What Do I Do Now That I Know My Spouse Is Cheating?

By: Katie Lersch: Frankly, it sometimes starts as just a feeling that something is off with your husband. And, sometimes, you feel crazy or paranoid. Some faithful spouses are completely caught off guard by the cheating, but many find out because they set out to do just that. They just feel in their gut that something is off so they go investigating a little further until their worst fears are realized. But when they finally have that confirmation that they’ve been dreading, they have no idea how to proceed.

In this situation, typical comments are things like: “I didn’t want to believe that my spouse was cheating. I had the suspicions for a long time before I ever acted on them. Finally, I decided what would be the harm if I checked the message history on his phone. And once I read one text, I couldn’t stop. Although the content of the texts made me sick, I kept reading. I didn’t do anything that night and I don’t know how I got through that evening. But the next time, I checked texts and emails. And there was no doubt that he had been cheating on me for about two months. It’s obvious. It’s real. And now I don’t know what to do about it. If I confront my husband, I actually have to deal with this. Things are going to get so ugly. I’m going to lash out at him and he’s going to be furious that I was snooping. As crazy as this sounds, part of me just wants to see if this is going to run its course. Part of me wants to pretend that I don’t know, monitor him, and then keep an eye on the texts to see if it ends on its own. I know that’s cowardly of me but I hate conflict. And I don’t want to end my marriage. I feel as if I let this cat out of the bag, my marriage might end. What do most people do when they finally know for sure that their spouse is cheating.”

There are actually a variety of reaction and strategies once you’re sure that your spouse is cheating. Some people, like this wife, wait a little while to formulate a strategy. Others are so angry that they confront their spouse immediately. Still others will wait until they have absolute proof because they don’t want for their spouse to even attempt to deny what they already know. And still others will pretend that they’ve made this discovery and hope that it passes.

Here is something that I learned from my own experience. Your experience may be different of course. But I felt like once I knew that, there was no way that I could pretend that I didn’t. I hate conflict also. That was a confrontation that I absolutely did not want to have. But at the same time, I knew that the resentment would build up in me to the point where things were going to be much worse if I waited.

And really, the idea of waiting for it to pass is that you hope that he ends the affair on his own so that your marriage can recover and you can go on as if the affair never existed. I suppose some people are able to pull this off, but I know that I couldn’t. After you know that your spouse has betrayed you, it’s very difficult to authentically participate in your marriage until you complete the healing process. Something within you changes. You can’t undo what is already done. Your husband will likely notice the change. And neither of you can pretend that it doesn’t exist, at least in my experience.

I think that it can help to at least consider what you might want to happen in the far off future. If there’s even a shred of a chance that you want to save this marriage, then you probably want to avoid a huge blow up where you say things you might regret and you tell your husband that you never want to see his face again (although this would be understandable.) If you know that this is a deal breaker from which you don’t even want to try to recover, then you honestly don’t need to confront him at all. You could leave a note and make an exit without worrying about the outcome.

I find that most spouses who are going to have this confrontation will rehearse a speech and will fret about this endlessly. But in reality as soon as the words come out of your mouth, it’s unlikely your whole speech will have a chance to come out all at once. Your husband will generally have a reaction and start doing the talking. What I mean is that there’s really no way to really research or plan for this. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to place the text or email or whatever else you’ve found on the table and then meet your husband’s eyes. He’s going to know exactly what you are saying without your needing to speak a single word. And then the burden is on him, where it frankly should be.

Honestly, I can’t tell you how or if to confront your husband. But I can tell you that it’s always a good idea to handle things as best as you can with as much dignity and determination as you can muster. You did nothing wrong.  And it’s more than fair to want an explanation. Generally, once you let him know what you know of your discovery, then it is up to him how the conversation is going to go from there depending upon the reaction that he gives you. But in my opinion, doing nothing is rarely an option because even if you wish you didn’t know, you do and once that happen, things shift dramatically.

And with all of this said, sometimes letting him know that you know about the affair is the beginning of putting an end to it. But you never want to put yourself in a situation where things get out of hand. Make sure that you have enough control to be as calm as is possible and that if things get out of hand, you delay the conversation until you both calm down. Always think about your own well being when it comes to this. If you’re worried that things will deteriorate badly when he finds out, have this conversation at an outdoor restaurant or some place you can’t really be heard but where you both have to maintain the appearance of being civil. That way, you know that things can’t get out of hand too badly. And you never know, he may take full responsibility for his actions and immediately confess. Some people are actually relieved to be caught because the guilt was hard to deal with.

I know that there is a lot of anxiety about the confrontation.  But often, things just spill out very quickly no matter how much you rehearse.  Frankly, your healing is the most important thing and that can’t begin until you go ahead and deal with this.  You’re welcome to read about my recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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