I sometimes hear from wives who aren’t certain how to respond when their husband says something extremely hurtful as it relates to his fidelity. Sometimes, he will actually insinuate that something about the wife or the marriage tests his fidelity. Not only can the wife be hurt and horrified to hear this, but she is often left not knowing how to respond.
I heard from a wife who said: “for the last several months, I could not help but notice that my husband has been openly staring at other women in my presence. He also sometimes flirts right in front of me. Our marriage has been challenged within the last year and half because I have added additional responsibilities to my life. I’ve had no choice about this, but it has caused stress in my life which has in turn caused stress with our marriage. I regret this, but never did I think that it would cause my husband to be unfaithful to me. The other day, he was openly gawking at the waitress when we were eating. I couldn’t take it anymore so I asked him if he was cheating on me or having an affair. I told him that I could no longer ignore the way that he has been acting and that I couldn’t help put notice that he had been coming home late recently. He responded that no, he is not having an affair. But then he said that sometimes my behavior makes him want to have one. I asked him what in the world he meant by this. He said that I’m so insecure and needy that it gets exhausting to reassure me all of the time. He also said that I never have time for him anymore and that our sex life has become unsatisfactory because we are not intimate nearly enough. I had no response to this because I had no idea what I was supposed to say. I just told him to pay the check and we left the restaurant. I know that I should take this seriously. But part of me is very resentful. I don’t want to fall all over myself to make myself available to him any time he feels like it when I am struggling to juggle a lot of things in my life. What about him supporting me? What about him settling for less physical reassurance when I have all of these things going on? Hearing him say this actually makes me want to be intimate with him even less. How am I supposed to handle this? I need my husband’s support at this time in my life. But clearly sex is more important to him than supporting me.”
This was a difficult situation, but it most certainly wasn’t a rare one. Men and women will often see this situation very differently. Men will often actually want to have sex in times of stress because they will often see it as an effective and appropriate stress reliever. Women sometimes struggle to have sex in times of emotional turmoil because sex and emotions are tied together for them. And they can very much resent that their husband is asking this of them when they are obviously thinking about other things. This can cause misunderstanding and resentment on both sides. I will discuss what I believe is the best way to deal with this in the following article.
Ignoring This Or Dismissing Your Husband As Too Needy Or Demanding Might Be A Mistake: I know that it is very tempting to tell your husband that he expects too much or to just ignore the situation in the hopes that he will work it out on his own. But in my experience, this strategy comes with a high level of risk. Many men equate a lack of sex as a personal rejection to them. They will start to believe that their wife doesn’t have time for them or just doesn’t care. Therefore, they may begin to justify inappropriate behavior by telling themselves that their wife gives them little choice but to get their needs met outside of their household.
To be fair, some men will just look and act a bit inappropriately in front of their wives as this husband was. But, be aware that some men will start out just looking but they will eventually graduate to more physical behavior. They will typically attempt to justify their infidelity by pointing out that they tried to tell their wife they needed more but she just ignore them.
How To Respond When Your Husband Is Trying Very Hard To Get Your Attention: As much as the husband’s words hurt this wife, you at least have to give him credit for being honest. Because some men will tell their wives that nothing is wrong or that she is seeing things that don’t exist while he is actively behaving in a way that is deceiving or being unfaithful to her. So while his words may hurt or may have made you angry, know that he is at least alerting you to the problem before anything horrible has happened. This is an advantage because it is much easier to save your marriage before infidelity happens than it is to rescue your marriage from the ashes once one of the spouses has cheated.
An appropriate response might be something like: “well since you are being so honest with me, I have to be honest with you and tell you that this hurts me. You know that I have been struggling in the last year. I didn’t realize that you had been feeling neglected and I am glad that you told me so that I can address this. It would help me a lot if in return you could support me more emotionally. I am dealing with a lot of stress and, honestly, it is easier for me to feel romantic or in the mood when I am feeling supported emotionally. Can we both agree to do better?’
Do you notice that I didn’t call him a superficial jerk who had been disrespecting his wife? I acknowledged that both spouses weren’t giving each other exactly what they needed and I laid the groundwork so that this could change. It is better to compromise before anything happens than to pick up the pieces afterward.