Wednesday 1 March 2017

Anger rising over taking my cheating husband back

Q: I am angry all of the time. A year ago I found out by chance my husband was cheating and when I confronted him he confessed to everything. I love him and was terrified he would walk out on our marriage but he stayed.

For a long time I was relieved. But lately I have become angry and irrational with him. Suddenly I completely resent him for everything he put us through. I used to be mad with her, the other woman, because I know her.

I cannot explain my emotions towards him, except to say I feel furious all the time. I have found myself checking his phone and I have seen calls from an unknown number.

My daughter has noticed my temper and has accused me of treating her father badly. My teenage son is also being cold towards his father although I never said a word to either of them. I wonder do I regret taking him back.

A: Well he never went away, did he? At what point did you have a say about his behaviour? He cheated, he confessed, he ended the relationship with the other woman, he stuck with his wife.

You discovered he was cheating, listened to his explanation and waited for him to come back to you. Now he's here. It's not what you expected. You shouldn't be surprised. Now it's time to figure out what went wrong.

No doubt the last year has been somewhat of a nightmare for you. To discover your partner's infidelity by chance indicates you weren't expecting or looking for clues of errant behaviour. But you found out and he told you everything which is a good sign.

During that conversation what reasons did he give for his unfaithfulness? It's possible you were so overcome with shock that you may not have fully dealt with the matter. There can be numerous reasons for cheating but the underlying fact is that your relationship was in trouble.

It may not have been a serious upheaval but it was serious enough for him to become intimate with someone else. You have reason to be angry; you have reason to be furious but don't misdirect your emotions.

There are lots of things you don't say. For example, how long this relationship with another woman was underway, what relationship she had with you, how he explained his behaviour and who you have been sharing all this with?

Vindictive

It's interesting you directed your fury at her initially. Given that you know her, it must have been particularly hurtful but I imagine there was nothing vindictive in her behaviour. She was a foolish woman who got caught up with a married man. It was wrong but she had made no promises to anyone else.

I garner from your email that you suspect she may still be a presence in his life. Checking his phone is not the answer. Just because you found evidence once before doesn't mean you will ever do so again. Nor does it mean that you should do.

Checking someone else's messages is a sign of insecurity on your behalf, understandably enough. It is, however, a confidence that only you can regain yourself.

The first thing to do is confront the cause of your fury and understand where it is coming from. Is it born out of fear your partner will cheat again? Is it anger at yourself for tolerating his continued presence by your side?

You took the difficult step by attempting to understand why someone might cheat and given them another chance. Often the easier thing to do is to walk away.

Hard as it is to swallow, you are with him for better or worse. This is the worse bit. I'm not saying you should tolerate it, but you are right to do what you can to fight for your marriage, as he should also be doing.

Infidelity in relationships is far more common than couples will admit. We only hear about the celebrity break-ups when magazines expose the antics of the cheating partner. Society expects to see couples split after these stories arise but many couples fight to keep their relationships together.

Discovering someone is cheating on you can be devastating. Your initial reaction was shock and a desperation to keep everything just as it was. However things have changed. Your relationship has changed because one of you was unfaithful to it. This will always loom up between you until eventually both of you can accept it and move on.

Your anger indicates you are far from the acceptance stage but you are on the road to dealing with it. The next stage of moving on from that is either an acceptance of what has happened and a commitment to work on recreating trust and love or an acceptance that the relationship has changed irrevocably.

Change is terrifying. It can make you irrationally angry but there's no fighting it.

I suspect your children are reacting to the environment in which they have lived for the last year. You may have said nothing but a year of feeling relieved your partner hasn't walked out on your marriage to being furious at what he did to you is hard to conceal.

Perhaps your son knows or suspects, or perhaps he is being a teenage boy unimpressed by his dad. Perhaps your attitude towards your husband does seem unforgivably harsh to your daughter's eyes. I would suggest that your husband should attempt to deal with both issues.

If you are angry at your husband you need to be able to explain yourself. If he can understand, then have him tell your daughter not to be so harsh in her judgement of you. Similarly your husband should seek to speak to your son about his attitude.

Trouble

Your children may fear that your marriage is in trouble and are acting out because they are afraid their parents are about to split.

There is no benefit regretting what has already been done. I would suggest you talk to your husband about all of this, including the fact that your distrust remains. It might serve both of you to speak to an independent counsellor.

It is tremendously hard to see clearly when you have been hurt by the person you love. Sometimes an independent voice can bring clarity to a situation that seemed impossible to resolve.

Anger can be a good thing and a sign you are starting to deal with what's happened but don't let this pass without working through the issues that created the problem. Use it as a sign that change and progress are on the way.

Irish Independent

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