He’s Giving Me The Silent Treatment After I Caught Him Cheating

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who were expecting a long, drawn out explanation from their guilty husband after they have caught him cheating or having an affair. Instead, all these wives are hearing is silence – perhaps also accompanied by dirty looks – encompassing what many of us call the silent treatment.

I might hear from a wife who says something like: “the great irony of all of this is that I felt like my husband was cheating about six months ago. He was acting funny and didn’t seem interested in me or in my marriage anymore. And he was spending more and more time at work. I asked him about this and he tried to convince me that I was making crazy accusations. He told me that I was too insecure and that he didn’t appreciate me accusing him of something that was baseless. Well, a couple of days ago, he very dumbly left his phone on the kitchen table. I found texts and emails from a woman who he was obviously cheating with. Her email address was one used for the company where my husband works. She was dumb enough to be sending these kind of emails at work. Anyway, as soon as my husband came to retrieve his phone, I lit into him. He grabbed his phone from me and didn’t say a word. He hasn’t said a word since. I keep waiting for him to approach me or try to explain. But he is avoiding me. After hours of this, I started to think that maybe he was going to leave the house and go to be with her. But he never did. He’s still here. He’s still eating and sleeping here. But he is not talking. This morning, I could not take it anymore and I approached my husband and asked him if he was just going to mope around not saying anything. He just stared at me, never said a word, got in his car, and left. He came back a couple of hours later with some grocery bags full of food that we needed. But he has never once discussed the affair or anything else. It’s like he refuses to talk to me if that is what I want to talk about. Why is he doing this and how can I stop it?”

This is a very frustrating and childish tactic. Unfortunately though, it is one that is very common. There are many things that he might be trying to do. He may feel like the longer he delays this conversation, the less venom you are going to have toward him. Or, he may be trying to put you in a situation where you are the one doing all of the talking. In this way, he’s attempting to shift the balance of power.

There are other possibilities too. He may honestly not know what to say. He may know that the conversation is going to be difficult and painful so he wants to delay it. He may be very embarrassed or ashamed.

Whatever the reason, you can decide how you want to handle this. Nothing says that you have to wait for him to start talking. However, you can’t force him to talk. You can tell him your stance on this though. So I’d suggest getting very clear on what you want to happen and how much more silence you can tolerate. Frankly, there is always the option of just going about your business and waiting for him to take the initiative. He clearly doesn’t plan to leave. And you have done nothing wrong. So why should the burden be on you? He has to say something eventually.

If you’d like to be more direct, you might try something like: “I can see that you’re not in any hurry to talk about this. But surely, you must know that we can’t tiptoe around this forever. I won’t be in a marriage where we just ignore our problems. And if you want to continue to be in this marriage then you’re going to need to talk to me about this eventually. I can sort of understand your wanting to avoid this conversation, but it’s going to happen eventually. And waiting just means that things will become more and more awkward. The conversation won’t get easier with the passage of time. If it were me who cheated, I would want to talk to offer you an explanation right away. I can’t understand why you aren’t. And since you won’t say anything, all I can do is speculate. I’ll wait to hear from you. But your self imposed silence doesn’t make things easier on either of us.”

This may be all the ice breaker he needs to begin with words. If he is posturing, he will hopefully see that this strategy won’t work. Or, he may still be too embarrassed at the questions he knows will come out during the conversation. But as long as he knows that he can’t delay this forever, he will likely just want to get it over with at some point. But it’s very important to remember that you didn’t do anything wrong. So the burden of conversation should not be yours alone.

There was a time when my husband clammed up after his affair.  I decided to just wait him out.  I am not saying that this is the right strategy for you.  Every one is different.  But I didn’t feel that the burden of conversation was mine to take on.  Eventually, he saw that I was willing to wait, and he began to talk.  I do remember being very frustrated with this though.  It helps to decide if its more important for you to talk right away or more important to make it clear that you won’t be taking on the initiative on this when it’s not your fault.  That’s a decision that only you can make. You’re welcome to read more about my experience on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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