Understandably, many wives dealing with the overwhelming reality of an affair want their husbands out of their sight immediately. They don’t want to look at him. They don’t want to hear his excuses. They just don’t want him anywhere near their personal space, so they ask him to leave. In the days after this, many husbands will desperately try to call or come over, but many wives reject these overtures. Some people may call this an overreaction, but if you’ve ever dealt with infidelity, you probably understand.
A wife might say, “I know that is a totally a stereotype, but when I found out about my husband’s cheating, I threw his belongings out of the house and I refused to let him in. I told him that I couldn’t care less where he was going. The next day, he called me. I did not answer. He kept right on calling, so I picked up and I told him that he was wasting his time and that I did not have anything to say to him. As days went by, he started coming by my office in an attempt to talk to me. I had my staff tell him that I was busy. In short, I have thwarted every single attempt that he has made to speak to or communicate with me. I had nothing to say. None of his excuses were going to make any difference. He has long been aware that infidelity is a deal breaker for me and I’ve always been very firm on that. I’m not going to backtrack now. So I haven’t spoken to him in weeks. One of our mutual friends ran into my husband at a bar. The friend said my husband was unkempt and a mess. My husband mentioned that his father was in the hospital due to a stroke. My heart is sinking because now I feel like that could have been what my husband was trying to communicate with me when I was refusing to see him. I am close to my husband’s sister – although I haven’t spoken to her, either. Now, my heart hurts for both my husband and my sister-in-law. I would not mind being supportive of both of them, but I’m worried that my husband might get mixed signals with this. I still care about my husband and I want to be there for his family. But I still don’t want my marriage right now. I realize now that I was wrong to just abruptly cut him out of my life. But at the same time, I have no idea what type of relationship I can offer him going forward. I’m still very angry, but I still feel like we are family to an extent. And I know that if anything happened to my parents, he would be there for me. How do I let him know that I’m willing to be there for him without making a commitment toward our marriage?”
I think it’s admirable for you to care in this way. And I don’t think that there is anything wrong with calling your husband and saying something like, “I heard about your dad and I am sorry. Is there anything that I can do for you or your sister? I’m here if you want to talk.” And then let him take it from there. He may take you up on your offer to talk. He likely has enough to handle with his father that he won’t overstep and try to bring up the topic to your marriage.
You can certainly listen if he wants to talk and help with anything that he and your sister-in-law might need. It’s just natural to want to be there for someone who has been your family for so long. Even if you are angry with him for his mistake, there is no negating what you have been to each other for many years.
I think that at this point, all you can do is reach out to him and see how he responds. Since he’s been making such a huge effort to communicate with you, I can’t imagine that he will not be receptive. If he begins to push about your marriage, you can always say, “my focus right now is being there for your dad and sister. This is not the time to focus on our marriage. I want to support you and your family right now. I don’t want to talk about or make any decisions about our marriage. Let’s just focus on your dad.”
Just take things one step at a time. You may feel now that cutting him out of your life was dramatic, but so many people have the exact same reaction. An affair is a huge betrayal. Most people have a reaction that is also huge. Reaching out to your husband may help both of you to calm down a little. And it doesn’t have to mean that you’ve forgiven him or that you want to get back together. It can just mean that he was very important to you for many years and, because of that relationship, you want to be there for him right now. There is nothing wrong with that. One mistake does not erase your history and there’s nothing wrong with respecting that history.
by Katie Lersch