By: Katie Lersch: There are many reasons to be enormously frustrated with your spouse after they have had an affair. There’s the lies. The betrayal. The lack of integrity. But there can also be an awful lot of indecisiveness and waffling back and forth which can be as frustrating as anything else.
A wife might have this type of frustration: “my husband cheated on me with a woman who has just began doing consulting at his office. She isn’t going to be working there full time. In fact, her job is up in a month or so. My husband told me that he was going to end things with her. He told me that he was going to ask to transfer until she left her position. He told me that he was going to cut off contact with her. He also said that he was going to be making huge changes in his life. He said he was going to start going to church again and to stop going out after work. He said he was going to look into going to counseling and working on becoming a better man. Well, three weeks went by and he hasn’t done any of these things. When I confronted him about it, he said that he was having a hard time deciding the true direction that he wanted to take with his life. I know that this was a mistake, but I reached out to the other woman. She basically confirmed what my husband had told me. He did tell her that he wanted to break things off completely. He told her that he was going to change. And yet, both of us agree that although he seemed determined at the time, he really didn’t do much of what he said. And when I ask him about this, he gets angry at me. He admits that he doesn’t know exactly what he wants and he says that he needs time. I don’t understand this. Why is he being so indecisive? He either wants me or he doesn’t. He either wants to become a better man or he doesn’t. Quite honestly, the indecisiveness bothers me more than the cheating. Because I just can not understand it.”
I may not be the best person to attempt to explain the indecisiveness. I’m not a man who has cheated. I am a woman who has been cheated on. But I do believe that I understand at least some of the thought process that can go hand and hand with this. At least I have some theories that have been confirmed by some men who have been brutally honest with me.
My theory is that you see a lot of indecisiveness after an affair because you are dealing with someone who is struggling in their life. Often, these struggles existed long before the affair started. In fact, often the struggles greatly contributed to the affair. Sometimes, you have a man who no longer is completely clear on where he fits in, where his talents lie, what he has to offer, or why he is still relevant. These struggles continue and the cheating is, at least in part, because he is trying to alleviate or quiet some of these worries.
By the time the affair is found out, not only has he not worked through these things, now he has to deal with additional problems. Now he has a wife who is watching and criticizing his behavior and who is also deeply hurt by it. So now everything is magnified. And while he hasn’t yet had any resolution, suddenly he is now expected to have one immediately. This is when you will see him acting in a very wishy washy manner. He never had the answers before. And now, they are expected to come without the slightest delay. So he will waffle. He will go back and forth. He’s trying to feel his way and he’s trying to find something – outside of cheating – that is going to offer him some relief.
I am not defending him. And, having been there myself, I know that none of this is fair to you. However, I don’t think that trying to force him to be more decisive is going to fix the problem. Women will often criticize him or give him ultimatums. These things will often only make it worse. Because the pressure is one thing that contributes to the waffling in the first place.
This doesn’t mean that you have to just stand by and watch it. You can make it clear that you can’t try to save your marriage, or be intimate with him, or whatever the case may be, until you see some real following through on everything that he has claimed. And this may motivate him to move more quickly. But in my experience, it is much better to allow him to make his own decisions. Because it’s only then that you can have the confidence that he didn’t make any decisions based on force. He made them because they are truly what he wanted. And this gives you a much stronger foundation with which to work.
I actually hear from a lot of wives who say their husband isn’t very decisive after his affair. This is common. It doesn’t make it any less frustrating. But it is something that many men exhibit. If it helps, you can read more about how I navigated things after my husband’s affair on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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