A Reader Writes…
My husband had a relationship with someone for 1 year 8 months. Mostly texting because she lives in Florida and we live in New Hampshire. They did meet in San Diego when he was on a business trip which he denied when I found her boarding pass in his luggage at the time. By accident when we upgraded our cell phones her text went to my phone. This is how I found out.
He still won’t tell me anything about the affair – saying it was nothing. I have asked why he cheated but he says he does not know. He does not know what it was about her that tempted him. I don’t know is he answer for everything. I need to know what happened from the beginning but how do I get him to talk? It has been 4 month since I found out and am still going crazy not knowing anything. I think because she lives so far he thinks I will not find out anything, so why tell me.
We have been married for 25 years and I am sad, depressed because my husband does not know why he cheated. Worse still, I don’t know what to do at this point. Thanks for any feedback.
There are a variety of reasons why your husband won’t open up – beyond thinking you won’t find out the details of his affair.
1. He is frightened of your reaction
He probably thinks you will get upset, cry and get angry and he tells himself: ‘It’s over now, so why put her (and myself) through the aggravation.
Turn it round: When you’re calm, ask him if he is trying to protect you or frightened of your response. If this is the case, tell him why you need to know (for example ‘I can’t put it behind me’ or ‘I imagine something worse’). Commit to listening without exploding or going on the attack. Afterwards thank him and explain why it has helped.
2. His reasons for cheating seem completely inadequate to him
He probably has some clues. For example, ‘I was unhappy’ or ‘I was stuck in a rut’ but these don’t even begin to explain how he could do something so horrible. So it seems safer to to keep quiet and hide behind ‘I don’t know.’
Turn it around: Explain that he does not need to have an definitive answer – just his current thoughts will do. Sympathise that the reasons will probably not make a lot of sense but it helps to have some clues.
3. He is completely ashamed, unable to cope with the guilt so closes down
It’s not so much that he wants to keep you out but thinking about what he did makes him feel so lousy that he shuts down, puts all the nasty rubbish in a box and buries it. My guess is that’s probably what he does with everything that he can’t face in his life.
Turn it around: Unfortunately, that’s what got him in this mess in the first place. He ignores his problems, he ignores them a bit more, he gets a whole lot unhappier and things get so bad that he has to distract from his pain or self-medicate (to keep the lid of the box down) and drink too much or have an affair. So ask him if he’s keeping quiet in the hope that the problems caused by the affair will go away? He will probably nod.
Follow up by asking how that tactic has been working up to now for him? Has this strategy worked in the past? When he’s had a couple of days to think, suggest getting help from a third party (like a counsellor) or working through my book together.
If he still comes up with ‘I don’t know’, I’ll tell you why most men fall out of love and become unfaithful.
1. They feel neglected
Their wives are wrapped up in the children and they feel like co-parents rather than lovers. See ‘I love you but you always put me last: How to childproof your marriage’. Basically men are frightened of saying ‘what about me’ because their wives will tell them they’re selfish or accuse them of not loving their kids enough. Guess what, they shut up, get resentful and then someone does show some interest and you know what happens next.
2. Their sex life has lost it’s spark or become sporadic or non-existent
Men don’t listen to their heart (as they are trained to act rather than explore feelings) but the one part of their anatomy do pay 100% attention is their penis. Therefore a lot of their emotion needs get expressed as sex. In a nutshell, they equate sex with love and if you’re not having sex or just going through the motions he will not feel loved.
3. Poor communication
Men want to please women so go along with what you want and buries his needs, wants and beliefs. There is only so long you can go along with being so selfless without exploding with selfishness (i.e. an affair). Basically, he has to be able to ask for what he needs, you can say no or maybe and you can negotiate. I explain more about how to be assertive in ‘I love you but you always put me last’.
As you can see two of these reasons why men cheat will come across as a complaint about you and he certainly won’t want to do that at the moment because he thinks his unfaithfulness has taken away any right to be critical of you (and perhaps that what you think too). The third one means learning to communicate better and he’s not got a clue about how to do that (and any way he fears it will make you angry, upset or you’re better at it than him and will steam roller over him)
There is one final reason why he is probably keeping quiet but I doubt he can articulate it in a way that you would understand. Basically, will knowing WHY take away your pain? I’ve counselled thousands of people whose partners who are hurting so much – quite understandably – that they want an easy answer. They normally come up with if ‘if only I could understand’ but actually that’s just the beginning. You’ve both got to change. So of course it HELPS to know why – so you can target the change effectively – but it is not a magical solution.
I explain more in How Can I Ever Trust You Again? if you haven’t read it, please start there and look out for My Husband Doesn’t Love Me and He’s Texting Someone Else as that will explain more too.
prettier thanyou says
Written by a man for men!
I have had this conversation many times with my husband and he said he doesn’t know why , he was sexually attracted to her but he doesn’t know why he crossed the line . He said it was a terrible selfish act . Cause this be true ?
Could it of been a selfish act and an open window of opportunity? And do some people never know why ?
It’s been 7 months since D day and 9 months for him since the affair .The affair lasted one month and he ended it .
Shirley Brown says
I have struggled with this question for 2 months and he says he has no ideal why he met up with his X girlfriend he said he just kissed her and put his hands on certain parts of her body and tells me they never had sex and he supposedly met her 3 times and says it means nothing. He says he loves me and that I have been better to him than anyone else in his life but when I ask him why did he cheat he says he has no ideal so I reply back to him and say if I was the best thing and have been better to you than any other woman why would you jeopardize us if it meant nothing to you that’s even worse . No answers is not good for me and I told him unless he finds out I can’t go on.
Andrew G. Marshall says
It sounds like he is still minimising what happened. He is also trying to appease you – by bigging up his ‘love’ for you. Neither of these strategies will help him take a long hard look at himself and understand why he was unfaithful. Try changing the question, why were you angry with me? What problems did you have in your life at this point? You also might like to look together at my post ‘why did I cheat?’ It might spark a different debate from the current one that is so unsatisfying for you. You might also like to consider joining my Infidelity Survival Training and Support Group
Not necessary says
This guy sounds like a train wreck. He doesn’t know why he had an affair? If you buy that you deserve everything you get in the future. So this guy was unhappy……like he’s the only one. We all expierence unhappiness in life. So as a result he has an affair and destroys his family emotionally and maybe even financially, not to mention all the other people he hurt and now he just made a bunch of people unhappy cuz he was unhappy. None of whom are responsible for his happiness. Because if everyone reading this doesn’t know it, you are responsible for your happiness. And after all the pain he has inflicted he won’t talk to you about the situation.?
Even if you wanted to work at trying to help him find happiness, you can’t cuz you don’t know what makes him so unhappy to do such a devastating thing to so many people. Maybe he stops that behavior but you already know what he does when he is unhappy, he hurts people that love him. And he is willing to seek out other people to engage in his pain and hurt them. He obviously is no longer with the affair partner. And think of all the women he flirted with and tried to engage with, I am sure he didn’t leap into an affair with the very first person he met, he had to find someone, how many people got hurt in that, wonder how they were affected by his behavior? Most men that have affairs have engaged in some kind of sexual harassment. If he is a man of power, friend his female co-workers, but be ready for more pain and anguish.
Since he is proven to put his own needs in front of anyone else’s including his children he will eventually do something else selfish. That’s what he does to cope. And he has proven that. He does not put thought into how that will affect others. And if he said he did, think about that, isnt that’s worse? because he didn’t care how they were affected.
Even if he stops affairs, he will do something else. That is his personality. It is who he is and yes those people can change but not if they don’t work at it with the most important peole in their lives. People that can help him on a daily basis. Counseling only works for families if they work on it together. And yes an affair is a family problem. If you disagree ask any kid of divorced parents if that was a happy time for them. Don’t fall into he is working on himself. That’s another red flag as to the level of his selfishness.
In all likelihood he will move on to some other destructive behavior. I believe that he thinks he won’t but he also thought he would be faithful when he got married. At least that’s what he told everyone at the wedding.
In individual counseling there is no one there that he is allowing to help him along the way with his bad marriage. No one can solve problems with another person without the other person. And yes, if you stay in the relationship, you will again reap the pain and anguish associated with this behavior. To be left with, “I don’t know why I did it”
In the mean time his “I am so sorry” will lead to anger and sadness on your part. Which is very normal by the way. But eventually many people around you will fall into the trap as seeing you as the problem. “She is so angry and mean to him its no wonder he can’t talk to her and had an affair”
I bet your husband is very likable and I bet he expresses remorse. What’s not to like? Everybody makes mistakes. A good wife would practice forgiveness. That’s what the Bible says. Now you have no support. All of a sudden your the bad person. And that lack of support for you gives him support and allows him to justify his behavior and any future behavior. Why not try, “ I love and forgive my husband but I clearly have been unable to make him happy and I want him to be happy, so I am moving on. “
Lastly, and for clarity, I do believe anyone can change and get better but they gotta want it but it’s gotta be a family affair not an affair just for your husband. Don’t wreck your life for a passive aggressive coward. He actually is being honest when he won’t talk about it. He is saying I don’t need your help even though I blame you for my unhappiness. He is saying I am not an honest person and I am never going to trust you and when I am unhappy I will hurt you and our children their grandparents and our friends and I will use other women or people in general to get what I think I want and deserve. Which he obviously didn’t get because he is still bugging you. As long as he is unhappy everyone will be unhappy. And it will likely get worse if he does not allow his therapy to include his family.
So, as hard as it is, move on. Most important step, cut off all communication with him, completely. He is a manipulator. Meet someone, have sex, enjoy it. You don’t need to marry them. It’s 2019 ladies. Be kind and honest with them that you are simply enjoying another persons love and kindness. Practice safe sex please. Move out of the family home. Do something fun with your kids. Have a drink. Try to meet 5 new people in a month. Change what had been traditional family events and create a new event. Instead of a traditional Christmas at home. Go somewhere on vacation. Don’t exchange gifts. Can’t afford it, use all the money you would spend on your kids and get the children involved in buying gifts for a needy family. Constantly make lists about what makes you happy and do those things as often as possible. Sell the family home and create a new family home. Even if it is way less than what you have. Things never make you happy. Find a new job. Even if it pays the same. Go to the gym. Take yourself to the movie. Cry whenever you want just make sure it’s in a safe place. If your kids are older they can communicate with their Dad about their pick up and drop off schedule. Stay out of it. Do not let your ex in your home for any reason.
Leaving someone that you have given a big junk of your life to is difficult. It was the most painful thing I have ever done. Especially when he is a “nice guy”. But if you don’t, the rest of your life, good or bad, is your fault.
My husband cheated witha. For worker for one month we went to therapy and I was devastated he never gave me a reason to why . He said it was a lapse of judgment selfish act he doesn’t really know the why we went to therapy . One year later my ex boyfriend that I hadn’t seen in 20 years cane back into my life we had an affair and developed deep emotions. It lasted 3 months and we decided we can’t do this to our families ..
I know I have done something as well but I seem to still be upset and angry with wha ent husband did .I know why I did this I was angry I was starting to feel very vulnerable and I feel my ex-boyfriend came into my life at the perfect time when I was completely down in a mess but in my mind I keep having thoughts and wondering why my husband had an affair why he did this first when things were completely fine with us and our family. My therapist said we are equal and now I’ve done this as well and we should just MoveOn but how come I don’t see myself as the “even though I had an affair to?
Andrew G. Marshall says
Think about why YOU had an affair. Think about how all the feelings built up in you. It will give you an insight into why he might have cheated too.
I had the affair because I was angry and so upset for one year over what my Husband did and when my ex came alone I was open to it . For my Husband it was a co worker and it just happened it was short and he ended it . So this is why I feel stuck in the recovery process . I really should be able to accept it now especially because I have been unfaithful in the marriage but I don’t see it that way and I wish I did . I’m upset still that he crossed the line when things were good with us and our family and broke our vows and trust . I was very open to it and vulnerable and upset .
I guess my question is should I still be so upset ? A
Andrew G. Marshall says
I answer questions like this is my group Andrew G. Marshall’s Infidelity Survival Training and Support Group – Online Registration Form
I hate him for all the pain hes caused me or maybe cause im desperate to know. You see he has blocked all the love i have to give him and the more he keeps say i DON’T know why he cheated i will never know how to love him again. I think thats why i DON’T say it ANYMORE and he just wants to live this way. And i DON’T want to give him my love but he doesn’t want to leave either…he says selfishly im not for him im no one’s either!
This is a similar problem I had as well and the answer is simple. It’s just because he’s shitty. There is absolutely NO REASON to cheat on anyone. If you’re unhappy, leave, if you’re not sexually satisfied, leave, if you feel miserable,leave. That alone is why cheating makes no sense. A person simply cheats because they are immature and not ready for a relationship,their just a scumbag cheater or in spite of someone.
I’m completely heart broken. My husband decided to cheat on me. They never made it past kissing but the pain I feel is still deep. He had been drinking and decided to tell a women he wasn’t married and one thing led to another. How do I trust him? How do I know if this truly is the first time he’s done this?
Andrew G. Marshall says
How do you trust him again? Trust comes at the end of the recovery journey. At the moment, you need to understand why he decided to cheat. My guess is that he is unhappy about something – deep down. I doubt you will get the answer straight away – because he might not necessarily know himself. You might also get his justifications – which will be upsetting – but don’t take those too seriously. The answer will be something unresolved from the past – most probably his childhood. It will also be something about how the two of you communicate but IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU. Remember this fact, so you don’t start blaming yourself. You might also like to consider my support group.Andrew G. Marshall’s Infidelity Survival Training and Support Group