by: katie lersch: I often hear from wives who are struggling to make their husbands understand just how devastating and far reaching his affair truly was. Many wives struggle with making their husband understand that moving on or getting over the affair is going to take far longer (and much more work) than the husband may have realized.
I recently heard from a wife who said, in part: “my husband’s affair has been over for about three months. It’s becoming obvious that he feels like my time to grieve and process this is up. He wonders aloud when I’m going to recover and for how much longer I’m going to “dwell on” the affair or on the past. He often makes comments like ‘the past is in the past. Now it’s time to move on and start again. We can’t life our lives always dwelling on the past or dredging up the pain from yesterday.’ It’s as if he thinks that I should just turn off my feelings or quiet my doubts because he’s tired of having to deal with my pain. He doesn’t seem to understand how his affair affected me and continues to affect me. It floored me. It hurt me deeply. It made me question my judgment, my marriage, and my ability to trust and to love. I no longer feel like the same person in the same marriage. I am trying to improve and move forward, but I certainly don’t like feeling rushed or being made to feel as if I’m not making progress fast enough. I don’t think that any of this is fair. How is it right that he gets to hurt me this way and then get impatient as I try to recover? How can I make him understand how his affair affected me so that he has more patience during my recovery? Because every time I try to explain this to him, he says I’m dwelling on the past or holding onto the pain.” I’ll address these concerns in the following article.
Actions That Probably Won’t Make Your Husband Understand How His Affair Affected You: Before I get into some things that might help with this situation, I’d like to go over some very common reactions and strategies, that, although understandable, often don’t work all that well. Many wives will wonder if having their own affair will “force” their husband to see just how it feels to be cheated on. So, many will consider cheating (or at least making their husband think that they are.) I so rarely see this work or even not turn out to be a disaster. The husband is often so angry that he’s not in any position to feel any empathy for or try to understand the wife any better. And the wife will often have even more baggage to carry and even more feelings and struggles to deal with.
Another thing to wives are often tempted to try in this situation is to attempt to communicate in a very dramatic way so that their husband has no choice but to listen or pay attention. A wife will often tell me that she finally explodes and begins yelling things like: “do you have any idea how this feels? Do you have any idea what it’s like to know that your spouse who was supposed to love, honor and cherish you slept with someone else? Do you any idea what this does to your self esteem and your ability to trust?” Although these are all valid questions which often might cause your husband to slow down and think, we often say them in such a way that he feels defensive rather than sympathetic.
Understand Why Your Husband Probably Doesn’t Completely Want To Know Or Understand Just How Deeply His Affair Affected You: Here’s something else I’d like for you to consider. Even if your husband doesn’t realize this, he often has a vested interested in downplaying just how devastating his affair has been to you. He usually already feels a lot of guilt and remorse about his actions. And he really wants to believe that you and will recover because this helps to alleviate some of his guilt.
So if he has to face the difficult truth that you are still hurting, still struggling, and not yet recovered from actions that he set into motion, then he still has to feel those negative feelings of guilt, shame and remorse all over again. Often, the husband who cheated wants to feel better and wants to recover in the same way that his wife does. But part of his being able to feel better about himself means that you feel better too. So he’s often reluctant to admit or acknowledge when this isn’t happening. But you can sometimes use this knowledge to your advantage.
Tips On How To Make Your Husband Understand The Multiple Ways That His Affair Has Affected You: I understand that you are extremely motivated to get your husband to understand the way that you feel and why you’re struggling. But you are more likely to get the result that you want if you can deliver the message with calm, measured words so that it’s clear that you’re not trying to hurt him, but are merely trying to make him understand you better.
So, at time when emotions aren’t boiling over and you are as calm as is possible, you might consider saying (or writing) something like: “I know that both of us just want to feel better and want to move on. I want that too. But I want for you to understand why I’m struggling because of how deeply this affair has affected me. I’m not telling you this to make you feel worse or continue to pin point blame. My intention is for you to understand what I’m feeling so that hopefully you can help me to move forward so that we can both feel some relief eventually. But please understand that your affair has made me reluctant to trust you and my own perceptions. I do want to move on and to trust again, but this is a struggle for me because when I did those things before, I was betrayed. And I’m reluctant to offer my trust again because I never want to feel this type of pain again in the future. This has made my doubt myself, my own desirability, and our ability to put our marriage first before we make decisions that might destroy it. I’m not telling you this to paint a negative picture or to insinuate that we can’t or will never recover. I just want for you to know how and why I’m struggling so that you will have patience with me and help me to move past this. I’m asking you to imagine that it was you who were the one who was betrayed before you’re critical of my progress or lose your patience with me.”
I know that making him understand you and your struggles is difficult. But sometimes, you just have to keep moving forward while continuing to have patience with yourself and demanding that you be given the time and space to heal. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, after a long struggle, I did eventually truly get over the affair. It didn’t happen overnight, but I know longer worry my husband will cheat again. If it helps, you can read more of that story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/
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