You’re deeply wounded, but you’re brave enough to type the words “my wife cheated on me.” And you are not alone. Every week, thousands of husbands find out about their wives’ affairs.
“We got married 18 years ago and yesterday I found out my wife cheated on me,” says Ben on Is Your Wife Having an Affair? Signs of Cheating. “She doesn’t want a divorce. She swears the affair is over and she just made a mistake. I love my wife but I dont know if I can forgive her for cheating. It makes me feel sick. I thought we were happy, I never expected to find out she was having an affair. I don’t want a divorce either but I don’t know what to do.”
Your marriage can survive an affair. Finding out that your wife cheated on you is painful, but you can heal from infidelity. It may not seem like it right now, but your marriage may actually become stronger and healthier! In this post, I share six steps for husbands who need to know what to do and how to respond to their wives.
Whether it’s the sex or the secrecy that hurts most, you need to allow yourself to grieve the pain. You have lost a vision, a perception of your marriage. You’ve lost your innocence. Give yourself time to grieve the harsh cold reality of infidelity.
Stay open to healing, redemption, forgiveness, and hope for your future. Grieve the pain, and have faith that your heart will heal.
What to Do When You Find Out Your Wife Cheated
Your marriage can survive an affair if both you and your wife are committed to repairing the damage, rebuilding trust, and reconnect with each other. You must prepare yourself to hear difficult things from your wife, and you must allow her to be as honest as she can. If you allow your wife to express herself authentically, she may do the same for you. And thus the long painful road to recover begins.
Here, you’ll find six general steps to rebuilding a marriage after an affair. I can’t offer specific advice tailored to your situation; you need to take time to really think about these tips, and decide if they fit your situation.
Dedicate yourselves – as a couple – to honesty and openness
No more secrets. Many husbands find that the worst part of being cheated on is the lies and secrecy, the feeling of being duped or tricked. If you and your wife want to repair your marriage, you need to talk about the affair. You may want to know how many times your wife cheated, how often they met, where they were, and who else knows about the affair.
Why do you need to hear why, how, when, and how often your wife cheated on you? Because learning the facts may help you stop obsessing about the affair. It will hurt to hear that your wife wasn’t happy in your marriage, but it will ultimately heal.
You may find it helpful to have this conversation in the presence of a therapist who can help you and your wife manage the emotions and responses that may arise. You know yourself best; you need to decide if it would be helpful to bring in a professional counselor to help you sort through the painful feelings.
Put the conversation on hold when you get upset or angry
Lashing out, screaming, crying, or succumbing to a fit of rage will shut your wife down. She’ll stop talking if you allow yourself to get out of control. You need to hear the information and you need to express your emotions – but it’s important to separate the two acts.
You have every right to feel enraged, sad, numb, frustrated, or shocked that your wife cheated on you. Those emotions are legitimate and valid, and they need to be expressed or you’ll have an emotional breakdown at some point. However, it’s better to express those emotions when you’re alone. Tell your wife how it makes you feel to know she cheated on you, but don’t allow yourself to spiral out of control.
Expect healing to take time
One conversation probably won’t be enough to get over the fact that your wife cheated on you. The marriage counselors in The 7 Stages of Marriage encourage couples to set a time limit on the “affair talk” and restrict yourself to 15 to 30 minutes.
“Don’t let the affair take over your lives,” write Harrar and and DeMaria in 7 Stages of Marriage. “Do ask questions as they arise instead of building up resentment and long lists of questions. Don’t let your worries go underground. Keep talking.”
They add that spouses need to expect curveballs when they’re talking about infidelity in marriage. Husbands will learn unexpected things about their wives, and wives will learn unexpected things about husbands. Finding out that your wife cheated on you is your chance to learn more about who she is as a woman.
Work through your emotions
How do you deal with grief? Anger? Pain, sadness, heartache? If there was ever a time to learn healthy ways to grieve, it is now. You may have been told not to cry all your life, but if there was ever a time to cry, it is now. You are deeply wounded. Your anger is justified…but underneath that angry man is a hurt little boy who just wants his happy wife back.
You were so brave to type the words “my wife cheated on me” and click on this article. Every month, thousands of husbands and boyfriends are doing the same search – and that doesn’t count the thousands who are too ashamed or embarrassed to admit that their wives or girlfriends cheated. You are not alone.
Refuse to allow your wife’s cheating to affect your self-identity
Your wife’s choice to have an affair does not change who you are as a man, husband, or father.
You are lovable, worthy, and loved unconditionally by God. You were created to be who you are for a specific reason.
In How to Forgive Your Girlfriend for Cheating, Teddy shares how he forgave his girlfriend for cheating on him. He describes the feelings he experienced and his reasons for wanting to rebuild his relationship with his girlfriend. He also shared how her cheating affected him personally. If you’re struggling to say the words “my wife cheated on me” without feeling ashamed or unworthy as a man, you may find that article helpful.
Do not suffer the past. Wear it like a loose garment; take it off and let it drop.
Forgive your wife for cheating on you when you’re ready
“You’ll never forget an affair, but the painful memories will fade with time,” write Harrar and DeMaria. “Forgiveness allows you to move past the pain and rage and to reconcile with your wife. Take this important step only when you feel ready to let go of your negative feelings, when your wife has been completely honest and has taken steps to rebuild your trust.”
If you’d like to share what it feels like to say “my wife cheated on me”, please share below. You may find that writing about your experience will help you work through your feelings. Don’t hide in shame; allow your true thoughts to come out.
While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience of infidelity in marriage. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.
Take time to listen to the still small voice inside of you – because you are wiser and more courageous than you think.