It’s natural to eventually have not too much to say to your cheating spouse. Well, let me clarify that. Many of us have plenty to say when we find out about the cheating. And most of us say plenty (or scream plenty) as soon as the cat is out of the bag. And we keep saying it. And then say it some more. But after a while, we get sort of all talked out. And once we have our say, our spouse might try to defend himself or to justify his cheating, which most of us definitely do not want to hear. And so we will want all of the talking to just stop, especially when we don’t have much to say to him anyway – at least at the time.
So it’s natural to resort to the silent treatment. Not all husbands take kindly to this, though, or just accept it. Many will tell you that all your refusal to have a conversation is doing is making things worse. They might try to anger or attempt to goad you into talking to them. And this can make some wives question their strategy. Someone might explain: “I would not say that my husband and I had many deep conversations after I found out that he has been cheating on me. Mostly, I yelled and he tried to duck from all of the insults that I was hurling at him. I think he kept waiting until I calmed down to talk, but it took me a long time. And he keeps trying to talk, but I shut him down. I have no interest in what he has to say. There is no excuse that will ever allow this to make sense. There is nothing that he could say to me to soften the blow. So lately, when he tries to talk, I simply leave the room. And he will try to get me to talk to him, but I will remain silent and just kind of look at him with anger in my eyes. He tells me that we have to talk eventually and that I can’t give him the silent treatment forever. I know that I can’t carry on this way forever. But right now, it is working for me. If our kids are around, I will make polite requests of him for their benefit, but I don’t talk to him about anything of substance and I do not want to change this any time soon. Do I have to stop giving him the silent treatment?”
I don’t think that you have to do anything. You have every right to decide what is and is not working for you right now. After all, if your husband had never cheated, then none of this would be necessary. He made that decision. You did not. And now, you are just dealing with this mess (that you did not create) in the best way that you can.
With this said, I doubt that it can (or should) go on this way forever. Since you have children, it is vital that you are able to talk openly and honestly with their father – even if you are only talking about them. I’m sure that you know that one day, the two of you will need to stop the silent treatment – at least as far as the kids are concerned. This is necessary for their well being and in order to be effective parents. We so often hope that if we just fake things for the kids, then they won’t know that anything is wrong. But, they do pick up on more than we give them credit for. So no matter what happens with the marriage, keep an open mind when it comes to co-parenting. Because presenting a united front as parents is one of the best gifts that you can give your child.
But as far as talking about your marriage, there is no time table for this. Sometimes, it takes a while before you feel that you are ready to have any meaningful conversations. Eventually though, you will want to. Because even if you don’t want to save your marriage and you want to eventually divorce, you want to resolve this relationship in a healthy way so that the pain does not linger on, or even worse, follows you to your next relationship. You deserve to be happy. But it is hard to do that when you’re carrying the baggage of this pain around forever.
And the silent treatment is probably not the most effective strategy to rid yourself of the pain. Most of us want our husbands to feel sorry and remorseful – even if we aren’t sure about our marriages anymore. The silent treatment usually makes him feel less sorry, not more. And he can only guess at your point of view or at your feelings. But all of these things can be saved for later, if necessary.
And you may just naturally get to the point where you get tired of giving the silent treatment and not having the conversation that you probably need to have in order to move forward. But I certainly don’t think that you have to force yourself to talk if you are not ready. I don’t think that you have to rush it. To keep your husband from pushing you, I’d suggest something like: “I realize that we will eventually need to talk, but I’m just not ready for that yet. And I am asking you to respect that. I’m more than willing to discuss things that need to be talked about regarding the kids. But I am not ready to talk about the affair or our marriage yet. I know that in time we will need to have those conversations. But now is not that time, at least for me. I will let you know when I am ready. But right now, I’m just asking you to respect my wishes.”
You will likely know when the time is right. One of the first things that you learn during this process is that no one else can – or should – make these decisions for you. Others’ judgements really should not matter. This is your life. And your pace. So you get to decide when you are ready to move on to the next step.