Does My Spouse Really Want To Hear About My Feelings After His Infidelity? He Seems More Annoyed Than Interested

By: Katie Lersch: It is normal to want to talk at length after you find out your spouse has been cheating. You often have a lot of emotions that you need to release. And you want your spouse to understand what you are feeling. Although many spouse’s seem willing to listen right after the affair is discovered, it’s not uncommon to see their willingness to listen waning quickly.

A wife might explain: “when I first found out about my husband’s affair, he stuck to me like glue. He seemed to be so scared that I was going to leave him. I knew that I wasn’t going to leave, but I didn’t share this with him. Because I thought that it wouldn’t be a bad thing if he was worried. I wanted him to be scared so that he would think twice about cheating again. Early on, he told me that he wanted to know everything that I was thinking and feeling. He sat there patiently while I talked. He listened and seemed empathetic. But this quickly passed. Now when I want to talk, I look at his face and it’s all scrunched up. He will sigh heavily. He sits and he does listen, but it’s clear he’d rather be anywhere else. Last night, we were talking and I said: ‘when this first happened, you told me that you wanted to hear my feelings. Is that not true anymore? Are you not interested in this anymore?’ His response was that he was still interested, but it seems like I’m saying the same thing every time. Maybe I am, but it’s a lot to take. Are men really interested in your feelings after their affair? Or are they just pretending to placate you?”

I think that they are interested. But what you are saying can be hurtful to them because they know that they are the cause of it. This is normal. In their hearts, they want to know what you’re feeling and they want for you to share your thought process. But every time they hear your words, it just drives home the point that they have done tons of damage to their marriage and they have hurt someone that they love. This isn’t always easy to hear.

And, your husband isn’t alone in saying that your message is somewhat repetitive. I do hear from a lot of husbands who say the same thing – that they want to help their spouse heal after their cheating but that after a while, it can feel as if you are not making progress because you’re hashing out the same old things every time.

Of course, you have every right to repeat yourself. This is a hard thing to deal with. No one can expect you to need to say or discuss something only once. We are not talking about something simple like him forgetting to do something he’s promised that is mostly benign and innocent. We are talking about cheating. That is whole different level of a mistake.

However, in order to make real progress and to feel some relief, sometimes you have to be deliberate in how you are handling this. You don’t want to say something so much that it loses its effectiveness. A counselor (or just you being very deliberate) can help you with this. It helps to try to have most of your difficult discussions in your counselor’s office (or at a set time at home.) Because she can help to keep you on track. And she can get to the heart of what you are really wanting to communicate.  Sometimes, we think we are saying what we mean, but we aren’t being crystal clear.

If you are not in counseling, then one way to improve this is to try to have very specific, non negotiable times to talk about your feelings. If you just blurt out everything that comes into your head exactly when you experience it, your husband feels as if he’s always on his guard and he can honestly start to tune you out. But if you limit these conversations to a set time (with it ending after a certain period of time,) he is more likely to give you his undivided attention and you are much more likely to feel that you are being heard.

Another thing that you can do is to try to be very specific so that it doesn’t sound like you are saying the same thing over and over. Rather than repeating general phrases like “I feel hurt and betrayed,” you want to really try to get to the heart of the matter. Try to really say what you mean. Examples are very specific phrases like: “I worry that I will not trust you. I worry that you are not attracted to me anymore. I worry that we can’t get the intimacy back.” This tells your husband much more about the obstacles that must be overcome and he is more likely to give you thoughtful responses and actions.

I hope I’ve addressed what you wanted to know. Men often are interested. But they will also sometimes try to protect themselves by zoning out or feeling defensive, even if this isn’t their intention and they do not realize that they are doing it. It hurts them to realize what they’ve done. And it’s normal to want to minimize that pain. So, you have to be deliberate so that your message is really heard and addressed.

I experienced this frustrating issue also.  I think that, at times, my husband thought that our talks were just meant to punish him or to rehash things when I was trying to be genuine.  It helped quite a bit to limit the talks to a set time.  You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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