She Won’t Stop Asking Questions…..He Just Gets Angrier

Yesterday I was visiting with a woman who is trying to wrap her mind around her husband’s three affairs over 6 years. She knew about one affair but was under the impression it was only an emotional affair, yet has long since come to know that all three were emotional and physical and lasted about three to six months each. She’s devastated. To her own credit as a woman, she’s ‘open’ to seeing if the marriage can be saved. After four kids all under the age of 17, 22 years together and a sea of other concerns, there is a lot to lose. She’s not sure she wants to stay in the marriage, but she’s open to the possibility of it being saved.

To say the rug has been ripped out from underneath her does not even begin to illustrate the overwhelming emotions and fears she’s trying not to entertain every hour of every day. Who were these women? Does she have an STD lurking that she doesn’t know about? Was there more than these three affairs that he’s not telling her? Can she ever trust that he’ll never do this again? How will she make it if she divorces him with four kids and no career? These are just some of the fears she’s trying to manage each day. Any woman in this situation would be asking themselves these questions and about a zillion more I’m sure.

When she’s asking questions, she’s trying to put the puzzle together in her mind. She’s having to almost reconstruct a life that she’s known next to nothing about. She can’t seem to understand when, where, and how but asking questions helps put things together so she can somehow wrap her mind around it all. To her, finding out more information is the way she is trying to heal. Asking him questions helps her feel connected to her husband and at some level, helps her process what has happened.

The problem is, when she asks questions, he rages. He just can’t sit and answer many questions at all as it pushes him to a point of anger and rage and she becomes the target. The shame he feels is incapacitating and his only outlet seems to be anger. They are stuck.  She can’t stand the anger and can’t really even understand it.  He can barely answer questions without resorting to blaming her and justifying the affair. He is using anger to bully her and force her to stop wanting to ask the questions.

In many ways, the reason he is raging is he’s really angry at himself and enveloped by shame. He’s angry at what he’s done. He’s at some level sobering up, but isn’t committed to any process at all. The deeper problem though is that he is refusing to process the pain and can’t forgive himself.  So just when he starts to think a little clearer, if you will, he resorts to anger as he’s furious for letting himself do what he’s done. He’s angry at the fact that he couldn’t control himself, can’t control his wife now and can’t control the flow of information. He’s resorting to anger as that’s his ‘go to’ emotion when he wants to get something done or bully his wife.

I don’t see a ton of hope for them. Unless he will entrust an expert third party like Rick to help mediate and speak to the issues, it’s just too complicated. They may make it on their own or with some other form of support, but what condition will they be in down the road is of great concern. Not to mention, how is he going to buck against the 40 years of data that says he will in fact relapse, if the right help is not sought out?

To expect her to suck it up and put to death her questions and need for processing is not only unrealistic but torturous to her.  It illustrates a refusal on his part to help her heal from what he’s done to her. It provides no outlet for her to wrap her mind around what she barely knows about and stuffs her in a box of control and paralysis.

My question to some of you today is what have you, the betrayed, done when a spouse has attempted to bully you and refuse to answer questions or shown rage about the questions? (Please be as redemptive and therapeutic as possible as there are a ton of people who are looking for hope and insight for their situation. Don’t use this medium as a rant as we all have had enough of that I’m quite sure.) 

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Regarding "She Won't Stop Asking Questions...He Just Gets Angry

After two entire years of trying to work through the issues regarding the affair, one which kept going on during that two years while my spouse lied about it after initial discovery, and after attending EMS weekend, there was still a lot of anger and frustration when ever I would ask questions. I had been on a roller coaster and wanted to leave, even tried to leave several times, unsuccessfully. Well, I finally did. I did so remaining hopeful for our marriage as I know my spouse wants to and is working on his own issues that led to the affair in the first place, and which turned out to be issues that he had continuously before we were married and that he kept from me. Still, I left not to be manipulative but to find safety for myself and peace, knowing that hopefully we could work our marriage out but accepting that if we could not I would be OK, somehow. Since I have left my spouse and we have had much more productive conversations and are able to sit and talk calmly together. We meet every week at some point and spend time together on the weekends. I think the separation has helped take the pressure off of each of us in our own ways to actually come together in a more positive way. Sometimes there needs to be a break from it all, as it can become so overwhelming. I don't know if this is helpful or not but it has definitely helped in our marriage. I still don't know what the future holds, but I do know the separation has helped me feel at peace with myself and it has helped my husband find new perspective and a stronger desire to work
on his issues. He is reading some recommended books, and getting a lot of professional help (which he said he would never do two years ago). It has also helped in the process of him having far more empathy for me and what he has put me through. My gut tells me we will make it to out next anniversary which is soon, but I don't know where we would be without the break from each other.

My wife will not talk about

My wife will not talk about it or at least has not talked about it at all just shuts down and will not sat anything. What Zzz I have done is my own investigation and found out probably most of what happened. In the begining I did not need to know all and every now I do not need to know all the details just do not see the need only have that much more to have to deal with so for the past year and a half I have not questioned her very ?uch if at all. My hope has been for her to find safety in me over time and see the hope we have so that i can start to get her to talk about, not so much for my knowledge but so I know she has not just buried it and not really delt with it. We also have to come to an understanding as to how and how to prevent it from happening again. We really have never been angry with each other so that is not the issue and other then a trigger that hit me over a year ago and finding her owner her AP's house a couple times I have been able to creat a safe environment for her. I feel it has been mso
Working she is starting On her own to read about how to inprove our relationship and this is huge when we did EMSO she did not do the work oh a few easy ones but for the most part not much. She is also thinking that maybe she should look at doing Hope for Healing that would be really good for her to be able to do, of course money is rather tight so not sure that will happen but she does seem to be moving in the right direction and I am so hopeful a guarded helpfulness but very hopeful . So in my case I was a leaders to just put the real digging for a time when she felt safe to be able to talk this may not be what some people want but all through life I have had to learn to be patience and that thing are not always able to happen the way I want but what the way that offers the best.chance of success.
David

What we did

I wish I could say that we talked it out rationally, but no. I continued to ask very specific and pointed questions because the few vague answers I was getting just didn't add up. He continued to give vague answers or no answers or even lie, be physically aggressive, and rage at me because I wouldn't shut up. I would eventually lose it and rage back, and we would have all-out verbal warfare with an occasional fist put up against my face as I stubbornly stood my ground. He never hit me, it was simply intimidation, being a bully. We both said a lot of bad things to each other. I finally moved out and lived apart from him for 10 months. When I returned home, he had realized what his anger and control had done. Hope for Healing, EMS, and individual therapy (some sessions were with Rick, some with an anger management therapist) gave us some tools for speaking civilly to each other, and now we are trying to monitor the emotions and not let it get to that point of raging or name-calling. We are both trying to just walk away (or take a time-out) when it gets too intense or I flood emotionally. I have to give my spouse credit for realizing how his temper has hindered recovery and for taking the initiative to get counseling and go through the H for H course. I now realize that I let my own anger at him lead me into marathoning, verbal abuse, name-calling, and distancing myself from him and that the anger he directed at me was really anger at himself. The only thing that the rages accomplished was to put an even larger wedge between us. If I ever have to go through this again in the future, I will approach it differently and try not let my anger get the best of me. Today we are doing better. Although our relationship is far from being reconciled due to a second, more revealing Dday last July, at least we are in a better place at working through the pain and controlling ourselves than we were a year and a half ago.

I can relate

I can so relate to this pattern of asking questions and him becoming angry. I wish I had known that his anger was not directed at me, but at himself. I was beyond hurt and took his anger personally, thinking that I had done so much wrong and blaming myself for his choices. The pattern continued for quite some time and even though we were in counseling, he eventually did relapse. At about the same time, I found enough gumption within myself to offer him some grace. I was beginning to realize and accept that the affair is part of our story. And if it can't be undone, we MUST find a better pattern so that our story doesn't end. Enter The Baggie. Every time I had a question regarding the affair I would write it down on a slip of paper and put it in a ziploc Baggie. I did this with the knowledge that at some point in the near future the questions would be addressed. Then we would set aside some time to go through the Baggie, now filled with many, many little slips of paper. I let him pick out the strips of paper. He or I would read them out loud and then he would respond. We would go through about 10-12 questions each time. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Sometimes the questions led to deeper conversations. It was imperative that he be completely honest with his answers. Just as I had to accept his answers even though they might hurt like the dickens. The Baggie was a great tool for us to maneuver past the questioning and anger. It provided a safe way to address sensitive issues.

Shame

My husband behaved much the same way. His tremendous shame and guilt over what he had done, expressed itself as anger. For us, it reached a boiling point when his affair partner outed some details on social media under a fictitious name. It was designed to hurt me and boy did it ever. The realization that he had continued to lie about certain details was worse than knowing the details themselves. Although finding out that she had lied to him initially about having HPV, and he in turn lied to me about exposing me to any STD's, was devastating. After I sobbed my way through a joint counseling session, I told him that I was still committed to saving our marriage. However, I needed my questions answered. ALL of my questions. Our counselor schedule a two hour session and instructed me to go home and write down my list of remaining questions. I was also instructed to let them sit a few days and ask myself what on the list I needed to know and to think about what might cause more harm than good. In the end, I wanted ALL of my questions answered and I don't regret that one bit. I am glad, however, to have taken the time to think it through. She moderated our session and helped him work through his shame and anger. She kept ME on track and helped me deal with the pain of it. It was exhausting but worth it. I think it helped us both to have a designated time and a safe place to FINALLY get it all out in the open. I felt that freed us to begin moving forward again with healing.

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