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Wife Caught Cheating - Now What?

  
  
  
  

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Want to know what to do when your wife is caught cheating?  Read the story of Sharon and Robert.  Marriage therapist Gail Saltz tells the story of this wife caught cheating in the article, Could You Be Having an Emotional Affair?, published in The Oprah Magazine

Find out how innocently the affair started when Sharon started working with Todd in part one of this series, A Cheating Spouse - How an Emotional Affair Starts.  Then find out some signs of a cheating wife in part two, Cheating Spouse Exposed - Warning Signs of an Emotional Affair.

Now here's what to do when your wife is caught cheating:

Increasingly, I find people are already enmeshed in an affair of the heart by the time they contact me, and they are terribly torn. They have a very hurt spouse but can't bear to lose their "friend." Marital implosion is close at hand. My approach seems like tough love, but I'm convinced it saves a lot of grief. The first and most important task, from which all the other things these clients must do will follow, is to take responsibility for the affair—same as if they'd had a sexual liaison. Denying it or blaming their partner's inattentiveness prevents the couple from reengaging. The only cases where it might not be best to fess up are the rare ones where the partner has no suspicions: Revealing hidden feelings just to absolve guilt is not a great idea.

Second, the affair must end. Yes, it hurts. And no, it's not possible to disengage partway and still be pals. Things get trickier if the infidelity began in the workplace, but all future interaction must be purely professional and kept to an absolute minimum.

Third, I try to help clients unearth the reasons they got overinvolved. Was their marriage failing? Did they need to build their self-esteem? Were they repeating the pattern of a parent who cheated? To prevent an encore, they must be brutally honest with themselves.

Finally, they have to build back the trust, which is the biggest obstacle to saving the marriage. I'm constantly telling people that it requires a lot of time, openness, and accountability (for example, being clear about whereabouts and coming home right after work).

What I find to be remarkably consistent is that most people don't appreciate the relationship they do have until they're about to lose it. This is what happened with Sharon. When Robert found her e-mails to Todd ("I miss you so much…I can't wait to see you," along with complaints about her home life), he was shattered and wanted a divorce. As soon as Sharon realized her husband might leave her, Todd didn't seem quite as thrilling. But saying goodbye to him, which she ultimately decided to do, was wrenching, and Robert isn't sure whether he can forgive her. The three of us are still working on understanding why the affair happened and whether they can agree to rebuild their relationship.

It's much more difficult to make your way back from a betrayal of intimate feelings than to try to refresh a marriage that may have become flat and distant. When you ignore anxiety-inducing thoughts like "I feel stuck—I wish I could run off and have fun or I feel old and dumpy—if only someone would make me feel young and sexy again," you cannot examine or deal with them in a productive manner. Instead, you unwittingly act them out, with potentially devastating results. Any good relationship takes an investment of time, effort, and emotional energy. What few people want to accept is that we can all become Sharon and Robert, and that marriage, while potentially tremendously gratifying, is always a work in progress.

Dealing with a wife caught cheating is very difficult and complicated. Don’t make the mistake of responding without the expert guidance of a marriage counselor.  Also be careful that your emotions don’t cause you to react in a way that just makes things worse.  It’s understandable to feel hurt and angry when you have a cheating wife, but allowing those emotions to affect how you respond is a big, big mistake.

Read how it all started in Part 1: A Cheating Spouse - How an Emotional Affair Starts; what the signs of a wife cheating look like in Part 2: Cheating Spouse Exposed - Warning Signs of an Emotional Affair.

* This is the third of three posts examining a wife caught cheating. Sign-up for our Blog on the right side of this page and be sure not to miss the other posts about an affair and a cheating spouse (you can get notified by email or RSS feed when the next article is published).

Comments

Question is: What do you do if your wife cheats on you with her own cousin? Do you forgive her or kick her to the curb.........isn't that a rather humiliating thing to have occur?
Posted @ Wednesday, January 05, 2011 3:14 AM by james
I have a fairly unique situation and would really love some input. I have been married for 21 years. I thought it was a happy marriage. Then I lost my 25 year old son to drowning in our bathtub. He had been staying with us temporarily after a serious head injury. Within a few months of his death my husband began an affair with a local bar fly who used to proclaim to be my friend. I admit that I didn't respond well to my son's death. I isolated myself, drank too much and just wanted to die. But what I really wanted was for my husband, my best friend, to show he cared. To talk to me. To hold me. To let me know I wasn't alone. Instead, he went out to the bar several times a week and was giving her OUR money and spending time with her. They ultimately ended up in the sack together. When the truth came out I had been sober for many months yet found out he was still carrying on with her even after I entered treatment. I suspected something for months and asked him many times but as is par, he lied. I have such anger at him for first abandoning me during the worst pain a mother can endure and then making it worse by deliberately inflicting the second worse pain a woman can have within a year! I feel it would be understandable if I just went crazy. She has obviously dumped him and now he is claiming that he is sorry and wants to make things work. How can I possibly believe crap he says now? It is the first time that he screwed around on me that I know of. But....he does very little to repair this damage. I'm ready to dump this loser.
Posted @ Tuesday, June 07, 2011 7:31 PM by Heidi
Had to give a womans response here. If you've been married for a while it's hard to keep up that "orignal" flame and appreciation for your wife..and visa versa for a husband. I think all too many times it boils down to us women not feeling appreciated and wanted by our husbands/partners. Then someone gives us attention we desperatly need to feel alive and attractive again, and many times crossing the line occurs. I'm not saying this is right or even forgivable..that's up to the individual couples, but I am saying this is how affairs gets started more times than not.
Posted @ Thursday, January 12, 2012 10:43 AM by Denise
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