My Spouse Is Afraid That I Will Cheat Because He Did

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from spouses who are dealing with one additional and unexpected problem that stemmed from their spouse’s affair. The cheating spouse is now afraid and paranoid that the faithful spouse is going to cheat in retaliation or because she’s no longer as committed to the marriage as she once was. The faithful spouse often has no intention whatsoever of cheating. In fact, cheating is actually less likely because she sees just how much damage can be done. But she’s often having a very hard time of convincing her husband of the same.

You might hear a comment like: “I’ve never cheated on anyone in my life. And I never would. If I was that unhappy in a relationship, then I would end it. But I’d never cheat on someone who I loved. My husband doesn’t understand this. Yes, I’m furious about his affair. Yes, I have doubts about my marriage. But he thinks that this means that I am going to cheat on him. And he can’t stand the thought of that, which is very hypocritical of him because I’m having to go through this recovery and yet he is telling me that he could never even face the recovery. I have been at my job for a very long time and I have always been close with many male coworkers. This is not anything new. I’ve been going out with the same group of people on Friday nights for multiple years and it has never been a problem. But now apparently it is. Because now my husband is totally paranoid that I am going to cheat on him. I am not going to do that. I might decide to end my marriage because of his affair. But I wouldn’t begin a relationship with a new man before I ended my marriage. No matter what I say or do, I can’t get my husband to believe this. And this is affecting our ability to save our marriage because I am so annoyed by his accusations and suspicions. I haven’t done anything wrong and I have no intention of cheating. I think that cheaters are weak people who are lacking in integrity and I definitely do not fall into this category. How do I get him to accept this?”

I know that this is a very difficult situation, but it’s also a very common one. The cheating spouse often is well aware that you might feel justified in cheating. It would allow for him to see how it feels to be cheated on and it would also confirm to you that you are still attractive and desirable. I know that there are many people who are clear on the fact that they would never cheat on their spouse even in retaliation (I am one of those people,) but I have to tell you that I get a lot of correspondence on my blog from people who are tempted to cheat in retaliation even when they swore that they would never do this before. So, honestly, your spouse isn’t completely off base with this. It’s quite common for the faithful spouse to be tempted to cheat.

However if you know that this isn’t something that you would do, it’s not fair to you that every time you turn around, he’s focusing on you when the focus should be on him and on your marriage. So, you will often have to address this in a very effective way so that you don’t have to continue on as you are.

A Suggested Script: I understand if you want to try to avoid conflict right now. Your marriage is often on very dangerous ground after an affair. So, you often hesitate to have the difficult discussions because you don’t want to put more stress on an already stressful situation. However, I believe that this is a conversation that you probably need to have. Because if you don’t, you may find that you are having to revisit the same old unfair and difficult problem day after day. And this will make it much more difficult to save your marriage.

So the next time that he brings up the topic of your cheating in retaliation, you might say something like: “I need to stop you right there. I understand why you have worries and concerns, but I need for you to shelf them for now. It’s going to be very hard for us to save our marriage if you are constantly accusing me of things that I am never going to do. I have never given you any reason to think that I would cheat on you. I have no intention of doing that. If I was that unhappy in our marriage that I was tempted to cheat, then I would end our marriage before I was with anyone else. Your constantly worrying and accusing me is the most immediate threat to our marriage. It isn’t my potential to cheat. I know that you have fears. So do I. But I need for you to trust me because I have never given you a reason not to. If you can’t do this and you continue to suspect and accuse me, then I have real concerns as to whether our marriage is going to make it. I have no problem with going to counseling if that will reassure you. Why would a person be willing to go through all this and then go to counseling if they intended to cheat on their spouse? Will you work harder to not act on your fears? This situation is hard enough, but we don’t need to add to it by worrying about something that just isn’t going to happen.”

Your husband may not immediately stop worrying about your potential future cheating, but hopefully will put a lid on the accusations. And as more time goes by and your marriage starts to heal, he will very likely gain confidence that you aren’t going to have the need to retaliate.

My husband had the same worries, but I let him know that he wasn’t going to make the affair about me, since it was really about him.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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