Why the Unfaithful Don’t Want to Talk About It

It’s a common understanding; we just don’t want to talk about what makes us feel uncomfortable or ashamed. We certainly don’t want to talk about our failures, unless we’ve experienced a great deal of healing for those failures. Early on in our recovery, I made the mistake of saying to Samantha several times “Let’s not talk about this anymore. Let’s start over, move on, and save us!”

What a great heart’s intent right? Who wouldn’t love that? Sounds sincere enough right?

What I thought I was conveying was “I want to be with you, and I’m willing to work on the marriage at all costs.” But what I was conveying was, as long as we don’t talk about the affair or how I failed and I am ready to get healthy (as long as we talk about you and not me) and here we go, off to the next chapter of our lives (focusing on you and not me).

Looking back, it was really quite selfish and dysfunctional. I didn’t want to talk about anything that produced in me a negative feeling or consequence. I was willing to do anything to not talk about me, or how I failed, or how I blew it, or the shame I was filled with. But I was more than willing to talk about how we could change Samantha so I would never cheat again. Yep, that was the reality of my intent. It didn’t seem like it then, but looking back, I can see ever so clearly my motives and my desire to shield me, but talk about her struggles and how to keep me home. Pretty ridiculous I know, but that’s what selfish, unhealthy, dysfunctional people do: they focus on the faults of others, not themselves.

It wasn’t that I refused to get help, but I truly felt like I couldn’t open up and talk about me. I was sure that if we did, Samantha would leave and my therapist (Rick Reynolds) would give up on me. I didn’t feel safe at all and was terrified of rejection by both of them. I had become convinced that my shame was real and that I was something bad, not that I had done something bad. You see, when we are something bad, we deserve to be rejected and given up on, even thrown away when we fail. But when we simply do something bad, and make a mistake, but are worth saving and redeeming and helping, we don’t give in to shame. We rise up, take ownership of our mistakes and move forward, wiling to get all the help we can and display true empathy. I believed the lie that is perpetuated time and time again, and it’s this thought: Shame says I am something wrong. Grief, sorrow, brokenness (or as some would say Godly sorrow) says I’ve done something wrong, but am worth loving and caring for.

There’s a country mile of difference between the two my friends.

If your spouse, male or female, doesn’t want to talk about it, my hunch is they simply don’t know how to talk about it and are scared to death of talking about their own failures as they think they will be forsaken. They are probably so full of shame (I am something wrong) that they tend to mask their feelings by anger or blame, and even push back against their guilt and shame with anger or hostility towards you.

What they need to realize is, if they do not talk about it in a safe way, in a safe place, you can never heal. It will simply stunt your growth and prohibit the betrayed spouse from understanding what happened, why it happened, and how to help protect against relapse in the future. Their decision is based more upon ignorance and confusion than it is a willingness to focus on you and not them. They probably just don’t get it (as I didn’t) until an objective third party helped me. The EMS Weekend saved my life, and my time with Rick (who had been through this before and could relate to me) helped me understand what I was truly feeling. When I was unlocked, the safe grief and contrition if you will, began to pour in like lead to my soul and it was then that empathy began to manifest towards Samantha and the list of others I hurt by my failure.

I hope and pray this ministers to you and helps lead you and your spouse into the light and out of the darkness of shame.

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I agree

I have followed your blogs for some time and agree with everything you have written due to I am the unfaithful spouse. This article hits hard because as much as I have talked about with it my husband to help him heal from this, there is so much bitterness, hurt and anger that it is relayed that there is something wrong with me not that I did something wrong. Therefore, there is no "safety" in talking about it because whatever I share is used against me or used to make me feel like I am a bad person, not worth fighting for or loving. I know that my husband loves me and I wish I felt safe in sharing things about me but after going through this for 2 years it is hard some days to not feel like a bad person for betraying him. I will continue to fight through this because I know that one day, hopefully we will get to the other side. Thanks for writing these articles and making us stop to take a look at ourselves.

A bitter pill

I'm sure what you are feeling is real on the inside, but I might suggest that your husband is still in disbelief that such a wonderful person could do something so wrong. He loves you and that's why he is staying. He is just trying to justify his love for you against the affair you had and the deception that you carried out. His pride is hurt, his ego is crushed and he is doubting hat he is really the man you really want..after all, you went to someone else. Just continue to hang in there and reassure him of what you want. It might take a long time before he can release the enough pain to move beyond what happened. In talking to other betrayed men, those who are the most rocked and shocked by a wife's affair are those whose wife seemed least likely to have an affair. That is hard to understand, but it means that he truly believes (and always has) that you are a really great woman. He will recognize that more with time and reflection. However, he will have to let go of his ego and pride to accept what happened. He may never be able to do that, but you owe him your unending devotion and to give him that chance.

It's crazy...

...but since I found this website and the articles and blog, each and every time I log on, I feel hope and draw strength from everything I read. My D-Day was April 29th of this year when I found emails and chats on my husband's laptop (he had given me his laptop to configure our new wireless printer, couldn't remember our wireless network password, and in looking in the 'keychain' I discovered his secret email address log in info...unconscious desire to get caught? Hm...) We've been married 31 years this month. And the affair with his coworker was for the last 4 (he was laid off last August- God thing?). And I had no clue. He was "THE husband". Our daughters all modeled their ideal man after their dad and married men who had similar traits. I trusted him explicitly. He never gave me reason not to. He was not consitently home late from work. There were no credit card bills or unexplained withdrawls from our checking. Once in a while he'd ask to 'go out with the guys'...but he actually did. When I confronted him, he did the usual- denied it, then minimized it, then pleaded with me to just forgive him and forget it. But in the end, he did everything I asked- went to our pastor, set up appointments with a counselor, told our adult children and spouses and his siblings, was remorseful and repentant, and hasn't spoken to her since then. Samuel, you don't know how your entries have helped both of us. He especially resonated with the entry about slavery and not knowing how to get out of it, the feeling of 'this is how it's just gonna be'...and I just wanted to say thanks for allowing God to use you in helping us- people you don't even know. I am amazed at the people God's put in our path. I know this process is going to be a long haul. I've never felt such pain in my life and I know this is going to be hard. And I know there's alot yet to deal with...but I know that somehow we'll be better than we were. So, just wanted to say thank you. And please continue to write about things God puts on your heart.

Thank you

Your posting was timely and appropriate for our EMSO/MFL group. The betrayed have been experiencing the unease of this topic and how we should or should not address it....truth brings safety, right?! Honesty....so difficult yet so simple. Thank you for your perspective....very helpful to me and I hope to many others.

But what do you do when your

But what do you do when your spouse won't have that conversation with you? I've decided to move forward with my own healing without the participation of my spouse. We're no longer together but I have tried to get him to understand how my unanswered questions hinders my ability to heal. I'm praying that God will reveal what I need to know in His time. This article helps me to see that his lack of cooperation has a lot to do with his shame and guilt. This was also covered in my HH class. But it would help to remove some of my anger and frustration with him if he would open up.

Brenda0320 I'm so sorry he

Brenda0320 I'm so sorry he wont have that conversation with you. It's incredibly difficult when the unfaithful spouse will not participate. The best thing you can do is in fact, pursue your own recovery and healing. if he was open, and willing, even in the slightest bit, he'd need to read some of the articles here on the site that explain why he needs to share the details. If it came from an objective third party and not from you, perhaps it would be objective enough to get him to understand it and see the truth and need behind it. Without that, its not too likely he'll understand the need for you to know details. But by moving on, you are at least getting help for your self and taking a huge leap forward to heal and I hope and pray he sees how healthy you are becoming and possibly wakes up and sees the need to come clean and pursue restoration, even if its pretty far down the road. I'm sorry there isn't more concrete strategy for you when the other spouse is not willing.