What Does It Mean When Your Spouse Is Calm After Finding Out About The Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: It’s a stereotypical idea that after someone finds out that their spouse has been cheating, they become overly emotional, enraged, or traumatized. You’d expect crying, screaming, and maybe even a little bit of rage. When you don’t get that, it can be unexpected. And the cheating spouse can be left wondering why the other spouse seems so calm and what this means for the marriage.

An example comment would be something like: “I thought long and hard before I admitted my affair to my husband. Actually, the relationship has been over for six months. But during that time, the guilt has really gotten to me. I started to feel so bad about the fact that my husband is investing in our marriage without any knowledge of how I have put that same marriage at risk. Because of my guilt, I have actually been distancing myself from my husband. This is the last thing that I want. My desire is for my marriage to be loving, healthy, and lasting. So I decided to tell him the truth because I felt that this was necessary for my marriage. So I braced myself and I told him. I expected for him to slam doors, become very angry, and maybe even to leave me. But, he didn’t do any of these things. He was very quiet. He asked if I had anything else to tell him. I answered that I had told him everything but that I was willing to answer any questions that he might have. He didn’t have any questions. He just kept quiet. He didn’t leave. He mostly approaches me in a methodical and business like manner. There hasn’t been any sex between us since I told him. But there hasn’t been any arguments or fighting either. He mostly just seems very calm and very detached. What does this mean? Why would he be acting this way?”

I can’t tell you what someone else is thinking. But as a spouse who has dealt with this harsh reality myself, I can tell you that there was a point when I too was very quiet and stoic. And, I can tell you what I was thinking and experiencing at the time.

Being Calm Is Often An Attempt To Remain In Control: I can’t tell you that I was completely calm all of the time. In fact, I was quite dramatic and emotional once I found out about the affair. This lasted for a while. It was so hurtful and shocking that I just could not contain my feelings.

But later, I did become very quiet and calm. And I think that one reason for this is that all of those over the top and highly emotional feelings scared me and made me feel out of control, which I did not like. The whole process was emotionally overwhelming. I didn’t particularly enjoy losing control of my battered emotions so I became closed off and stoic. I learned to release my emotions with trusted friends and with journaling.  But there was a time when I was careful not to release them in front of my husband.

Does that mean that I was no longer feeling negative emotions? Most certainly not. I was most definitely feeling them. Sometimes, it literally felt like I was steaming inside. But I kept a lid on them. And frankly, I think that there were times when my husband would have preferred that I would have lashed out at him. It bothered him when I wouldn’t share what I was feeling. But I didn’t always feel that he deserved to know what I was thinking and feeling.

I would suggest that you don’t assume that your spouse’s calm means that they don’t care or that they are not deeply hurt by this. Neither of these things are likely to be true. They could well be struggling to maintain control over their emotions and in time, those same emotions may start showing themselves more and more.

Because once my husband and I got down to the important business of saving our marriage, I started to let my emotions show much more. I realized that I needed to release them in order to heal them. But I wasn’t ready to do that in the beginning and I felt that it was my right to go at my own pace. This may be true in your case.

It’s my suggestion that the best thing that you can do right now is to be patient. Allow your spouse to express whatever feelings they find appropriate. If they do not want to release or discuss their feelings, then that is their right. And they should not be pressured or pushed. I suspect that their feelings will eventually come out. It’s hard to keep these things inside indefinitely. But they have a right to their feelings and they also have a right to display them when and how they want to. However, I wouldn’t mistake their silence or their calm for the assumption that they aren’t upset or hurt. They likely are. They just haven’t let you see this side of them yet.

My husband did have the good sense to help me go at my own pace and this was the right call because we did eventually save our marriage, even with the infidelity. If it helps, you can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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