I need my wife to believe that I truly regret cheating – how can I make that happen?
Sometimes I hear from couples who made the terrible mistake of cheating or being infidel. Many of them really regret this mistake and want to make things right again. Most of them have repeatedly expressed their sadness and remorse for their actions. But more often than not, the spouse doesn’t believe them or thinks their apologies are enough.
I heard from a wife who said, “Last year I made the most stupid mistake of my life. I cheated on my husband while on a business trip. I didn’t know the guy. He was at the hotel bar. And I haven’t spoken to him since. As sleazy and embarrassing as that sounds It was a drunken night and it meant nothing to me. As soon as I got home from the trip, I told my husband everything and cried uncontrollably. Since then, I must have told my husband how sorry I am two hundred times. I shower him with affection. And I buy him gifts. I try to be the most loving wife as possible. But we still have it because he doesn’t feel sorry enough. I still go on business trips because my job requires it. He resents these trips and becomes very sad before or after them. He says If I was really sorry and remorseful, I would be more than willing to change my life so that he would feel more secure. Except for quitting my job, I don’t know how to express my true and sincere remorse. How can I convince him that I am truly sorry? And that I will never cheat on him again?”
The person most qualified to answer these questions was this woman’s husband. But since he doesn’t want to do that, I can try to respond to it from the perspective of the cheated spouse. I will try to do that in the next article.
Your sad words are not the most convincing: I can’t tell you how many people tell me things like, “I’ve said I’m sorry countless times and he doesn’t listen or accept it.” or “I’ve expressed remorse over and over and it doesn’t matter.”
I understand these frustrations, but what you need to understand is that words don’t matter as much as actions. Your spouse will doubt your words (even if they really want to believe them) because the trust between you has been shaken and because they don’t want to be hurt and betrayed again.
And honestly, no matter how eloquent you are and no matter how sincere your words, your husband often just wants to wait and see if you’ll follow through on all of your claims. This does not mean that you should stop expressing your grief in words. But it may mean that you have to understand that this probably will not be enough.
Try to anticipate what your husband needs from you and then offer it without asking: I can tell you an important secret that may help your situation. I know from experience that your husband needs to feel as though his needs are more important to you than yours right now. They need to believe that you are willing to do whatever is needed to help them heal because of your concern for them.
Often, devoted couples feel as if you want them to get over the relationship so you can feel more comfortable and less guilty. This seems unfair to them and often makes your husband trust you less and doubt you more.
So, try to listen to what they are saying and watch their nonverbal cues closely. In this example, it was very clear that the husband was understandably very uncomfortable when he learned that his wife was in the same tempting position that led her to cheat in the first place. Even worse, when he brought this up, I got defensive about it. Anticipating his needs means understanding that he needs reassurance and accountability when it comes to this issue with no exceptions whatsoever.
The wife might consider asking for less travel, switching jobs if possible, taking her husband on business trips, or checking in regularly while she’s away.
Because true remorse goes beyond just saying you’re sorry. This means that you are more than willing to go out of your way (even if it makes you or if it makes you uncomfortable) in order to make your spouse feel valued, loved, and secure.
Know that if you can rebuild your marriage, your spouse is more likely to accept your regrets: It may make you feel better to know that once your marriage is fixed and your spouse feels happy and secure, this problem often resolves itself. So while it’s a good idea to continue to show and verbally express your remorse, know that it’s equally important to rebuild your marriage and focus on all issues — not just remorse.
Because if you can do that and if you can get to a place where your husband is happy and secure, you won’t have to worry about this issue as long as you stay faithful and continue to be an attentive and loving husband. Sometimes this process takes some time. Your spouse should see that you have been in this marriage for the long haul and that you are committed to continuing to be trustworthy without exception. If you make it through, your regret speaks for itself.