We Can Not Communicate Without Arguing After The Affair

By: Katie Lersch:  There’s no question that even being in the same room can be a challenge after your spouse has an affair.  Communicating with any sense of efficiency or courtesy can feel almost impossible.  And this is understandable.  You’re angry.  You don’t want to hear anything that he has to say.  He may sound incredibly condescending and indignant to your ears.  And you may sound self righteous and impatient to his.

You may well know that you are going to have to communicate.  But it can seem to be an impossible task.  Someone might explain: “every time my husband and I open our mouths, we argue.  We are both guilty of having very sharp tones with one another and very little patience.  He can ask me to pass the salt at the dinner table and to my ears, it can sound as if he has insulted me because of the tone of his voice. It infuriates me and it takes everything that I can do not to get up from the table in anger.  I can’t imagine us having any sort of meaningful conversation that involves courtesy or give and take.  The sound of his voice infuriates me.  The fear of what kind of nonsense he’s going to be spewing makes me just want to turn away and not even hear what he’s going to say.  I don’t want to end my marriage, really.  I’ve worked too hard at it and we’ve built a life together that I’ve worked very hard to build.  I don’t want to just surrender it because my husband made a very stupid mistake.  At the same time, though, I can’t imagine being able to work this out if we can’t even talk about what to have for dinner without being at each other’s throats.”

To A Certain Extent, Time Can Help: In my experience, what you are going through is normal.  When you are this angry, that same anger is going to cloud every thought, every interaction, and every conversation.  In many situations, you just have to give it some time.  It’s exhausting to hold onto the anger day after day and over and over, so it eventually dissipates, at least somewhat.

Also, often in time, the apologies and the explanations come and you begin to believe that he feels some remorse and realizes his mistake.  That too, can help the anger to fade so that you can eventually begin to communicate somewhat effectively again.

Considerations About Getting Help Or Learning Other Strategies: Sometimes, couples opt to let a counselor help them to facilitate communication – especially where the affair is concerned –  because a third party can help you to do it effectively and can help you to side-step the places where you’re getting bogged down with the anger.

Other times, couples choose to wait to have the difficult conversations.  No one is going to tell you that you shouldn’t talk about the affair as soon as possible.  No one is going to tell you that communication isn’t absolutely vital.  It is.  But sometimes, effective communication just isn’t possible right away.  There is too much raw anger.  And no matter what is said, one or both of the parties are going to take it the wrong way or act hostile in return.

In these cases, it is sometimes best to stick to the very basics for a while until the anger begins to wane.  Your seeing the anger and the fighting right now does not mean that your marriage is doomed to fail.  It doesn’t mean that you will always fight this way or will never be able to move past this.  It is normal and it is a positive sign that you recognize the anger and see it as a problem.

You might try pausing before you speak with any malice or trying to remind yourself not to read negativity into everything your spouse says, but sometimes you have to save the hard topics for later or seek outside help for them.  No one said this is easy.  Having conversations about such heavy topics as an affair would be very difficult even for the most articulate couples in the very best of times.

You have every right to be angry.  And these conversations are very difficult.  Don’t beat yourself up for the outcome.  Just retreat when you need to.  Don’t let the fights escalate.  Try again the next day.  And if you need to, seek outside help.  We all want to feel better as soon as possible.  It’s important to remind yourself that this is normal. Tomorrow is another day.  Take a deep breath.  Don’t engage. And try again a little later as things calm down.

My anger always felt as if it was just about to boil over after my husband’s affair.  And yes, this lead to arguments and sometimes fights.  With time, as we healed, the intensity decreased and the communication increased.  It took work.  It took patience.  But it did happen.  If it helps, there’s more to read on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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