When I reflect on the time my husband was having an affair, I remember distinctly how he treated me differently than he had before. The first thing I noticed was that there was more tension between us. For instance, when I asked him to help me with some house tasks up before he started the affair, he wouldn’t be thrilled (just like I wasn’t thrilled to be doing housework), but he’d help. While he was cheating, his response to my requests for help was “Why are you always complaining and nagging?” It completely surprised me. Where was this response coming from? I’d just asked him to help out; why was he reacting so sharply?
He was very short with me, very quick to get frustrated at something I would say or do. But what I was saying and doing were the exact same things I’d done and said in the past. His willingness to compromise was just not there anymore; it was like I irritated him now.
As a wife, I was so frustrated. I was pregnant and tired, and on top of that, now everything I did seemed to be a problem for him. After I found out about the affair, I tried to explain to my husband that he was treating me very differently during that time. Of course, he denied that he had.
When a person cheats, it changes the way they interact with their partner. Since they have someone else now to compare you to, you become more irritating in their eyes. Since they don’t live with the other woman, they don’t have to deal with the parts of a relationship with her that aren’t fun—like cleaning the house. I believe if the OW lived with my husband every day and cooked, cleaned, and took care of the kids, she might ask for a hand every once in a while too. But because my husband did have someone he could go to for sex, he didn’t feel as if he had to deal with the unpleasant day-to-day tasks that come with being married. Consequently, I felt like he was treating me as if I were a problem.
I felt like he was comparing me to her, everything he did not see in me, he saw in her, making me the less desirable one. But my ex-husband was ultimately comparing apples to oranges, a fantasy world to reality, a wife versus the other woman. The relationship he had with the OW and the one he had with me were not the same, at all.
It’s unfortunate that my husband did not think about what he was doing when he was cheated, because how he treated me during this time hurt. I knew something had changed, and I knew he was super frustrated with me, but I felt helpless. I didn’t know what that something was or what we could do to address it. Now, of course, I know why.