QUESTION: HOW TO BE A BETTER HUSBAND?
About two years ago my wife began working at home which meant any social contact had been cut and the only outlet she found was Facebook. Long story short, I found out my wife had been “chatting” with an old crush from when she was ten years old.
After much discussion my wife indicated that working on our marriage was what she desired but I have still not felt convinced. She has cut ties but she is extremely sad she did and I feel like to some degree she resents me for it.
My wife is scheduled to revisit her childhood town for a wedding where she planned initially to see the old neighborhood with her mother but escorted by “him”. Ties had been cut but her mother said during a lunch that these plans were on and she knows nothing about her infidelity. When I asked what my wife intends to do about this tour, she seemed reluctant to say she wasn’t going and even went on to say that she feels like maybe if she saw him it might provide closure.
I am truly struggling with what to do. I don’t want to continue talking about whether these ties have been cut and if we are moving forward. I do understand the feelings of closure and I think it could provide that but I am not willing to agree to this and sacrifice my family’s wellbeing. But I also love my wife very much and feel like there is love within her that is blocked by this fantasy and that once it is past we will have a better marriage than before. She can’t see this because of all the hurt from her loss.
Please help me understand what to do! I don't know how to be a better husband.
There are two things that need to happen here.
1. Contact does need to be ended in a way that is satisfying for you.
2. You need to work on your marriage, so that the void your wife is feeling can be filled by you, and the marriage you create together on the other side of this mess is one where you are both happy and fulfilled.
What is stopping you from going with your wife on this trip to her hometown? You should be the one accompanying her on this trip.
ENDING EXTRAMARITAL AFFAIRS
When people end their affairs, they go through a grieving period. They often think they are/were in love with the other person. Really they were in love with the way they felt. It is the reflection of themselves in the affair partner’s eyes, which they love.
An affair is an escape from reality. The fantasy of an affair serves as a temporary numbing of pain we may have in our lives. Like being a drug addict or an alcoholic, once our "high" wears off
we are left with even more pain, and added to it is the mess we've made of our
lives. Just look at the current state of the life of Governor Sanford of South Carolina!
Generally it takes 3 – 6 months for this grieving the loss of the affair period to pass. It’s similar to the period of time where an alcoholic is sobering up. Before they “thaw out”, they generally don’t think logically, they make a lot of mistakes, and often aren’t very nice. They don’t come on their knees begging forgiveness like one might expect. That comes later.
Contact with the 3rd party will only serve to feed the affair, and after renewed contact the “thawing out” period begins again. Your gut instinct is right in not risking your family’s wellbeing by agreeing to this attempt at closure, which more than likely will have the opposite effect.
People who are caught up in affair fantasyland have a very difficult time ending their affairs. Many want permission to end their affairs gradually. I have yet to work with a couple where this gradual ending of the affair approach ended in a restored marriage.
My own husband said that when I insisted he end his “friendship” (as he called it then) with the other woman, he felt like he was cutting his right hand off. That’s a pretty strong analogy. From those who have made it, we can assure you this is necessary. The “I’ll-quit-slowly” approach to ending affairs is not effective.
WAYS YOU CAN WORK ON YOUR MARRIAGE - How To Be A Better Husband
At the same time as your wife walks through this struggle of giving up her affair fantasy, it’s important that you work toward doing whatever is within your power to meet her needs in the marriage.
Here are some tips on how to be a better husband:
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR WIFE
A woman’s need within the marriage is to be loved exclusively. She needs to know she is your one and only and that there is none other in your life than her. She needs to be number one over your job, sports, your car, your friends and even your kids. She cannot share your affections with another woman, or with anything else. You certainly can have other things in your life, but your wife needs to be number one.
BE YOUR WIFE’S FRIEND
Spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day talking to your wife. Focus on her. Look into her eyes. Listen to what she is saying, even if from your perspective it sounds like all sorts of unnecessary communication.
Remember that men and women de-stress differently. Women de-stress by talking about their problems. Men de-stress by being alone, and doing some mindless task. When your wife starts talking to you about her problems, she usually just wants you to listen and validate her feelings. She does not want you to fix the problem. That is likely to be perceived by her as a lack of compassion. Tell her that it makes sense that she’s upset. Give her a hug.
This takes creative thinking. Treat your wife the way you did when you were courting her. Men who have affairs can often be ultra boring in their own marriages. They often blame their wives for their affairs, that the wife wasn't meeting their needs, but these things go both ways.
If men put the same energy into their marriages as they suddenly do in their affairs, their wives would respond with all the love, respect and even adventurous passionate sex that a man could desire.
The fact that a man can so easily be romantic in an affair shows he does have the skill, when he chooses to use it. And please don’t use “I don’t have enough time” as an excuse. You do have enough time for what you deem to be important in your life.
Some men need to learn to treat their marriages the same way they treat their jobs. If your boss asks you to do something you get it done. Put spending daily time focused on your wife, and doing something romantic at least once a week on your to-do list. You’ll get it done.
BE THE MAN
Be strong. Stand up for what’s right. Don’t be weak. A woman may complain, get in your face, and test you a bit. She does this subconsciously. Somewhere in the depths of her being she wants to know if you are strong enough to keep her safe and protect her. Don’t fail the test. Be strong. That's how to be a better husband.
Just to be clear, you are not responsible for your wife’s affair, but when a woman is working through grieving the loss of an affair, if you want to save your marriage, it is a good time to do whatever is within your power to fill the void with healthy love.
©Copyright 2009 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.
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