Q&A Why Can't My Husband Face That This Was an Affair?

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Question: 

My husband can't bear to face that his relationship with his best friend was really an emotional affair. While our church convinced him to break off that friendship years ago for the sake of how much it was hurting me, he insists he never did anything inherently wrong and still resents me for taking her away from him. He already hates himself and says he would have a mental break if ever he was convinced that “affair” really is the right label. I keep seeing all sorts of articles that describe his kinds of behaviors as typical for an unfaithful spouse, and I wish he could get past the label and get the help I need him to get to make me feel safe in his future interactions with women. How do I convince him that his worth is not on the line, but healing is right around the corner if he'd just be brave enough to face the label? I can't be the only one whose spouse minimizes the offenses and gets defensive because I've been so accusatory and have made an already-scary situation even more unsafe for him to face.

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Shirley Glass "Not Just Friends"

My husband and I spent months in the "was it an affair or not" debate. To me it was crystal clear. First off, he'd had a texting affair with this AP 7 years earlier and when I discovered it we agreed together it was a texting affair and he promised to break off all contact with her forever. So, when I learned that he'd called her 7 years later and proceeded to see her secretly (at our work) for 2.5 years 3-4 times a week, call her regularly, tell her every detail of our life, flirt with her, talk sexually with her, cover it up every way possible, sneak off to go places with her, end their conversations with "I love you" and " I love you too" etc... to me it was just so obviously an affair. Now, he would at the time agree that it was wrong to have lied and seen her after he'd promised not to but he maintained that in no way could it be an "affair." The affair had ended at this point because the AP had confronted me right in front of him and gone on and on about how much they mean to each other, how they needed each other and I didn't understand and etc.. and at that point I made him chose me or her right in front of her. (We've since done a polygraph to show me that he did in fact end it and that it had not ever become physical beyond hugging each other good night).

We spent so many hours a day on this argument. Finally one day I just said that in order for me to stay in this marriage one more day he needed to read that book. He has never read a book before in his life and we read it together a few pages a day and it took forever but once it was done he began calling it what it clearly was - an affair. Now 6 months later he knows that me hearing the words "just friends" is so triggering. He refers to it as either "my affair' or "my infidelity".

For us the label mattered. When he told himself (lied to himself) that it was just "wrong to have lied but what I was doing wasn't that wrong just that I was lying about it" his remorse and empathy weren't there at all. I was terrified and felt so unsafe. He didn't recognize what it was how could he stop it from happening again? How he could understand how devastated I was?

That book was a marriage saver for us. After we read this he'd actually start to watch AR video blogs with me and talk to me about it. He did continue to trickle truth, things did not magically get better, but we were able to start working on our recovery. We are now in week 6 of EMSO but I would say he would have never even agreed to do this with me before that book because no way would he consider it needed or relevant.