Finding out your husband has been cheating is painful enough. Many wives admit that they have a bit more respect for their husbands if he confesses to the cheating himself. However, this often isn’t true if the husband is mean, cruel, or spiteful while making that confession.
A wife might say: “last week, my husband and I got into a huge fight. He was telling me how controlling and miserable I am. He was going on and on about how he feels suffocated by our marriage. And then he said, with tons of anger in his voice ‘your negativity is why I am cheating on you. It’s why I have to turn to someone else to escape from your nastiness.’ And then, without skipping a beat, he want on to tell me how far superior the other woman is to me. He told me that she was kind and supportive of him. He told me that she doesn’t nag or criticize him. And he told me that she was far prettier and younger than me and that she knew how to make a man feel good instead of miserable. Now, I’m doubly angry. It’s bad enough that he is cheating. But why does he have to be so spiteful? He acts as if I deserved to be cheated on.”
This isn’t uncommon, but it sure is frustrating. Below, I’ll list some reasons that he may be acting in this way and how you might address it.
He May Be Feeling A Lot Of Anger And He’s Not Sure Where To Direct It: I write a lot of articles which indicate that people cheat during a time of personal crisis and vulnerability. I firmly believe this almost without exception. It’s only my opinion though. But, you often see people cheat when things are falling apart in their life or within their consciousness. So it’s not unusual for someone who is cheating to be struggling with feelings of anger. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that the anger may have contributed to the cheating.
Often though, these folks are angry with themselves and with their lives. And they might project these feelings of anger onto their spouse. After all, their spouse is an easy target and if they can direct their anger at their spouse, they just might find some justification for their cheating.
Please don’t think that I am defending them. I’m not. I’m just trying to point out that anger is often a very common precursor to (and symptom of) an affair. And although it is directed at you, that doesn’t mean that you are the only place where his anger is directed.
He May Be Trying To Hurt You: As immature as this might sound, sometimes an affair is an attempt to “get back” at a spouse for some perceived wrong doing. Perhaps your husband did genuinely feel that you were acting in a negative way, but rather than approach you and try to work through this like the adult that he is, he resorted to committing a selfish act which he knew would hurt you.
The spiteful words were a way to make sure to enhance the hurt and, when they came out of his mouth, he just could not stop himself. Again, this is not an excuse, but it lets you know what you are dealing with.
Handling The Spitefulness: How you handle this completely depends on what you want moving forward. If you think you might want to one day save your marriage OR you find it best not to engage with him to make things worse (which is frankly almost always my preferred way to deal with this,) I’d suggest something like this. “That’s quite hurtful, but I suppose that was the entire point. I’m sorry that you feel I’m controlling but that is never going to be a valid excuse to cheat. I’m not going to engage in a conversation where we talk to one another in this way. It solves nothing. And the core issue is the affair, which seems to be overshadowed by your words about my actions. And although my actions clearly trouble you, they are certainly not as malicious as cheating. Regardless, we clearly aren’t going to be able to work anything out while we are both so angry. I do not accept that my actions justify your cheating, but we will have to talk about that another day. Things are too painful and volatile right now and I don’t want to stand here and listen to you say these things to me. Once we both calm down and commit to talking to one another in a more civil way, we can address this.”
I know that I am asking for a lot of restraint. I know that it is very tempting to stand there and defend yourself and tell him just what you think of him. But doing so is only going to make this worse and it is bad enough already. It’s almost never a bad idea to regroup, calm down, and come at it later.
Frankly, if your husband can realize that his anger and spite is displaced and underserved, he will likely back off. But he can’t realize that if you are displaying the negative behavior that he’s now complaining about. It’s better to show him who he isn’t expecting to see. Someone who is calm and anything but the controlling bitter person who he has been describing.