How Long Should I Stay Mad At My Husband For His Cheating?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who wonder for how long they are expected to have an angry attitude toward their husband after he has cheated. Frankly, some women have no problems maintaining their anger. In fact, it is hard for some to envision a time when their anger might fade into something that is no longer so red hot. They are sometimes faced with a husband who is demanding to know for how long they intend to stay angry, since he hopes that it is not going to last forever.

From those wives you might hear a comment like: “the only reason my husband still stands a chance with me is because of our kids and because of the fact that I love his mother like my own. I have repeatedly told him throughout our marriage that if he cheats on me, we are done. Well, I just found out that he has cheated on me. And I am so furious that I can hardly concentrate on anything else. I will admit that I am treating him badly these days and that I retaliate against him, but he absolutely deserves it. The other day, he said that he hopes that I don’t intend to be angry forever because he isn’t sure that he can live this way forever. Frankly, I have no plans of backing off any time soon. If he didn’t want to receive my wrath, he shouldn’t have cheated. Don’t I have a right to be angry for as long as I want?”

On the other extreme, I sometimes hear from wives who are having a hard time maintaining their anger even though they know that this same anger is more than justified. From these wives, I might hear something like: “for how long are you supposed to be angry with a cheating husband? My husband went on a fishing trip as part of a high school reunion. He had a one night stand after a night of drinking. He told me immediately. This isn’t like him and I think that there is a good chance that he will not repeat this behavior. It is tearing him up inside and it’s written all over his face how horribly sorry he is about all of this. My sister said that I should throw him out. She said that I should at least make him leave the house for a while so he sees how it feels knowing that he might lose me. I understand why she is saying this. She might be right. The problem is, I can’t stay angry at my husband. I never could. I hate conflict. Honestly, our marriage has struggled lately because of my health issues. I’m not making excuses for him, but I sort of understand. Is there some set amount of time that I’m supposed to be angry with him until things get back to normal?”

There Is Justification Either Way: You can see both ends of this spectrum. The truth is, there is no written or unwritten rule about how long you need to angry at your cheating spouse. Some people are able to let go of their anger right away because they are fully aware that holding onto the anger is only draining them and isn’t doing any good for themselves, their spouse, or their marriages. And some people see this in the opposite way, they can’t imagine themselves ever being able to lay down their anger because the betrayal was so huge and hurtful. They understandably feel very justified in their anger. And frankly, many people are afraid of letting go of their anger. Because they don’t want to give off the appearance that they in any way condone the affair. And they figure as long as they are angry, their spouse will be reminded of his mistake and he will be afraid to repeat it.

The thing is, the anger can deteriorate your happiness as well as his. And it’s exhausting to hold onto that anger. It seeps into other areas of your life in robs your happiness in places that have nothing to do with the cheating. I know that you can think that if you lay down your anger, he might cheat again. But frankly some husbands are more likely to cheat again because of the anger. They feel that they can never win and they become tired of always feeling like the bad guy.

Finding Balance With Anger:  The ideal is finding balance. You don’t want to pretend that you aren’t angry or disappointed when in fact you are. You can certainly let your husband know how disappointed you are and what you need going forward without falling back on the anger, but you should never diminish your own feelings.

I honestly think that you can be angry for as long as you feel that you need to as long as your anger is not holding you back from healing and moving forward. And this is sometimes easier said than done. Don’t allow anger to drive you. At the same time, you can let your anger go as soon as it feels right to do so as long as you’re not avoiding conflict at the detriment of yourself. I know that it can be hard to strike a balance. That’s why I’ve always found it helpful to journal in order to release or explore your anger so that it isn’t feeding your actions when you’re trying to move forward.

Believe me when I say that I understand. For the longest time, my anger was my crutch.  But I eventually made a very conscious decision to let it go.  It was hurting me from the inside out.  And things improved dramatically after that. If it helps, you can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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