I sometimes hear from wives who feel a good deal of anger and hatred toward their husband after they catch him cheating or having an affair. Sometimes, the intensity of these feelings take these wives by surprise. They are stunned. Most will tell you that they are not the type of person who feels negative emotions like hatred. Most are able to look the other way when someone angers them. And most will tell you that they never would have believed that they could feel hatred toward the man who they loved more than anyone else. However, that is what they are feeling now – white hot hatred that takes over everything else.
Many are scared by these feelings. Some have children and know that feeling this way toward their children’s father is not going to do anyone any good. Many wish that they could stop the feelings in their tracks, but find that they can not just turn it off and on. They might say: “if you had told me five years ago that I would one day feel this type of hatred toward my husband, I would have called you a liar. I adore my husband. I truly do. That is, until I caught him cheating on me. Now I feel so angry and betrayed that I literally think that I hate him. And that is very hard for me because just last week, I thought about how lucky I was and how much I loved him. But I can’t get over what he has done to me and what he risked and may just throw away. However, I have children and a business with him so I know that I can not go the rest of my life hating him. I know that I need to eventually let down these feelings, but I can’t even fathom how it would be possible because I feel this choking anger every waking hour. I look at him and my blood boils. How do women not just absolutely hate their husbands after infidelity?”
I can not speak for anyone else, but I am willing to share some of my feelings with you in the hopes that it will help. Make no mistake. I was absolutely furious with my husband for cheating and at times thought about doing him bodily harm (although I know that I never would have actually gone through with this. I did, however, destroy plenty of household items and mementos.) I really can not overstate how angry I was. And I stayed that way for quite a while. Right now, you can not see beyond the anger, which is understandable. It can take a while for you to be able to set that aside and to think rationally. Do not be so hard on yourself for that. It is normal.
In my own case, I came to learn that while I could not turn off my feelings, I could redirect them. Like you, I did not want for my children to be exposed to any aspect of the affair, so if I were really angry when we were all together, I would busy or excuse myself. If I was so angry that I might say or do something that I would regret, I would try to avoid or escape the situation. I would wait to interact until another time. Or I’d simply tell my husband that I needed a break for a while and he would give that to me.
I do have to admit that one thing that likely contributed to the fact that I no longer harbor any hatred is that my husband did the right thing pretty quickly. He was remorseful, ended the affair, and agreed to do whatever I wanted or needed. If he had dragged his feet with this, the outcome may have been different. He pretty much did what I asked of him, although we both had resentments and hurt feelings along the way.
At the end of the day, I didn’t carry that hate with me because I decided to hate the action and the behavior rather than person. I hated the decision. I did not hate him. I can not deny that good people sometimes do bad things and make mistakes. I had to look at the totality of our marriage and decide for myself if the good that my husband had done had outweighed the bad. The truth is, it was not even close. My husband has been a rock for my entire family for years and years. He has taken care of myself and my children while thinking very little of himself. Did he do that when he cheated? Absolutely not. But I could not negate years of good behavior by days of bad behavior. A very close family member of mine (who has now passed away) was an alcoholic. Because of this, part of my childhood was very painful and at times, I have felt resentment and anger. But now that the family member is gone, I realize that I can hate the disease and still love the person. This family member was otherwise loving and kind. You can’t erase those qualities over one negative thing.