How Should A Cheating Husband Be Treated?

A few weeks ago I came home from work after I picked up my 5 children from school and found my husband upstairs in the bedroom with another woman. I took my kids and drove to my mom’s house. I decided to follow these steps:

1.  Trying to speed up the healing process

Don’t try to put your reconciliation on a timetable. The healing process can’t be rushed. It’s important for your husband to realize that the two of you will heal at different rates. It will take you much longer to recover from the emotional trauma of his extramarital affair. As much as your husband would like to speed up the process, and it has to be done at your own pace. This will vary slightly with each individual, but marriage and family counselors say that the healing process can take at up to 2 years.

2.  Not being totally committed.

Successfully rebuilding a marriage in the aftermath of an affair requires total commitment from both parties involved. If one spouse is working hard to save the marriage, but the other spouse is just going through the motions, or has secretly made up his or her mind to leave, it’s impossible for a reconciliation to take place. Saving a marriage is hard work, and both of you must be totally committed to the task. If you work at it, you can build a marriage even stronger than you had before. But you need to be sure that reconciling is what you really want to do. See Should you Take a Cheater Back? – How to Decide and When to Give a Cheater a Second Chance.

3.  Failure to understand and empathize with what the other spouse is feeling.

A cheating husband may not understand the full extent of how his infidelity has traumatized his betrayed wife. The wife may be totally unaware that her cheating husband is struggling with deep-seated feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment now that his affair has been exposed. Both of you need to empathize with each other’s feeling, and understand how those feelings affect the healing process.

4.  Being in revenge or punishment mode, rather than reconciliation mode.

It’s time consuming and counterproductive for you to concern yourself with punishing your cheating husband, seeking revenge, or trying to pay him back for having an affair. Your interests would be best served if you focus your energy and efforts on what the two of you can do to get their derailed marriage back on track. See Why Revenge Cheating and Retaliatory Affairs Don’t Work When Trying to Get Even with a Cheating Mate

5.  Being unduly concerned with the opinion of family friends.

Family and friends who know about the affair will want to offer helpful advice on what you should do. They will have differing opinions about how you should treat your cheating husband, and whether or not your marriage can, or should be saved. Most of them will tell you that you should to leave. See Why Women Stay with Men who Cheat. Trying to recover from infidelity is difficult enough without having to concern yourself with the opinions of people who are on the outside looking in. Unless they are qualified professionals, ignore their advice, and do what you think is best for you. See Go or Stay? – How to Decide Whether to Give a Cheater a Second Chance.

6.  Not constructively addressing your two biggest fears.

The two biggest fears you’ll experience after taking your cheating husband back are 1) fear that he’s still cheating behind your back, and 2) the fear that he’ll cheat on you again and she won’t know. You will no longer trust your own judgment, when it comes to signs of infidelity because like most betrayed wives, you were probably the last to know. To keep from driving yourself and your husband crazy with constant suspicion, the best way to deal with your hyper vigilance is to educate yourself about infidelity, and invest in a good infidelity reference book. See What Are the Major Obstacles to Taking a Cheater Back? and The Best Investment You Can Make in Your Relationship for 2010

7.  Harboring resentment because his life must now be an open book.

Your cheating husband may resent the fact that in order to regain your trust, he must share all passwords with you, stay in constant touch with frequent phone calls when he’s not with you, clear his itinerary with you, inform you of his whereabouts at all times. These things are a necessary part of rebuilding broken trust, and your husband must continue to do them until you feel you can trust him again. If he’s serious about wanting to save your marriage, he’ll willingly comply by making his life an open book.

8.  Failing to put some type of checks and balances in place.

You need to have a way to reassure yourself that the your husband is being totally honest with you, and is not still carrying on the affair or communicating with the Other Woman behind your back. You should have a method in place that allows you to check up on the your husband and his activities – either with or without his knowledge. For your own peace of mind, you need to be able to confirm for yourself the identity of anyone he’s calling, texting, e-mailing, or associating with. Fortunately, there are discreet and affordable online services that can help. See Infidelity Resources to Help You Catch or Keep Tabs on a Cheating Mate’

9.  Ignoring your flashbacks and your need for reassurance.

Certain things will trigger flashbacks and cause you to re-live the pain of discovering your husband’s affair. Deep down inside, women always blame themselves, even though when a man cheats it’s not the woman’s fault. See Are Wives to Blame When Their Husbands Cheat? and Top 10 Reasons Why Men and Women Cheat  Your husband will need to be especially  understanding whenever these flashbacks occur, and go out of his way to reassure you of his love.

10.  Not giving the cheater positive reinforcement

It’s important to give your husband positive feedback and encouragement on his efforts to make amends to you. Otherwise he could start to feel that all his efforts are in vain. If he feels like he’s spinning his wheels, or trying to reach an unobtainable goal, he may just give up and leave, or re-initiate his affair. See How to Keep from Cheating on Your Wife.

11.  Having unrealistic expectations.

During the aftermath of an affair, a marriage is in a very fragile state. Your emotions will be too. Your husband may become impatient. Your emotions will fluctuate wildly from week to week, day to day, or from one hour to the next. It’s unrealistic to expect the marriage to stabilize itself by a certain date. Most marriage and family counselors agree that it takes at least 2 years for a couple to fully recover from the effects of an affair. Don’t set yourselves up for disappointment by expecting your marriage to return to normal by a certain date.

12.  Giving up too soon.

The worse thing you can do is abandon your marriage prematurely, without allowing sufficient time for the healing process to take place. That may take long as 2 years. Variables like the type or circumstances of the affair, the length of the marriage, and other factors can further increase the length of time it takes to heal. If you really want to save your marriage, both of you need to hang in there long enough to see positive results.


I recently stumbled across a “guide” for women on L & R that provides suggestions for how to “cheat-proof” your marriage. I decided to ask a small group of married women to comment on the suggestions. Here’s the L & R list of tips and the group commentary.

1. Nag less. A husband’s happiness is inversely proportional to the amount of nagging he receives at home. If you have trouble with this step, you can start by making a list of his most annoying behaviors–the ones you nag about–and cutting the list in half.

The discussion group here agrees. This is one of the painful sacrifices of marriage. Sure, you may be right, but you never “win” an argument with your spouse. If he is messy or annoying, you’ve got to be wise enough to come up with a manner of working through or around the problem that doesn’t make you the constant complainer. If he associates you with constant nagging, you’re in trouble.

2. Have sex, frequently. Assuming that your husband has a libido (surprisingly, there DO exist frigid husbands), make an effort to accept his advances. Even initiate sex once in a while. The more intimacy your husband gets from home, the less likely he will look for it outside the home.

The married women nodded in agreement with this one. It isn’t that a robust sex life is any guarantee against infidelity, but a wife that has little interest in sex can leave a man looking for a substitute.

3. Let your husband eat what he wants. Dietary nagging is still nagging, even if it’s for his own good. Husbands will follow from your example; just eat healthfully yourself, and he will change on his own.

4. Cook his favorite meals every week so that he looks forward to coming home.

It can be hard for women to understand a man’s attachment to food. It’s primal. The degree to which your man loves eating the food you cook is the degree to which he rushes home after work to eat it. These two points are big factors when it comes to creating a happy man.

5. Associate with happily married couples. They can be a good influence and remind your husband that being married is better than being single.

It has been said that when a married man dumps his wife, the most concerned parties are the wives of his male buddies. Of course, it can cut both ways. This newly single guy could either be complaining about the dating scene or telling fabulous stories to his married pals. There’s certainly no reason to shun single friends out of fear that they will be a bad influence, but having happy couples around is good reinforcement.

6. Don’t let problems with your children spoil your marriage. Remember, children grow up and leave home eventually, but your spouse is for life. Compromise on issues that are not serious. Typically, couples fight about the details of reward and punishment. So long as you agree that a child should be punished for an incident, the punishment itself is not that important.

Big nods all around. “Children are just passing through,” one woman said. A marriage that has the children as its center and main focus is risking the relationship that got it all started. Children should know that the love the parents share for each other is precious and honored. Some parents will say, “We don’t have the time to go on dates or get away,” but truthfully there’s nothing more important than the maintenance of their relationship.

7. Most importantly, make time for your husband. Listen to him when he talks, even if it bores you out of your mind. Many men seek comfort in emotional affairs because they get no attention at home. Treat your husband the way you would like to be treated.

100% true. Men often appear impassive and without emotional needs. Don’t believe it. He needs to talk to you, about something other than the bills and problems of life. He wants you to admire him and support him. Do it at every turn.

There’s also one more that came to the surface during our discussion. This one comes from eHarmony founder Neil Clark Warren and works for men and women:

8. If there is something that your spouse has mentioned he/she finds sexy on you, go buy a gross of it.

Did he tell you he loves that new perfume? Wear it. Did he mention that you looked great as you went out the door to a meeting? Make a mental note. One of your jobs as a spouse (and again, this goes both ways) is to, within the limits of your authenticity, be sexy for your spouse. Take it seriously and respect the hints you receive.

Finally, I assume we don’t need to mention this but, when a man cheats it’s HIS fault. He steps outside the vows of the relationship and the blame for the infidelity is his. Make no mistake. However, based on what I heard from the women in our discussion group it’s always possible for one person or the other to push his/her partner away. If a woman woke up one day and said to her husband, “I have no interest in sex” and maintained that policy, she would be pushing him away.

Clearly, there are many women (and men) who’ve been loving and supporting only to suffer as a victim of infidelity. For them, there’s no list of behaviors that could’ve kept their spouse faithful. This list provides an interesting perspective for people who are looking to work on a healthy marriage and keep it strong.

Thank you to Love and Relationship for these insightful tips.

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