8 Min Read
- How Men Respond When Their Wife Has An Affair
- What Happens To A Man When His Wife Cheats On Him
- Here’s What To Do When Your Wife Has An Affair
- Should You Leave Or Stay When Your Wife Cheats?
- What To Take Away
So, are the effects of a wife having an affair any different than when a husband does?
Yes and no. I’ll explain and give some examples.
Here’s something not too many people would think of that makes a wife having an affair different for a man:
Why is it all I can find is articles about cheating men? My wife cheated on me. I am male yet cannot find much that helps me. It's not right. I understand that a lot of guys cheat, but what about the men that have been wronged? This is frustrating.” -Phillip
Since wives cheating isn’t talked about much it’s easy to feel like you’ve got a problem that no one else can understand. As Phillip says, one of the things that makes this so tough is feeling like no one gets it.
This can make a man even more inclined to keep quiet about what he considers an embarrassing secret.
How Men Respond When Their Wife Has An Affair
Having your spouse cheat on you is one of the most (if not the most) humiliating, painful, and crushing things that can happen in a relationship. And men and women often respond differently.
When cheating occurs, men typically respond in one of two ways. They either –
- Get intensely angry and react very (sometimes very, very) strongly,
- Pretend it didn’t happen.
Both reactions can cause even more damage to the relationship, and neither are helpful.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that people can react strongly when they find out their partner has had an affair. In my experience women have more of a tendency to react immediately, whereas men are more inclined to try and ignore it, at least initially.
This isn’t true for everyone obviously.
I’m counseling a man whose wife cheated on him several years ago. He said when he found out about it he just blocked it out of his mind. She wanted to pretend she didn’t have an affair too, so they just moved on and never talked about it again.
Until he cheated on her last year.
A common response for a lot of us when we’re hurt is to try to run away from the pain, rather than address it. This doesn’t work though. Eventually, the pain has a way of bubbling up and breaking through. Fortunately, this couple’s working to repair the damage they’ve each caused and save their marriage.
Another guy I counseled contacted the other man’s wife when he discovered his wife’s affair – before he even talked to his own wife.
He then began parking his car down the street from the man’s house to try to catch his wife together with him. One day he found her car parked in the man’s driveway and pounded on the front door screaming that he had to “talk” to both of them. The police were called.
I’ve counseled other partners who’ve responded to an affair by revenge cheating and having an affair themselves.
Two wrongs make a right – right?
One of them even cheated with the other man’s wife. These all ended in divorces too.
I don't think I'll ever get over my wife's affair. It’s only been 5 months since I found out but I can tell it’s different now. Whenever she goes out, I wonder if she is where she says she is. I check her phone. I check her computer. It’s really changed me. I want to keep her, but I want to even the score.” -Steve
Most often even more damage is done by the rash and emotional responses of the cheated-on partner.
Which is why for an affair more than any other relationship problem, I advise people to get professional counseling. When cheating occurs couples need unbiased, experienced guidance and support as they determine the best way to handle things. Without help it’s just too easy to make things exponentially worse.
What Happens To A Man When His Wife Cheats On Him
The damage done to the trust, connection, intimacy in a relationship is significant when there’s been infidelity. If crucial repair work isn’t done the trauma caused will slowly eat away at the foundation of the relationship.
Here’s an example of what that erosion can look like over time:
My wife cheated on me then left and moved in with a married man. And then asked if I would take her back, so we remarried. But I lose my erection during intercourse, and I keep thinking about her with the other man. I need to know how to get the other men out of my head when we are making love.” - Jason
Like Steve said above, and Jason’s story here shows, when your wife has an affair it changes you. Just ask any of the guys in this article. But those changes are also reversible.
I’ve worked with men like Jason who’ve struggled to control their thoughts more than 20 years after their wife’s affair. The destruction caused by cheating just doesn’t repair itself or go away with time.
Jason’s story also illustrates two other important elements that are commonly impacted in particular for men,
A lot of men are thinkers, like Jason. Some have built successful careers around their analytical thinking skills.
And while this can be great for jobs, it can be a killer when you’ve been cheated on.
As Jason shows, it can be particularly difficult for men to get the other man out of their head. This can lead to sexual intimacy issues in a marriage, such as lack of sex drive and erectile dysfunction.
Another place an affair especially hits men is self-esteem. Manhood, sexuality, and self-esteem are very intertwined for men.
It can be difficult for a man to admit it, but when his wife has an affair and chooses to be with another man, his self-esteem takes a big hit.Feelings of –
- Inferior masculinity
- Lack of sexual prowess
- Not being good enough
are to be expected.
Recovering from these feelings can be extremely difficult and take a lot of time.
Because of this effect, another man I’m counseling whose wife cheated on him and is now in the middle of a divorce decided to start dating just to see if women still found him attractive.
Dating while separated or going through a divorce is a bad idea for many reasons, but not uncommon.
Men especially, want to feel in control and be assured of their desirability. While understandable, this is not only patently unfair to the people they’re dating and using to bolster their self-esteem, but it can also cause tremendous emotional and logistical problems for them as well.
Case in point - even after finding out women did still find him attractive, the man I last described still wrestles with negative thoughts about himself and the effects are far reaching.
For instance, he needs to make a career change and lacks the motivation to take the steps to make it happen, he can’t sleep, and he wastes his time away binge-watching Netflix.
Here’s What To Do When Your Wife Has An Affair
Most guys are confused about what they should do when their wife has an affair. Facing and addressing what’s happened is really, really hard.
It can be tempting to tell yourself you should just move on, which is what Rasheed did.
I've been with my wife for 15 yrs. I know my wife cheated just before we had our first child. I never called her on it or even got really angry. I just kind of buried it. Over the last year or so I think about it a lot and I'm not sure why or what I should do. I have been more ‘annoyed’ by some of her behavior lately, but overall I think we're close and in a good spot. I don't know what is bringing this to the forefront of my mind now.” -Rasheed
Like Rasheed describes, most people ignore the mental and emotional effects of their spouse having an affair. Yet if it’s not dealt with the effects on you and your relationship will last forever.
As I said earlier, I’ve worked with men whose wives cheated 20 plus years ago and they still haven’t gotten past it.
Since most men struggle in the emotional intelligence department it can be easy to miss the significance of the feelings that arise from an affair. The stories of the men I’ve shared show this is a common mistake and one that always comes back to bite you.
So, what should you do when your wife has an affair?
- Don’t ignore or bury it
- Don’t react too harshly
- Get professional counsel
Should You Leave Or Stay When Your Wife Cheats?
One of the first impulses many men have upon discovering their wife had an affair is to leave.
It sounds reasonable – if your wife has betrayed you by having an affair you should leave, right?
Most people who ever think about the possibility of their partner having an affair tell themselves (and sometimes their partner) they’ll leave if it ever happens. And many do (at least temporarily).
But leaving is typically an emotionally driven response, not a logical one.
Ending a marriage is a complicated process that takes some time to accomplish.
When really thinking about what divorce entails and the life changes that will result (or even starting to experience them), it can begin all to hit home how difficult and painful the process about to come is going to be. Very often this will cause partners to reconsider and be open to other ways to handle the problems in the marriage.
My wife has asked for a divorce because 'she in love with her best friend.' I've been with my wife for 10 and a half years and married 9 and a half of them. We have had issues throughout our marriage in the beginning due to my mental illness later due to wife cheating (with the same 'best friend'). We even separated for a little over a year, but she begged me to come back a little over two years ago. Despite numerous requests by me to cut this friend out of our lives he keeps showing back up and in my opinion manipulating her.” - Jake
Staying should mean that changes happen. Unfortunately for Jake that hasn’t been the case. However, for those that do work at repairing their relationship and making changes the outcome can look much different.
At Guy Stuff we’ve helped countless couples make their relationship better after an affair.
I know a number of couples who say that their partner’s affair was both the worst and best thing that ever happened to their marriage.
That’s right, they say the “best thing.”
Because they chose to use it as a wake-up call to fix the problems in their marriage and then worked to make their relationship even better than before.
There’s no question that when your wife has an affair your world changes, but it doesn’t have to be for the worst – at least not in the long-term. Hard work, persistence, and professional help can make the ultimate outcome what you can’t imagine is even possible when you first find out.
What To Take Away
If your wife had an affair and you’re devastated and struggling to find the best way to respond, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, there’s no easy, 1-2-3 step process for getting over it and back to a better place.
There are, however, some important things to keep in mind.
- Although anger is a natural response, rash, impulsive, emotion-based actions won’t help. So, take some time to allow yourself to think through your next steps.
- Confronting the man your wife cheated with, that man’s wife, or having an affair yourself to retaliate will just cause more damage.
- Burying your feelings and pretending nothing happened won’t work either. The pain you’re ignoring will eat away at you and make itself known at some point.
- The guidance of a professional counselor is almost always necessary to avoid big mistakes and figure out the best path for you.
- It is possible to restore your marriage and find love with your wife again, even after an affair.
It’s important to note that much of the impact and responses to a partner’s affair described above is the same for women too.
While wives can typically become much more engulfed in the emotional pain and husbands more in the cognitive, like racing thoughts, the destructive impact is very similar. How it shows on the surface may vary or not. However, many more men are likely to pretend they’re strong enough to handle their wife having an affair.
Have you had any experience with someone whose wife had an affair – has it happened to you or someone you know? Please share a little with others in a comment below (you can stay anonymous if you like).
Editor's Note: This post was originally published Jan 30, 2020. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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