How Do I Talk to My Husband About His Affair?

Infidelity is a traumatic experience that can leave deep wounds in a marriage. When you are trying to heal from the hurt caused by your husband's affair, you may feel that you need to talk about it to move forward. However, it can be difficult to discuss the affair without triggering your husband and making things worse.

The Pain of Triggers

Every time you attempt to talk about the affair, you may find yourself triggering your husband, leading to arguments and more pain. Your need to be heard and validated is met with resistance and avoidance. Your husband may feel ashamed of their actions and avoid talking about the affair to avoid feeling the emotions that come with it. This can leave you feeling lonely and unsupported in your healing journey.

Your need to talk about the affair is real

You want your husband to hear you and comfort the pain their affair caused. 

Not having your husband there emotionally for you changes the climate between you both. Suddenly your fears are triggered, and those fears can take over. For me, it was like a switch flipped inside my head. Even though my husband didn't want to talk about their affair, I forced them to hear me out anyway. Panic and anger lead those conversations. They became losing battles for us both because we both become triggered by the pain of my husband's affair.  Worse, other wounds occurred too while we battled it out.

All I wanted was support and comfort, but instead, we both found ourselves targeting each other. We both used blame and anger in an attempt to deflect our pain away from each other. For me, the betrayed, it felt like our marriage would never heal or that I would never heal. Sometimes it can feel like every attempt to connect with our unfaithful partner can open us up for more pain and heartache.  Why can't our husbands talk about their affairs with us? When will the triggers end?

We just want the pain of our husbands' affairs to end!

Vulnerability after an Affair

You want your husband to know exactly how you feel after their affair, mainly how much you are hurting. For you, it is imperative to talk about the affair, how you feel it, and what it has done to you and your relationship. You may even think you must talk about it to heal. I get that.

Unfortunately, your husband doesn't want to talk about it, and there is a reason. Maybe they are deeply ashamed of themselves for cheating, and their shame is triggered each time the affair comes up. (We won't discuss their shame in this post as it is their responsibility to deal with that.) But be aware that our husbands' shame is a stumbling block to discussing their affairs.

Our husbands often fear that discussing the affair or anything related may also trigger us into a meltdown. Or they want to avoid feeling anything about their affair, especially seeing you in pain. So being vulnerable and opening up to you is very difficult to do, as it risks them feeling emotions over what they did to you. So they tune out and avoid discussing the affair even though they know you desperately want to.

To not feel your pain, your husband may shift into avoidance mode. In comparison, all you want after being cheated on is for them to feel and understand your pain with you.

Sadly it seems every time you attempt to talk about the affair, your husband shuts down

You may already have had many meltdowns attempting to discuss the affair or the affair partner, so now it has become traumatizing each time it comes up. Yet you know that unless you examine it, nothing will heal in your relationship. It feels like you are between a rock and a hard place which only increases your betrayal pain. So you choose to be vulnerable and keep trying to talk about the affair.

But here is where things can go wrong. Sadly vulnerability can sometimes be mistaken for permission to say everything you think or feel without filtering it. This unedited dialogue happens when we are triggered or is an excuse to offload our pain onto our husbands. It is not real vulnerability and may in fact be the opposite of vulnerability. It might even be a way of controlling or punishing our husband for their affair by making them suffer too. 

Rather than inspire conversation, with the mistaken belief of being honest, we can rant or pour out our pain all over our husband. It shuts them down and pushes them away from us. Often, if we continue to rant, our anger grows, our pitch increases, and we end up triggering not just ourselves but also our husband.

Fear Can Come in the Form of Anger 

Usually, our fear can come in the form of anger. That anger may make us feel more powerful and in control at the moment. But it is repelling our husbands away from us instead of helping them understand us. Instead of giving us the comfort we crave, they back away and look for a way out. When our husbands see that we are out of control, they desperately want to escape the situation. It's like they become cornered wild animals in their attempt to escape the wrath of our betrayal anger.

They may get defensive and point out our faults or walk away or stop engaging with us. Sometimes they can even totally ignore us. Maybe they may become angry and may even become abusive, all to avoid seeing our pain. How they avoid and leave is not important, but we know that they left, which profoundly hurts us.

Opening the Door for Vulnerability After an Affair

So how can you show genuine vulnerability without flooding yourself or your husband? How can you inspire your husband to stay with you to talk about the affair without them pulling away from you? Can you show them your wounds and have them stay with you emotionally instead of getting triggered?

I believe it is possible when we use self-care and turn to vulnerable connection. A vulnerable connection may not happen the first couple of times you try, or even every time you seek to connect. But invites us to be is more authentic and honest about how we feel than not to say anything. The starting place for vulnerable connection is asking yourself what you want from your husband. What is your real authentic reason for conversing with them about their affair?

Self-care is giving ourselves the space to learn what we want or need. Perhaps it is to get the comfort you desire, or maybe it is to punish them for cheating. Look at what you want or need to see your real motivation for talking with your husband about their affair. Starting with self-honesty leads to vulnerability.

Use Self-care to Understand What you Want Before you Talk to your Husband

Self-care is exploring and knowing your innermost feelings before starting a conversation with your husband about his affair. Being completely honest with yourself helps you to communicate with genuine vulnerability. We get triggered when we don't feel safe. But when you repeatedly come into discussions with this assertive self-care attitude, eventually, it creates a more comfortable and safe space for you both to be authentic. (But only if your husband is someone capable of being honest.)

Maybe deep down, you genuinely do want to punish them for cheating on you. If that is your truth and you want your husband to know it, then be honest and share it with dignity and self-respect. Tell them how you feel about yourself for wanting to punish them. Open your heart to your husband and keep the conversation about how you feel without blaming them. Blame invites defense, and defense involves blocking, leaving, or fighting back. You aim to bring your husband closer to hearing how you feel without pushing them away or triggering each other.

Perhaps you want comfort. Ask for comfort by being genuine in your request. Why do you want comfort? How would comfort look and feel to you? Self-care is trying to understand what you want before you talk to your husband. Attempt to keep yourself as authentic and openhearted as possible before making a request or sharing with your husband. Leading with self-care invites vulnerable connection. On the other hand, demands invite resentment and a feeling of being controlled. Keeping a soft open heart invites a desire to meet it.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness.

If it doesn’t feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive.

Brene Brown

Open your heart to your own truth first and bring that truth to your partner

Your emotional honesty or softness can draw your husband's heart closer to what you are saying with curiosity and empathy instead of apprehension. Consistently bringing your husband's heart into the conversation, especially as they witness your vulnerability and honesty, allows them to hear you. Being listened to is so essential for you both. The tone of your discussions changes when you both practice speaking from vulnerability and your most profound truths.

When you share your truth with your husband, mostly when done with compassion and authenticity, it endears you. Gently revealing a perceived weakness in yourself will open the door for them to do the same to you.  We show self-care toward ourselves when we learn to be vulnerable and live from our truth.

This type of heart-to-heart communication happens when you dare to be vulnerable about your own needs first. Authenticity about your needs becomes the focus of your discussions with your husband. You can open your husband's heart to an intimate conversation when you are open to your own heart first. Self-care teaches us how to be open and available to our own hearts.

It Takes Self-care and Practise to Talk About the Affair

End the cycle of arguing without resolution. Prioritize self-care and openness, allowing you to approach discussions about your husband's infidelity with vulnerability and authenticity. Practicing self-care regularly can build a foundation for healthier, truth-based communication. Embrace the healing journey and learn how to cultivate authenticity through the Self Care After Infidelity Course. Access the support you need to navigate this difficult time and care for yourself confidently.

Much love

Yours on the Journey

What Should I Do...

... if I have been honest and vulnerable and he still doesn't want to talk about it...

Please reach out for more support.  Your emotional safety is important and your healing is important.

Book support with someone who understands betrayal pain. I will buy you a free coaching session because you are important and your healing is important.

You may also find these helpful:

Facing Our Fears After Infidelity – Part 1
What My Husband’s Infidelity Revealed
He Cheated, Why Do I Feel Betrayal Shame?

About the Author

I'm the Betrayed Wife, mother of adult children, former teacher, and now a certified life coach and relationship facilitator.

The betrayed wife's personal experiences, her highly attuned ear, and deep insights are what her clients love most about working with her. She lives on a farm with her husband and spends her days caring for betrayed wives, gardening, and taking long walks in nature with her dog.  More about  the betrayed wife's personal infidelity story...

  • Emotions run high from so much fear, pain and anger. It is so hard to move forward with so much nasty baggage. This question of what my need has helped me to find out what areas of healing I am in need of. Thanks

  • This is the best piece of wisdom I’ve read! It was a tough read but I needed to hear every word.

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