My Husband Doesn’t Want To Hear About My Feelings Regarding His Infidelity

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who are frustrated because they want their husband to sit down, face them, and then attentively listen as they share their feelings about his infidelity, cheating, or affair. They want to release these feelings and they know that he is the most logical person who should listen. They also hope that his understanding of their feelings will help them to heal their marriage and may also help him avoid cheating again.

Unfortunately, husbands don’t always see this issue in the same way. I heard from a wife who said: “I really want my husband to listen to me when I express my feelings about his affair. I have a lot of anger that he is going to need to address. But I have even more pain. And I want him to hear me out so that he will understand just how much this has hurt me. But if I even start to talk about my feelings, he will try to change the subject. Sometimes, if that doesn’t work he will abruptly get up and leave and make a comment like ‘I don’t want to talk about this anymore.’ And he just leaves me sitting there as if I’m the one who has done something wrong. I am so close to leaving him. If he doesn’t respect me enough to listen to my feelings, then I don’t know how I can even stay married to him. How can I get him to listen to me?”

This is such a common concern. Because what wives want more than just about anything after infidelity is to feel heard. They want to know that their husband understands how deeply his infidelity has wounded them and they want to know that because of this understanding, he is more likely to be remorseful and less likely to cheat again. But if he won’t even listen to the message, then this whole process can be much more difficult than it needs to be. In the following article, I’ll try to offer some tips on how to talk about your feelings so that your husband will listen.

Understand How It Sounds To His Ears: Please understand that I am not defending your husband or any man who cheats. However, I do suspect that I know why many men don’t want to listen to your feelings right now. I know this because many of them comment on my blog and offer various reasons why they tune their wives out or refuse to even talk about their infidelity.

First off, think about it this way. Let’s say you make the worst, most shameful mistake imaginable and the thought of your actions brought you a lot of pain and embarrassment. You’d probably want to move on as soon as possible and try not to think about it excessively since every time you did, you’d have to admit your actions to yourself once again and this would bring you fresh pain.

Now imagine that your spouse wanted to bring up your mistake often. And that your spouse wants you to listen as you recount how much your mistake has cost them. Even though you may well know that your spouse was justified in wanting explanations and your undivided attention as they released their feelings, you may not be very enthusiastic about this because rehashing your actions is so painful or embarrassing to you.

I’m sure you see where I’m going here. I am not trying to justify your husband tuning you out. I’m just telling you that often husbands “don’t want to hear it” when you bring up your feelings about their infidelity because hearing about your pain causes them additional pain. And frankly, pain avoidance is a contributing factor to a man cheating in the first place.

Men often tell me that seeing their wife’s pain is the worst fall out that they can imagine. They would rather you scream and yell at them than to see the quiet disappointment in your eyes. And this is sometimes why they want to avoid those serious discussions about your feelings. Does this mean that you shouldn’t push him to listen? Absolutely not. But you can use this knowledge to frame your message so that it is more likely to be heard.

Try To Get Him To Accept A Mediator: Frankly, I know that when I bring up counseling, many husbands are going to tune me out. But if you can get him to go to even one session, then you will likely give him no choice but to listen to what you have to say. (And you will have to do the same for him.) This makes you look less like the bad guy and can make the process a bit easier.

If He Won’t Go To Counseling, Choose Your Words Carefully: Many men are as excited about counseling as they are in listening to your feelings. Sometimes, you have to ease into this so they can see that you’re not out of punish them on a daily basis. So, when you are trying to lead up to this conversation, try to be careful about the words and the tone that you use.

The next time this wife’s husband shut her down or told her that he didn’t want to talk about his infidelity, she might respond with something like: “OK, I get that you don’t want to talk about it right now. Let’s agree on a time where we can talk about it. I’m going to need about twenty minutes of your time. I need to get some things off my chest and I need for you to understand how I feel. It’s not my intention to insult, belittle, or punish you. But I really need to feel heard in order for us to begin to heal our marriage. Not only that, but if you really listen to me, and I feel heard, I won’t have to keep repeating myself and you may feel less attacked as the result. I think if you would agree to hear me out, you might be pleasantly surprised at the results. So, when is good for you?”

I know that you might be thinking this dialog has a lot of restraint, and you’d be right. But sometimes, you have to use restraint if you are going to get him to really listen. And that really is the goal, right? To have him sit down and give you his undivided attention when you have your say? Usually, if you phrase it correctly, he will agree. And when he does, you have to do your part and express your feelings without attacking or insulting him. Because if he feels attacked, he won’t be nearly as willing to listen again. But if it goes well, you will find that he’s not nearly as afraid because the outcome is not only about causing him more pain and shame.

I had a hard time getting my husband to listen to me immediately after his affair.  The process just took time.  But when he began to believe that I wasn’t going to attack him during every conversation, things improved and we eventually saved our marriage.  If it helps, you can read about our recovery process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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