My Husband Doesn’t Seem To Want To Be Close Again After His Affair.

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from faithful spouses who are more than willing to try to rebuild their marriage after their spouse’s affair.  Often though, even though their spouse says that he agrees with this, he seems to be holding something back.  While the faithful spouse is willing to set aside their pain, anger, and doubt in order to hold their family together, sometimes the cheating spouse is also making this claim but doesn’t seem to be trying all that hard to make it happen.

I heard from a wife who said: “I had suspected that my husband was cheating for months before I actually caught him.  I was pretty confident that as soon as I could prove my suspicions, he would break off the other relationship.  He doesn’t want to lose our family and he doesn’t want to have to pay me a lot of money in the event of a divorce.  So I wasn’t surprised when he asked me to work with him so that he can save our marriage.  But what has surprised me is the fact that he is holding back from me.  It’s not something that it very blatant but I feel the difference.   If you were to look at our marriage two years ago, you would see a marked difference.  When things were going well between us, my husband used to climb into bed first thing in the morning and bring me coffee.  We’d take just a few minutes to read the paper together before work.  He used to do sweet little things for me like always filling the gas in my car and leaving me sweet little notes.  He never does these things any more.  He does what I ask for the most part.  He comes home and if I ask him to take me out to dinner or to do something specific for me, then he does it.  But, he never does the little extras anymore.  He’s never spontaneously sweet to me.  Sometimes, I tell myself that I need to take the initiative and I try to reach out and be sweet to him but I almost always feel rejected.  It’s almost as if he recoils at my touch.  When I try to talk to him about this, he says that I am overreacting and that the affair has made me insecure.  I don’t think that I’m imagining this.  If we can’t get the closeness back, I’m not sure that I want to stay married.  I’m not interested in a husband in name only.  I want a husband who is crazy about me and who is actually excited about being close to me.  But this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.  What can I do?”

This is a difficult situation because you often can’t be one hundred percent sure how accurate your perceptions are.  And, you also don’t know if things are going to improve dramatically with time.  Even so, there are some things that you can do right now and today to attempt to address this.  I will discuss them below.

Ask Yourself If Your Perceptions Are A Little Skewed Because Of What You’ve Been Through:  I never mean to place the blame with the faithful spouse.  Because I have been that person and I know that your spouse’s infidelity is in no way your fault.  However, with that said, I also know that it’s perfectly normal to begin watching your spouse’s behaviors with an eagle eye.  Essentially, you are almost waiting and watching for them to disappoint you in some way.  And you are ready to pounce and point out their every flaw when they do.

Yes, you may be right and he may be distancing himself a little bit.  But there are reasons for this which often doesn’t have anything to do with his commitment to and love for you, which leads me to my next point.

Know That His Distance May Be A Defense Mechanism:  It would nice (and somewhat just) if the cheating spouse would fall all over himself to beg for forgiveness and to strive to be the sweet, remorseful, and demonstrative spouse that we all want.  Unfortunately, he sometimes has as many doubts and fear that you have, but for different reasons.  He’s often just as fearful as rejection as you are.  In short, he knows that he has hurt you and he probably wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t give this marriage your all because of your understandable need for self preservation.

So, he’s going to want to protect himself from this rejection and this can happen whether he realizes that he is pulling back or not.  Often, he’s not conscious of the fact that he’s not allowing himself to be vulnerable or to participate in the marriage the way that he once did.  So how do you fix this?  You draw his attention to it in a loving rather than a critical way.

Addressing This Issue In A Positive Way: You deserve to address this issue so that you feel more loved and secure in the marriage.  Restoring your confidence after infidelity is difficult enough, so you really do need for him to make more of an effort.  But at the same time, you have to be careful about your tone.  If you sound critical, he’s likely to shut down even more, which is not what you want.

A suggest conversation would start with you saying something like: “I know that you probably don’t realize it, but it seems to me that you’re holding back a little bit.  It’s probably not intentional.  But I do need to bring your attention to it because I need and want the intimacy in order to feel secure.  I’ll give you some specifics so that you see what I’m talking about.  You no longer have coffee with me in the morning.  You no longer leave me notes.  I know that we’re trying to rebuild and I understand that you may be reluctant because you don’t know where you stand.  But I’m asking you to make an effort to restore the closeness.  Because I need it in order to feel secure.”

Notice that none of this sounds critical.  Instead, you’re asking for his help so that you can feel more secure, which will only benefit you both.  And giving specifics will help him to give you more of what you need.

I had to use this same strategy with my husband.  I believe that he really did want to make things right, but he didn’t know how.  Sometimes, it felt as if he truly needed a road map and I had to spell it out for him.  This annoyed me sometimes, but it also meant that he gave me what I needed.  If it helps, you can read that story on my blog

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