In his book, Out of the Doghouse, Dr. Rob Weiss lists seven common behaviors cheaters engage in after their infidelity is uncovered that make the situation worse rather than better. Two of these are linked to attempts to control your betrayed partner’s reaction. The first is to do that using aggression and threats. The second is to try to calm your partner down.
Using Aggression and Threats
Sometimes cheaters get sick of their betrayed partner being so angry, and in response, they get aggressive. The most common ways to do this involve emotional and/or financial threats, like the following:
- If you don’t like my cheating, then maybe we should get a divorce. But don’t count on some big payout from
- If you want me to take care of you and the house and the kids, I’m perfectly happy to do But you’re going to have to get used to me stepping out with other men.
- I’m not leaving, but I’m not limiting myself sexually, You’re just going to have to live with that if you want to stay together.
Cheaters who use aggression and threats in this way seem to think that the best defense is a good offense. It isn’t. If you try this approach, it is possible that you will successfully bully your partner into submission. Temporarily. More likely, however, you will drive your partner further away. And if your partner does give in to your bullying, is that really the kind of relationship you want? Wouldn’t you rather be with someone that you respect and think of as a full partner?
Trying to Calm Your Partner Down
If you want to watch your partner really lose his or her temper, wait until your partner is already upset and then try to calm him or her down. Say something like, “Honey, relax. This isn’t a big deal. You know I love you, and I always have. You’re overreacting.” Then you should probably duck and cover—because that’s what you do when a tornado is heading your way, right?
Believe us when we tell you that your partner will not like it if you try to diminish (i.e., invalidate) their emotions. Sure, if you work hard enough, you might be able to calm your partner down a little bit, but it won’t last, and it certainly won’t fix your underlying issues with relationship trust. Besides, you are rightfully in the doghouse. Your partner’s anger was caused by your actions. If you hadn’t cheated and lied, your partner wouldn’t be angry. So maybe you should just let your partner be angry and be glad that he or she still cares enough to have strong feelings about you. Know too that a big part of your partner’s healing process is being able to express how your actions have affected him or her, and you need to live with that, no matter how awful it feels.
Perhaps more important, accepting your significant other’s anger, sadness, disappointment, and hurt by letting your partner fully express it tells your partner that you care about him or her and your relationship enough to just sit there and take it. So in this case the best action you can take is no action at all, except perhaps to validate what your partner is feeling.
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For information about healing after infidelity, we suggest reading Dr. Rob Weiss’s book, Out of the Doghouse. We also suggest the free podcasts, webinars, discussion groups, and blogs available through our affiliated website, SexandRelationshipHealing.com. If you think you or a loved one might be sexually addicted, we offer residential treatment for men and online workgroups for both men and women.