I Don’t Understand My Husbands Attitude After His Cheating And Affair (And I Don’t Like It Either)

By: Katie Lersch:  I recently heard from a wife who wasn’t sure what made her more mad at her husband – the fact that he’d had an affair or his attitude following the wife finding out about the same.  As she described it, her husband was acting defensive and cold and only apologized once initially.  Basically he was insinuating that the wife would either get over it or not, but he wasn’t going to lose sleep either way.

The wife said, in part: “when my best friend’s husband had an affair, he couldn’t apologize enough.  He went to counseling with her and did everything in his power to make it up to her.  Their marriage survived because of this.  But my husband is acting in the opposite way.  He said he was sorry, but told me he’d only say that once and said he had his reasons for cheating.  When I press him and tell him that I need to understand why he did this, he will make sarcastic comments but not answer the question I’ve asked.  It’s almost as if he feels justified for cheating on me and it’s almost like he’s mad that I found out and made him stop.  Frankly, he acts as if he doesn’t care if I forgive him or not.  Honestly, I thought we might have had a chance if he would have actually shown some remorse and a willingness to work with me.  But he’s made it clear that he’s not going to do either.  So where does that leave me?  How do I handle his awful attitude? Because I’m just about ready to walk away in disgust.”

This is a very common theme with the wives that I hear from.  Many were hoping for a completely different attitude from their husbands.  When they don’t see what they expected or hoped for, they have no idea how to respond.  Of course, they are understandably angry.  But when they express their anger, their husband withdraws even more and becomes even more cold and distant.

In the following article, I’ll explain why you might be seeing a negative attitude from your husband after his affair and offer some suggestions on how to deal with this.

Sometimes, A Husband’s Negative Attitude After His Affair Is A Combination Of Some Perceived Justification For His Actions, Posturing, And Embarrassment:  I’d like to make a suggestion to you which I hope will help you to understand this better.  Your husband has likely been thinking about his motivations for having an affair (and the moral implications of this) long before you caught him cheating.

In other words, before a man cheats, he has a decision to make.  He must decide if he’s going to listen to that voice in the back of his head telling him that cheating is wrong or if he’s going to ignore that voice either because he feels justified in cheating or because he feels that the pay off from it outweighs any doubts or moral issues that he might have, at least at the time he made the decision.  (That’s not to say that he won’t come to regret this decision later or look back and realize what a stupid decision it was.)

The point is, once he decides to cheat, he has likely already thought about the decision at least briefly.  But when you catch him and bring up all of those issues that he’s already thought about and put out of his mind, then suddenly he has to face those doubts and insecurities that he has already stuffed down.  That’s one reason that he might react with frustration and even anger.  He doesn’t necessarily want to look in the mirror and acknowledge his flawed thought process or put it on display for all to see.

Another reason that men will act defensive or combative after their affair is posturing.  They figure if they can make you understand that every time you try to make them feel guilty or ashamed (or want them to talk about their feelings or motivations,) they will respond negatively as the result, you just might make this topic off limits or bring it up less.

And, many men do feel justified in cheating (at least temporarily,) and they know that if they listen to reason, they are going to realize just how horrible their actions really were.  They usually just don’t want to face this and add one more issue to their struggles. So, they’re trying to make you reluctant to push them anymore than you already have.  Finally, many men are just embarrassed to be caught and exposed in this way and these frustrations come out and appear to be directed at you.

How To Handle It When Your Husband Has A Negative, Bad Or Nasty Attitude After His Affair:  Many women in this situation will think that they can handle this in one of two ways.  They can confront him and respond with their own anger.  Or, they can do exactly what their husband hoped for – which is to back off or give in.

I think that there’s a place in between both responses that might work better.  I think it’s important to let your husband know that his attitude is making things worse while at the same time refusing to engage in his negativity.

My suggestion would be that the next time you are on the receiving end of his negative attitude you might say something like:  “I’m really confused about why you’re acting angry at me or as if I did something wrong.  I know our marriage wasn’t perfect and I wasn’t the perfect spouse but no one is.  And that’s never justification for cheating.  Your attitude isn’t helping us at all.  I understand that you might be frustrated with this situation also, but I’m not going to allow for you to interact with me in the way that you have been.  In order to move on, I need to know that you are truly sorry and I need to understand why you cheated on me.  You may not be willing to provide this right now, but I will have to have these things eventually.  In the meantime, I hope you understand that the two of us being nasty to each other isn’t making this situation better.  I don’t expect for you to apologize endlessly or to say things that you don’t mean, but I do need for you to stop acting as if I’m to blame or that I’m the enemy.  Until you do, I’m afraid that things aren’t going to get any better for either of us.”

When said calmly, this lets him know that you aren’t going to play into his defensive attitude and you aren’t going to give up on needing to see some remorse or on gaining some understanding for his actions.  I find that many wives in this situation eventually give in and back off, which of course is exactly what he wants.  While backing off or giving in to his attitude may keep the peace, these wives never get the remorse or the explanation that they are after and their marriages sometimes continue to suffer as the result of the resentment and frustration that they continue to  feel.

I understand your frustation and confusion and I hope this helped.  I’ve been there as I’ve dealt with infidelity myself.  If it helps, you can read more about how I healed on my surviving the affair blog.  There are also some free resources (newsletters) on the side of this blog

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