How Can I Make My Husband Understand That His Affair Was Just An Escape?

By: Katie Lersch: It’s not unusual for people to make the affair out to be a grand love affair when they are right in the middle of it. After all, who is going to do something so destructive that it risks their family life and their marriage for feelings that are only lukewarm or mediocre? So, it is important to understand that there is a huge incentive for the person having an affair to believe that they are having intense feelings for someone with whom they are meant to be with.

Of course, if you are the faithful spouse in this scenario, you know that this is all a whole lot of nonsense. You can generally see the situation a little more clearly and it looks pretty plain to you that your spouse is just using the affair in an attempt to escape the stressors in his life. There are countless common stressors but some common ones are aging, financial problems, illness of a loved one, and feelings of inadequacy. Of course, the cheating spouse will often passionately disagree with this assessment because the whole point of having an affair is trying to escape these painful issues in the first place.

So you might hear from a wife who says: “my husband has had a very difficult couple of years. I will be the first to admit this. And I believe that his struggles are the reason that he sought out an affair to escape the stress going on around him. For the last ten years, my husband has greatly enjoyed marathon running. It has been a great source of stress relief for him and a hobby on which he spent a great deal of time. Because of a serious health issue, he has had to give it up. This health issue has made him slow down at his job also. My husband is an intense person who likes a lot of fast paced mental and physical activity. He has had to let this go, to a certain extent because he is supposed to avoid even good stress. This has been very hard for him. He always took a lot of risks in his work and with his physical activity. And, he can not do this anymore. And I believe that having an affair was his way to replace that risk taking with something else and also a way to replace the running. When I tell my husband this theory of mine, he gets offended and he thinks I’m crazy. But I know that I am not crazy. He is carrying on with a woman who was part of his running club before he quit it. Being with her is one way to stay connected to running. She’s not attractive or even intelligent and they have nothing in common other than the running. My husband is not typically attracted in the least to women like her. It is very easy for me to see this, but it seems impossible for him to see it. How do I make him see that the affair was just an escape and an attempt to replace what was lost?”

This is a tough one because every single thing that this wife was saying was making absolute sense and, quite frankly, was probably true. Her arguments were not at all off base and were in fact probably dead on. But here is the problem. The closer to home you are able to hit with your husband, the more it hurts him. And as a result, the more he might cling to the idea of the other woman and of the affair. So in this instance, speaking the truth, although completely justified, might not be the most effective route to take.

Instead, I might try more general phrases like: “I suspect that at some point in time, you are going to realize that through the affair, you are seeking something that you think you lost. This is only my opinion and I realize that yours is likely different. Until that I time, I plan to just work on my own life and think about what I want moving forward. I trust that you will do the same. If you come to any new conclusions, I trust that you will let me know.”

From experience, I know that this likely doesn’t sound very appealing to him. You want to do something to shake him to his senses.  And right now. The thing that you have to understand though, is that he is likely in deep denial. And, because of this, it is unlikely that you are going to get through to him with your words. Instead, you will likely have more success if you bide your time, conduct yourself in a way that makes you above reproach, and wait for these realizations to hit him. Because eventually, they likely will. And when they do, you will be in a better position than you would have been had you alienated him by pointing out his escape, even if you would have been absolutely right.

Unfortunately, I know this from experience.  Husbands do not generally understand reality about the affair until it has been over for a while. If it helps, you’re welcome to read more about how I attempted to handle this on my blog at

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