Right After I Caught My Husband Cheating, I called Him An Idiot, Stupid, And An @ss. And Now He Won’t Forgive Me And Says I Was Verbally Abusive

By: Katie Lersch:  It’s no surprise that many wives let out a few profanities when they discover that their husband has been cheating.  As someone who has gone through this, I can tell you that you truly are not even thinking rationally at the time.  Words fly out of your mouth that you may not even remember or that you didn’t even really intend.  You may be shocked to hear yourself; and yet, you can not stop.

You may later feel some regret because this display just isn’t like you, but most of us are able to forgive ourselves because of the awful circumstances.  The problem happens when our husband takes this opportunity to hold our reaction against us.  Here’s what I mean.  You may hear a wife explain: “I totally admit it. I called my husband awful things – ‘stupid’, ‘idiot,’ ‘@ssh@le.’  I mean, I really let the curse words fly.  And I never swear during normal times.  I am very soft spoken.  But I was enraged.  I just heard these things come flying out of my mouth.  At the time, I did not even regret them.  This is truly how I felt about my husband. But now he is trying to use this against me.  He is saying that one reason he cheated was that I always say disrespectful things about him and call him names.  And he says on the day that I caught him cheating, I was ‘verbally abusive.’  Now this is just absolute nonsense.  There have been times when we have fought when I told my husband that he was ‘stupid’ or ‘idiotic,’ but I did not call him those things.  And he has has said the same or even worse to me.  The ‘verbally abusive’ line is absolutely laughable. He says it with such conviction that he almost seems to believe it himself, but I don’t see how he could.  That is not a phrase that I would ever use to describe myself.  I think he’s just looking for a way to put the blame onto me.  How do I address this?”

Well, I think that how you address it depends upon the validity of the argument.  It does not sound very valid, but if it were, you’d probably respond differently than you might when there is no validity whatsoever.

Understand His Objectives: It’s also important to keep in mind what your husband is trying to accomplish and I think that you’ve partially hit the nail on the head.  He’s trying to posture to put you on the defensive so that some of the attention is taken away from him and from his mistake. He’s trying to feel at least some justification for his actions.  And, by calling you out when you verbally react, he’s trying to lessen your verbal reaction in the future, which is likely going to make things easier on him.

Understand What Works And What Doesn’t: If you’ve gone over this in your head and you’re sure that what he’s saying has no validity and you have no intention of holding back in the future, then you’ll perhaps want to draw a line in the sand. But I’d like to make one point.  I totally understand your thoughts and actions.  I too said horrible things to my husband after I found out about his cheating. But over time, I learned that the harsh conversations truly had no pay off.  All the harsh language did was to make him defensive and to make me angry.  So while it’s understandable to lash out momentarily, it truly accomplishes nothing in the long run. I got to a point where I journaled the nasty words and harsh language and took to being calm but cold when we discussed things in person.  I found that to be more effective in helping me to accomplish my objectives. But it did take time and practice to get to this point.

I’d suggest something like: “let’s not kid ourselves. You know that this type of language is not typical of me.  And it came only because of the circumstances.  I wonder what type of language you would use if the roles were reversed.  ‘Verbally abusive’ is not a phrase that anyone would use to describe me overall.  We both know that.  In the future, I will try to be more calm when we discuss this.  But don’t call me verbally abusive or act as if I am the one at fault.  We both know that neither of these things are true.  We both know that my reaction was understandable under the circumstances.  I’m not going to accept being called verbally abusive because it just isn’t true.  I know that tensions are high and we might both be just reacting to this horrible situation.  But calling me names that aren’t true isn’t going to help us. So let’s back off of this.  I won’t accept it and it won’t help you.”

It’s very common for cheating husbands to posture in this way.  They’re trying to position themselves in the best way possible to ensure that the fall-out is lessened.  This usually doesn’t work and it is not fair to you, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. It’s a normal reaction based on self preservation.  And they usually need reminding that you aren’t going to accept it in order to stop.

Believe me, I had to remind my husband over and over.  Once he came to understand that the posturing hurt him instead of helped him, he tapered off.  But I did have to keep reminding and redirecting for a while.  You can read more about how I eventually regained my footing on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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