Most people would probably suspect that the majority of the wives who contact me for help in dealing with their husband’s affair are extremely angry. And many are. Some of the wives are quite sad and are mourning the life they thought they knew and now fear they might loose altogether.
But, I get a good deal of wives who describe themselves as “numb” or as “just going through the motions” or as “sleepwalking” through their lives. And many of the wives who see themselves as numb think that there is something wrong with them. They wonder why they can’t become furious or devastated like the women that they know in this same situation. They wonder if they are letting their husband off the hook. They wonder if they are so emotionally wounded that they can no longer feel anything. And, they certainly hope that this isn’t going to be permanent. But, right now, they seem to prefer shutting down to being in pain.
The following article is for those wives who have become somewhat numb or detached as the result of their husband’s affair. There’s nothing at all wrong with you and there’s a reason for this. And no, this most certainly doesn’t have to be permanent.
Being Numb After A Husband’s Affair Is A Normal Form Of Self Preservation And Control: Many women in this situation have children. So, they sort of shut down because they don’t want to loose control or lash out in front of their children or other family members. Also, they don’t want for their children to know what their father did. So, they put one foot in front of the other and resume their normal life for the sake of their kids. They attempt to shut off their emotions because those same emotions are potentially devastatingly painful and troublesome.
Sometimes, wives shut down as a way to maintain control over the situation and over their emotions. They either know that once the feelings start pouring out, they won’t be able to stop them. Or, they don’t want to give their husband “the satisfaction” of seeing a reaction.
Either way, the feelings are going to eventually need to come out. If you don’t release them, they are going to come out in passive aggressive sort of ways, or you might find that you’re directing your anger at yourself (which most definitely isn’t fair.) It’s understandable to not want to loose control, but there’s nothing that says you can’t journal, talk to a trusted friend, or just take some time for yourself to reflect.
Unfortunately, ignoring this doesn’t make it go away or mean that you don’t have to eventually deal with it. I tried this myself and I can tell you that it doesn’t work. What happens is that the feelings continue to fester and boil underneath the surface and will then show themselves in other ways. Sure, you may not be overtly showing your anger or sorrow, but I can assure you that it’s there and is going to eventually manifest itself, if it hasn’t begun to already.
What Needs To Happen For You To Be Able To Feel Again After Your Husband’s Affair: Occasionally, when I explain the above points to wives, I have some that just don’t buy what I’m saying. They will insist that they are dealing with this in their own way and, although the result of this has left them sort of numb, they find this preferable to anger or devastation. Believe me when I say, I certainly want to spare wives painful emotions if I can and I don’t take any pleasure in knowing that someone is going to experience negative emotions. But I have to tell you that being numb is also, at least in my opinion and experience, quite negative.
Sure, you don’t feel the pain, self doubt, and resentment quite as much, but you don’t feel the joy, spontaneity, and peace of mind either. So you are sacrificing both the good and bad for the neutral middle ground, which never really feels quite right. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to laugh and to be spontaneous. You deserve to be able to express and react to whatever it is that you are really feeling. If you are just going through the motions, then you’re allowing his affair to take these things from you, which are expressions of yourself, and that most certainly is not fair.
Wives often tell me that they don’t want to be this way, but they don’t know how to stop. They can’t seem to get out of this rut and they worry that in order to longer feel numb, they have to conjure up so anger or some dramatic emotions that they don’t seem to really feel. This really isn’t the case. Often, just allowing yourself to think about or face this as you are ready will naturally bring out your honest feelings and reactions. And, this doesn’t mean that you have to react negatively to them. Just sit with them and acknowledge that they are there. You don’t need to do this when your children are around.
Often, once you allow yourself to feel, you will also often need some things from yourself and your husband in order to begin to heal. You’ll often want answers. You’ll often want to know if (or that) he’s truly sorry. You will often need a workable plan to rehabilitate your marriage (if you want to save it) and you’ll need some things that help to restore your self esteem and sense of trust. This may seem like a lot to think about and take on, but it really is a gradual process that you can take at your own pace.
And, it’s preferable to allowing this to suck out all of your emotions and your ability to really experience and embrace life. Admittedly, working though this is hard. But, it’s the only way to ensure that you really get your life back on your own terms rather than just being numb to everything that is going on around you. Because this, to me, is every bit as tragic as the affair.