How to Deal with a Cheating Husband (And What NOT to Do)

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There’s not much more heartbreaking in a relationship than a cheating partner.

While you may be reeling from the discovery, all sorts of questions start to flood your mind:

How could he do this to me? Can our relationship ever come back from this? How can I trust him again?

But perhaps most immediately: What do I do now?

If you’ve caught your husband cheating, take these steps as soon as you can:

  • Gather evidence (respectfully)
  • Confront your husband calmly, in private, and in a non-aggressive way
  • Be prepared for denial and cheating and to stay on topic
  • Ask the right questions to get to the bottom of what happened
  • Find out the root cause of the cheating and set well thought-out boundaries
  • Create an atmosphere of transparency while you rebuild trust
  • Make the choice to repair your marriage

Keep reading to find out how to react to your cheating husband, how not to react, how to deal with the other woman, and how to repair the damage together.

How to Deal with a Cheating Husband

woman blowing her nose while her husband comforts her on a couch

If you discover or suspect that your husband has been unfaithful, nothing can really prepare you for the heartbreak.

Being cheated on can dismantle your self-confidence and make you question everything you’ve ever known about your partner.

You may find it hard to think straight—and understandably so.

The devastating sense of loss, anger, and confusion may simply take over your life, at least for a time.

If you want to know how to deal with a cheating husband, it’s critical to get everything out in the open and know what steps to take to ensure you can trust your husband again.

Because without that, there is no marriage.

Here’s how to react and handle this situation with care.

Read Next: How to Know If Your Husband Stopped Cheating

No Matter How Hard It Is, Keep Your Cool

I know. It’s insanely difficult.

Your husband just ripped your heart right out of your chest with his cheating.

But the fact remains—allowing your emotions to dictate your reactions may cloud your judgment.

Take a deep breath and collect yourself before proceeding further.

Of course, your mental well-being comes first, so do be sure to take the time you need to let your emotions out before you confront your husband.

Gather Evidence (as Respectfully as Possible)

If you suspect your husband is cheating, see if you can collect evidence to support your claim.

Look for patterns and inconsistencies in his behavior. Be on the lookout for push notifications that pop up on your husband’s phone, some of which may be from an affair partner.

The reason this is helpful is so you can be ready for him to deny what you’re telling him.

He will likely do whatever he can to hold onto his good image in your eyes, even if it takes more lies.

Just be careful about crossing lines into invading your spouse’s privacy with tactics like spying. It’s a thin line.

However, going in prepared to present this evidence can help you skip past a lot of fake drama if your husband pretends he doesn’t know what you’re talking about.

Plan a Conversation

Plan a time and place where you can have a private conversation about the situation.

That means away from the kids, if you have any, and definitely not in public.

To the best of your ability, stay calm and composed during this discussion. Emotional outbursts can hinder your progress and give your husband leverage to end the conversation.

Stay on Topic

Don’t let yourself be pushed to play defensive by your husband saying things like, “Come on babe, how could you accuse me of such a thing?”

Don’t feed into it.

Don’t even bother saying, “Look me in the eye and tell me the truth.”

Unfortunately, it’s still far too easy for a good liar to lie straight to your face.

Instead, stay focused on presenting him with what you know, including what your gut tells you.

Ask the Right Questions

If you want to know the truth (which you do), you need the whole truth.

Plan to ask your husband specific questions that help clarify what happened.

Avoid asking irrelevant or emotionally-charged questions.

Some examples of productive questions to ask include:

  1. How long has the infidelity been going on?
  2. How did it start
  3. Who is the affair partner (if you don’t know)?
  4. Why did you choose to be unfaithful?
  5. Are you emotionally attached?
  6. Has the affair ended, or is it still ongoing?
  7. Have there been other times he’s been unfaithful?

…etc.

Only with a complete picture of what happened can you assess the situation, determine what you want to do next, and ultimately, learn to heal.

Listen to His Perspective

Give your husband a chance to share his side of the story.

You aren’t allowing him to explain away his cheating—rather, you’re finding out what the core problems in your relationship are that led to this (wrong) behavior.

Listening to his explanations will give you a clearer understanding of what may have led him to cheat.

As painful as it is, you can try to understand what happened, if you can’t sympathize.

And no, you don’t have to turn around and forgive him straight away.

Understanding is not the same as taking a big, magic eraser to his actions and assuaging his guilt.

Express Your Feelings

couple having a serious conversation

Make sure you give yourself the opportunity to tell your husband just how much his actions have hurt you.

Again, you can do this calmly and without rubbing his nose in it.

Explain how his infidelity has affected you and your relationship using “I” statements to express your emotions without sounding accusatory.

For example, say “I feel hurt that you went behind my back and did this…” instead of “You did this to me.”

The difference is subtle, but it’s significant.

Determine the Root Cause

Together, identify the underlying issues that contributed to the infidelity.

These may include relationship problems, individual factors, or external influences.

Understanding the root cause is crucial in repairing your relationship and deciding how to move forward.

Create Boundaries

Your husband clearly broke through some serious boundaries with his cheating.

So it’s time to set them anew and hammer them home.

Do this by verbalizing new relationship guidelines that foster trust between you.

Here are some examples you can work with:

  • Have your husband end all contact with the person he cheated with
  • Ask your husband to avoid going to places he went to before to have contact with the affair partner
  • Set boundaries around phone usage (like no staying on his cellphone obsessively all night at home with you) to taking his phone to the bathroom for long periods of time, at least while you’re rebuilding trust and recovering from the trauma

Be firm, but reasonable.

With the right boundaries, you can start the long road to regaining faith in him.

Ask for Transparency

Trust won’t come without transparency.

More than you are usually accustomed to, most likely.

Ask your husband to communicate with you often, whether he’s having doubts about your relationship or he’s gotten a text or message from the affair partner and doesn’t know what to do about it.

If you want to, you can ask him if he’s OK with showing you his phone from time to time when you ask for it to ease your mind that he’s not chatting with her again.

Some extra transparency for now may be needed for you to be comfortable letting your guard down again, eventually.

Check for STIs

The reality is that your husband may have exposed you to STIs if he had a physical affair.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, so get checked.

Consider Counseling

Often (but not always) in the case of cheating, couples go to counseling together.

A family therapist or couples counselor can be extremely helpful in rebuilding trust and addressing the issues that led to the affair.

A neutral third-party can provide guidance and support throughout this process.

If you feel that you’re not able to move forward, or your husband remains in denial, this may be a viable option for you.

Decide to Repair Your Relationship

Should you choose to stay and work on your marriage, you must put all of your effort into rebuilding the bond that has been devastated by your husband cheating.

But you have to choose your relationship.

Mind you, it will take work on both your parts, and likely, a lot of time.

So don’t rush yourself.

If you need to, give yourself some space to clear your head.

Establishing new boundaries, practicing open communication, and being patient as you both work through the healing process will help.

If you’re overwhelmed and you can’t see a way to repair your marriage, you can learn steps every marriage needs to take to break unhealthy paradigms and refocus the relationship on what matters in a guide like Dr. Lee Baucom’s Save The Marriage.

Given time, effort, and compassion for both of you, you can try to mend your relationship and move forward together.

What Not to Do When Your Husband Cheated

couple arguing on a bed

If you’ve got an unfaithful husband on your hands, there are certain responses that would be largely counterproductive.

  1. Don’t blame yourself for your spouse’s infidelity. Remember that cheating is a choice that your husband made.
  2. Avoid making any rash decisions you may regret later. Instead, take the time you need to process your emotions and consider your options.
  3. Don’t confront your spouse publicly, in a way that humiliates him, or in an aggressive way. This can create a much more volatile situation and make it harder to work through.
  4. Try not to play the blame game. Pointing fingers at your partner or the third person involved will not change the fact that your spouse cheated. Focus on what can be done to address the issue and determine the right course of action for you and your relationship.
  5. Don’t turn a blind eye. It’s important to acknowledge your emotions and not let them fester. Equally important is addressing the cheating and working toward ensuring that it doesn’t happen again by building solid boundaries and nurturing transparency.
  6. Find a balance so as to not let your emotions control you. There’s so much pain that comes with a partner’s infidelity, but allowing anger and sadness to consume you can only wreak havoc on your life. As it happens, engaging in healthy habits like exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep can help improve your mental health and make you feel more resilient in facing this difficult situation.
  7. Don’t seek revenge or retaliate against your spouse. It may feel good in the moment, but in the long term it can make it harder to build trust between you.

What Causes a Man to Cheat?

When a husband cheats, there’s usually more to it than what you see on the surface.

Some common factors are:

  • Lack of love and affection: When that care and attention you paid to each other in the beginning of your relationship fades, a man may seek these feelings elsewhere.
  • Lack of dedication to the relationship: When a man is not fully committed to his partner, he may be more likely to cheat. You may assume that marriage means commitment, but definitions don’t necessarily influence feelings. Your husband may struggle with vulnerability, thus making it hard for him to commit in his heart.
  • Lack of understanding: If your husband feels like he’s not understood, heard, or seen at home, he may get more satisfaction from indulging these needs outside of your relationship, creating a perfect storm for cheating.
  • Low self-esteem: In some cases, men may cheat to boost their ego or to feel desirable. This is an internal issue for a man, and he may need some type of therapy to work through it.
  • Addiction: Addictions of various sorts, including sexual addictions and drug and alcohol addiction, can influence a man’s actions and may be part of cheating incidents. If addiction is part of your husband’s reason for cheating, encourage him to seek help right away.
  • Major life changes: This is not always the case, but it should be mentioned. Big changes in a man’s life, including career upheavals, family and lifestyle changes, and even transitioning into middle age (otherwise known as the midlife crisis period), can cause major stress. And this can possibly factor into an out-of-character behavior like cheating.

Can a Man Cheat and Still Love His Wife?

It’s a common question that arises when infidelity occurs: Can a man cheat and still love his wife? 

The answer is complicated, but yes, it’s possible for a man to be unfaithful while still having love for his partner. 

Different factors can contribute to someone straying, and understanding them can help when trying to make sense of the situation.

First of all, it’s important to know that people can cheat for various reasons. 

Sometimes, it might be because they feel unfulfilled or unhappy in their marriage, while other times, it could be down to impulsivity and thrill-seeking. 

But cheating doesn’t necessarily happen because of a lack of love for one’s spouse.

In some instances, individuals who cheat might still have a strong emotional connection with their partner. 

Emotional needs can be complex, and infidelity might not diminish the overall feelings an unfaithful husband has for his wife.

Not that any of this excuses his cheating, but it can help you figure out where you want to go from here and address the underlying causes of the cheating.

Can a Relationship Go Back to Normal After Cheating?

silhouette of a man and woman holding hands outside

Your partner cheated. There’s no going back to a state where you believe your husband is impervious to these kinds of mistakes.

But can you go back to regular day-to-day functioning in your marriage and get back to a loving and openly communicative space with each other?

Yes.

Though you can’t turn back the clock, you can repair your marriage, and quite possibly, make it more resilient.

However, it’s essential to remember that it will take effort, time, and commitment from both partners to make it work. 

Both you and your partner have to be willing to work towards repairing the damage. 

It’s crucial to have open communication while you rebuild trust and express your feelings, desires, and concerns going forward.

There may also be a short time where you share passwords or other information to help rebuild trust and show your commitment to transparency.

But such methods should be temporary, and once you have started to feel more at ease in your knowledge that your spouse is being straightforward with you, you can go back to a more “normal” existence that doesn’t involve this type of monitoring.

As well, consider forgiving your partner (eventually) if you want to get back to normal. Because hanging on to anger, resentment, and blame will not allow you to heal.

Dealing with the Other Woman

First of all, it’s not necessary to confront the person your husband cheated on you with.

In fact, in some cases, it can make you feel worse.

But if you’ve decided to confront the other woman on your journey toward healing, it’s crucial to approach the situation with a clear mind and a focused perspective.

Firstly, gather as much information as possible about the affair. Make it a point to get the facts straight before confronting the other woman. 

This will help you understand the extent and nature of the infidelity, which in turn will aid you in deciding what course of action to take.

Once you have a better understanding of the situation, remind yourself that the responsibility for the infidelity lies with your husband, not the other woman. 

While it may be tempting to blame her for the transgression, it is important to remember that your husband chose to cheat.

When deciding whether or not to communicate with the other woman, consider your intentions and the possible outcomes. 

If your goal is to gain closure or seek an apology, be prepared for the possibility that the conversation may not go as planned. 

Keep in mind that the focus should be on rebuilding your relationship with your husband and dealing with his infidelity rather than getting caught up on thoughts about the third party.

Counseling Options

If you’re dealing with a cheating husband, you may want to think about some counseling options to help you and your partner navigate through this difficult situation. 

Seeking professional assistance like couples therapy or marriage counseling can prove beneficial in managing the emotional turmoil and rebuilding trust.

  • One option to consider is individual counseling. This type of therapy can provide you with a safe space to process your feelings and emotions, gain a better understanding of your needs, and develop healthy coping strategies for moving forward. Working with a counselor can help you build self-esteem and address any underlying mental health issues like depression or anxiety.
  • Couples counseling is another viable option to explore. This therapeutic approach involves both partners working with a trained professional to address the issues in their relationship, including communication breakdowns and the fallout from infidelity. Couples therapy can help you and your spouse identify the root causes of the affair and develop strategies to rebuild trust, improve communication, and foster a stronger bond.
  • In some cases, you may want to explore specialized infidelity counseling. This type of therapy focuses specifically on the unique challenges and emotions that arise from an affair. An infidelity counselor can provide insight into the complexities of betrayal, educate both partners about the healing process, and facilitate open and honest discussions about the future of the relationship.
  • Lastly, support groups can also be a helpful resource for you. Talking to others who’ve been through similar events can offer a sense of camaraderie and connection, while also offering different perspectives and insights.

Don’t feel pressured to jump right into therapy, but rather find the right therapeutic approach that suits both you and your partner’s needs. 

Setting Boundaries

close up of a couple holding hands on a bench

Setting boundaries with a cheating husband is crucial for moving forward and rebuilding trust in the relationship.

To establish effective boundaries, communication is key. Start by sharing your feelings, expectations, and non-negotiables with your partner.

Be honest with yourself and your spouse about what behaviors are acceptable and which ones cross the line. Remember, you have the right to define and assert your boundaries in the relationship.

Here are a few tips to help you set boundaries with your husband:

  • Be clear and specific about what you need. Use simple language to express your expectations without ambiguity. For instance, you might say, “I expect complete honesty and transparency from you going forward, and if it doesn’t happen, I can’t continue in this relationship.”
  • Establish consequences for crossing boundaries. Make sure your partner knows what will happen if they don’t respect the boundaries you’ve set. This might include seeking couples therapy, taking a break from the relationship, or even ending the relationship altogether.
  • Be consistent. Consistency is key when enforcing your boundaries. Stick to your expectations and consequences, even if it’s difficult or uncomfortable. This sends a clear message that you value yourself and your emotional well-being.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Setting boundaries is an ongoing process, so it’s essential to keep open lines of communication. Share any changes to your feelings or expectations and be willing to listen to their perspective as well.

Healing and Forgiveness

Healing and forgiveness are essential processes if you want to move forward in your relationship after dealing with a cheating husband. 

First of all, your husband needs to demonstrate genuine remorse and a willingness to change his behavior to receive forgiveness.

It’s also important to accept your feelings, bearing in mind that you may be on this emotional rollercoaster for a while.

Another element of the healing journey is extending grace to yourself and your partner. 

You should be prepared to forgive him more than once, as your feelings may change day to day and healing is often a lengthy and nonlinear process. 

Keep in mind that forgiveness is more about your emotional well-being than excusing his actions.

At some point, work toward rekindling the love you and your husband used to share by going on dates again. 

This will remind both of you of the reasons you fell in love in the first place and encourage a fresh start. 

Focus on the positive aspects of your marriage, too. Spend quality time together and try engaging in fun activities or taking trips to reconnect and create new memories.

Last but not least, focus on self-care and self-love. Your emotional and mental health is just as important as your relationship. 

Doing the things that make you feel good, confiding in close friends, and seeking support outside of your marriage can help you heal and grow during this difficult time.

Maintaining Self-Esteem

Dealing with a cheating husband can be a challenging time for your self-esteem. 

Now more than ever, prioritize your emotional well-being. 

One way to maintain your self-esteem is to remind yourself that your spouse’s actions are a reflection of their own issues, and not a reflection of your value as a person. 

Don’t internalize their behavior and give it power over your self-worth.

Try to maintain healthy habits and routines to keep yourself preoccupied and give your mental and physical selves a chance to repair. 

When you feel physically and mentally strong, you can better cope with the emotional turmoil caused by infidelity.

Additionally, surround yourself with positive support. 

Be open to seeking professional help when necessary, as a therapist or counselor can provide valuable guidance during your healing process.

As well, don’t neglect taking time for personal hobbies and interests can help boost your self-esteem. 

Engaging in activities you love can not only serve as a welcome distraction but also remind you of your unique qualities and abilities, reinforcing the notion that you are more than the actions of your cheating spouse.

FAQ

Does infidelity pain ever go away?

Dealing with the pain unfaithful husbands cause by their infidelity can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. 

Acknowledge your feelings and understand that they’re perfectly normal. 

Over time and with proper self-care, and support, you can eventually heal and move forward.

How to stop overthinking after being cheated on

It’s natural to overthink after experiencing infidelity, but there are steps you can take to help manage this:

  1. Establish boundaries: Limit the amount of time you spend thinking about the infidelity and remind yourself that constant rumination won’t change the past.
  2. Focus on self-care: Engage in activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with friends and family.
  3. Seek support: Connect with people who understand and validate your feelings, whether they are friends, family members, or support groups.
  4. Consider professional help: A therapist or counselor can give you strategies to process and cope with the trauma of being cheated on.

How to leave a cheating husband you love

Leaving a cheating spouse is a difficult decision, especially when you still love them. 

But it’s important to prioritize your mental and emotional well-being. 

Here are some steps to guide you through the process:

  1. Plan your exit: Before you do anything, make a list of tasks and logistics that need addressing to initiate separation. This may include finding a place to stay, sorting finances, and seeking legal advice if necessary.
  2. Gather support: Reach out to friends, family, or a professional therapist to provide emotional support and guidance during this challenging time.
  3. Set boundaries: Communicate your intentions clearly to your husband, and be sure to verbalize your boundaries to protect yourself emotionally.

Marlene Davis is an experienced blogger with a focus on interpersonal relationships. Her dream is to help improve people's lives and relationships through sharing of practical knowledge and evidence-based practices.