How Do Husbands Feel After They Tell Their Wife About Their Affair? Can You Trust Their Reaction?

By: Katie Lersch:  I often have people ask me how men feel when they are caught cheating.  And this is usually the way that it happens – that they are “caught” because the wife gets suspicious and she begins to snoop a little and finds evidence of infidelity.

Occasionally though, a spouse will show some courage and integrity and they will confess everything and come clean before the wife has any inkling or proof that something is wrong.  Many of these confessions bring about a lot of tears and apologies.  It can be hard for the faithful spouse to process this at the time of the confession. Because you’re so shocked and hurt by what he is saying, that, at the time, you can’t even think about his tears. It usually is not until later that you start to remember his sad reaction and ask yourself if it was real or just an act.

A wife might ask: “how does a man really feel when he tells his wife everything about the cheating?  Because quite frankly, my husband made a fool of himself.  He is a pretty stoic person in general, but when he told me he had been cheating, he could barely get out the words.  He was crying and carrying on and his nose was running uncontrollably.  I was almost embarrassed for him. We’ve gone through hard times before but I’ve never seen him act that way.  He could barely assure me that the affair was over because he kept choking on his words and sobbing. I was telling a friend of mine about this and she said that it was all an act.  She said that men just act sad and guilty so that we will feel sorry for them.  But she said that if there were any real guilt, he would not have cheated in the first place.  Is she right?”

At the risk of sounding like I am defending husbands who cheat (and I promise that I am not,) I don’t think that your friend is right for every situation.  It varies from marriage to marriage or from man to man, at least in my opinion.  Are there some husbands who will put on a fake display in order to gain your sympathy and in the hopes that you won’t be too hard on them?  Of course there are.  Without any doubt.

But I do hear from a good deal of men who ask about the right way to tell their wife about the affair and I can tell you that they seem incredibly sad, sorry, guilty, and filled with anxiety.  And they wouldn’t have any need to put on any sort of display for me because I do not know them or their wives.

Horrific Guilt And Shame:  I find that many men say they want to confess not only because they know that it is the right thing to do and that they want to save their marriage, but because they just can not take the guilt any more.  They would rather own up to their actions and take the consequences than to not be able to look in the mirror or sleep at night because of the guilt.

Also, you might be seeing some shame in those tears.  Many men are deeply ashamed of themselves and fully aware that this is a mistake like no other that is going to inflict a very special type of pain that is extremely hard to erase.

He May Hope That Honesty Might Matter To You:  Knowing the consequences of telling the truth, some cheating husbands go forward and confess anyway.  Why?  Many of them say that they now realize they want their marriage, but they know that this isn’t going to be possible with this big lie just waiting to be discovered. So they want to start out with a clean slate and a clear conscience in the hopes that their being honest will matter to you and will count for something.

With Some Effort, You Might Be Able To Feel A Taste Of What He Is Feeling Right Now: It may help to recall a time when you made a mistake that you knew was going to be a disaster and you had to confess it.   We’ve all done something like this – whether it is betraying a friend, messing up horribly in our jobs and having to confess our costly mistake, or confessing about wrongdoing in some other aspect of our lives.  Many of us will try to find another way because we know the confession is going to hurt.  But we know it is the right thing to do and so we do it, but it is painful.

I can remember several examples of this from telling my mother that I snuck out of the house and wrecked her car from confessing to a boss that I mixed up important documents that were going out to clients and would soon be discovered.

In every instance, I cried.  I blubbered.  I was ashamed and embarrassed and exposed.  We have all had these instances in our lives.  We can all remember something like this.  Now multiply that feeling.  Because the description that I gave above is very similar to what cheating husbands recount.  And he knows that his mistake is like no other.  He knows there is no erasing it and he knows it was made toward the most important relationship in his life.

To be fair, I am not a man who has cheated.  So I have never felt this exact thing myself.  But I do think that I have a good idea.  I think that we all have a good idea.  Because we have all had to confess embarrassing and shameful things we have done that we wish we could take back but now have to take responsibility for.  And this feels awful.  I hope that this has given you some insight into how your husband might have felt.

Frankly, shortly after I found out about my husband’s affair, I didn’t care how badly he felt.  I hoped he felt awful and ashamed.  But in time, I learned that in order for us to move on, we were both going to have to heal and try to move past the bad feelings.  There’s more about that on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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