The Affair Is Over, But He Told Me That He “Had The Time Of His Life”

By: Katie Lersch: When your husband claims that the affair is over, this is really only the beginning of what you want. Sure, there is relief that it’s over. But you also want and need to believe that he is sorry and that he realizes how wrong and hurtful his actions were. Unfortunately, not every one has this need met. Some husbands hesitate to show how sorry they are. And others will claim not to be sorry at all. In fact, some will tell you that the affair actually had a positive or lasting impact on their lives, leaving their wives confused about how to react to such a hurtful claim.

Here’s an example. A husband might tell someone: “I know that having an affair was wrong. I never thought that I would cheat or jeopardize my marriage. I love my wife and am committed to her. But she wants me to denounce the affair and act like it was this awful thing. My wife wants me to act like there was nothing redeeming about it. That’s hard for me. It would require me to lie. Frankly, I had the time of my life during the affair. I have never felt so free and alive. It honestly was a life-changing event. It transformed me. And I am grateful. I know it has to end. And it has ended. But I truly did have the time of my life.”

A wife who hears this little speech would understandably be upset. Her response might be something like: “What am I supposed to do with this information? He’s basically telling me that the affair was the best thing that ever happened to him and that it improved and enhanced his life. And now I am supposed to believe that he’s walking away from all of that to live a boring life with me? How am I not supposed to compare myself and come up short? I wish he had never said that. I wish that I could forget it. But I know that I will never be able to forget. And I am not sure that we can save our marriage now that I have this knowledge.”

I completely understand. I think that most of us have ideas, images, or phrases that we fear we’ll never get out of our minds. I can’t guess at what your husband meant or intended when he told you these things. But I can tell you that people tend to change their perceptions of the affair in time.

Reasons That He May Be Inflating Things: It is very common for men not to allow you to see the full extent of their sorrow and their guilt until much later – when there is no need of posturing or pretense anymore. Sometimes, they need time to realize that they aren’t going to be successful with making exaggerated claims that are only meant to disarm you. Or they finally see how much they have hurt you and then the full brunt of their sorrow is on display.

Another thing to consider is that people tend to “build up” the affair in their own minds. They HAVE to do that in order to live with themselves. Because it seems pretty silly to take huge risks when you have a good wife for another woman who is truly nothing special. So the man has to build her up so that she is “worth it.” Eventually, once he has the luxury of time and distance, he sees her for what she truly is – pretty ordinary.

Encouraging Him To See Reality: It is up to you to decide if you are willing to wait for this change to take place or if you want to try to bring it on a little earlier by having a conversation about this. Of course, you can not control what your husband thinks or feels. But you can discourage him from posturing or romanticizing the affair by saying something like: “it’s very hard for me to tell if you truly feel this way or are just building the affair up in your own mind. I can only tell you that hearing you talk this way discourages me and makes me doubt what is ahead for us. Put yourself in my shoes. How would you feel if I told you that I had ‘the time of my life’ with another man? I am asking you to think about that and to be more sensitive in the future. If we’re going to save our marriage, we’re going to have to look forward and focus on one another. Talking about the affair with nostalgia or fondness is not in line with this. I hope that in time, you will realize that what I am saying is valid. And you will worry about my feelings as much as your own.”

This may get him to have those realizations that I talked about a little more quickly. Counseling may help his time frame even more.  And you may have to keep redirecting him when he’s being insensitive.  I found in my own case that the more I healed, the more sensitive my husband became.  That seems sort of upside down, but that was my reality.  You can read more about that process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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