I would say that most everyone understands the problems that couples have with trust after an affair has damaged their marriage. But most people assume that the trust issues are going to stem entirely toward the spouse who cheated. Very few people consider that the cheating spouse may suddenly have trust issues with the faithful spouse. But this is sometimes what happens.
A faithful wife might explain: “It’s been about five months since I found out about the affair. And it was a doozy. He has been cheating with a friend of mine. Now, she’s certainly not my best friend, but I would call her a close friend. She’s certainly comfortable at my house and around my children. Our children are friends. Her husband is the sweetest, most even-tempered man. And I can not believe that she would do this to me or to him. Of course, both my husband and her can not apologize enough and are begging their respective spouses not to leave them. I don’t know what I am going to do about my marriage. But I am angry and suspicious all of the time. I think that my situation is worse than most. Because this woman lives very close by. So I always have that paranoid feeling that she is right around the corner. If this isn’t bad enough, yesterday my husband was going to walk the dog and I made some sarcastic comment about why he suddenly wanted to walk the dog. He then tried to turn it around on me and said how does he know what I’ve been doing for all of these years when I walk the dog? Later that night, I found him on my Facebook feed like he thought he was going to catch me doing something wrong. I asked him what he was doing. And he said that he was tired of me acting like he was the only person capable of wrongdoing. He said that I seem to think mighty highly of the other woman’s husband. It’s crazy that I have to spell this out. But I will: I have never ever cheated on my husband and I never would. He can search all he wants, but he will never find evidence that he can’t trust me. I don’t understand this. He is the one who can’t be trusted. Why is he acting like I can’t also?”
This attitude is very common. And there are couple of reasons that you might be seeing it. First, people who have affairs can come to believe that affairs are more common than they are. It helps ease their conscience if they think that everyone is having an affair. Sometimes, they may confide in a friend or coworker who admits to their own affair. Sometimes, the other woman will mention mutual acquaintances who are also cheating. This can lead him to look around him a little more closely (and at you) when he begins to think that the whole world is cheating.
Also, infidelity can bring out a lot of paranoia in a person. The cheating spouse is typically constantly worried about being caught. So he starts to become an expert watcher of behavior – including his own —- and yours.
Third, he often worries that you would be justified in retaliating against him. Family members and friends may be telling him that you deserve much better or could even do better. He may start to become worried that you will divorce him or start looking for someone better (like the sweet husband of the other woman.) So he begins to make assumptions that you could cheat and might if given the right circumstances. To prevent this, he starts to let you know that he is watching your behavior in the hopes that this will discourage you from retaliation cheating.
(Note: I know that this thinking is ridiculous. I’m not saying that it’s logical. I’m just saying that it’s often how a cheating spouse thinks when they are right in the middle of this. In fact, many wives have told me that the main clue that their spouse was cheating was that he started accusing her (the wife) of cheating.
Finally, he may be trying to turn the tables on you in the hopes that doing so will bring your attention away from your suspicions of him. He may know that he deserves your scrutiny and suspicion, but it wears on him just the same. So to put a stop to it, he tries to turn the suspicion on you, even if he knows in his heart that you have done nothing wrong. It’s noting more than sleight of hand and he’s trying it in desperation.
So how do you handle this? In my own experience, you calmly stand your ground. Don’t get too excited or defensive because he may try to say that you protest too much. Simply try something like: “we both know that your inference isn’t true and is slightly ridiculous. I’ve never cheated. Nor do I intend to. If I wanted to be with someone else, you’d be the first to know. This isn’t where we should be placing our attention. It’s a nice try on your part, but it’s not even remotely valid. It’s frankly unfair and misplaced. When you’re ready to discuss reality, I’m listening.”
You may have to redirect him a few times until he gets the hint. In other words, he may not give up immediately. But as you stand your ground repeatedly and return the attention back to where it belongs – on the legitimate affair – he will often see that he is wasting his time and will give up. And often, it takes time for him to see that when he really stands up, takes responsibility, and facilitates healing – that is when he is going to get the response and progress that he wants – not by playing silly games or trying to turn the tables on the truly innocent party.