By Katie Lersch
In the initial days and hours after you find out about your spouse’s affair, you may too angry, too shocked, and too raw to have any expectations of how either of you should act. But after the reality has a little time to settle in, we all want to see some sort of acknowledgement of wrong doing. We want to see him make some sort of gesture of sorrow or regret.
Unfortunately, this is not what many wives get. Some husbands seem to go out of their way to be as nasty and indignant as possible. It’s almost as if they believe that their wife, who did nothing wrong, is deserving of their punishment because she caught him. A wife might say: “my husband absolutely does not care that I caught him cheating. Nor does he seem to care that he has hurt me. He acts as if he’s shocked that I’m shocked. He says that I was fully aware that our marriage was struggling. He said I know that his dad cheated on his mother throughout their marriage. He said that he never promised me complete fidelity.
And he says that I know he won’t leave me. So he doesn’t get why I’m acting all outraged. He’s very non apologetic about this. He acts as if I should just deal with it or get over it. He doesn’t care at all. I’m so sad about this. And I’m not sure if I want to save my marriage if this man is so uncaring. I wish I didn’t care either. But I can’t help but care. It’s just human. How can he not care at all?”
To be honest with you, I doubt very much that he doesn’t care at all. That would require that he has absolutely no conscience. And if that were true, you would have known of this lacking before now. A complete lack of conscience just isn’t true of most people, especially people who care enough about someone to marry them, establish a home with them, and have a life with him.
Be On The Look Out For Excuses And Justifications Meant To Lessen His Guilt And Pain: What your husband has said sounds like a lot of excuses meant to diminish the fall out of what he has done. He may even be trying to convince himself that his actions were understandable. He may realize that what he has done isn’t ideal and just plain wrong, but he’s trying to justify it somewhat by believing that most men cheat and most marriages survive it. (Most of us would argue these points, but men who have recently been caught cheating are often willing to believe this, at least at the time.)
Denial And Self Preservation Are Additional Ways to Lessen The Guilt: What your husband is doing isn’t that unusual. It’s a form of denial. And it is also a form of self preservation. It’s easier not to judge yourself this harshly. It’s hard to look in the mirror and realize that you have singlehandedly destroyed what you and your spouse have worked for. It’s heart breaking to look in the mirror and see someone who has committed that type of betrayal. It’s just easier when you can convince yourself that what you’ve done isn’t so bad or is understandably in some way.
Luckily, this often does not go on forever. Even people who would prefer to stay in denial will usually eventually come back to reality. After a while, it just becomes more and more difficult to ignore reality and to no longer see the obvious signs. Sometimes, you will find that he comes around and you don’t have to do anything.
Wives sometimes tell me that their husband truly is never going to care because he has checked out of the marriage. I find that even in those cases, there is still regret. Most people realize that regardless of the state of your relationship or the circumstances, there are options other than cheating. I guess the point that I am trying to make is that it’s at least my belief that it would be a rare person that doesn’t care at all. Sure, he may be trying hard to give you (or themselves) that impression, but it rarely lasts.
The Consequences Will Sometimes Speed Things Along: If your spouse doesn’t come to this conclusion on his own, sometimes just seeing the consequences of his actions will cause him to change his tune. Once he sees that his life can not help but change and that those he cares about have been affected, he will likely begin to feel how much he cares and he may show it. Or, he may still posture for a while.
It is really up to you as to whether or not you want to be patient to see if he will change his stance. Sometimes, if you are going to counseling, the counselor will help to pull this out of him because, regardless of what happens in your marriage, it does help to know that he realizes what he has done and that he cares about the same.
I know that it’s hard to watch him act aloof and unfeeling. But quite frankly, you (and not him) are responsible of how you react and how you feel. You can’t allow him to take that option away from you. Sure, you can’t control what he feels and it’s disappointing when he appears to feel nothing. But that isn’t usually reality and it shouldn’t change your bottom line unless you let it. My husband did this early on and I decided that I would focus on myself. If he came around, great. But if he did not, at least I hadn’t wasted my time and energy. He did eventually come around and by that time, the work I had done on myself influenced the way that I dealt with him. There’s more about our eventual reconciliation on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com.
Katie Lersch enjoys helping other women save their marriages or heal from the pain of an affair.