When you discover your husband is cheating on you, your heart drops to the bottom of your stomach. Meanwhile your emotions swing between fury and despair as you struggle with shock, grief, and betrayal.
You know you have to confront him about what he’s doing so you can begin to make sense of your world again. But you’re not sure how to.
Confronting a cheating husband is hard. Your thoughts and feelings are confusing and contradictory. So facing the issue head-on can feel overwhelming. Where do you start?
Part of you wants to lay into him and vent your rage. Part of you wants to beg him to tell you how he could so easily throw you, your relationship, and your love for him in the trash. And most of you just feels lost and alone.
However, confronting your cheating husband is exactly what you need to do AFTER you figure out how to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family.
The best way to deal with the necessary conversation with him is to think of it in three different parts:
Preparation is critical and will set the stage for a successful conversation with him about his behavior.
The first thing you need to do is to take care of yourself and express the raw, painful emotions you’re experiencing. Get your feelings out out by talking with a neutral third party or writing in a journal.
You may need to express yourself in this way multiple times as new layers of pain emerge. The more completely you can share your feelings about your husband’s cheating, the easier time you’ll have remaining calm when you do confront him.
As you’re coming to terms with your grief and feelings of betrayal, you will want to start gathering evidence of his infidelity. The evidence is necessary so that when you confront him you’ll be able to stay confident in the face of his denial and/or the blame he tries to shift to you for his behavior.
Because of the possibility that he may blame you, it’s really important for you to become familiar with the reasons why men cheat. When you’re armed with this information and the fact that he had other options for dealing with what he was experiencing, you’ll be less likely to fall victim to his attempts to place the responsibility for his actions on your shoulder.
Next it’s time to consider what you want from the conversation with your husband. You will definitely want information about why he was unfaithful. That information will empower you to begin thinking about what is next for your relationship.
Get very clear about the facts you want to get from him. Make notes for yourself that you can use when you do finally confront him.
Having notes will help you get what you need out of the conversation. The notes are essential because no matter how carefully you prepare for the confrontation, you’ll still be very emotional. And when your emotions are activated, it’s super easy to forget what you want to get from your conversation.
Your final piece of preparation is to schedule a safe time and place for the two of you to talk. You’ll want to make sure you can talk without distraction and that you set a time limit for the conversation. Talking about such an emotional topic is exhausting, so anticipate that you’ll need to have multiple conversations to cover all the topics you need to understand.
When actually confronting a cheating husband, it is important to keep a few things in mind.
Do your best to express yourself with “I” statements. By doing that, you’ll have a better chance of steering the conversation away from a massive battle.
Do NOT waste your time asking him if he is cheating. Present your evidence. The facts don’t lie even though your husband will likely be tempted to lie about them.
Stay calm and curious throughout the conversation. By doing so, you’ll be able to listen carefully to what he’s saying and gather the information you need to begin making sense of your world again.
Address his reasons for his infidelity without blame. This may be difficult to do. But it is necessary because this conversation is about information gathering. Not about assigning blame or fixing things.
Take your time as you evaluate what you have learned.
Think about the facts you have learned from the confrontation. As you mull things over, you may have more questions. If you do, schedule another conversation with your spouse so he can answer your questions. You’ll want to approach each follow-up conversation with the same calm and curious attitude you used for the initial confrontation.
After you’ve gathered all of the information you need, it’s time for you to make a decision about how you’d like to move forward from his betrayal.
Consider talking with a therapist or other neutral third-party if you need help making your decision.
Once you’ve made your decision about the direction you want to take with your relationship, it’s time to have another conversation with your husband. In this conversation you’ll present him with your decision and begin working together in that direction.
Now you’ve discovered what you must know about confronting a cheating husband. Confronting a cheating husband isn’t easy and no amount of preparation will make it so. But if you follow this three-part confrontation model, you’ll be able to have productive discussions with him. And the information you get from the conversations will help you make a good decision about how you want to move forward to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Again, talking to a marriage counselor can be helpful before and after confronting a cheating husband.