How Does A Man Feel After You Tell His Wife About An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  Occasionally, I will hear from people who want to know how a man might feel after he has been “outed” about an affair.  Sometimes, the person asking is a well-meaning friend or family member who just could not stand quietly by and not say anything.  Other times, “the other person” in the affair will spill the beans for their own reasons.

A well-meaning friend might say: “I am neighbors with two lovely people.  I am actually close with both the husband and the wife.  It came to my attention that the husband was having an affair.  He promised that he would break it off and asked me not to say anything to his wife.  He did not break it off.  I kept telling him that I was going to have to tell his wife and he asked me to give him more time.  Well, his wife confided in me that she suspected him of cheating, so I couldn’t just act like I didn’t know.  I told her.  And now I’m afraid the husband is going to hate me.”

Or, from “the other woman,” you might hear, “I actually told my boyfriend’s wife about our affair and now he’s not taking my calls.  He told me that he was going to tell her.  He’s been promising that for months.  But he never has confessed.  Sometimes, she will call or text when we are together and he will act all secretive and this upsets me because obviously, she needs to know.  So I figured that maybe he just needs a little nudge.  He’s been claiming that he was going to tell her himself anyway, so I’m not sure how it is a big deal.  But one of my friends said that he’s likely furious and that is why he is not calling me back.  Who is right?  How does a man feel when you tell his wife about an affair?”

I’ve never known a man to actually thank someone for outing his affair – especially at first.  Most men are going to think that you did something that was their task to complete.  It is their wife. So, many men feel that it is their right and responsibility to tell her.  Now, both people in the examples above would argue that the husband SHOULD have told her and therefore, put himself in the position to be outed.

Those are probably legitimate arguments. However, in both cases, the husband likely thinks that he had his own good reasons for his timing.  The other person in the affair often underestimates how much the husband is still invested in his marriage.  And this is because sometimes he downplays that fact to continue on with the affair.  But often, he doesn’t tell his wife because he doesn’t want her to know, since this might hurt the marriage in which he is still invested.  He intends to eventually break off the affair and continue on with his marriage as if nothing happened.  (Admittedly, I’m speaking in generalities here.  There are some men who confess to their wives and beg for forgiveness.  But many men would rather just be a good husband after the affair without anyone getting hurt.)

Yes, most husbands are angry that they were not the ones who confessed the affair for themselves.  But they are also angry that now they have a shocked, hurt, and outraged wife to deal with, plus they have to deal with the person who told.  It’s often quite a shock and quite upsetting for everyone involved, which is why he isn’t likely to thank you and why he may be avoiding you now.

In fact, in many instances, the other woman tells the wife in the hopes that it ends the marriage.  Sometimes, the exact opposite happens.  The husband can’t scramble fast enough to make this up to his wife.  He’s furious that the other woman intruded on his family and so the affair ends rather than becoming a lasting relationship – which was the other woman’s goal.

In the case of the neighbor above, the husband will likely feel angry or betrayed at first because as I said, this is going to cause a lot of fall out and pain.  However, if he eventually saves his marriage and can eventually see this a little more objectively, he may eventually see that the neighbor was looking out for his wife and felt a moral obligation to tell her.  I understand that and the husband may eventually as well.  Many men look back on an affair and are quite embarrassed by their behavior.  But it can take them some time to gain that objectivity.

Many husbands resent the “outing” because they didn’t feel that the time was right. Or they had no intention of the wife knowing in the first place.  In their minds, they are trying to spare everyone pain.  And despite what they tell the other woman, many are still invested (and want to keep) their marriages.

Now that the husband has been “outed,” it will be up to his wife if she wants to give him any chance at all to save the marriage.  But that will often be his goal (even if he did drag his feet about confessing.)  In fact, that’s often PRECISELY why he didn’t confess – he didn’t want to lose his marriage.  Recovery is possible, but both parties have to be motivated to do the work.   You’re welcome to read about what recovery looks like on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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