By Katie Lersch: I often have women tell me that they can’t help but notice some very troublesome personality changes in their husband after he cheated or had an affair. Sometimes, the wife isn’t the only one who is noticing these changes. Often, the children involved or other family members can’t help but notice as well. Sometimes, even the husband’s boss or coworkers will mention noticing a difference.
I recently heard from a wife who said, in part: “my husband is so cold to our entire family and social circle after his affair. I expected and hoped that he would be falling all over himself trying to make this right because that’s just the type of person that he has always been. My husband has always coached my kid’s sports teams. We’ve always been the house where the whole neighborhood hangs out. I’m not bragging when I say that most people think very highly of my husband. Before he had an affair, he was so loving, giving, fun loving, and outgoing. Now, he’s distant, stand offish, and cold. He doesn’t even resemble the same person.
He no longer plays with the kids in the yard. He no longer seems to be willing to lend a hand at work. I can’t tell you how many people have approached me about the changes that they’ve noticed in him. One of my children had an assembly at school that was a big deal to him. My husband didn’t even show up. My child was crushed. I have no idea what to do about this. Maybe I could eventually accept this if it was only affecting me but it’s not. He’s being cold and uncaring to every one in his life. How can I make him realize what he’s doing and get him to stop? It’s like he’s distancing himself from every one who was ever important to him.”
This situation was so unfortunate. And it rises to an entirely different level when there are children involved. I strongly suggested that the wife in this situation seek out some counseling for her family. In the following article, I will discuss why you might see your husband acting very cold after he is caught in an affair and how you might consider handling it until you can get some professional guidance.
Sometimes A Husband Acts Cold After His Affair Because He’s Trying To Distance Himself From The Fall Out Of It Or Because He’s Become Used To Suppressing His Emotions: Sometimes, you will see a man sort of shut down when his whole world comes crumbling down around him. ( Of course, in this situation there was no way to know what the husband’s feelings and motivations were without hearing from the man himself,) but I do hear from a good deal of men on my blog and I am able to get a bit of insight into their thinking and their motivations.
Many times, they sort of shut down after the affair comes out because of some combination of embarrassment, shame, indignance, and uncertainty. Sometimes, the are quite sorry and ashamed and, as a result, they feel as if they don’t deserve their family or acquaintances so they will back off as the result. Sometimes, they actually think that their family doesn’t want them or would be better off without them.
Other times, these husbands have some uncertainty about the future. They aren’t sure about the future of their family so they begin to think that it might be better for every one if they just hung back for a while. Sometimes, they aren’t sure how every one feels about them so they figure that it’s best that they don’t push.
Finally, sometimes these men distance themselves emotionally because they just aren’t sure where their heart is. I have had men tell me that they weren’t sure if they were going to go back to their wives and their family so they felt it was best if they just held back while they were making up their mind. They don’t want to deal with all of the questions or accusations so the emotional distance is one way to try to achieve a physical distance.
And here’s one more point that you may want to consider. Often, by the time a man has an affair, he is having some emotional struggles. Often, his attempts to deal with these emotions include his trying to push them down or deny that they exist (which is why he’ll often make poor choices like cheating rather than dealing with his problems and emotions.) This denying or pushing down his feelings can almost become a habit. So in a sense, these men start off becoming cold to themselves and this eventually becomes a behavior that spreads until it affects people other than themselves.
Also, because this husband’s behavior was so odd and out of character for him, it wasn’t out of the question that he was having some mental health issues or challenges that could and should be addressed by a professional.
How To Handle A Husband’s Cold Attitude After His Affair: Hopefully, you now might have some insight as to why your husband may be acting this way. Now let’s discuss what to do about it. Needless to say, this wife was very tempted to call him on his behavior. And, it was also very tempting for her to act in a forceful way that wasn’t typical of her just to get a reaction. He had been so detached and hard to reach that she felt she may have to pull out all of the stops just to get him to hear her. As understandable as this was, I felt that it was the wrong call. With the way that the husband had been acting, it was unlikely that calling him on his behavior was going to have a good result.
Instead, my most immediate concern was with the children. I strongly felt that family counseling should be pursued as soon as was possible. In the meantime though, I suggested that the wife set some ground work. She might approach her husband and address that immediate concern. She might consider a conversation like: “you missed our son’s assembly the other day and he was incredibly hurt and disappointed. I don’t want for what is happening in our marriage to effect our children. These are two separate things. Our children did nothing wrong and they don’t deserve to lose their father’s involvement over this. Can we discuss ways that you might get more involved with them? They need and miss you and I don’t want our issues to negatively affect them.”
In this way, you are laying the groundwork for future progress and you are placing your focus on what is most important – the children. You’re also letting your husband know that you have no intention of banishing him from the family because of his affair. This may help him to let down his guard somewhat. But this really is only a start. And I hoped that the wife would follow up on this issue as needed.
My husband went through a phase where his personality changed somewhat after his affair. Thankfully, he never acted cold toward out children. But, as we made progress his warmth and regular personality began to show itself again. If it helps, you can read more of that story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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