As a wife trying to recover from infidelity, you’re likely to be experiencing a multitude of emotions ranging from disbelief, to sadness, to utter rage at such a betrayal of trust. Though I am sure it feels like the last thing you want to do, working to understand how your husband feels after the affair is a monumental step in the healing process.
As an infidelity and relationship coach, I’ve heard husband after husband describe their feelings after an affair. So, I think it’s safe to say the following emotions are likely to represent the way your husband is feeling after cheating. In no way are the following emotions a dismissal of the hurt you are feeling, they are just a way for you to gain insight into his emotional state so that you can begin to forge a path towards understanding, forgiveness, and true healing.
It was supposed to be a secret forever.
Despite the rare exception, husbands who cheat aren’t intending to get caught. In their minds, they believe that as long their affair is kept a secret, no pain or hurt will come to you. After all, what you don’t know can’t hurt you, right?
It can be easy to hear this and think that your husband wishes the wool was still pulled tightly over your eyes, but that’s not likely to be the case. Most often, this feeling is accompanied by guilt and shame for his actions, and for thinking he could ever keep a secret in the first place.
How could I let it get so out of hand?
Infidelity most often starts rather innocently. For example, a working relationship can progress to a friendship one day, and then eventually become more intimate. When he says he didn’t plan for this to happen, he most likely means it.
Regardless, husbands often neglect to consider the fact that emotional bonds with other women can be just as hurtful as a physical affair. This pain stems from a lack of unconditional love in a marriage, leading a husband to start talking about personal matters to people other than his wife.
I don’t recognise myself anymore.
After discovering his affair, do you look at your husband in disbelief? It’s hard to imagine the man you married betraying his values in such a monumental way. Believe it or not, your husband is most likely experiencing the same level of disbelief.
Married couples often believe that they know everything about their partner and their characters. However, from a practical standpoint, knowing someone so completely is almost impossible. In reality, it’s more likely that you see the person you want to see in your spouse.
This kind of behaviour is not in line with unconditional love and can leave us feeling empty. If your husband doesn’t recognise himself, it may be because he felt he’d been playing a character for too long and finally came up short.
How could I have hurt her so badly?
I understand that the pain you’re feeling right now is monumental and seemingly endless. You’re overwhelmed by the sheer mix of emotions constantly pulling you under. I believe that while your husband understands he’s hurt you, he doesn’t quite understand the extent—but he really wants to. He wants to understand how you feel and be able to support you after hurting you but is at a loss as to how to do that.
Working through the pain is by far one of the biggest hurdles in recovering from infidelity, but expressing such pain can be even harder. I highly recommend seeking professional marriage coaching to help you and your husband work through the emotions you’re experiencing.
Can we please stop talking about it!?
It’s hard not to be reminded of your husband’s infidelity. After all, every time you look at him, you see him with another woman. You may be plagued by nightmares about his affair, waking up in the middle of the night wanting to talk about it. You might remember instances in which he acted strangely and want to know if it was connected to the affair; you feel you are owed answers.
Your husband, on the other hand, feels ashamed and guilty of his actions. Though discussing the affair may feel healing to you, it feels like repeatedly ripping off a bandaid to him—constantly reopening wounds that were just starting to heal.
What else is left for me to say about it?
Even after everything is said and done, you might find yourself still questioning your husband. If you’re not questioning him, perhaps you still want to talk about the affair and how it made you feel. In all likelihood, you’re probably self-conscious after the affair and suspicious of all your husband’s actions, leading you to keep having discussions about his infidelity.
I’ve learned that most husbands don’t understand that continuously discussing the affair may help their wives feel more grounded and comfortable. To them, it seems like talking about it is hindering the healing process. If your husband is reluctant to keep discussing his affair with you, or doesn’t want to share every little detail, it’s probably not because he’s hiding something—he doesn’t want to hurt you more or go over it yet again.
As the wife, you’re undeniably the victim of your husband’s affair. However, that’s not to say you’re the only one feeling complex emotions. Surviving infidelity is a gruelling fight, and it includes accepting that your partner is also hurting and struggling. By attempting to recognise your husband’s emotions after his affair, you open channels of communication and healing.