, Gary says. "We get married because we want one person in the world to really think we're wonderful for doing all the things that we do. We all want the same thing," he says. "And the more we give it, the more we get it in return."

Is cheater choosing prettier women?

How often does a man cheat on his wife with a woman who's more attractive? Not as often as you may think. Gary found that 88 percent of the men surveyed said the other women were no better looking or in no better shape than their own wives. Oprah.com: The "other woman" speaks out

For the first five years of his marriage, AJ says things were rocky with his wife, Janet. "We got to the point where we were really living in separate parts of the house. I went downstairs every time I came home from work," he says. "So when somebody else took an interest in me and was interested in what I did, interested in my job, interested in what I wear -- you name it -- before I had the self-awareness to understand my vulnerabilities and take responsibility, I liked it -- even though it was the worst decision of my life."

Every couple will eventually face certain life changes, but Gary urges couples to think back about the interest they took in one another when they were first dating or newlyweds.

"Everybody deserves that. Everybody wants that," Gary says. "Because it's not about the sex, what everyone's been made to believe. Anybody, no matter how you look, can be admiring and kind and warm and give you that extra little pump and that extra kindness and hang on your words."

How often do men confess to cheating on before being caught?

Only 7 percent of men who strayed told their wives without being asked. Fifty-five percent of men in Gary's study have either not told their wives or lied after being confronted with hard evidence. "I kind of tell people, 'If you're going to wait for him to come tell you, go buy a lottery ticket, because you like playing against the odds,'" Gary says.

In 2004, Colleen discovered that her husband, Scott, was having an affair and says she caught him several times. The first time she says she caught Scott was on Father's Day when the other woman called the house.

"I was standing there right with him in the kitchen so I heard her, and she said, 'Are you okay? Are you okay? Hang in there,'" Colleen says. "He tried to tell me it was a dispatcher from work and that was very suspicious."

Colleen says Scott's affair was painful, but the lying was worse. "When you've been married for so long and you trust someone so much and they look you right in the eye and they're telling you a lie, it takes a lot to move past that," she says.

Gary says Colleen's desire to believe her husband is common. "The problem is that that's the moment where every woman has to look at her husband and say, simply, 'Look. The fact [is] that I think you may be cheating. I'll trust you at your word. I've got no choice. But there's something wrong with us.'" Gary says.

Although he felt connected to his wife, Scott says he started to feel insecure when Colleen's mother passed away.

"I felt powerless; I didn't feel able to talk with my wife," he says. "Looking back on it, I felt that it transferred onto our relationship when it really didn't. She was really looking for me to be that strong point and I kind of walked away from it because of the insecurities I was feeling and the challenges we were facing in our marriage at the time and my abilities to be able to love her as a husband."

Just as the little things are often signs that something is wrong, the little things can also help rebuild relationships, Gary says. For example, if a man tries to make breakfast and burns the toast, Gary suggests staying positive.

"[Men] want to feel like they're pleasing their wives... When you give him the message mainly that you screwed up, then believe it or not, it makes him feel insecure. [He thinks,] 'I can't win,'" Gary says. "Engender the good feeling of the trying and the effort that he's made. That's where the love really is."

Katherine calls in to ask Gary about her suspicions that her husband cheated on her.

"One night I saw his phone on the counter and I looked at it, and it somehow came right to this picture of him naked and aroused from the waist down... I asked him about it. He denied anything. He said he took the picture to send to me, which I know is a big fat lie because I wouldn't approve. And so that was one thing. And then I've also seen e-mails from women from Russia, wanting him to be their lovers."

Katherine says she has tried tracking him with a GPS unit and installing spyware on his computer, but he found both and disabled them. Gary says Katherine should try getting him to submit to a lie detector test.

"Obviously we all think here that he's up to no good," Gary says. "The question, Katherine, that you have to face, and this is hard for a woman: Do you want to know?"

Gary says the truth can be very difficult for women to face because it could be the end of their marriage and the beginning of a painful divorce. Gary says the cheater's lying is really the ultimate betrayal.

"I say to men, look, do yourself a bigger favor, be honest with your wife when you're just beginning to get interested in somebody else. Sit down with your wife and say, 'Listen. Something is wrong,'" Gary says.

If you suspect your husband is cheating, Gary says there are unobtrusive ways of investigating, such as looking at cell phone records or computer histories, or try using an automobile GPS tracking device if necessary. But first, find out if GPS tracking is legal in your state.

Brian and Anne say they never thought they would have to deal with an affair in their marriage. Anne says Brian was never gone in the evenings, they were emotionally connected, and they had sex every night. Yet Brian was secretly having an affair on his lunch hour at work.

"I was always under the belief that affairs happened to people in either bad marriages or where there's no sex going on. And because we had both of those things, I was really unaware of how easily I could slip into an affair," Brian says.

Brian says he started having his affair with a person who at first was just a friend. "And then you develop some sort of a connection with them through some sort of common interest," he says. "I didn't choose to go have an affair. It just sort of happened."

Gary says Brian is right that most men meet the person they have an affair with in one of two places -- at work or through a hobby. "It begins as an emotional relationship. There's a friendship that develops. It's not just looking for the sex," Gary says. "We all have this picture of cheaters as the bad guys. They're horrible, rotten, not nice. No, they can be nice people who get lost, who do the wrong thing -- and they can be your husband."

From "The Oprah Winfrey Show" © 2008

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