My Husband Is Still Acting Like A Fool After His Affair

By: Katie Lersch:  Many people expect that a husband who is having an affair is not going to be himself, is not going to be thinking clearly, and is not going to be use good judgement.  My grandmother used to say: “there’s no fool like an old fool,” and I find this saying particularly applicable to husbands who have affairs and act like, well, fools – when normally, they are decent, contributing members of society.

So while many people expect men who have affairs to act silly and embarrassing, most people also expect for this type of behavior to pass once the affair is over.  That’s not always the case, though.  Some wives are very upset to discover that their husband intends to keep or prolong at least some of the troubling behavior.

Here’s an example.  Someone may tell a story like this one: “honestly, I had a strong suspicion about my husband’s affair – not because he was cold or distant in the marriage – but just because he started to act very odd.  My husband has never been a high maintenance type of person and suddenly he was spending long hours in the gym and getting spray tans. Suddenly, he started using phrases that are more appropriate for my teenage sons.  He started going to night clubs. He started justifying his irresponsible behavior by saying ‘you only live once’ all of the time.  So I suspected that he was ripe for an affair and it turned out that I was right.  Once I caught him, he promised to break it off and I believe that he has.  I heard him call her and tell her that it was over.  And he has been coming straight home and not going out.  However, he is still getting the spray tans and, although he doesn’t go to the gym anymore, he spends hours working out here at home.  He still talks like a teenager and tries to act like he’s twenty years younger.  It’s very annoying.  And it makes me think that he will eventually have another affair.  I don’t get why a middle aged man would want to act this way. It’s actually very embarrassing to both of us.  What can you do when the affair is over, but your husband is still acting like a fool?”

This Behavior May Actually Stem From Feelings Of Inadequacy: What I’m about to say is going to sound a bit counterintuitive. Your husband might appear as if he THINKS that he has it all worked out.  But when a middle aged man acts the way that your husband is acting, this behavior actually screams of insecurity.  Frankly, it is a bit of a cry for help coming from a man who feels badly about himself.  So while the tanning and the working out might actually look like the vain actions of a man who thinks very highly of himself, I would argue that they are exactly the opposite.  In his own head, he may well think that he is trying to improve himself. But honestly and in reality, he may desperately be trying to be relevant and attractive again because he feels anything but those things.

His feelings of inadequacy and insecurity do not necessarily mean that he is going to have an affair again.  But they can mean that he is hurting and this can make him more vulnerable.  I know that it may be VERY tempting to just tell him that he is embarrassing himself by acting like an old fool.  But that might actually make it worse because it maximizes and reinforces his insecurity.

The Most Efficient Way To Approach It: Frankly, I would let the counselor handle this if you are in counseling.  If you’re not in counseling, I would find relevant passages in whatever self help you are using.  Because if any dialog about this comes from you, then he may think that you have your own agenda and that you are being critical of him and it just makes things worse.  As you strengthen your marriage and he takes accountability, his confidence should increase, which means that you should see less of these efforts of desperation.

Sometimes, the husband has these realizations all on his own.  Unless he is so clueless that he just lives in his own world forever, he often can’t ignore the looks and reactions he gets from other people (and not just from you.)  Yes, he doesn’t want to see those reactions right now, because they would be very painful. But as things calm down, he may not have much of a choice.

I know it’s hard to just look the other way and to bite your tongue.  I had these challenges also. And sometimes, when my husband was acting in a certain way, I would honestly have to excuse myself because I really couldn’t stand it.  This was unfortunate, but it kept me from engaging with him at a time when it would have done no good and it kept me from saying things that I would regret.  Fortunately, that time in our lives ran its course and my husband now acts like a normal, middle aged man.  We don’t really talk about it, but I’d be willing to guess that he’s pretty embarrassed about that time in his life, as it was quite embarrassing, but not uncommon. There’s more of this story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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