I sometimes hear from people who are dealing with more than just their spouse’s cheating or affair. They are dealing with their spouses anger over the fact that they didn’t keep the dirty little secret all to themselves. Often, when the faithful spouse shares the infidelity with his or her family, the cheating spouse can feel quite betrayed, which is ironic when you think about it.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband and I are struggling to pick up the pieces after his affair. For a while, I didn’t even know if I was going to give him a second chance. But for the last couple of weeks, we’ve been trying to reconnect and see what happens. Last night, we were at my parents house for dinner. My grown children were there also. After dinner, my husband was sullen. I asked him what was wrong and he said that he could tell that I had told every one about his affair. He said he could tell that people were staring at him and acting differently around him. The truth is, I did tell everyone there about his affair. I am very close to my parents. And I told my children because I wanted to warn them that I might be moving out. I don’t get why he’s so angry and I almost don’t care. If he hadn’t cheated, then I wouldn’t have anything at all to tell my family. This is his own fault. Is he ever going to get over this?”
I couldn’t predict when this husband was going to get over it. But I can offer some suggestions on why he might be acting this way and how to handle it, which I will do below.
The Cheating Spouse Is Often Not Only Embarrassed And Ashamed, But He Also Can Worry That The Cheating Will Mean He’s Never Accepted By Your Family Again:
Although not everyone will admit it, most people really want for their spouse’s family to like and to accept them. And when they make this grave of a mistake, then they know that this acceptance is in serious jeopardy.
Also, they worry that your family will not support your efforts to reconcile if they know that they have been unfaithful. In short, they feel that this is something that they will never be able to live down, especially now that everyone knows about it.
Finally, they are often ashamed and embarrassed. Imagine everyone knowing the worst thing that you have ever done. Bu no means am I defending a cheating spouse, but this can be their thought process.
Know That It Will Eventually Become Clear That This Isn’t The Most Pressing Of Your Problems:
Your spouse is angry right now for all of the issues mentioned above. But in the days to come, there will likely be bigger issues that come to the surface. Plus, you likely don’t deal with your family every day. So, this may not be a day to day issue, especially as you begin to attempt rehabilitation and healing. In the days to come, I will suspect that this issue will get delegated to the back of the line as you just have bigger issues to deal with and hopefully to overcome.
How To Handle Your Spouse’s Anger When You Disclosed The Cheating To Your Family:
I have to admit that I know from experience that there is some validity to the cheating spouse’s argument. Sometimes, the faithful spouse even regrets sharing the existence of the cheating because her own family just can’t let it go. Sometimes, time passes and she wants to move on, but her family is always making comments or watching her husband like a hawk. So try to understand that there are some legitimate concerns and you will want to address those with your spouse.
A suggested script might be something like: “I can tell that you’re furious that I told my family about us. I admit that I spoke without thinking. But I love my family and I don’t hide things from them. If you’re concerned that they will thwart our ability to reconcile, I will make it clear that they can support me but not interfere. Our marriage and our reconciliation is between the two of us. You do not answer to my family, but you do answer to me. If the two of us can work things out, my family will support us. They only want for me to be happy. If we recover so that I am happy, then they will be happy for me. Now we need to move on because we obviously have bigger issues to work through than what my family thinks. What is important is what we think and how we move forward.”
He may not let go of his anger immediately. But in the days to come, he will see that he has bigger issues to face. Tensions are typically high right now and sometimes, a cheating spouse will look for reasons to become angry just so that they can be the innocent party for a change. They will likely let it go once they realize you aren’t going to discuss it any further and that you are more interested in moving on than in debating an issue that probably won’t affect your bottom line.
I have to say that I do somewhat regret telling some third parties about my husband’s affair. As I said, sometimes you are ready to move on but your confidants will not let you. However, there’s no taking it back once you have spoken. So, you just have to move on, set clear boundaries, and do the best that you can. None of this is easy, but it can certainly be worth it. If it helps, you can read about my healing process from beginning to end on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com