Things Were Initially Relatively Great After The Affair, But Now We Are Fighting

By: Katie Lersch:  Although there is a perception that a marriage can completely fall apart immediately after an affair is discovered, this is not always the case.  Sometimes, the cheating spouse is so overcome with guilt, emotion and remorse, that the faithful spouse just can not help but feel a little empathy.  It can be overwhelming to see your spouse on their knees, crying, and begging for your forgiveness. And so sometimes, you don’t become as angry as you might have otherwise assumed.

Sometimes, couples take on an “us versus them” mentality and they actually band together quite quickly.  This can be surprising and it can feel like a relief.  But unfortunately, it does not always last.  Sometimes, these early days of cooperation can give the couple a bit of a false sense of security.  They can think that everything is humming along nicely when all of a sudden they begin fighting and they aren’t quite sure why.

A wife might say: “I know that this is going to sound weird.  But when my husband began crying and confessed that he had been cheating, I kind of understood it.  I was very disappointed and I was sad.  But I could also tell how sorry he was. He cheated with his home-health nurse.  He’s been very ill and under a lot of stress.  I like this woman.  She was there for him every day. And she is very compassionate.  I honestly see how it could have happened.  When my husband confessed, everything that he had been holding back about his illness came spilling out.  He told me how hard his illness was and how hard it was for him to appear vulnerable and weak around me.  He told me that he honestly doesn’t know what he will do if I abandon him and he cried and cried about how much he loved me.  He had already arranged a new nurse – even though the old one was really quite competent.  I don’t want to say that I just let my husband get away with this.  I was angry at him.  But I could not help but feel some compassion. I understand why he’s hurting so badly and how things would progress between them as caregiver and patient.  So honestly, we did pretty well in the months after the affair.  I took on more of a caregiving role and we talked like we hadn’t in years.  My husband shared more with me – which we needed.  But for the last several weeks, we have been fighting.  Everything he does annoys me.  And when I begin to get frustrated, he gets sarcastic.  Honestly, he is doing better physically.  So things should be improving.  This is what we’ve been waiting for.  But now we’re fighting and I feel like we are regressing.  Why?”

Unexpressed Feelings Generally Have A Way Of Coming Out: I am not a therapist, but I think that I can suggest some possibilities.  I think that it’s possible that you held back on your anger in the beginning because you were touched by your husband’s vulnerability and did not want to add to his burden when he was ill.  Plus, you likely knew that he was genuinely remorseful and may not have ever cheated had he not had the stressor of being sick.  This is understandable.

But none of this means that, although you may understand WHY it happened, that you are not angry or disappointed that it DID happen.  Regardless of your understanding or intention, it is just human nature to experience feelings of anger and disappointment as you begin to process the fact that your husband truly did have an intimate relationship with someone else.  No matter how understanding or progressive you are, this hurts.  And it can make you angry.  And that anger is going to eventually manifest itself somewhere.

Plus, even though your husband allowed himself to be vulnerable and is feeling better, it still weighs on you to deal with a chronic illness.  It takes some time before you are yourself again.  And the issues that may have lead to the affair may still remain – at least somewhat.

Getting Help For The Last Bit Of Healing: I applaud you for hanging in there and for standing by him.  But I think that you probably deserve some help to fully heal.  No one can be expected to just carry on as if nothing happened.  Getting professional (or even self help) is always a good idea.  It’s very difficult to heal without at least some direction and guidance simply because you are too close to this.  You can not be objective.  And very few of us are marital or infidelity experts. Most of us would never try to fix our own car.  Most of us don’t know how and too much is at stake. But we think nothing of trying to fix our marriage (even though we still don’t know how and there is still so much at stake.)

Getting help doesn’t mean that you don’t love your husband or that you are failing. It just means that you realize that you deserve the best marriage that you can put together.  Even if you don’t like the idea of counseling, self help is readily available.

I understand wanting to keep things private, trying to fix this alone, or just hoping that time will heal the wounds. I tried that initially also.  But ultimately, I wasn’t happy with the progress that we were making.  And making healing my biggest priority was one of the best decisions I ever made.  Because now I have a marriage that is closer to the one I wanted. There’s more about this on my blog at

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