My Husband Had An Affair And Now He’s Claiming To Be Depressed Due To The Shame And Guilt

By: Katie Lersch: It is normal for both spouses to struggle after an affair. People often assume that it is just the faithful spouse who struggles. But this isn’t the case. The spouse who cheated can feel deep shame and guilt – which can lead to a feeling of worthlessness and depression. And these things can add more challenges to an already difficult situation.

A wife might say: “my husband says that he is overwhelmed with guilt and shame because of his affair. He deserves to be. He made a profile on an online dating site and he pretended to be single. He met a woman and began an affair. This woman found out about me and she called me to apologize. At first, I hung up.  But I later called her back because I realized that I had been very rude. Because once I thought about it and I read his profile, I realized that none of this was her fault. He lied to both of us. She started a relationship with a man she thought wasn’t married. I can’t really be mad at her. But I sure am mad at him. I do not understand how he could do this. I am a good person. We have a good marriage. There was nothing awful for him to escape so that he had to go on a dating website. And I admit that I am very vocal about my confusion. Last night, I was trying once again to ask my husband why he would do this. He blurted out that he doesn’t know why and that he’s horribly depressed and overcome with feelings of embarrassment and worthlessness. I almost feel as if he says these things because he wants me to stop talking about the affair and to stop asking questions. Suddenly I am supposed to handle him with kid gloves because he’s sad? Well, I’m really sad too. I could be depressed too. But it is because of what he did. It doesn’t seem fair that he can just pull the depression card every time he doesn’t want to talk about what a loser he was with this affair.”

This is a tricky situation. Because depression isn’t something that he can prove or something that you can disprove. And depression is not something that you should ever take lightly.

Still, in order for you to feel that you are getting what you need, you’re going to need to talk about the affair and get your questions answered.  And he is going to need for you to do this carefully because of his depression. This leaves you facing a situation that is very difficult to navigate.

I’m not a therapist or counselor, but I really can not recommend one enough in this situation. And I would not be surprised if she didn’t address the depression and the affair as separate issues.  Men who are depressed often have affairs.  It is their attempt to feel better and to have some relief from their emptiness.  And if his depression is untreated, it may well be more difficult to work toward any meaningful recovery and healing.

Working with a therapist or specialist means that you don’t have to accept less than the answers you want, but you’ll get help on addressing them in a way that doesn’t make his depression worse. He probably won’t be able to use that excuse with the counselor and she can help you explore if the depression was present beforehand and lead him to the dating website.

Because honestly, that’s a bit of a red flag as far as depression goes. I’d like to think that well adjusted, married men don’t commonly claim to be single on dating websites – unless they are having individual personal struggles. I’m not naive enough to think that this never happens. Of course it does. But you have to ask yourself why a man would do this. And depression is just one possibility.

Again, I am not a mental health counselor, but I would think that it’s safe advice to encourage both you and your husband see one. I know that cost is often a factor, but you can usually find someone that will work on a siding scale. Sometimes, government agencies in your county or town can help you find someone.  But please reach out.

Because depression is not something that a lay person knows how to deal with. And it may well delay any progress that you’d like to make.  Some things are just best left to the experts. And mental health is certainly one of those things.

I can’t tell you that counseling is always easy.  There were times when it felt like work.  But I can look back now and see that even things that confused me at the time were helpful to me. You can read more on my blog at

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