The reaction of wives who find out about their husband’s affair is extremely varied. Some spring into action immediately and want to know everything. They press for every single detail even though these details can be very painful. But, they feel like they have to know the entire truth in order to heal cleanly.
Then there’s another camp who would almost prefer not to know everything. Some set out to discover or prove the affair and later wish that they’d “left well enough alone.” I recently heard from a wife who said, in part: “I started having suspicions that something was up with my husband a couple of months ago. He was acting distant and cold and he always had an excuse to not be home nearly as much. I checked out his computer and Facebook accounts and I found what I feared – he’s been cheating on me. Worse than that, I know the woman he’s been cheating on me with very well. Reading the interactions and little love notes between them is so painful. Honestly, I wish that I had never taken this path. Because now I don’t know how to confront him and I can’t stop myself from continuing to check his computer every day. So now, on a daily basis, I’m confronted with more pain. My friend says that my feelings are ridiculous because I’m just burying my head in the sand when I should be furious. I am angry, but I feel more hurt and indecision than anger. Is it normal to wish that I’d never found out about the cheating? And now that I know, what should I do now?”
There’s A Variety Of And Appropriate Reactions To A Husband’s Cheating. No One Should Judge Yours: Believe it or not, this wife’s reaction is not so uncommon (even though I often hear confusion about such a reaction.) Many wives want to confront their husband’s immediately when they learn of cheating and they just can not understand someone who has the opposite reaction.
The thing is, it’s not right to be judgmental of someone else’s reactions (at least in my opinion) and this wife’s friend was actually causing her much more pain than was necessary. I see a variety of reactions to finding out about an affair, and I find them all valid and feel it’s unfair for someone to be judged or criticized for their feelings during this painful time. Some wives have issues with confrontation or have concerns about their husband’s reaction when they confront him. This wife knew that her husband was going to be angry that she was looking on his computer (even though she had a very valid reason to do so.) And, knowing about the cheating now meant that she felt compelled to revisit the issue every day, see what has been going on or what has progressed with the affair, and be hurt all over again.
Still, once she obtained this knowledge, there was no way to go backward in time and just deny or forget what she had learned. The issue then became how she was going to proceed and move forward.
What Do You Do When You Wish You’d Never Found Out About The Cheating: Unfortunately, this wife could not undo what she had already done. She couldn’t erase her memory and forget about the affair. But, she could act deliberately and carefully in the present time. Right now, she was most concerned about a confrontation and the pain that she was feeling. Considering all of her struggles, she didn’t necessarily have to disclose everything that she read or had learned. She could approach her husband with her concerns, mention the changes that she had noticed, and see if he would go ahead and tell her the truth about the affair. If he did, then she could avoid any confrontation about what she had already learned.
Of course, the husband might deny everything. And if that was the case, she would then need to make a decision about how she wanted to proceed and what she wanted to disclose. Because even though the knowledge of an affair can be devastating and painful, denying the truth isn’t healthy either. Pretending that you don’t know just to keep the peace or to limp along in your marriage often doesn’t really spare you pain because you’re having to live with the conflict of knowing what you know all alone. There’s that tension of trying to carry on denying reality when this is all but impossible. The truth is that the conflict still exists – it’s just that it’s an internal conflict rather than external conflict because you’re carrying this knowledge on the weight of your own shoulders rather than sharing the burden with the person who put this whole course of events into motion.
I do understand wishing that you could stuff the genie back into the bottle or go back to a time when you were blissfully ignorant, but I’m afraid that is not possible. And, in order to really begin to heal and to get closure from the affair, you’ll likely need to deal with it head on. This doesn’t necessarily have to be done in a confrontational way. You don’t need to scream or shout. The wife could write a note and remove herself from the situation – forcing the husband to react in such a way that would show her where his loyalties truly were. There are many options that can remove at least some of the volatility.
But at the end of the day, an affair is a highly emotional and troublesome reality which is almost impossible to ignore or brush under the rug. You’re marriage isn’t likely to just carry on normally while you grapple with this knowledge and resentment and tension is likely to build. So while I think that it can be completely normal to wish that you’d never found out about the affair, it’s much more difficult not to act on this knowledge. And eventually, something as serious as infidelity will need to be dealt with, but there are ways to make it less confrontational and painful.
I didn’t remain quiet when I found out about my own husband’s affair, but I do understand this wife’s reluctance. The aftermath of an affair can be quite painful, but healing and recovery are possible as well. Although the days and weeks following finding out about my husband’s affair were very difficult, better days were ahead as our marriage recovered and healed. If it helps, you’re welcome to read about this recovery process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com