My Husband Says He Can’t And Won’t Explain Why He Cheated And Had An Affair

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from wives who are desperately trying to understand exactly which factors lead up to their husband cheating or having an affair. Many feel as if they need to fully understand the reasons behind the affair in order to fully heal. And some husbands will do their best to provide any answers that they may have. But other husbands are either unwilling or unable to give you these answers.

I recently heard from a wife who said: “I keep approaching my husband about explaining to me what lead up to the affair and what might have contributed to it. I feel like I really need to understand his reasoning and his feelings. I actually thought that our marriage was a good one and that we were happy. My husband says that he doesn’t disagree with this. He says that he was happy for the most part and that he doesn’t fully understand why he cheated on me. When I continue to question him, eventually he gets mad and blows up and tells that he refuses to continue to discuss this. He’s basically saying that he can’t or won’t explain the affair to me and that I really need to just drop it. He says he refuses to spend the rest of his life living under a microscope and having every bit of his behavior examined and analyzed like he’s a horrible person. I honestly don’t feel that I can or should drop it. What is wrong with wanting to understand why he had an affair? If we don’t both understand, then we may well repeat it or we may not be able to save our marriage. At this point, neither of us are willing to bend. I need answers and he either can’t or won’t give them to me.”

As a wife who has been cheated on, I absolutely understand this wife’s need for an explanation and for answers. But I also have to tell you that I often hear from men on my blog who are frustrated because either they are unable to give the wife the answers that she wants or needs, or, when they attempt to provide the answers, the wife is not satisfied with what he is telling her. I often hear from husbands who say things like: “to be honest, I don’t completely understand why I cheated on my wife. I didn’t intend for it to happen. It just sort of happened. I have explained my thought process and the events that lead up to the affair as best as I can, but this isn’t good enough. And when I struggle to explain it to her, she accuses me of holding things back or of being dishonest. I feel as though I can’t win. If I disclose some of the more embarrassing thoughts I had, she will be furious, but when I try to spare her feelings, she gets mad about that too. I’m just not sure what to say to make her happy.”

This is the type of situation where both people really can honestly be trying their very best, but things go wrong and people misunderstand anyway. Often, the husband really is trying to find a way to both tell the truth and spare his wife’s feelings at the same time. And the wife wants brutal honesty. Plus, there are times when the husband is being his honest as he knows how to be and this isn’t making his wife all that happy either so it can begin to look as if there is really no scenario where every one is going to be satisfied.

Finding A Place Where Both Husband And Wife Can Be Happy With The Explanation Of The Affair: To be honest, often a very skilled counselor can help the couple navigate this situation because he or she knows what to ask and how to ask it. But sometimes, counseling just isn’t happening for a multiple of reasons. If this is the case, you will often have more success if you try to approach this in a gradual way. You will often get more of what of the answers you want if ask easily answered questions and then back off until the next time. Once you see your husband begin to clam up, save the questioning for another day.

Also, it’s very important to note that as you improve your relationship, you will often see your spouse be more willing to work with you and give you what you need. Finally, you need to work very hard to create a situation and environment where both spouses feel safe in being honest. Much of the time, the husband is frankly scared to death to tell the wife the truth about what lead up to the affair because he knows it’s either going to hurt or anger her. And sometimes, as the wife’s rapid fire questions take on more intensity and venom, the more frustrated and angry that she becomes with her husband.

So it’s important to try to discuss the questions and answers at a time where you’re not fighting and you can be calm. Try to keep your responses and your emotions in check so that your spouse feels safe approaching you or responding with complete and total honesty. And don’t assume that if your spouse wants to delay the conversation or has had enough for one sitting that you aren’t ever going to get an answer. Sometimes, you really do have to have patience, you really do have to settle for gradual answers, and you really do have to first make your spouse believe that it’s both safe and advisable to tell you the truth.

Along that same line of thinking, make sure that before you ask the question, you are sure that you really want the truthful answer. Often, one spouse will insist that they want brutal honesty only to become angry and more nasty to their spouse once they get it.

As I alluded to, getting my husband to explain why the affair happened was a real challenge for me also. It wasn’t until I educated myself about how to question him and accept and build upon his answers that we began to make progress. If it helps, you can read the whole story about my struggles and recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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