I sometimes hear from people who want and deserve answers about their spouse’s affair but who are meeting resistance about the same. Often their spouse becomes angry or just refuse to talk about it.
I heard from a wife who said: “I found out about three weeks ago that my husband had an affair. He actually told me about it himself. He sat me down and told me that he’d had a two month relationship with another woman, but he insisted that it was over now. He said that he had told her not to contact me but he wasn’t certain if she was going to comply with this. Needless to say, I’m devastated and I’m angry. But I also have my children to consider. Mostly because of them, I am motivated to save my marriage. But I have a lot of questions. I need to know all of the details. I need to know how he feels right now. I need to know if he’s sorry and remorseful or if he misses her. I need to know if he feels guilty. But every time I start to ask him any questions, he becomes angry. His response to me is to say that what’s done is done and that rehashing the past isn’t going to do any good. So I will wait a few days and then things will start bothering me again and so I will come at him again with more questions. And again, he responds with anger and refuses to talk about it. I’m sure his whole aim is to shut my questions down. But I don’t think that I can back off. I need answers. What can I do?”
As a wife who has been cheated on, I certainly identified with this wife. But as a rational person who knows what it takes to heal, I also very much agreed with her. You can’t evaluate the situation if you don’t have answers. You can’t begin to heal if you don’t know the full extent of the story. And if you allow your husband to intimidate you into silence, then resentment and distance is going to build so that your marriage is nothing but a shell. So in the following article, I will offer some tips on how to deal with this.
Make It Clear That His Anger Isn’t Going To Dissuade You: Often, the husband’s anger is mere posturing. He figures if you get a negative response every time you try to obtain answers, then eventually you will give up and stop asking questions.
Sometimes, the anger is a cover for something else. Sometimes the husband feels guilty and sad but he doesn’t want for his wife to know this because he doesn’t want to share this vulnerability because of his posturing.
It’s important that you address this and make it clear that this just isn’t going to acceptable. You might say something like: “I can see that you are angry that I have questions to which I need answers. My goal isn’t to make you angry. It’s to get the information that I need to evaluate this and to eventually heal. If the roles were reversed, you would certainly have questions and I would answer them. Your anger isn’t going to keep me from continuing to ask. And if I don’t get answers, I don’t think that I will heal. So we need to figure out a way that we can talk about this without the anger. Will you help me do that?”
Consider That He Might Do Better If He Had Someone Else Facilitating The Questions: Sometimes, things are so volatile that the couple just aren’t able to handle this themselves. That’s when a neutral third party can help. A counselor, a pastor, or a trusted friend can be the person asking the questions while the wife is present. Better yet, if this person is someone who the husband respects, he will often have an easier time answering the questions if they are coming from someone else.
And if you can set it up so that you both commit to a regular time where you go and discuss the affair and share information, this will often help with the tension. Because you will know that at one regular time, you will get the answers that you want. As a result, you are much less likely to feel the need to repeatedly ask the questions except for the agreed upon time. And your husband will like let go some of the anger because he knows that he won’t be dealing with this on a daily basis.
But to answer the concern posed, anger is not a valid reason to not share or obtain information because in order to have any chance of healing and of saving your marriage in a legitimate way, you need to understand why the affair happened so that you can place safeguards in place. You need to know where the marriage needs to be fixed. And you need to hear his feelings so that you aren’t assuming that he is cold, uncaring, and unaffected. And you can’t do any of these things until your questions are answered and your concerns are addressed.