By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who are absolutely baffled that their husband is justifying his lying about his infidelity by saying that keeping the truth from his wife was helping to save the marriage. Needless to say, not many wives buy this. But that doesn’t keep the husbands from continuing to use this excuse.
I heard from a wife who said: “about eight months ago, I noticed that my husband was very cold and distant. Our marriage deteriorated to the point where he was almost never home and it was obvious that our marriage was not his priority. Things got so bad that I told him that if he wouldn’t go to counseling, I was going to leave and take our children. This seemed to get his attention. He agreed to go to counseling. While in counseling I made it clear that I was very aware that there was something going on with my husband. Obviously, something serious had been going on with him that was causing him to distance himself from our family. At that point, I even confronted him about cheating or there being someone else. And he denied it. He finally said that things weren’t going well at his business and that he was under a lot of stress. He started participating in counseling more and things got a little better. Well, a couple of days ago, I got an email from a woman who said that she has been cheating with my husband. Needless to say, I went ballistic and demanded to know why my husband would lie to me, the counselor, and to himself. He said he lied to save our marriage. He said he knew that the cheating was going to hurt me, and since it’s over, he knew that keeping quiet gave us a chance to save our marriage. But he said that he also knew that if he told the truth, it would ruin our marriage. I don’t know what to make of this. Of course I want to save our marriage. But his excuse just doesn’t ring true with me and it makes me furious.”
I completely understand where this wife was coming from. Recovering from infidelity is very difficult. And one of the main issues is restoring the trust. However, restoring the trust is going to be very difficult when a husband continues to lie or lied about the cheating when he had every opportunity to tell the truth. With all of this said, the wife wanted to know if the husband’s excuse (that he lied to save the marriage) was a valid one. I have a definite opinion which I’ll discuss below.
Why I Don’t Think His Excuse Is Valid, But Why He Might: Admittedly, I’m not very objective about this. As a wife who has been cheated on, I don’t think that there are many (if any) valid excuses for cheating on your wife. And continuing to lie about it is also inexcusable to me. But with this said, I dialog with so many men in this situation that I believe I understand what they are thinking. And their thought process goes something like this: they are thinking that your marriage is already so damaged that you are in counseling to save it. They understand that your marriage is extremely fragile right now and what you need is something that is going to help it rather than to hurt it. So, their thought process can tell them that it would be pretty stupid to disclose the cheating when you are already almost ready to walk out the door with your children in tow.
And they will often tell themselves that they will give counseling their all and improve the marriage so that this sort of makes up for the cheating. After all, they think, isn’t it better to give you a happy and strong marriage rather than to give you the harsh reality that you are now dealing with cheating? Much of the time, they are sure that once you know about the cheating, the marriage will be over. I am not saying that their thought process is correct. But I am sharing it with you because I believe these insights may help you to understand what you are dealing with.
How To Proceed When He’s Giving You This Excuse: It’s my opinion that although you can’t turn back the clock and make him tell you the truth, you can very directly address this topic right now so that it does not continue. A suggested script might be something like: “I hear that you are saying that you thought your lying would save our marriage, but you thought wrong. You’ve actually harmed our marriage even more. But if you are sincere and you do want to save our marriage, then you need to start telling me nothing but the truth from today forward. Because if you don’t, then I’m not going to be able to trust you. And if I can’t trust you, then we do not have a marriage at all.”
Many men will understand this and will start to tell the truth since there’s no reason to continue to lie. At this point, you know everything and continuing to lie is only going to deteriorate the marriage further. At that point, it will be your decision if you want to give him another chance or not. And while I agree with you that this excuse isn’t a valid one and that there’s really no excuse to lie and to cheat, I can also tell you that this thought process is a very common one and it is also one that can be overcome.
My husband didn’t want to disclose all about his cheating at first because he was afraid that the more I knew, the more angry I would become. He was right about that, but he eventually saw that I would accept nothing but the truth and he began to be very transparent. This helped the start the process of regaining the trust and we were eventually able to save our marriage. If it helps you can read the whole story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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