I Confessed, and Now My Husband Won’t Stop Being Angry

Dec 20, 2020 | Family, Just Ask Joyce

Q: “I can’t get my husband to stop being angry. We have been married 20 years. Shortly after we were married, I had an affair I never told him about. Recently, I felt compelled to tell him. I knew he would take it hard, but thought he would move on and we would get back to our great relationship. But he’s so angry, and our lives are a mess right now. How do you get a person you love so dearly to forgive you? 

Joyce’s FIX: Unfortunately, once we become adults, no one can really “make” us do anything. But long before we become grown-ups, it is difficult to mold our feelings into something we aren’t truly experiencing.

Infidelity sets into motion a spiral of emotions that can turn on a dime. Unfaithfulness cuts so deeply into the heart that the pain it inflicts can cause people to respond in ways abstract to their very character. He could be angry one hour and the next be crying, even tender. You might feel the course is finally taking a healing direction one month, then suddenly, something begins unraveling again. The sad reality of it is he could decide he’s not going to stay, and if he does, the unpredictability doesn’t go away.

If you want your marriage to last, you will be forced to adopt a new level of patience. Layer that with understanding and a dose of forgiveness of your own. His fickle behavior from moment to moment will call for an increase in your tolerance of backlash, which you could experience for as long as the affair lasted, if not longer.

I have talked with many people who have sustained the turbulent forces of infidelity. It can be done, but I assure you it is not without heartache. I believe it takes a special person to overcome being the victim of betrayal by a spouse. Kudos to those couples who do whatever it takes to work through the egregious error in judgment.

You can’t make your husband forgive you. However, he should…for himself more than for you. Unforgiveness is like a cancer that devours and can cause a person to become bitter, and also predisposes them to distrust every relationship he/she enters into in the future. What you can do is “make” yourself prove to him he has no reason to distrust you now. Make sure there is never a question dodged, misinformation given, no breach of integrity whatsoever going forward. It will be important that he sees the remorse in you, and he might need to see that displayed again and again. Whereas infidelity is a common marital issue, each situation is unique. You know your husband better than anyone else. If he’s willing to work through this, cooperation on your part is imperative. Work. Work some more. Then work as long as it takes to preserve the legacy the two of you created. In the end, the labor could be in vain, but it might not be — and that is worth everything the two of you will strive to achieve. 

Struggling with a relationship issue? Email Joyce Oglesby, Family Life FIX-IT Pro and find a solution for life.

P.S. Get more advice from Joyce.

13 Comments

  1. William

    I was your husband, for 12 years after my wife cheated. Most of the times were good. But I could never fully trust her again. We did love each other, and raise three kids. But after twelve years, she left. I will tell you what you need to do. First, continue to communicate. Share everything, not just the day to day events, but everything in your heart and soul. Knowing you love him isn’t enough. He believes everything you have both accomplished over 20 years has been an illusion. Show each other that everything has been the essence of your life together. And that includes the affair. He feels you separated yourself from him years ago, and life since then has been a folly. You both need to show each other that, no matter what happens, you do it all together.
    You may not be able to do this alone, therefore, second, get help. Get therapy, see a counselor. See a pastor. My wife refused to get counseling with me. She did not apologize or express regret. I was on my own from that moment on.
    The two of you made promises and commitments to each other. Your husband needs to see that this incident was not an infraction against the commitment the two of you made, but is just another component in a life you both chose to follow as one.

    Reply
  2. Charelsie Johnson

    After 20 years you should have forgiven your self and left it at that your guilt shouldn’t have been inflicted on your spouse. Pray he’s able to come to some kind of peace with it If not he’s gone

    Reply
  3. Really?

    I’m in my sixties so I have learned a few things from my own experience and from seeing what happens in others lives. One for sure is if you cheated in the past and your spouse doesn’t know or suspect, than keep your mouth shut about it. This cuts so deeply that it will end or poison your marriage forever. If you have a guilty conscience that is for you to carry. Telling only punishes your spouse. Have to wonder if you felt compelled to tell him because you actually want your marriage to end but you don’t want to be the one to ask for the divorce. This is so cowardly and manipulative. You used bad judgement and cheated, now you have hurt him when you didn’t have to. Of course he is angry. He is wondering why you would bring this up now. He is wondering if you have held on to the memory of that affair because you were never quite satisfied with your marriage to him. If a counselor told you to do this, then you were badly advised. Why bring up the affair now when it could only damage your marriage. If you had told him back when you had the affair to reconsider your marriage or give him a chance to divorce you over it that would have had some honor. But your husband has to rethink everything about his marriage to you which must seem like a complete sham to him now. You just told him that you made a foul of him with your little secret. Of course, he isn’t going to just get over it. But he might decide to move on from you. Your old mistakes are YOUR MISTAKES to live with NOT HIS. But now he is suffering and he didn’t have to. He has a right to be angry about this. People, don’t think you have a right to clear your conscience by dumping your confessions on your spouses. Go to a counselor or clergy if you need to talk about cheating. Don’t destroy the happy marriage your spouse thinks he or she has had all these years. It is horribly cruel.

    Reply
  4. Ted M.

    Husband won’t stop being angry: The wife should have taken the affair to her grave. She only confessed to ease her conscious. He will not get over this anytime soon. He needs one on one therapy and they need to go to couples therapy.

    Reply
  5. Davin Strang

    Can’t believe how wrong you both are. The unfaithfulness of 20 years ago is not the issue.
    What did you hope to gain by telling him? Every inch of telling him was for you, it was selfish. This revelation can only hurt, there was no benefit for your husband, only you and that was misguided.
    The analogy is a man cruising through life in a perfect world, blissfully happy and his spouse, who he trusts completely, rolls up pleasant as pie and chops his legs off. Now you want his forgiveness?
    Telling him was as vicious as it was selfish. I’d certainly forgive you, as I walked out the door, and it would have nothing whatever to do with your infidelity.

    Reply
  6. Dennis

    If you truly loved him you wouldn’t have cheated on him in the first place. Can you really blame him because you broke the trust in the relationship. Look at it like this trust is the glue that holds it together. Ok last example! take a clean white sheet of paper, white represents purity now tare it in half then try to put it back together. No matter how hard you try it will never be the same anymore. Now flip the script if he had cheated on you how would you really feel especially if it was your best friend? Something to think about! Their is always a price to pay for the choice we make or better yet our actions have consequences.

    Reply
  7. Naftali Jenkins

    I’m just going to say this, the fact that you waited 20 plus years to tell your husband what you done doesn’t sit well with me because now I feel like you’ve been cheating the whole entire time and dude must passed away or something for you to tell him now. It also make it seem like it may be someone her husband know a friend maybe or enemy to wait so long to tell him. Long story short this will have no happy ending if I were the husband because I don’t trust you now and like I said the fact it took you so long to say anything most men will think she’s been cheating the whole time so who wants to be with someone like that. If she really love her husband and they have a great relationship then she should have never cheated first but being that she did she should have never said anything if she still wants to be with her husband. The only way to me this relationship could have a happy ending is if he tells her that he was doing the same thing, otherwise if he’s been faithful and loyal all these years then me personally I would kill her with kindness be polite and respectful possibly even remain friends but a divorce will be the next step period point blank.

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  8. Mando

    Bad answer.

    Reply
  9. Tiffany

    Men do it to us and want us to forgive quickly but when we do it all hell breaks lose. My advice to Men is dont dish out nothing if u can’t take it.

    Reply
  10. Trixie

    It happened so long ago, and if you never repeated the behavior, it was unwise of you to tell him about it. I was betrayed by my first husband. The pain from this betrayal is worse than a death, and I knew I would never be able to trust him again. Give your husband plenty of time; it’s old news to you but new to him. He may decide to leave you. Respect whatever his decision will be.

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    • Billy

      you are so selfish. you only told him to relinquish your own guilt, and now just want him to move on? like it never happened? Pray you never feel the heart break and pain of being cheated on. if I was your husband I would leave you. I believe your impatience and your “Oh well” attitude is what’s making him angry.

      Reply
  11. Donna

    My husband cheated with the same woman on and off for 25 years. She “friended” me and my children on Instagram, even advising my daughter on raising my grandchildren. I found out when I asked her how we knew each other. She told me she’d been emotionally supporting my family for decades. That she knew how to calm my husband’s anxieties. He denied knowing her. So, I went over the phone bill. Literally hundreds of texts a day, and daily phone calls. Even texts on the day I found out. It’s been 8 months since I found out, and he wonders why I can’t get over it. He had the opportunity to come clean, but instead chose to let me find out all the details from her via a phone call. Cheating sucks. It hurts. It kills your soul. He’ll never get over his wife cheating, and I won’t get over my husband cheating. I’m basically dead inside, but I go on like I’m okay. Life, man.

    Reply
  12. Kate

    You, my friend, need to take a long hard look in the mirror and realise that your actions were, are and continue to be purely selfish! How dare you expect him to grieve the loss of what he thought was a mutually trusting relationship in a way that suits your needs. If you were truly remorseful and truly loved him you would do anything to help him through the situation you have put him in. Stand up, take responsibility and suffer the consequences of your ill choices.

    Reply

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