For all the husbands confused about what to do if you catch your wife cheating.
There’s no mistaking it.
Infidelity can be one of the most devastating experiences of a person’s life.
Feelings of humiliation, anger, stress, and fear can be overwhelming, and it can be hard for someone to know what to do when cheating hits home.
It can be said that this experience is far more devastating when it happens to a man. Husbands who catch their wives cheating face slightly different challenges than wives dealing with unfaithful husbands.
Here’s what a husband can do when faced with a cheating wife.
Understand That This Was Her Choice
A man’s first instinct may be to blame himself when his wife has an affair. After all, the thinking may go, if he wasn’t so [fill in the blank] or if only he was more [fill in the blank], then she wouldn’t have strayed.
That is absolutely untrue.
The simple fact is, people are responsible for their own behavior. When a partner cheats, that is by choice; no one is forced into it, no matter how much a relationship may be struggling. There are plenty of ways to deal with unhappiness in a relationship without resorting to cheating.
Her infidelity is not your fault.
And don’t accept blame from her, either.
No matter what she says, or what her friends say, do not blame yourself.
You may think that you’re trying to make her happy or persuade her to come back to you. You may think that admitting fault will help move the process of reconciliation forward (if that’s what you want to do).
It does not help your situation. You are the wronged party, here; do not forget that, and resist accepting any blame in this situation.
Acknowledge Her Pain
This may seem counter-intuitive; after all, isn’t she the one causing pain for you and your family?
Yes, she is.
But she is also feeling guilt, shame, and fear.
She knows what she did was wrong.
She probably feels guilty for hurting you.
And she is very likely afraid of what’s going to happen next.
So why worry about her pain?
Because it shows your empathy toward her. Instead of putting her on the defensive (which she very well likely deserves!), acknowledging that there must be some unhappiness on her part that prompted her cheating goes a long way toward the two of you moving forward in putting your lives back together, if that’s what you both want to do.
Don’t mistake acknowledging her pain for forgiving her – that’s a separate issue. There is a difference between treating her with compassion, which can only help you in the long run, and forgiving her.
Don’t settle for her not reciprocating, either!
She needs to understand what kind of toll her infidelity has taken on you. There is no excuse that she could give that would justify her actions.
Her acknowledgement of your pain is essential.
Acknowledge Your Emotions
Men, broadly speaking, are not encouraged to share their feeling with others. The stereotype of the big strong man who doesn’t flinch and never cries is just that, though – a stereotype.
Keeping all of the anger, frustration, hurt, and sadness bottled up is dangerous. It’s not good for a man, physically. And it can spill over into other relationships, like with your children, or coworkers.
A betrayed husband must acknowledge these emotions exist in order to begin to deal with them.
Don’t allow yourself to spend too much time imagining what happened. There is a limit as to how productive that is.
Yes, it’s only natural that you would spend a lot of time thinking about how you were hurt and what your wife might have done with the person she cheated with. If you have questions, ask her. Otherwise, give yourself a set period of time to feel those emotions and let your mind wander, and then stop.
Mentally compartmentalize, otherwise you run the risk of letting these feeling bleed over into other areas of your life where you need to be on your toes.
Give Yourself Space and Time
It is very likely that marital infidelity is the most crushing thing you’ve ever experienced. This is not at all how you planned your life to go.
And that’s an uncomfortable feeling.
And it’s only natural that you want to make that hurt go away as quickly as possible. It is critical for you to understand that pain like this doesn’t last forever. There are feelings of grief and loss and anger that need to be processed, and while you don’t want to dwell on it, you can’t rush it.
Give yourself a chance to deal with these feelings before making life-changing decisions.
This crisis marks a death in a way – a death of the family life you thought you had. And there are phases of grief you’ll go through: denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance.
You’ll feel them all.
And then move on.
If you’re doing all of the other things here, too, you will be ready when the time comes. You’ll have given your relationship the space and time it deserves and then you’ll be ready to move on.
Reach Out for Help
Dealing with a cheating spouse can feel very isolating. The person you counted on most, your partner, has let you down.
You may feel very lonely.
That’s why it’s so important to reach out for help, whether it’s online or in-person; it doesn’t matter.
Don’t face it alone.
Despite what may seem like a lack of talking about it, others have been there. Getting help can assist you with learning from other mens’ mistakes and good decisions. Having someone to talk to can help you clarify your thinking – about your wife, about your marriage, about yourself.
Being clear on your pain and your goals can provide a good foundation for moving forward, either with your wife or by ending the marriage and moving on.
Don’t be tempted to go it alone. The kind of stress that infidelity can put a man under can kill. It’s very tempting to think that you can handle it all by yourself, but it is not a healthy response to this kind of situation.
Isolation can cloud your thinking and meddle with your decision-making ability. You need your wits about you, especially if there’s any suspicion that the relationship is beyond repair and may get contentious in its dismantling, and even more importantly if children are involved.
A husband who’s caught his wife cheating needs to be a the top of his game, making decisions rationally, not emotionally. Having a trusted friend or circle of support can provide a valuable sounding board.
Life As You Knew It is Over
A husband who has discovered that his wife has cheated on him knows full well that life as he knew it is over. While there may be the possibility of reconciliation in the future, at that moment, he is reeling with a tumult of emotions, unsure of what to do.
It’s vitally important that these men practice some self-preservation and self-care in order to maintain their equilibrium as much as possible, and stay clear-headed for the critical decision-making that is to come.
It is a confusing time, to be sure; by keeping his head and relying on the good advice of trusted friends or confidants, he can decide how best to address the situation, either by working on the marriage or ending it.