My Husband Doesn’t Want Any Consequences For His Affair

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people are fed up with their spouse’s reluctance to accept the consequences for their affair. After all, they are the ones who chose to cheat. Now, they should be prepared to act like a mature adult who is not only committed to fixing their marriage, but who is also willing to face the consequences. But although this can make sense to you and me, many cheating spouses resist this. They can almost take on a challenging or combative attitude when you ask them to take responsibility for their actions.

Common comments from wives dealing with this are things like: “the only reason that I know about my husband’s affair is because one of our mutual friends felt badly about this and had the decency to tell me. I expected for my husband to apologize and ask me what he can do to make this up to me. But so far, I haven’t got any words even close to this sentiment. Instead, he muttered something about not doing it again and insisted that he didn’t want to talk about this or be nagged about it for the rest of his life. I have told him that I don’t want him going out with friends without me any more. His reply was that I was acting like his mother. I told him that I wanted for us to go to counseling and he said that I am treating him like a dog who has to be trained or leashed. Essentially, every time I ask my husband to make a concession to make me feel more secure or to make him take responsibility, he will give me a reason why I am asking too much or he will pretty much refuse my request. It is like he thinks that he should just walk away from this as if nothing happened or as if nothing has changed. I guess he wants to just pretend that this never happened so that there is no consequences for his actions. If I had been the one who cheated, he would make me jump through all sorts of hoops to regain his trust. But I suppose the same rules do not apply to him. How can I get him to accept that there are going to be some concessions that he is going to have to make? Because at this point, he seems to believe that he can just bully me into accepting whatever he wants to give me. And that isn’t going to work. If he doesn’t make sincere changes, then I will never trust him again and I will always think he’s a jerk who doesn’t care enough about me.”

I could certainly understand this wife’s outlook and I completely agreed with it. But one thing that I believe she was missing was the possibility that her husband may have been putting on a little act just to see how far he could push her. After all, very few men are going to be completely happy to allow their wives to put them on a leash because of their bad behavior. (This was the husband’s words, not mine.) And of course some men are going to test their wives to see if they can manipulate her into backing off on her demands.

This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t fully realize that he was wrong or that he doesn’t know that he fully deserves every consequence that you are suggesting. But he also might figure that it is worth a shot to see if he can get you to back off of some of your demands. To be honest, I see this frequently and it is posturing. The cheating spouse knows that there are some uncomfortable and restrictive days in their immediate future. And it is just human nature to want to avoid this if they can. So they have a couple of choices. They can appeal to your sense of fairness. But this probably is not going to work considering the severity of their actions.  The other option that they have is to try to make you back off with an exaggerated or aggressive stance. They usually figure that this is worth a try and even if they don’t get you to back off on every item, they may at least win something back.

You Will Have To Show Him That His Strategy Doesn’t Work For You: So how do you show them that this isn’t going to work? By standing your ground. The first step here is to sit down and ask yourself if any of your demands are unfair or unrealistic. Expecting your spouse to never go out again might be unrealistic, but asking him to stay close to home while you are rebuilding the trust most definitely is not. Asking him to try counseling or asking him to keep an open mind about it is also not too much to ask considering the circumstance. Asking him to show his sincerity and his commitment by making concessions that he isn’t going to necessarily like is also not too much to ask. And it’s important that you make this clear so that he doesn’t think that his strategy is going to work.  One this happens, it will hopefully be common sense on his part to stop.

The next time he begins refusing to comply with the reasonable requests that you have made, you might consider saying something like: “I need to stop you right there and say something. You seem to be reluctant about all of my suggestions. And you react to this by making sarcastic comments or you discard what I am saying. If we are going to save our marriage or reestablish the trust, this just isn’t going to work. In order for me to believe that you are truly remorseful for this and that you don’t intend to repeat it, I need to see some concessions. I realize that you may not enjoy this. I don’t either. But there are some things that need to happen in order for me to begin to trust you again and for me to believe that you are sincere. If you aren’t willing to do these things, then I have to question your commitment and I have to wonder about our chances of saving our marriage. You don’t have to like what I am asking you to do. But I need for you to make the effort anyway.”

You really don’t need to say the words “and none of this would be necessary if you hadn’t had an affair,” because it is obviously implied and you both know that the words are there even if they are unspoken. It’s not uncommon for cheating spouses to try very hard to limit the consequences of their affair. That’s why you will need to determine which consequences are reasonable and necessary and then stick to them.

My husband tried this posturing strategy in the beginning, but I made it very clear that this wasn’t going to be acceptable to me and he backed off.  Throughout our entire recovery, I had to make my wishes and needs very clear.  This wasn’t always fun.  But at least it meant I was given what I needed.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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