I Had An Affair And Now My Spouse Wants Space And Time Away From Me. How Do I Reverse This?

By: Katie Lersch:  Often, when one spouse is having an affair, they try not to spend a lot of time thinking about what might happen if their spouse finds out about it.  Frankly, this is just not a pleasant thing to think about.  And most of the time, they never have plans to carry out the affair for long enough (and carelessly enough) to get caught.

That is why they can be somewhat shocked at their spouse’s reaction once they are unexpectedly found out.  Because they haven’t spent a lot of time considering the possibility of this day, they simply aren’t prepared for it.  And having their spouse reject them or distance themselves can be very upsetting.  I find that the cheating spouse can find it somewhat difficult to accept it when the faithful spouse tries to push them away.

For example, a cheating husband might say: “I admit that I more than deserve my wife’s anger.  Straight up, I cheated on her and there is no excuse for that.  No one can deny that cheating is wrong.  But I never intended to end my marriage.  I was never going to leave my spouse and family.  Now that my wife has found out, though, I might lose my family anyway.  Despite my begging and pleading, my spouse isn’t sure that she wants anything to do with me.  She hasn’t officially moved out.  But she is staying with her sister.  When I ask her why she would do this, she says that she just needs some time away from me to think things through.  She asks me to respect her space. I am having a hard time with this because I believe that the last thing that we need is time away from one another.  What we need right now is to band together and for our children to see us as a family.  I keep trying to tell my wife this, but she says that I have no right to pressure her right now.  How do I change her mind about this?  The last thing we need is space.”

I can’t read your wife’s mind, but I was once in her position, (as a wife who was struggling to process her own husband’s affair.)  Because of that, I hope that I can give you some perspective on what your wife might be going through and her thought process.  I don’t share this in order to help you to pressure her in an attempt to change her mind.  I share this because I sincerely hope that this insight will make you stop, put yourself in her position, and listen rather than trying to work your own agenda.

It’s understandable that you are frustrated by a lack of control.  Right now, it seems as if your wife holds all of the cards and you have to just sit back helplessly and watch.  And that can seem unfair.  But try to remember that very recently, your wife probably felt equally as helpless when she learned that life as she knew it was going to change.  She learned that the marriage she thought she had was derailed.  And she learned that the person she trusted most in the world betrayed her.

I promise that I’m not trying to rub salt in the wounds.  I just want to give you a sense of what she is going through.  This is ALOT to take in.  And sometimes, when you are trying to process all of that, seeing and interacting with your spouse all of the time is not what you think you need.  You worry that you will just direct all of your sadness and anger at them and, as a result, you’ll have countless fights that aren’t going to do anyone any good.  So you figure it’s best for everyone involved if you pull away and give yourself the time and space to sort things out.  You aren’t always trying to punish your spouse when you do this.  You legitimately need the time.

As far as how to change her mind, I don’t think that attempting to do this with pressure would be in your (or her) best interest.  In fact, I think that it might make things worse.  Because your wife might think that your goal is to force her to do what you want her to do rather than being concerned with her feelings or what she needs.  I understand your wanting her home.  But I feel that she is more likely to come back if you show her compassion and patience rather than impatience and pressure. Accept responsibility for your actions and accept that your actions have made the space necessary.  Be patient, understanding, and loving.  Because then you may find that she’s willing to come back on her own without your needing to pressure her and risk damaging your marriage even further.

I can tell you that when I was having some time away from my own husband, what I most wanted from him was understanding and patience.  I had no problem with him checking in and asking about my welfare on a regular basis.  In fact, for the most part I appreciated that.  But what I did not want (and what I reacted very badly to) was any implication that I did not have the right to take the time away.  I also did not want any pressure on me to come home in a timeline that wasn’t my own.  At that point in my life and my marriage, I was the one who had to make my own choices, as I was the one who would have to live with the consequences.  I ultimately did come home and we saved our marriage, but it certainly was not because my husband pressured me to do so.  If he had, I may have delayed coming home or rethought it altogether. There’s more to the story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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