I often hear from wives who truly can’t stand the sight of their husbands after they’ve learned that he’s cheated or had an affair. Many just don’t know how to deal with him so they’d rather not be in his presence at all, at least for a while.
I recently heard from a wife who said, in part: “I’ve been completely ignoring my husband since I found out about his affair. I just don’t have any use for him. He’s staying with his old college roommate and I do not even feel badly about that. He calls, I ignore him. He tries to come by the house, I don’t answer the door. I block his texts and emails. The other day, he left a note in the mailbox that asked ‘are you going to ignore me forever?’ At this point, that is my plan. I don’t have anything to say to him and I figure if he keeps right on trying to reach out to me after my ignoring him then maybe he’s really serious. My friend says that I am playing a dangerous game with my marriage, but I really don’t care at this point. Is it best to ignore your husband after an affair? Or is there some rule that says that you should hear him out or talk to him?”
There’s no distinct set of rules pertaining to behavior after an affair. Most people just try to do what feels right or comfortable to them at the time. And ignoring the husband who cheated or had an affair can feel necessary because you just don’t know what to say or how to respond to him when you feel so very angry. Also, many wives tend to ignore their husbands after an affair because they don’t feel that he deserves their response or even their time. And, the wives can almost see this process as a bit of a test. The whole thought process is something like “if he continues to come around time and time again after I ignore him, maybe he really does love me and is sincere.”
I do completely understand this. I did not allow my husband access to me for awhile after his affair. I did not want to see him, talk to him, or even be in his presence at all. The mere sight of him make me literally shake. So, I wanted to avoid these bad feelings and reactions for as long as I could. I would turn my back on his apologies. There were times that I childishly put my hands over my ears to signify to him that he could talk endlessly but I wasn’t going to listen anyway. And you know what? This can feel very good and very just at the time. After all, he’s hurt and frustrated you, so doesn’t he deserve a little pain and frustration himself?
I certainly don’t disagree with this. But as good and as right as ignoring him might feel right now, there usually comes a time when it’s no longer useful to you. At some point, whether you decide to save your marriage or not, you’re probably going to want some closure. And in order to get that, you are probably going to need to sit down and let each of you have your say. Even if it’s just to tell him how angry and disappointed that you are with his actions, letting it out can be better than keeping it in.
And, often hearing just what your husband has to say can take a lot of mystery or unanswered questions out of the process. Nothing says that, after you hearing him out that you need to make any decisions or even offer any encouragement to him. But, for your own sake, it can be healing to listen to what he has to say rather than to continue to wonder. And, if he is full of apologies and remorse, this often gives you at least some relief. And, if he is not, at least you know where he stands and now have all of the information to justify whatever decision that you might make.
With all of this said, it is your right to set the pace. If you don’t feel that you want to talk to or see him right now, then that’s perfectly fine. It is your call to make and you shouldn’t let him or anyone else push you to a place of discomfort. But, you might avoid a little drama if you communicate this with him and make it clear that you need some time to yourself, that you’re just not ready to listen to him right now, and that you will let him know when you are.
As far of the strategy of ignoring your husband to make him desperate to reach you so that he feels more sorry and wants you that much more, I do understand this thinking. It’s a very common strategy and it swings the control and the power back to you. When someone betrays you, you’re often left feeling that you are at the mercy of the circumstances that you yourself did not chose. This is extremely frustrating. So anything that you can do to feel in control again is very appealing. But, be careful that you do not take it too far.
Because if you do have any interest at all in saving your marriage, sometimes husbands in this situation eventually give up because the wife leads them to believe (partly through completely ignoring him) that there is no hope. And when he gives up, the wife will sometimes think: ‘I knew it! He just didn’t love me enough.’ And sometimes, the husband is thinking the exact same thing. But both people are let down, frustrated, and broken hearted and this a real shame. I understand your thought process, but understand that it’s possible to take the game too far so that you end up losing what you deep down truly want.