My Spouse Won’t Even Speak To Me After An Affair. What Can I Do?

By: Katie Lersch:  I often hear from people who are desperately trying to reach out to their spouse after they’ve been caught having an affair, but they aren’t having any success at all with this.   Sometimes the faithful spouse not only won’t talk, but they refuse to listen also. It can feel as if you’re running into a brick wall at every turn.  And this is frustrating even when you realize that this is all your fault.  Because often, it’s your hope that you could make some headway if you could just talk to your spouse.  But of course, you can’t talk to them without their permission or cooperation.

I heard from a wife who said: “I made the awful mistake of having an affair.  Once I realized how wrong I was, I told my husband about the affair because I realized that my marriage was the most important thing to me and I wanted to right this wrong.  However, as soon as the words were out of my mouth, my husband slammed the door in my face and refused to come out of our bedroom.  That was four days ago and he still hasn’t said one word to me.  When I try to talk to him, he just walks away.  Yesterday, he left his computer monitor on and I saw that he was looking at flights to his home town.  How am I supposed to make this right if he won’t even speak to me or allow me to speak to him?”

This is a difficult situation. The wife understood that she was at fault here and that she deserved her husband’s anger.  However, she was also desperate to save her marriage and she felt that if her husband would just hear her out, she could make some headway and make him begin to understand what had really happened.  It was also very important for her to understand that it was her husband’s right to set the pace.  People often will calm down and be willing to listen in time, but you should not pressure them to rush this process.  In my own marriage, I was the faithful spouse.  And the more my husband pressured me or became impatient with my slow pace, the more I wanted to withdraw into myself and the less I wanted to listen to anything that he had to say.  So, in the following article, I’ll offer some suggestions as to how you can approach this situation while still respecting your spouse’s need to set their own pace.

Consider Putting Your Feelings Into Writing So That Your Spouse Can Receive Them At Their Own Pace:  Once your spouse has made it clear that they don’t want to talk to you, pressuring them often will just make things worse and this could possibly make them feel as if you aren’t respecting their wishes or that your own agenda is more important to you than their well being.  This should be the last thing that you want.  Because in order to have a chance of your spouse interacting with you again, they need to believe that you are more concerned about them then you are about yourself.

So, one alternative would be to put whatever you are trying to say right not into writing.  That way, your spouse can read what you have to say when you they are ready and you are not continuously pressuring them.  You can write a letter, an email, or a lengthy text.  Choose the method that you believe is the most likely to be well received.  Also, understand that after you give your spouse this written communication, give them time.  You have to respect that they are going to receive this in their own time.  Once you’ve done your best to put your genuine and heart felt feelings in writing, you have done your job and you have to leave the rest up to them.

Understand That If You Make It Clear That You’re No Longer Going To Hound Your Spouse, This Might Make Them More Receptive To You:  Often, when you make a habit of pressuring your spouse, they make a habit of tuning you out.  You’ll often need to do something to break this cycle.  I believe that it’s to your advantage to make it clear to your spouse that you’re not going to continue to pursue them until they are more receptive to you.  This will usually help them to bring down their defenses because they will know that they no longer need to be defensive since you’ve committed to back off.

A suggested script might be something like: “I can see that my trying to speak with you is upsetting and that you’re not ready to have this discussion.  I understand.  I know that this is all my fault and I take full responsibility for it.  When you’re ready, I’d like to offer you some reassurance that none of this is your fault. And I’d like to tell you how much I love you and am still committed to you.  I’ve written you a letter and I’ve left it on your dresser.  When you’re ready to read it, it’s there for you.  But until then, I will let you set the pace.  I want to do whatever feels most comfortable for you , so I’m not going to pressure you any more.  When you are ready to talk, you just say the word and I will be there.  My biggest concern right now is your comfort and well being so I don’t want to continue to do something that is making you uncomfortable. I’m not backing off because I don’t love you.  I’m backing off because I feel like that’s what you’re indicating that you want or need.  And your needs are the most important thing to me right now.”

Understand that your spouse still may not respond as quickly as you would like.  But your making it clear that you’re willing to let them set the pace without any pressure will likely mean something to them.  And it is your best interest that they come to believe that you are willing to be patient if this is what they need or want.  It is my experience that most people will eventually clam down and be willing to talk, but things will usually go better if you let them feel as if they are in control.

As I said before, when my husband tried to pressure me to talk or to listen, I only got more and more annoyed with him.  But when he finally realized that he needed to have patience and to let me set the course that I wanted to take, things got much better for us.  And this is when I began to believe that he cared more about my agenda than his.  If it helps, you can read about how things eventually worked out for us on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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