My Spouse Who Cheated Does Not Come Home Sometimes And Says He’s Punishing Himself

By: Katie Lersch:  When you are dealing with a husband who has had an affair, its understandable that you would want for him to come home on time and each and every night.  His doing so would at least provide some reassurance that he’s no longer spending his night time activities with the other person.  Some would assume that a husband caught cheating would make a point to be home every night, but this is not the case for some husbands.  In fact some will insist that they want to save their marriages, but yet they stay away some of the time, giving varying excuses for the same.

A wife might say: “I honestly don’t think that my husband is continuing to cheat on me.  I believe that I have scared him so badly that he knows better than to cheat.  Still, he doesn’t come home every night.  He claims to stay with his mom and I’m pretty sure that this is true because when I talk to her, she will reference my husband being there.  I think that this is ridiculous.  I even told my husband that him not coming home looks suspicious and like he’s not committed.  He insists that he is committed, but always says that he is punishing himself by not coming home because he doesn’t think that he deserves to stay in our nice, marital home when he cheated.  So instead, he will suffer on the fold out couch at his mother’s.  I am never sure how exactly to address this.  On the one hand, I agree that he doesn’t exactly deserve every martial perk.  He certainly deserves to feel badly about what he has done.  At the same time, if he does not come home regularly, then I am not sure how we are going to work it out.  And yet, a few days out of every week, he will just not show up at home.  He won’t let me know in any way.  He just never walks through the door.  I’m not sure why he needs to pile on this additional problem when we already have some many.”

There are a couple of possible motivations for him.  But you obviously know him very well, whereas I don’t know him at all. So you would certainly be a better judge of his motivations.  It’s very normal for a man to be extremely angry and disappointed in himself after an affair.  It can also be normal to take that a step further and to want to punish himself or to deny himself any happiness.  However, some of the time, this “punishing” thing is actually posturing.   He’s hoping that you will ask or beg him to start coming home so that he will be in a better position moving forward.  To be fair, this may not be his strategy, or, even if it is, he may not even realize that he is doing it.  (Frankly, it’s natural for both parties to want reassurance and to want to feel better.   And his wanting you to ask him to stay home might be a reflection of this.)

But you get to decide if you just want to accept his rotating living arrangements or if you want to attempt to address the issue.  Him not always coming home is problematic because it leaves you unsure as to how he is spending his time at night.  That’s why I would suggest something like: “I hear you saying that you go to your mother’s to punish yourself.  But, I think that if you are being truthful or sincere about wanting to save our marriage, you need to choose another way.  I’m not accusing you of continuing to cheat, but when you just don’t come home over and over again, this could theoretically be read as suspicious behavior.  And it’s just not indicative of a man who is doing whatever is necessary to save his marriage.  I can’t promise that life will always be butterflies and sunshine every night that you come home.  But that’s part of committing to working it out, regardless of any guarantees.   Of course, where you go from here is up to you.  But I want to make it clear that your not coming home is a behavior that is going to be problematic moving forward.  Regardless of wanting to punish yourself, it doesn’t look like the behavior of a man who is sincere and who wants to take responsibility for his actions.”

I worded this carefully.  Because I didn’t want it to look like you were begging him to come home or reassuring him that once he did, you would be accommodating and wouldn’t press him about the affair.  In my experience, it’s unrealistic to make promises like that so early in the process.   But even this early on, both parties need to at least show some sincerity, good faith, and a willingness to deal with one another.  And his not coming home is not a great example of the type of behavior that you are looking for.

My husband did occasionally try to posture in order to get me to say or do something that would reassure him after I caught him having an affair.  Frankly, it didn’t work.  I didn’t have many reassurances for him at that time.  And I did not want to play games.  I had to spell this out, however, before he would quit. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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