Many women who contact me are extremely confused about their husband’s behavior during or after his affair. Many do not understand how her husband can have any expectations of his wife when he has thrown away that privilege by his betrayal. An example of what I am talking about is a cheating husband who suddenly gets possession of his wife.
Here is a typical scenario. A wife might say, “It has been five weeks since I found out about my husband’s affair. My husband is currently at home during the weekdays because he is far away from his brother’s house for work. But on the weekends he stays with his brother because I’m so mad at him that I don’t really want him here. We hardly talk during the week. Lately I’ve been trying to go out with friends on my weekends. I feel lonely when I’m here all alone. Last “weekend I was out with colleagues. There were a few men there but I wasn’t looking for romantic encounters. My husband called me while I was out and overheard some of the men talking in the background. He got very angry. He said that “his wife” shouldn’t date other men. That made me angry. He’s obviously dated another woman. And he cheats and I don’t. What a double standard. I told him that he has no claim on me, he told me that I’m still his wife and that it’s not appropriate for me to be like that. I reiterated that there was nothing romantic about my date at all. I stopped discussing it with him because I just didn’t get the point. But here’s what I don’t understand – why would a cheating husband think his wife is his if he gives up any claim when he cheated? I just can’t understand that thought process.”
Well, no one can read your husband’s mind, but I can certainly offer you some theories. I hear from many husbands who have been caught cheating. I think your husband may be aware that he doesn’t necessarily have the right to ask who your friends are or who you’re hanging out with.
It may be wishful thinking on his part: Your husband may only be working with wishful thinking. He may wish he had that right and he may hope you won’t question him. Ideally, he might be hoping you can reconcile, so he doesn’t want you to start a relationship with someone else before you can both work things out.
He may be worried that you’re cheating to get back at him: Honestly, many people who have cheated become very paranoid that their spouse will “reciprocate” them as a form of payback. Deep down, they know they almost deserve it – so they’re always on the lookout. It may not be that your husband really believes he has the right to tell you what to do or who to see, but it could be that he is hoping not to cause any further damage to your marriage before you do can try to fix it.
I’m not trying to defend your husband. And I know that right now, you probably have no intention of becoming romantic or “revenging” anyone else. But he’s right that you’re still married and that even appearing to be with someone else can create a whole host of problems in an already difficult situation.
make things clear: There is nothing wrong with starting a discussion about it before it gets worse and before there are more misunderstandings. You could try, “I hear what you’re saying, but I think you have some perceptions that aren’t correct. I’m traveling with friends of both sexes so I don’t end up in an empty house. These are platonic colleagues – although I don’t have to defend myself to you because that’s completely innocent. There’s nothing romantic about that. You don’t need to worry about that. And by making this a big problem, there’s an opportunity to create problems where none exist. We have many problems that we juggle. We don’t need to create more. I assure you that I am not doing anything wrong. Please don’t keep trying to make me feel like it is me. I’m not the one who cheated, nor do I intend to do so in the future. I think it’s best for us to focus our attention on our own relationship – and not on my relationship with my platonic colleagues.”
Hopefully those words will calm him down and he will drop the claims and possessive behavior. But it’s possible he’s operating under fear. He’s trying to drag you in because he’s scared of losing you. Deep down, he knows his actions have jeopardized his marriage. So he may be trying to pull you closer to prevent further damage. What he doesn’t realize (and hopefully doesn’t understand) is that possessiveness doesn’t really endear him to you and only leads to misunderstandings.
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