Surviving Infidelity Is Hard to Do
What Do You Do When You Find Out Your Wife Has Been Cheating?
Does that mean women are better at letting things go? Not according to Louanne Cole Weston, a family and marriage counselor and licensed sex therapist in Fair Oaks, Calif. "As a group, women hold on to negative -- and positive -- emotional experiences longer than men," she says.
True, says Weston, "some men think they can't fix it if a woman has been with another man." But others want to get in there and make things work. "Some say, 'I need to take a look at myself.' One woman I saw had a longtime affair with a house husband, the father of a kid at her child's school. When it came to light, her husband was upset -- but then he looked at their sex life, his own rapid ejaculation and lack of foreplay and creativity in their time together. It got a bunch of information on the table," she says, and the couple is still together.
How Do Most Men Respond to Infidelity in Marriage?
"Sometimes men will be jealous, sometimes they will be competitive, sometimes they will have a lot of self-recrimination," she continues, listing three classic responses. "But sometimes it will be a huge wake-up call."
Most men would probably prefer to be woken up in a different fashion (a clock radio is nice), but there's the rub: Sometimes it takes a shock to the system to get a man's attention. "If, God forbid, you come home and find your wife in bed with another man, and you are in a stable, gratifying marriage, you need to talk about what happened openly and honestly," says Steven Nock, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and the author of Marriage in Men's Lives. "If you can actually discuss what is going on and why it happened, those couples seem to survive. But that presumes a lot."
It presumes, first off, that the husband will keep a cool head. Extreme anger must be dealt with in counseling, which is also the best way to expel the stubborn images Epstein says his patients complain of.
"Men fret over it because of what they imagine happened," adds Nock. "You'll do that until you face it head on. [Surviving infidelity] is going to take a lot of talking and doing things together. And guys are not that eager to talk about their relationship -- especially if they have to talk about her sleeping with someone else."