It’s normal to have conflicting emotions after you find out about your husband’s affair. You may go from not wanting him in your line of sight to fantasizing about saving your marriage over the course of only a few hours.
One morning you may be considering kicking him out and by night time, you’re thinking about your children not living with their father and so you’re researching counseling options. This can make you feel as if there is something wrong with you or that you are being too wishy-washy, but it is normal. Swinging from one emotion and one course of action to another happens to nearly every one at some point. And even when you make the decision to try to work things out, you can still find yourself rebelling in a way. You might still have long days of doubt where you find yourself pushing your spouse away.
Someone might explain: “after about a month of waffling about what I wanted to do with my marriage after my husband’s affair, I finally decided that I would be open to seeing what happened between us. I told my husband that I was not going to ask him to leave and that, should he do what I asked and be willing to go to counseling and be rehabilitated, then I would be committed to trying to work things out. He agreed. And honestly, he has done most of what I’ve asked. He does go to counseling and even though I know he hates it, he sits there without complaint. He stays home every single night. He is trying to be attentive to me. The problem isn’t totally with him. It’s also with me. He tries to be sweet to me, but I find myself pushing him away. I find myself almost picking fights with him and being deliberately mean. I get angry at myself afterward, but of course by then the damage is done. I’m very frustrated with myself about this. And I feel like its going to mean that I lose my marriage regardless of how hard we are trying. Why am I pushing him away like this? And how can I stop? It makes me feel like a mean-spirited person and I am not normally like this.”
You are not a mean person. What you are going through is absolutely normal. I dealt with it and I don’t know many who have escaped it, especially in the beginning. Below, I will go over some reasons that might be contributing to his issue and I will discuss how you might handle it.
An Unconscious Desire For Him To Prove His Love And Commitment: I can only speak for myself here, but I honestly believe that the biggest reason that I pushed my husband away was because I wanted to see if he would hang around, despite my treatment. I guess in my mind, I thought that if he stuck around even when I was being mean to him, then he must really love me and be committed to me. I know that this was twisted thinking that was destined to breed resentment. But early on, I do believe that I was operating under that principal. Luckily, I gained confidence that he truly wanted to be there as time went on and I was able to stop, which leads me to my next point.
Sometimes, You Are Reacting To The Doubts And You’re Trying To Protect Yourself: Frankly, there were times during my recovery process where I was a little short and mean to every one – not just my husband. I was always plagued with fears and doubts. I was resentful that my life had come to this when I had done nothing wrong, so I was likely to lash out at any one who happened to be there at the time. But of course, it was a little worse for my husband, because we both knew that he was the cause.
You May Be Trying To Protect Yourself With Emotional Walls: There’s sometimes a subconscious desire to not let him get too close to you emotionally. This is meant to protect you from getting hurt again. You might think that if you can keep him at arm’s length, you might not get burned. Of course, keeping him at a distance also means that you sacrifice the intimacy. Now that you see that it’s pretty normal to feel the way that you do, let’s talk about how to put a lid on it.
How To Stop Pushing Him Away: Right now, you have emotional walls built around yourself meant to protect you. It’s normal and natural. But, it’s common sense that in order to get the intimacy back (which we all want,) you have to let the walls down.
The first step is being aware of when and how it is happening. Often, there are some triggers that happen just before you lash out or pull away. I want you to be aware because if you know when this is coming, you can pause and stop yourself before you act. Train yourself to always pause and think before you talk or take any action. Train yourself to step back (mentally – not physically) when your husband makes physical overtures, so that you are not as likely to just pull away without pausing or thinking about it first.
Finally, ask yourself if you’re pulling away because there is something that you are particularly angry about or are finding unresolved. If that is the cause, then get it out there. Leaving it between you is obviously causing a rift. You don’t have to be ugly about it, but sometimes shining a light on the elephant in the room can turn down the anger, which in turn will lower the amount of times you pull away.
This can naturally get better in time once you begin to see regular progress. That’s why it’s key to not shut down and to keep working toward progress and improvement. Confidence allows you to feel safe in allowing him to get close to you.