Sometimes the cheater’s angry outbursts are nothing but bullshit.  They are attempting to shut you up and deflect the conversation away…

cheater's angry outburstsBy Doug

Navigating the Rocky Road of Affair Recovery

Tell me if this doesn’t sound familiar…

You and your cheating spouse seem to be getting along pretty good lately.  It’s been several months or more since the affair was discovered. You know the affair is over.  You’re reconnecting with each other somewhat (perhaps wonderfully), and you can definitely see things moving in a positive, hopeful direction. 

Then one night, perhaps after a trigger or something, you ask your spouse a question pertaining to the affair in some way. It may not have even been a question that required much thought or you may have thought it was just a harmless query to settle your curious mind a bit.  Something like, “Did you guys ever talk about taking a trip together?”

When Old Wounds Reopen: Understanding the Cheater’s Angry Outbursts

The next thing you know your spouse is flying off the hook with anger, yelling “You’re never going to let this go…!”  “I’m going to live with this the rest of my life!” Or “We’ve been getting a long great and now you’re just trying to sabotage things.  You’ don’t want to be happy!”


You think to yourself… “What did I do?  I just asked a simple question and he/she is going crazy.”

The next thing you know you’re in a full-on argument that last for two days.

Then you wonder if you’re back to square one.  You’re even doubting that your marriage is going to make it.  This whole affair recovery thing is just too hard and you want to give up.

See also  When You Decide to Stay: Dealing with triggers and the issue of trust while rebuilding your marriage.

The Second Phase of Recovery: Moving Forward Post-Argument

The other night I listened to a very similar story from a woman during a mentoring session.  It was also very familiar to me because Linda and I had the same type of scenarios during our recovery process – um, probably about 10 times.

And you know what?  It’s normal.  It’s a bump in the road.  It’s going to happen.

And it all goes back to mindset of most cheaters – especially after a period of time where things have been going good and there have been little or no affair related discussions.  The belief that “Whew, I’m off the hook.  I’ve made it these past few weeks unscathed and we’re heading down the home stretch.  As long as I keep my nose clean and my mouth shut, we’ll be alright!”

First of all, sorry, but that’s the wrong attitude for a remorseful ex-cheater to have at this juncture.

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Secondly, it’s important for the betrayed spouse to realize what’s going on here.  Your spouse blew up at you after your question or attempt to talk about the affair for one reason, and one reason only.  To shut you up!

And there could be a variety of reasons why they are trying to shut you up.  It could be because they felt they’ve answered the question(s) many times before.  They may feel they are still being punished.  They may not want to let something slip (a lie perhaps) that could cause more problems.  You get the idea.

See also  An Important Reminder About Healing From an Emotional Affair

Now in this particular case the ex-cheater claimed the reason he didn’t want to talk was because it brought up guilt, shame and took him back to a time when his affair was going on.  He even shifted some blame to the wife saying that she didn’t care for his feelings.  He was insinuating that talking about the affair stirred up dormant feelings for the affair partner which caused his healing to take a step back.

Well, that registered about a 9.5 on the old bullshit meter!

I contend that though talking about the affair after several months may stir up past memories (which are different than feelings), they should be fleeting memories at best.  He just didn’t want to talk about it anymore (which is understandable and to be expected) and used his passive aggression and anger to shut her up and shut her down.

Learning and Growth: The Positive Aftermath

But this woman is quite tenacious (a lot like Linda) and she wouldn’t let it go.  The next day she brought up the argument again and he had calmed down a bit and they wound up having a nice, heartfelt, revealing, productive conversation.  Now things are pretty much back on track.

I will refer to this as the second phase of the argument, and I can tell you that Linda and I experienced the positive aspects of the second phase quite regularly.  After I’d use anger and frustration to deflect things away from her intended conversation (effectively shutting her down), we’d usually have some pretty deep and effective conversations later that evening or the next day, which would propel us further along.

See also  Q&A With An Unfaithful Wife

So I guess there are a few takeaways here…

  1. Don’t be afraid of a bump (or ten) in the road to recovery
  2. Don’t be afraid to challenge the cheater’s agenda when using passive aggression and/or anger (just be sure to keep it safe)
  3. Beware of the cheater’s tactics used to shut you up and shut you down – and reject them.
  4. Be tenacious and take control as you might wind up making progress
  5. Use the experience to learn how you and your spouse can better communicate and react to each other

Please share any similar experiences, advice or things you’ve learned with regard to this in the comment section below.  Thanks!

    29 replies to "Why the Cheater’s Angry Outbursts are Sometimes  Just Bull$#!+"

    • Hopeful

      So funny you post this or maybe not funny. I just brought up to my husband how I am frustrated with his reactions when I bring but aspects or questions related to his affairs. He had told me he does not want to discuss it anymore since it was a dark time, he cannot remember any more details, he is happier than ever, it is covered ground. Well the problem for me is he lied on dday 1. He then disclosed more on dday 2. And after processing that I pressed him and he divulged much more so that was like dday 3. This is in addition to me finding out about a secret fb account, a secret email account, and im account, him admitting after much questioning that his porn use was too high. So all of these things have made me skeptical. And btw his affairs went on for 10 years. They were somewhat sporadic in nature, one he only saw 3 times in 10 years.

      Well recently I told him I am having a hard time thinking about forgiveness and trusting him eventually. Well he did not yell at me but his reactions was well maybe this will never work. Or his other line is I guess I have done irrepairble harm. I calmly asked him why and explained how much this hurts. After what he has done before and after dday I think I these are some legitimate feelings. I am making 100% effort but I also have feelings. I just told him he did all of this and made all of these decisions without me. He is way ahead of me on recovery and happier than ever. But I deserve his help and support and I am tired of doing what works for him and his feelings. He admitted that he was fighting back. I left it at that but plan to ask him why he feels the the need to fight back. We will see. Lots to work out still but this came at a very good time for me to hear. Thank you.

      • Holdingon

        He’s trying to make you think he will leave if you keep asking questions, that’s what he’s doing when he says he guesses he’s done irreparable damage, if he says it again, tell him you guess he’s right and walk off, he will change his tune.

    • Shifting Impressions

      The timing of this post is amazing. You got this one exactly right. All week long I have been analyzing one of those type of situations and I kept coming up with one conclusion. He threw what I consider a tantrum and to basically shut me up. This also happened after having a really good Christmas etc.

      All I keep thinking is ………the tantrum worked for him. I plan to discuss the whole thing with my therapist and get her take. I was just thinking it all through when I read this post. Funny how that happens.

    • Doug

      I was feeling your vibes, SI and Hopeful 🙂

    • SoManyTears

      I read this post with my mouth agape. This has been happening to me now, during every discussion about my CH’s 15 month long affair, for the 2 1/2 years since Dday. He rages and becomes quite violent, even physically. In the 11 years, before the affair, we never even had an argument! Not even one! Now he’s like a different man. Jeckyl and Hyde. The woman he cheated with had been an ex and just so happened to be the SAME woman he cheated on his first wife with 40 years before. She had become my friend and was frequenting my home during their affair. I have one of those husband’d that can’t remember ANYTHING that happened during their daily communications for the entire 15 months. I, however, know that he was telling her awful lies about me, (she had to tell him many times that he shouldn’t talk about his wife like that) told her he was “conning” me, told her he loved her and they were both wishing things were different so that they could be together. He denies it all. Even swore on his Grandson’s life that he never sent her any pictures of his penis…he DID. I’m thinking the perfect man I married has been lying to me our entire marriage and is a psycopath. I’ve contacted many of his ex’s and discovered a long line of broken women with PSTD. I think I’m in a big nightmare. All he will tell me is that he was just “f@cking” with her mind. NOT something that I would consider a good man would be doing. I’ve looked back on another woman in our marriage and discovered he was “f@cking” with her too (our entire marriage). He denies, but I’ve talked to her and have phone evidence. I only noticed a change in him during the 15 month long affair, though. My marriage has been built on lies. I am so hurt! I’m currently finding my footage so I can bolt. I have a huge trauma bond with this man and am finding it so hard to wrap my head around who he really is. As long as I don’t bring up the affairs, he is wonderful to me. Bring them up or ask a question and all hell breaks lose! Please pray for me.

      • Doug

        SMT, thanks for sharing. It must be extremely frustrating and painful for you and I hope that your husband can some day realize all the hurt he has caused and actually do something to help you heal.

      • Holdingon

        I know the feeling, I’m going through the same thing with my wife. It’s funny how infidelity causes amnesia. If I ask her anything she blows up, are we talking about this again she will yell, then she says that she thought we were doing so well, and I tell her everytime that it’s only because I shut up and don’t say anything, I’m hoping you will tell me what I want to know without having to keep asking, when you don’t after a while I ask again, and it’s never going to stop until I’m satisfied with your answers, so far your answer changes everytime I ask, and the truth never changes.

    • Rachel

      Great article Doug !

    • Exercisegrace

      Tantrums are the hallmark of cheaters everywhere. My husband threw them regularly during his affair. Whenever I dared to question his interaction with his ho-worker, pushed too hard for boundaries etc I was met with one or all of the following:

      1. “Why are you so….” Fill in that blank with “jealous”, “crazy”, “paranoid”, etc.

      2. “I’m just trying to……” Fill in this blank with “earn a living”, “support my family”, “make money for YOU”, etc.

      3. “Why don’t you…..” Fill in this blank with “try to support me”, “help me”, “get a damn job and support the family yourself”, ” just trust me”, and many more along these lines.

      4. “If you don’t stop acting like this I’m going to………” Fill this blank with “quit my job and we will go broke”, “have you locked up in a mental hospital”, “make you get a job and see how hard it is to support your family”, and so on, and so on and so on.

      See a pattern here? Betrayed spouse gets too close to the truth so the cheating spouse must pull out all the stops to scare the betrayed spouse away from the truth. It’s survival instinct.

      After the affair, the pattern continues. It is still survival instinct. Mr. McCheater doesn’t want to look at the crime scene. It makes him a bit queasy to see how much blood was spilled while he gorged his cake-eating self on the affair. It’s painful. It dings his self-image, wounds his pride. The faster you “get over it”, the easier it is for HIM to move on and feel good about himself again. After all, if you are healed and fine? It couldn’t have been that bad. The hardest part for a cheater to accept is the fact they have done something that will impact their life forever. That doesn’t mean we should be screaming and crazy forever. But it does mean the scars don’t ever fully go away. There will always be triggers, even if they get easier and easier to deal with. There will be new and different boundaries. These might be resented because they remind him of who he was. In the end, it is up to the betrayed to set (reasonable) boundaries. It’s part of what helps restore trust and safety.

      • Hopeful

        Ok so sounds like the script I lived with. Those exact statements over and over. And then there would be periods of positive complimentary behavior now I know when he was not involved since his two affairs were sporadic. He only got angry maybe once in 10 years. But these statements you detailed above I realize took a toll on me. I am not sure if it is emotional abuse or neglect but it seems like something.

        We have swung the opposite way a full 180. It is great but confusing. How can someone act this we for 10+ years and change. Is this change something that will last? Can he be trusted? I know there are no guarantees with anyone but it makes me worry a lot. It is hard to know what to say or do with him.

        • exercisegrace

          First, big hugs to you. This is a hard road to travel. To answer your questions, I guess I will ask a few first. Is his affair really and truly over? Does he seem truly remorseful? And by that, I mean does he own his mistake without throwing any of the blame over onto you? Is he undergoing counseling to help him figure out why he made the choices he made?

          My husband’s affair lasted about a year and a half. It was hell and he acted so strangely, I wouldn’t have been surprised to find a pod in our basement!! He ended the affair without being discovered, and the whore informed me. I was wrecked. But I came up with some “deal breakers” because we both wanted to rebuild our marriage. Going to therapy was one of those. No lunches alone or traveling ever again with any woman was another. No contact with the whore and complete transparency with devices, email etc and deleting social media was on my list as well. It has been over three years, and he has pretty much done everything I have asked of him.

          You asked me if this change can last. I believe it can IF it is a change back to who they really are. Or if someone is committed to changing and seeks professional help to do so. My husband became someone else entirely during his affair. It was scary. today he acts like the man I fell in love with, and spent over 20 years married to before he cheated. He did over two years of individual and marriage counseling. Nothing is fool-proof. This has left permanent scars. I can see now that when I used to think “it could never happen to us” or “he would never cheat”…. I was fooling myself. I was placing my trust in the wrong place. Will he ever cheat again? I don’t think so. he has paid a horrible, horrible price. But I CAN tell you this……. The only person I really need to trust is MYSELF. I will never ignore my gut feeling again. And I know what steps I would take if he ever did cheat again.

      • Melissa

        It’s been a while since I posted here but just to say, Exercisegrace, that I had (and still sometimes have heard, although my H’s rants may not be directly related to the affair but there is a link anyhow) the ‘I’m only doing my best for YOU, earning the money, making sure you have X, Y, and Z….’. And yes, I’ve had the ‘you’ve got to get a job’ (bearing in mind that I lost my job in a joint venture he’d set up with a business partner, which went sour). And then, I got the ‘I can’t do my work because you’ve upset me and therefore we won’t have any money, and we will lose the flat and the X, and the Y and the Z’…. Today, my H told me with a straight face that he would never get re-married because he’d had one very bad marriage and one really good one (ours). It’s rather sweet BUT it does make me wonder whether he remembers the EA, the pain he caused, the absolute heartache he created. So yes, to new and reasonable boundaries, and yes to the fact that whatever the cheater has done, it will impact forever – including on my view that we had a wonderful marriage. Now I think we have a ‘good enough to pretty good’ marriage, Which in itself, is rather good too.

        • Ashamed

          My husband has the same tantrums, denies an affair with his cousin’s wife, and “just tried to help with their marital difficulties”–like taking her shopping, on horse rides, etc was going to help. He told my 12- and 13-year-old daughters thst I didn’t like her (true, she slept around, even with his sister’s husband) and bought their silence. Eventually, my daughters sensed something was off. When her 4-year-old told them, “My uncle kissed my mommy and spanked her butt,” they told me everything and all hell broke loose. He threatened to kill whoever told me, so police removed him from the house (modest, but with three bathrooms and an inground pool). The next day, he returned the keys to MY building which he managed (I found out she collected rent and he secretly rented $$$ the attic for almost two years); he lost his job as a stay at home dad of 12 years and became a roof laborer (carrying shingles); and began living in his truck. Two weeks later, he was arrested and the truck was impounded (no DL or insurance). There’s no chance of regaining trust, as I deserve respect which begins with honesty. I was the bread winner, gave him everything I could, but it wasn’t enough. Four months have passed and his relationship with our three children is strained. He lost everything due to his decisions, but also destroyed a beautiful family.

      • Doug


      • Strengthrequired

        Eg, oh my, I heard those exact words. Every one of them.

    • Ann

      With my husband’s first emotional affair began in 2011 without my knowledge he would come home and any words that came out of my mouth he would breath a deep sigh and then say ” and it starts again”. He became more angry with more outbursts as the time came closer when he actually left me to be with his “soul mate” as he put it. This first affair ended six months after he moved out, and the second affair began while he was still separated from me about four weeks after the first one ended.
      When he told me (and I believed him) the second one had ended which had turned into a physical affair for four months he moved back home back home but has continued off and on with this affair (which is not physical anymore) trying to keep both of us on either side of the fence. It’s been two months now since they have texted, and I believe they are both just on “a break ” right now. He has never come out and said to me that any of the affairs were my fault or blamed me in any way. But with him not apologizing to me for either affair I will probably never trust him again, and feel we will never have a great marriage that I once believed we had.
      With this affair I am always asking him questions and as time goes by he has become more “forgetful” and doesn’t want to talk about it. He will still answer my questions but with one or two words and then he becomes quiet.
      I have not kicked him out as my eighty nine year old father who lives with me would once again be so hurt by it all and not understand why this man would do this to his daughter once again, so for now I hold on with God as my strength. Everyone have a great day.

    • Pat

      Doug, thank you for your courage.

      While I have healed from my husband’s EA, the problem I have been facing for the past little bit of time is his angry outbursts whenever I question him or have an alternate view or opinion about ANYTHING…and I do mean ANYTHING…from his threatening to hit my preteen/teen daughters when they make comments preteens/teens will make…to something as simple as slowing down while driving down a hill in a snowstorm…where we couldn’t stop at the stop sign because of it…and drove through the intersection.

      I’ve realized he likely has a narcissistic personality disorder, but also his guilt over what he did, knowing he can NEVER say he was always faithful to his wife, bruises his already fragile oversized ego.

      Understand this, though, when it comes to my children or myself, I will not tolerate any physical violence or threat of physical violence. I do and will stand up for myself and my children. And because of this, I live in a home where my husband and I have no warm relationship. I stay to protect my children.

      I think it’s great if you can have the secondary conversation later as you mentioned above. But what if your spouse’s inflated ego, narcissistic tendencies are so great, that there’s no room for discussion? Are there any of you out there with this problem? Or is this covered under the topic of another thread.

    • Falling Ash

      Whilst my OH does deflect and distract, he has only ever raised his voice to me once or twice during our 16 year relationship. I believe it is this conflict-avoidant personality trait that led to his withdrawal from me and our life, and allowed the EA to develop. Since DDay we have had many conversations when I have expressed MY anger over his choice to cheat rather than deal with his issues and emotions. His counsellor is working with him to express his emotions rather than dwell on things in his head all the time. OH does agree that he still needs to answer any future questions without shutting down emotionally, which is his usual approach to anything that reminds him of his guilt over the affair.

      I am talking (and thinking) about the affair a little less these days. Maybe that means I am finally beginning to heal. However, sadness is still my daily companion. I do miss the positive, forward looking person I used to be.

    • Believe


      My wife had an affair with a married man in 2011. She said nothing happened in 2012. It carried on for 2 years in 2013 & 2014 until I found out in Jan 2015. Recovery has been a tough journey. One of the main issues has been that she is avoids dealing with the uncomfortable issues. This is her problem before the affair, during it and after the affair. I am working hard at controlling the thoughts, images and feelings. A lot of times after the affair she would say I don’t know what to do. She gets angry when I tell her that she does nothing to get rid of the triggers. I had to get rid of the tv room sofa where they were intimate. I had to buy another bed when they were intimate in our bedroom. They intimate in our lounge and I told her to get rid of the rug & the lounge suite. She still has not done anything about it. She gets angry when I approach her about it. She has very little knowledge on what she can do to help with our recovery. When she sees I am down, it affects her and she is down. But she simply does not put in the effort to learn and grow. So frustrating but I have to control my feelings and thoughts.

      • Holdingon

        Controlling your thoughts and feelings is the hardest thing to do when you first find out, for me it was impossible, I even had blackouts and my arms and legs would jerk uncontrollably, it was pure hell for a while.

    • theresa
    • Recovered

      The day I told H I am uncomfortable about the flirty interaction between him and his college sweetheart, he yelled at me for three hours straight. About how petty I am. How possessive I am. How controlling. How judgemental. How he feels smothered by me. How he puts up with my faults. My sloppiness. My attachment to my father. How he would be in a much better situation careerwise if I had let him quit his secure, prestigious and no- accountability jov. How I don’t know what love is. How I have no interests. I don’t listen to music anymore (I used to be a musician but quit because of his criticism). How I don’t like movies. How I am so rigid. And pedantic. And don’t have any fire in me.
      I was (still am after 2 years) heartbroken. He has forgotten all that he said. I haven’t.

    • Rachel

      He Said all of that to you just to make himself feel good and give himself reason for his flirting.

    • Beaten down and indifferent

      Well for my husband it has worked I don’t discuss anything with him anymore, I just couldn’t take the emotional abuse that was heaped on me. I was having a particularly rough week two weeks ago and he asked me what was wrong and I said nothing and put my fake face on. I don’t feel he will ever be someone willing to listen to me or talk to me and at this point it just doesn’t matter anymore. We aren’t going to get the happy and healed ending that others do after an affair he isn’t seeking that, he just wants peace and quiet and to be left alone while we pay off our bills and get the last two kids off to college, then he will go ahead with his divorce plan. Which is fine, I give up.

      • Rachel

        Beaten down, you will be so much better off. Your smile will no longer be fake, but relieved from the betrayal and hurt your husband has caused.
        They won’t take any blame for their actions, yet blame you as they are entitled and privileged. Best of luck.

      • Ashamed

        I believe your life. My husband, like yours, isn’t interested in us being happy and healed. He just wants peace and quiet. Lies, infidelity, and theft are things that shouldn’t be swept under the rug! You deserve your place in a relationship. Don’t settle for less, move on!

    • Joy

      I am new here. Just got irrefutable proof of cheating, lying, financial infidelity and a pornography addiction. My marriage and trust in my spouse has been shaken to the core.
      He does not know about all that I found. He is a deflector and evader when it comes to communicating. Even at our one and only consuling session, he said his job and our recent cross country move is the problem in our marriage.
      Going to try counseling again, joining SAnon group for personal support, and hope to EXPOSE with a goal of bringing the REAL issues out in the open and presenting a plan to support him through getting help and healing for his addiction.
      Not sure if it will work, but I am willing to try. Trusting God to soften his heart and leave an opening for recovery and restoration to begin.

    • Polly

      What an incredible article – thanks for writing. Now I understand why my husband flies off the handle when I try to bring up his emotional affair with his ex-wife. It’s a bullying tactic.

    • WillitEverGoAway

      Yup yup yup!

      I told my CH just a couple days ago how him responding to me that way really hurts his efforts to build trust – because I KNOW how he treated me during the affair and that irrational outbursts or shitty responses were the norm.

      Even after dDay 1 it was his favorite method of diverting attention from the crap he was pulling or any scrutiny of it.

      He acted like my awareness of it and how triggering it is never occurred to him! It erases all progress – puts me right back..

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