My Husband Says I Should Not Take His Affair Personally

By: Katie Lersch:  Sometimes, I hear from wives who are dealing with husbands doing their best to minimize an affair.  The husband will usually tell the wife that this has very little to do with her.  He will tell her that a man’s needs and a man’s duties as husband are often at odds with one another.  Some will go so far as to tell a wife that she “should not take this personally.”

Needless to say, this is very confusing.  Not take it personally?  How is that possible?  And how dare he suggest this?  A wife might say: “I am struggling right now even though it has been four months after my husband’s affair.  My husband and I have had countless conversations about the motivations for his affair. I have asked him to be brutally honest with me.  I have even been open to taking responsibility for any contributions that I may have made.  But my husband insists that I am not to blame in any way.  He will only say that I can’t possibly understand the urges that men have, which have nothing whatsoever to do with love or marriage.  He says that he will never love another woman in the way that he loves me.  He says that he has no desire to be married to anyone else. He says that the affair is not at all about anything that I did or did not do.  He says that it has nothing to do with a lack of attraction to me because he insists that he is very attracted to me.  His bottom line is to repeat that I should not take this personally because it has nothing to do with me.  And I just do not understand this. How can I not take it personally? It affects every area of my life.  He cheated on ME.  He rejected ME.  So how am I supposed to step back and pretend that this is just something outside of our marriage that I should not concern myself with?”

I have to say that I agree with you.  As a wife who has been there, it’s my experience that it nearly impossible not to personalize this. However, I can tell you with absolutely certainty that many men will make the exact same claims that your husband is making right now.  Many men say the exact same thing – that the affair has very little to do with their wives and that it has nothing to do with their love for their wife – which has not changed.

From having these conversations, here is what I think that he may be trying to tell you. He may be trying to let you know that none of this is your fault.  He may be trying to free you from any culpability.  He knows that he is the one who took action.  He knows that he is the one who made a mistake.  He knows that you were a good spouse to him who more than fulfilled your part of the bargain.  He knows that it is him who fell short.  So he is trying to make you understand that you should not blame yourself.  I don’t think that he believes that you can step away from the affair and not personalize it, as that would be impossible.  But in his own confusing way, he’s trying to free you from a thought process where you will blame yourself.

I know that you might be thinking that this is all fine and good, but you are getting tired of hearing him say this.  Well, know that you can always tell him what you are feeling and try to open the door to a new path of communication.

You might try: “listen, I hear what you are saying.  And I suspect you are trying to get me not to blame myself. But I have to tell you that your insisting that I don’t take this personally is just not feasible.  This is my marriage and my life that we are talking about.  My marriage is very personal to me.  Knowing that you broke our vows feels extremely personal.  I get that you are trying to communicate that your actions have nothing to do with me, but regardless, it affects me.  You can’t just make this claim and think that I am no longer going to be devastated, regardless of your motivations.  You can’t just say these things and expect that we can just move on.  We are going to need a lot of help and a lot of work to move on.  Because I do take this personally and this is something that we are going to have to work on. Regardless of what motivated you, we are both going to need to understand your thought process so that we can change it.  Because I never want to go through this again.  The bottom line is that you can say what you want, but I am going to take it personally because it is my marriage.  And I hope that you don’t take my reaction personally.  Can you understand that?”

Hopefully, this conversation will at least help him to understand your point of view.  It is reassuring that he doesn’t want for you to blame yourself.  But he has to understand that regardless, there is much healing to do.

To his credit, my husband did not want for me to blame myself.  And frankly, I didn’t.  Was I a perfect wife? Absolutely not.  We had our issues and we have worked through them.  But it was he who made the decision to cheat and it was he who had to take the lead toward our healing.  I was willing to do the work and make changes, but I expected him to take the initiative. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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