Some of the more common concerns that I hear from wives whose husbands cheated is whether the husbands are really sorry or whether they have any regret. It’s common to think that he is only sorry because he’s been caught. I’ll address what I’ve learned about this issue from my research and will tell you some of the more common behaviors and signs that you will see when a man is truly sorry and regretful about an affair so that you can look for these things in your own husband.
Is He Really Sorry About The Affair Or Is He Just Sorry He’s Been Caught?: What Statistics Tell Us: There is a pretty well known infidelity study which indicates that the men who cheated were overwhelmingly sorry about and deeply regretted the affair (over 85%). And frankly, many men who are honest will tell you that it wasn’t until the affair was found out that they understood the true severity and hurt that their actions caused. Many assume and hope that you will never find out and be hurt, but when this doesn’t turn out to be true and they see how devastated you are, they are often quite remorseful and frustrated that it’s too late to take it back. Many of them tell me that they have no idea how to communicate this though, since their wives often shut them down and they will often will try to avoid talking about the cheating, thinking that not talking about it will make it go away sooner.
Signs Of A Husband Who Is Truly Sorry About And Regrets The Affair: Below, I’m going to list the things that you should eventually be seeing if your husband has regret. These things may not be present at first. It’s very common for men to first try to downplay and diffuse the situation. Often, it’s only after it becomes obvious that these things aren’t working that you begin to see the regret begin to come out. (if you’re the husband who cheated, make sure you are showing these things to your wife.)
1. He Takes Responsibility: Men who regret their actions are willing to take the responsibility for them. A man who is truly sorry for the cheating will not blame his wife for his own decision. No matter what vulnerabilities there were or which of his needs weren’t being met, he takes the responsibility on his own shoulders because he knows there were other options available that he should have (but didn’t) take.
2. He Is Accountable: Men who are sorry about the affair want to ensure that you know that they will never cheat again and are committed to saving the marriage. To this end, they will show their remorse by offering you email passwords or cell phone records. They will call to check in and are always exactly where they said they will be with exactly who they said they were with. They are patient (or at least try to be) and keep providing this accountability for as long as you need it.
3. He Is Reassuring: Men who are regretful and who love their wives know that these same wives are going to need reassurance that their husbands still find them sexy, desirable, and worthy. They are patient and keep providing this reassurance without thinking that the wife is “needy or high maintenance” for needing it.
4. They Understand That They Need To Provide Whatever It Takes For As Long As It Takes: Men are often truly remorseful about an affair understand that all of the negative things following it are the result of their own actions. Consequently then, they are willing to do whatever is needed to heal their marriage (and their wives) for as long as it is needed. This sometimes requires difficult adjustments like changing jobs, seeking counseling, being honest and vulnerable, and having difficult but honest discussions.
What If I Don’t See This Remorse (And These Actions) In My Own Husband?: Often when I share this list with wives, they’ll tell me that they see one or a few of these things, but not all of them. So, they’ll ask me if this means that their husband is not sorry. It doesn’t. The truth is that men are often poor communicators and often their defense mechanisms will come up after an affair. They care deeply about appearing strong, in control, and competent. So, they often will hesitate to show you this vulnerability. If you aren’t seeing these things, speak up, be honest, and directly tell your husband that you need them in order to heal.
Diminishing your own needs will only keep you stuck. No matter how nice it would be if he could, he can’t read your mind. I find that very often men want to do the right thing, but they don’t know what this is. In the meantime, wives will insist that their husbands “should know what I want and need. I shouldn’t have to tell him.” It would be nice if it were true, but it often isn’t. As unfair as all this is, don’t allow your insistence on what is “fair” to keep you from getting what you need. Be honest with yourself. Define what you need from your husband and ask for it. Because this is the only way that you are going to get what you really need to heal.