By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from wives who are very upset with their husband’s changing behaviors after his affair. Often, he will be affectionate and sweet one day, only to be cold and distant the next. I heard from a wife who said: “after my husband admitted to an affair, he started sobbing and told me that his biggest fear was losing me and the kids. He begged me to give him a chance to make this up to me. I was hesitant but I don’t want to lose my family either. So I told him we would see what happened. He agreed to go to counseling and we have been going weekly. It helps a little but our biggest problem is that he is hot and then he’s cold. One day he can’t show me enough affection and attention and the next day, he is distant. And when he is distant, this makes me wonder if he is thinking about the other woman or having doubts about me and our marriage. When I ask him why he acts this way, he tells me that he is doing the best he can and that sometimes he gets down about his actions and what he has done to us but this doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me. After I bring this to his attention, he will be attentive and loving again for a couple of days and then he’ll start creating distance and isolating himself again. I’m just so discouraged by this because I don’t want to live the rest of my life with a husband who isn’t sure how he feels about me or our marriage. Is this going to last forever?”
It often does not last forever. And the reason for it doesn’t always mean that your husband lacks feelings for you. I’ll discuss this more below.
Why Husbands Can Be Hot And Cold After The Infidelity: Just for a second, I want for you to stop and take inventory of your feelings for the last couple of weeks. Having been through this myself, I can tell you that I suspect there have been days when you’ve felt a little better and then there have likely been days where you have felt just horrible about your situation. The same can be true for your husband. He likely feels a good bit of guilt and shame for his actions. This can cause him to isolate himself and brood.
And then perhaps something or someone (likely you) will lift his spirits a little bit and his negative feelings abate for a while. And this is when you will see him being affectionate or “hot” toward you. And then a little bit of self doubt will begin to creep in and thus you will see him begin to back off and go through his “cold” phase. As frustrating as this can be, it can be normal. But that doesn’t mean that it’s conducive to your recovery, which is why communication is so important, which leads me to my next point.
How To Handle It When Your Husband Has Swinging Emotions After An Affair: There’s no reason to suffer in silence. You can address this without being critical and without making things worse. Don’t be surprised, however, if your husband responds that you too change your emotions quite often. The next time you notice him cooling off, you might say something like: “I can’t help but notice that your behavior today is different than yesterday when you were very affectionate. It makes me feel reassured when you show me affection because it tells me that you are still attracted and committed to me. It makes me feel as if our marriage is worth fighting for. But then you cool off and you seem as if you don’t want anything to do with me. This makes me wonder if you are having second thoughts about us and that really hurts. It would help if you could communicate how you feel when you isolate yourself. I understand that we both have bad days when we’re trying to get through this. But there are bad days, I still need your reassurance because if I begin to think that you aren’t really attracted or committed to me, then we’re going to struggle. Can I ask you to just stay connected when you feel the need to go inward?”
Hopefully, you can see that this script encourages you to ask for what you want and need, but it’s careful not be judgmental or accusatory. You’re trying to find some common ground and you’re admitting that you’re having your own struggles so you understand that there are going to be some difficult days. However, communicating and continuing to check in and attempt to connect with one another even when those doubts set in can make all of the difference. Simply saying “honey, I’m having a hard time today. Can we maybe go for a walk to just wind down before dinner?” can make a huge difference with how you perceive things. Because if you can just touch base during the difficult days, misunderstandings are much less likely to happen and you will then be able to pick up when you’re both feeling a little better. Over time, as you begin to heal, there should be many more “hot” days and many less “cold” days.
My husband and I both went through our emotional ups and downs when we were trying to recover from his affair. Sometimes, when one of us would retreat the other would make assumptions that just weren’t true. That’s why it’s so important to keep communicating. Over time, as healing became more complete, the ups and downs diminished. Today, there are many ups and very few downs. If it helps you can read the story of our recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/
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