By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who are dealing with a husband who is trying to shift the blame after he is the one who cheated or had an affair. Often, he will try to find a way to make the wife’s behavior seem inappropriate or partly to blame.
I heard from a wife who said: “last month, I found about that my husband cheated. He calls it merely cheating. I say it was an affair because he carried on with the same woman for give weeks. To me, that’s an affair. After I found out, he told me that he would end it because our marriage was more important to him than any other person could possibly be. I did not commit to that right away. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But I did tell him that I would be willing to go to counseling to see if that might help. He promptly found a counselor and off we went. I thought we were making progress. But then the other day, the counselor asked me to come up with some adjectives to describe my husband. I chose immature, weak, and easily impressionable. She asked me why I chose those. I answered that I could not help but think of my husband this way because what kind of middle aged man would pick up a young jobless woman at a gym and then carry on for weeks when clearly this woman was interested only in his money. To me, that makes him quite foolish and that is how I truly felt. When we got home, my husband told me to forget the counseling and trying to save the marriage. He said I had embarrassed and humiliated him. Then he asked me if I’d told our neighbor about the affair because he noticed that she was looking at him differently and avoiding him. I admitted that I had. She’s one of my closest friends. He told me that he couldn’t work with me anymore if I was going to belittle, embarrass, and humiliate him. This isn’t fair at all. It’s like he doesn’t want me to be honest with my counselor or my friends. It’s not my fault that the reason he’s humiliated and embarrassed has to do to his own behavior. What now?”
This is not uncommon. Husbands can be quite embarrassed or ashamed of their own actions and sometimes it is easier for them to blame their wife than to face the fall out of what they did It is unrealistic for them to expect that no one is ever going to find about their infidelity. It’s unfair for them to insinuate that you can not confide in your support system. And, it’s my opinion that you need to address this as soon as possible before your resentment builds and his protests continue.
How To Handle It When Your Husband Is Accusing You Of Embarrassing And Humiliating Him When He’s The One Who Cheated: In truth, the wife in this situation didn’t really want to give up on her marriage. In fact, when her husband suddenly told her that he had changed his mind about saving their marriage, this made her want to save it that much more. So, as tempted as she was to tell him that it was his own fault that he was embarrassed, she held back because she still held out hope that they could work things out. And honestly, this is sometimes part of his strategy. If he can make you regret that you ever told his secrets, then you will think twice about doing it again. He’s looking to lighten his own load by silencing you.
On one hand, this is somewhat understandable. He’s ashamed of his actions and every time you bring them up, belittle them, or share them with someone else, this only causes him pain because it reminds him once again of what he has done. However, since he is the one that took the action in question, this is only just and fair. If anyone in your situation should be embarrassed, it must certainly should be him.
With that said, when you are still invested in your marriage, you will have to balance what is fair and just with what is going to make your marriage work. Sure, you can chose to always be right, but this might create more conflict and make it more difficult to save your marriage.
Most of the time, a compromise can be made. There is usually a way to share your feelings and to get your point across without using words and phrases that are meant to embarrass, belittle or humiliate. Calling your husband a dirty old man is different than saying that he displayed inappropriate behavior for a man of his age.
The next time the husband and the wife had a conversation about this, she may say something like: “I know that you think I’ve humiliated and embarrassed you and I will try to be more careful with the words that I use. But you have to understand that I am not telling untruths. You did cheat with a much younger woman from the gum. That is the truth and there’s no way to sugar coat this in counseling where I am supposed to be telling the truth. I will chose the friends that I confide in very carefully. But I deserve to have a support system. I’m not going to deal with this all alone or isolate myself. I will commit to watching the words and phrases I use but you must commit to claiming the truth. No, this isn’t pretty. Yes, this is painful. But it is our reality. I’m sorry if this reality is embarrassing to you but that is the path you chose. We can not go back. But what we can do is to chose to go forward on that path in a positive way. Part of that is me being able to confide in my support system. I will not do this just to hurt you or paint you in a negative light. But at the same time, you have to commit to being less defensive. This isn’t always going to be a pleasant process, but if we want to heal, we will do whatever it takes, including putting up with a little discomfort.”
This is the first step. Now, you have to make god on your promises not to use language meant to wound him. And, as you both begin to heal and move forward, you will find that he will become less defensive and you will have a tendency to lash out less.
I will admit that I wanted to embarrass my husband after his affair. I figured the more humiliated he was, the less likely he was to cheat again. But what I didn’t count on was the more I set out to make him experience negative feelings, the more he withdrew. As a result, my marriage became more and more damaged. So I was able to come up with a compromise that we could both life with. If it helps, you can read more about that healing process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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