by: katie lersch: I recently heard from a wife who had found out that her husband had been cheating on her. A mutual friend of the couple had come to the wife and told her that she had seen the wife’s husband at a restaurant with another woman. The friend also said that it was clear that this was a romantic dinner. After hearing this, the wife did some digging and discovered that her husband wasn’t just cheating on her, he was having a full blown affair and had been doing so for about three months. The wife had concrete proof of this. But, she wasn’t sure how to confront the husband about it and was concerned about his reaction.
She asked me, in part: “how do husbands respond when you confront them about their affairs? How can I expect my husband to react? I don’t know why I’m so nervous about this. He’s the one who cheated on me. But I suspect he’s going to have a very strong reaction and that things might get ugly. What can I expect going into this?” I’ll try to address these concerns in the following article.
Men’s Reactions When They Are Confronted About Having An Affair Vary Dramatically. But Here Are Some Common Reactions: It really was impossible for me to tell the wife how her husband was going to react. This varies from man to man and from marriage to marriage. The reaction usually depends at least somewhat on what the wife says and the stance she takes when she is confronting him.
If she’s angry and accusatory, then he’s more likely to be defensive. If she’s hurt and reeling, he’s more likely to be apologetic. If she’s unsure and indecisive, he’s more likely to look you right in the eye and deny it. However, there are no absolutes here and there are so many variables in a man’s reaction that this is impossible for me to predict.
Some men will get flustered and downright angry that you have found out about and are calling them on their affair. Others will immediately fall all over themselves to apologize and will promise that they will end the affair right away. Others are at the ready with their excuses and will insinuate (or out and out say) that they had an affair because you weren’t available to them or because there were issues with the marriage. Other men will try to downplay the affair and will tell you things like it didn’t mean anything to them or that they were just getting ready to break things off.
You might see any of these reactions or you might see something entirely different. It helps to know and remember that you did nothing wrong and that you have every right to confront him. However, how you confront him can be important – especially if you care about or are concerned about his reaction. This leads me to my next point.
Some Tips On Confronting Your Husband About His Affair: I know that you likely have a huge amount of dread about this. I know that this is likely one of the most difficult conversations that you may ever have with your husband. But, if you are absolutely sure that there’s no doubt that he’s having an affair, it doesn’t make sense to remain quiet and allow him to continue having one.
I recommend waiting to confront him until you know that you can be calm and also know that you have indisputable proof. And, if you are worried about your husband having a bad reaction, then I would suggest having this conversation where there are other people around.
Of course, you don’t want to have this conversation where other people can hear you, but if you’re worried about a bad reaction, your husband might hesitate to act badly if he knows that doing so will draw attention to himself by complete strangers. (And hopefully, it goes without saying that you never want to put yourself in a dangerous or overly volatile situation. If you think this is possible, it’s likely better to have this conversation over the phone or with someone else present.)
It’s also important to try your best to remain calm. I know that this is easier said than done, but the more calm you are, the more likely that his reaction will be more in line with your tone. I think it’s best just to tell him what you have found and then wait for him to speak.
This probably isn’t the time to tell him how disappointed, shocked, and furious that you are. He likely knows this anyway and if you express these things, you won’t know his true reaction. (Plus, you will have plenty of time for additional conversations in the future.) My suggestion is always to calmly tell him what you know and then wait to see how he responds. Allow silence to do the work for you and put the burden of a response on him.
One more word of caution. Your husband’s immediate reaction might be very different than the reaction you will get a few days from now or even next week. Many men are taken by surprise and are frankly embarrassed and flustered. But instead of showing you these emotions, they will show you anger as a way to cover up their vulnerability and shock. I tell you this because I want you to know that you might actually see a variety of reactions, but they may not come all at once or you may not see them all initially.
Once the shock wears off and he realizes that there’s no reason to lie or to continue on with the posturing, you are more likely to see how he really feels and how he is really going to approach this. I know this isn’t easy and I know that this is a conversation that you don’t want to have, but try to remain calm and remember that you did absolutely nothing wrong.
My confrontation with my husband went extremely badly but this is because I caught him in the act. Those few weeks after that confrontation were a blur of awful things. Eventually though, after the smoke cleared, things changed and eventually we were able to save our marriage. But this didn’t happen without a lot of hard work and stubbornness. If it helps, you can read more about that on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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