I Honestly Didn’t Think It Was An Affair But My Spouse Disagrees And Is Calling Me A Cheater

By: Katie Lersch: I’m still always a little amazed at the number of people who are participating in very inappropriate behavior with someone who is not their spouse and who will still insist that they aren’t doing anything wrong, and are definitely not cheating. Almost always, their spouse disagrees and most definitely feels betrayed. People tend to be very skilled at justifying their behavior, until their spouse refuses to accept this. And then the debate begins.

Someone might say: “my spouse is now calling me a cheater and saying that she might want a divorce because of my ‘affair.’ I am being completely honest when I say that I never ever believed that I was having an affair. Yes, I was in touch with an ex-girlfriend from many years ago. And yes, I kept this from my spouse. But that is because I knew that my spouse was going to jump to the wrong conclusions. I kept in touch with her because she was going through a rough time with one of her kids and I have experience with this and was offering her some advice. I also offered her money in order to get the help that she needed. I knew that my wife would not understand this. Most of our talks were written where I was trying to give her written advice and support. I admit that the talks took up a good bit of time and took up a lot of my thoughts. I admit that there was some mild flirting going on. I met the woman face to face to give her money and we did hold hands and kiss goodbye, but that was it. She took a photo of us and posted it on social media. I had no idea about this, but the photo got back to my wife and now she is calling me a cheater. She keeps referring back to the ‘affair,’ but I maintain that I never even had one. She’s talking about counseling or divorce. This is ridiculous. I have never slept with anyone else during our marriage. This is not an affair.”

I am certainly not an expert, but I have been through infidelity, conducted a whole lot of research, and hear from many people whose marriages are struggling due to marital betrayal. This is only my opinion, but I would strongly encourage you to not focus on semantics. Sure, you can sit there and argue endlessly with your spouse as to why what you did was not technically cheating. But what would be the point of that? None of that matters if your spouse feels injured or betrayed. None of that matters if your marriage is going to struggle.

Again, this is only my opinion, but if you are doing something that you could not do right in front of your spouse and you are actively hiding the same, then you know in your heart that your actions were wrong or you would not be actively hiding this. Your wife knows this, which is why she is so upset, hurt, and angry.

Imagine if one of your friends came to you with a photo of your wife and another man.  And it was a photo or an encounter and a relationship that she actively hid from you. How would you feel? Do you think you’d feel betrayed? I suspect that you would because that is the experience of most people. Whether you call it an affair or not, I think most would agree that it’s a betrayal that could potentially harm or even end your marriage. So no matter what you call it, I’d suspect that it needs your immediate attention.  And it would be a good idea to honestly ask yourself why you would be able to keep something like this from your spouse – or why would feel the need to. Because often, when people get their needs met by someone outside of their marriage, this typically says something about them, about their marriage, or about both.

Before you act, it makes sense to ask yourself where you want to go from here. The fact that you’re upset about your wife’s characterization of the ‘affair’ could indicate that you’re still emotionally invested. If your marriage is still important to you, I’d suggest that you worry more about helping your wife to process this and to heal rather than worrying about who is calling it an affair.

Yes, hearing yourself being called a cheater is probably hurtful and it makes you feel defensive. But this is just a word your wife is giving her process of feeling betrayed. Worry less about the words and more about the message behind them. And the message that she is giving you is that she’s hurt and she’s angry and she feels that you’re dismissing her very valid concerns.

You can agree on semantics later, but most people agree that carrying on a secret relationship behind your spouse’s back is wrong. Having that picture up for all to see had to be very hurtful to your wife. It’s understandable that she is reacting to that. Your getting defensive does nothing to address this, doesn’t help, and it just adds additional problems onto something that is already problematic.

The words that you use to describe what is happening doesn’t matter nearly as much as the actions that you use to solve this.  If I were the wife in this scenario, I’d probably react most positively to a heartfelt apology and a thorough explanation. And that’s just a start.  You can read more about martial recovery after betrayal on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

What Are The Signs A Marriage Will Fail After An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  Fear often makes people stop in their tracks when they are considering trying to keep their marriage after their spouse has an affair.  They are afraid that they will invest all this time and hard work into their damaged marriage and they will still end up failing and being extremely hurt. They also worry that this whole thing will be painful process and so they consider just walking away right in the beginning to avoid the pain and the waste.

It’s no wonder then that those who overcome these doubts in order to commit to at least trying to save their marriage are constantly on the lookout that things are going wrong or that they are failing. Someone might say: “against my good sense, I agreed to try and fix our marriage after my husband’s affair. He made me all kinds of promises and so far I haven’t really seen all of them come true. Our marriage is a struggle every single day. I still don’t feel anywhere close to normal. Our marriage feels like it is worse off than it was right after the affair. What are the signs that a marriage is going to fail after an affair?”

It really does depend on the couple and what their marriage was like before the affair. Some behavior, while troubling, may be normal for a particular couple. However, you often do see issues or behaviors over and over again from people who struggle. I am not a therapist, but I do see themes from people I hear from, know, or read about. And by listing these signs, I’m not implying that your marriage is over or in serious trouble if you’re seeing them. Nor am I saying that your marriage is absolutely fine or perfect if you don’t see them. Take this for what it is – only one layperson’s observations and opinions. And know that if you do see them, that doesn’t mean that you can not fix them.

The Person Who Had The Affair Isn’t Taking The Initiative: This is a very common problem. Often, the person who had the affair is ashamed, embarrassed, and trying their very best to act in whatever way they think is going to make the affair blow over faster. They may well know that they were wrong. But they sometimes don’t want to admit or make a big deal of this because they worry that if they do, you are going to dwell on the affair and keep bringing it up to punish them. So many of them will try to be abrasive and indignant in the hopes that you will drop it as soon as possible. Understandably, the faithful spouse can take this posturing to mean that they are not sorry and they just do not care. And these misunderstandings can deteriorate a marriage that is already struggling.

Another way that I see the cheating spouse not taking the initiative is that they do not completely break off every ounce of communication and contact with the other person or they do not do everything in their power to change their risky behaviors. This includes coming straight home from work, staying off social media until healing has occurred, not drinking, or doing anything else that would affect their ability to make sound decisions.

There Is No Real Ongoing Plan: I know that it’s naive of me to think that every couple trying to recover from an affair will seek counseling, but I believe that you need someone (or at least some resource) other than the two of you overseeing things. Because unless you are a marriage counselor or relationship expert, this is likely outside of your scope of expertise no matter how much you way want for things to work. If counseling is just out of the question, perhaps a pastor or even self help resources will work. But when only the two people involved are guessing at what should be done when they are already emotionally confused and frustrated, recovery is not as likely to be very effective or very complete. And yet, that is what many of us try to do. The thing is, we are too close to the situation, and too damaged by it, to see it clearly.

Someone Is Just Not Willing To Let It Go: This is very common also. Often times, some real progress has been made. And both people have truly tried to move forward. But, one or both of the spouses just can’t let it go. They continue to run it through their heads. They continue to feel the pain and doubt. They continue to want to punish, even if they do not realize it. Or, the cheating spouse feels guilty and punishes himself. I am not by any means saying that you should pretend the affair never happened or “just forget it.” That would be impossible.

But I am saying that, when you are ready, you do have to make a very firm decision to move on in a healthy way in spite of it. Sure, you will still think back on it sometimes and feel sad and angry, but you shouldn’t feel this every day for the rest of your life. There comes a time when you have to decide that, for your own well being, you’re going to close the book on it and move forward without revisiting it and allowing it to continuously cripple your relationship.

As I said, seeing these signs doesn’t doom your marriage.  I saw many of them and yet, I’m still married and I consider myself pretty content.  We had to work very hard to move past these things and to continue to work on them when they came back from time to time.  You can read more at http://surviving-the-affair.com

After My Affair, My Spouse Thinks I’m The Only One To Blame

By: Katie Lersch: People who have affairs often truly believe that they are at least partly justified in the same. Many feel that they acted because they were somewhat unfulfilled in their marriages or they needed “something else” in their lives.  (I believe that this is sometimes a mistaken belief, but that’s beside the point.)  So when they are caught cheating, they will offer up these justifications in the hopes that their spouse can see their own role in it.  The hope is that there will be a realization that it takes two people to put a marriage is in jeopardy. The problem with this though, is that most of the time, this just sounds like excuses and refusing to take responsibility.

A wife might say: “I know that cheating is wrong. I do. But I am absolutely convinced that if my spouse had been a better husband to me, we would not be where we are today. For the past several years, he has given me no emotional support or affection. I’ve had a rough time of it health wise and he acts as if I am a burden to him. He never remembers things that are special to me. I met the other man at our doctor’s office. We share a doctor. He gives me the emotional support that I do not get from my husband. He shows me attention and care. I am not proud of cheating on my spouse but most of my friends understand because they see the void left by my husband. Of course, it wasn’t long before he found out. I was very honest with him and said that if he had been the husband he should have been, I would not have cheated. He rejects this and says that it is absolutely crazy. He says there is no one to blame but myself. He said that he will never share in the blame of my decisions. I know that this is going to sound weird, but I don’t want a divorce. I never intended to start a new long term relationship. I just loved feeling understood and supported. However, if my husband will never share in the blame, then I do not see how I can save my marriage.”

I understand where you are coming from, but perhaps you can see this from your husband’s point of view also. I can tell you, as someone who has been cheated on, that when your spouse starts listing the ways that you fell short in your marriage, it seems like what he is really doing is trying to deflect the blame. It seems like he is refusing to take responsibility for what was, essentially, a choice of his own making.

I am not saying that the faithful spouse never has a role to play – because they can and they do. (I did too.) But ultimately, it is not your spouse who made the decision to cheat. It was you who did that. Again, I can tell you that although I did eventually come to see the role I played in the entire mess, I wasn’t able to do this until enough time had passed for me to see it a little more objectively. And I believe that counseling helped with at least this part of it. Because I was able to accept it coming from someone else. But from my husband, it just sounded like lame excuses.

And, even though I eventually saw the places where I allowed our marriage to be vulnerable, this never meant my husband wasn’t culpable for his own actions. It most certainly did not excuse him or change my anger. It only made me see that, should we end up saving our marriage, we (and I as an individual) were going to need to make some changes.

Here’s another thing to consider. You probably don’t want to bring this up when you are discussing the reasons for the affair. You want to bring it up when you are talking about ensuring that it doesn’t happen again. Speaking from my own thought process, I believe that shared blame is easier to accept from you’re looking at it from a place of prevention instead of from at a place of who is most at fault. It was easier for me to think of changing the vulnerabilities in my marriage than thinking about how I was falling short. Because it’s just very hard to make that leap when your spouse is the one who took the action in the first place.

I know that it probably makes you feel better to know that your spouse’s actions contributed to the affair. However, your spouse is not the one who cheated. You have to accept that because it is the truth. Would you allow your child to hurt their sibling because that same sibling did something that the initiator did not like? Probably not. You’d encourage your children to talk it out and work through their problems instead of just reacting to them with actions and hurtful things that can’t be taken back. The same holds true here.

Because yes, some aspects of your marriage may have contributed to this. But you chose your own actions. If you want your spouse to see how their behavior played a role, the best way to do it isn’t to criticize or blame them, it’s to get them to a place where they are open to saving your marriage and then explaining what left your marriage vulnerable so that you can fix it by changing both of your behaviors.

I’m not saying you don’t deserve a more sensitive husband.  You do.  But you aren’t going to make him more sensitive by telling him that his insensitivity was why you cheated.  Instead, you want him to change his insensitivity because he wants to make your marriage better as a willing participant. My husband eventually learned this lesson and stopped playing the blame game.  When he did, I was more receptive to what he had to say. There’s more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

I Want To Sleep In Separate Bedrooms After My Spouse’s Infidelity, But He Thinks This Is Silly

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who really feel the need to set some firm boundaries after they have found out that their spouse has cheated on them. They often are not completely sure that they want to walk away from their marriage – especially if children are involved. But, they are unsure if they want to participate in their marriage in the same way. So they will often try to strike a compromise with very firm boundaries. Not surprisingly, the spouse who cheated will often scoff at these boundaries because he feels that they are meant to punish him.

A wife might say: “I almost can’t stand the sight of my husband right now. I found out that he has been having an affair with the wife of one of our couple friends. I am disgusted by this and I was very tempted to tell him to just leave and go be with her. I have not done this because of my kids. I have no idea how I would explain their father’s leaving to them. So I asked my husband to sleep in the guest room so that I would have some time to process all of this. I don’t even want to have him in my presence, and I most definitely do not want to sleep with him. He accepted this for only a little while and then he started pressuring me to let him move back into the bedroom. He said he wouldn’t pressure me for sex, but that he found it silly to feel like a guest in his own house. I told him that I am just not ready for this and he says he doesn’t think I’ll ever be ready and that I will use this as an excuse to keep him out and to never let him back in. Is it silly to want him to use the spare bedroom, at least for right now?”

I don’t think it’s silly at all. Some women ask their husbands to leave the house after they discover the cheating. Quite frankly, your husband doesn’t have it as bad as some. Some men are not even allowed to feel like guests in their own homes. Because they are not allowed in those homes. So although your husband might not like sleeping in the bedroom, he needs to realize that it could have been much worse for him.

It’s my experience that rushing intimacy before you are ready to do so is a mistake. Things are already difficult and awkward between you, and moving too quickly can just magnify all of the problems and make things even more intense. Plus, it makes you feel pressured and as if you are not in control of your own wishes, which isn’t fair.

You could try a conversation like: “well, you might think it is silly, but I think that it is necessary and it is my decision. I’m simply not ready to share a bedroom with you right now. There has not been enough healing or progress. And I do not want to rush things, only to have to back up later. I would hope that you could see that at least we are still under the same roof. Not every one can say that after infidelity. Some couples live apart and never live together again. Once we make progress, we can reevaluate the bedroom situation. But until then, I think it is best to leave things as they are. I know that this is not ideal for you. But dealing with your infidelity is not ideal for me. So we just have to do the best that we can. And right now, separate bedrooms is the best that I can do. Please don’t pressure me about it anymore.”

Hopefully, this conversation will hit home with him, but if not, I’d suggest seeing a counselor. Because although I am certainly not a counselor, I’d suspect that she (or he) would tell you that you are well within your rights to sleep separately right now. It’s better than forcing intimacy before you’re ready, so that you both have a disastrous experience. You have enough to deal with before adding sex back to the mix. Frankly, I find that the physical aspect of a marriage often isn’t great if the emotional aspect isn’t great. And after an affair, the emotional aspect is a mess. I think the best call is to fix the emotional part of your relationship and then to focus on the physical part. Your husband may not love this idea, but if he is committed to your marriage, he should at least be open to it.

Because he is the one who made this whole arrangement necessary in the first place. And he might know full well that you’re right about this, but he’s trying to make you feel guilty so that he can get back into the bedroom, fully aware that he doesn’t deserve it so soon. So sometimes you just have to calmly stand your ground or have a counselor tell him that you are right so that he can just drop this topic for now to allow healing to begin.

There were many issues like this for my husband and myself after his affair.  It wasn’t always easy to stand my ground, but I had to.   There’s more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

I’m Finally Feeling Positive About Life After Husband’s Affair, But My Friends Say I’m Being A Fool

By: Katie Lersch:  People often assume that after the discovery of an affair, there is nothing but pain and struggles ahead.  Many people assume that although a couple may give a half-hearted attempt to save their marriage, this is mostly going to be a wasted effort, as couples who go through infidelity never end up being OK.

Even the couples themselves can assume this.  That’s why you may be pleasantly surprised when you look around and realize that you’re feeling just a little bit better and more hopeful a little while after the affair — because you can not deny that you are your spouse are making some progress.   And there is no denying that this feels good.  And that the relief you feel is a nice contrast to the hopelessness that it replaced.

You may feel so good about this that you want to share it with others. You may want to confide in people who love you who have been worried about you.  It’s normal to want to ease their burden by letting them know that things are better.  In the best of times, most people will be happy for you.  But, in the not so best of times, some people can’t hide their skepticism.  And because they don’t want for you to be hurt and they think that they are ‘helping,’ they may rain on your parade a little bit.

It could be described this way: “three months ago, I was feeling more hopeless than I ever had in my life.  I had just found out that my husband had an affair.  And I assumed that I was going to end up divorced and that my kids were going to be raised by a single-mother.  This all terrified me and it made me look at life in a very pessimistic way.  Very luckily, I had a lot of dear girlfriends who allowed me to lean on them.  I am so grateful for this.  About three weeks after the affair, my husband told me he’d found a counselor that he wanted for us to see.  I was skeptical, but now I am her biggest fan.  She has helped us so much.  My husband and I are talking more than we have in years and are actually getting along and laughing together at times.  I feel my heart lifting just a little bit.  I am starting to feel relief that I never thought was going to be possible so quickly.  I know that we have a lot of work to do.  I’m not too stupid to realize that.  But I can’t help but feel a little hopeful. And of course, I wanted to share this with those wonderful women who supported me.  I told five women.  Three of them were happy of me and supportive.  But two of them pretty much said: ‘don’t be a fool.  Keep your guard up.  Don’t let him fool you twice.’  I tried to explain the progress that we made in counseling and their response was basically: ‘he just wants you think that you have made progress.’  I love these women, but I am so disappointed.  And now all of my relief has gone out of the window because now I’m second-guessing myself and thinking that they are probably right.”

I know that this must feel very confusing.  On the one hand, there is reason for celebration.  And on the other hand, there is reason for disappointment.  But from experience, I know that you have to take your victories where you can get them.  And you have to make a choice about where to place your focus.

So two of the five women were less than enthusiastic.  But three of the five felt exactly as you did.  You can not win them all.  And frankly, it is not the two pessimistic women’s marriages that we are talking about.  It is yours.  To be fair to them, they probably think that their honesty is based on love.  They are trying to temper your enthusiasm because they love you and they do not want for you to be hurt. Their heart is in the right place, but their actions are not.

My inclination would be to maintain their friendship, but to find something other than my marriage to talk about.  I learned the hard way that when confiding about the affair, you have to carefully chose who is the best candidate for your confidence.  Very few people are able to just step back and offer your their unconditional support without giving you their opinions and without lecturing you.  But these are the people that you want and need right now.

I would suggest maintaining your hopeful attitude.  You are intelligent enough to know that you still need to pay attention to what is going on around you, but nothing says that you can’t do that while still celebrating the progress that you have made and still building on it.  Reconciliations and saved marriages start with progress exactly like that which you have described.  You have every reason to be hopeful.  And you are doing everything exactly right.

There is no reason for you to let the opinion of others bring you down.  None of those women are sitting in the counselor’s office or in your home.  So they can not evaluate things in the way that you can.  I know that their reaction may have been disappointing. But right now, you need to focus on those things that can move you forward. And it seems that there is plenty of that in your life right now.  Focus on the gratitude that you have for the progress you have made and keep it going.

One of the hard lessons we have to learn after the affair is that not everyone can support us in the way that we need them to.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t love us or want what is best for us.  It just means that they don’t know how to provide what we need.  We have to learn to be very picky about what we disclose and what we ask for.  This is all part of the process.   You can read more about how I separated the good from the bad at  http://surviving-the-affair.com

What Are The Signs That My Spouse Knows The Affair Was Wrong?

By: Katie Lersch: Many faithful spouses really want to see their spouse express all kinds of remorse and sorrow for their betrayal during a marital affair. But more than this, we’d really like to believe that he knows that what he did was wrong and that he understands exactly why it was wrong. Because if he does, then the belief is that there is less of a chance that he will do this again.

Unfortunately, many men do not express their wrongdoing in words. And so we watch them, looking for signs of the remorse and regret.  We’re seeking proof of a knowledge of a huge mistake. Someone might ask: “how do I know if my husband truly understands his affair was wrong? He seems to have a lot of excuses about why he cheated. He also makes attempts to justify it and he gets defensive. I told him that it appears as if he’s reluctant to concede that it was wrong, but he told me he did know that he was wrong but he’s not going to fall all over himself saying it all of the time. He said that I am just going to have to take his word for it. But that’s not good enough for me. I’ve been watching his behavior and trying to see where he’s acting like a man who knows he was wrong. But I’m not really seeing anything that looks reassuring. What are the signs that a man knows that the affair was wrong?”

I can tell you my opinion, but this is only one woman’s thoughts. And not seeing these signs doesn’t mean your husband isn’t aware he was wrong. It just may mean that he hasn’t altered his behavior. Sometimes, if you really feel that you need to see more of something, you may have to ask him for it or bring it to his attention directly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always just magically happen.

He’s Putting In A Lot Of Extra Effort When It Comes To You And Your Marriage: Even if a man isn’t saying that he is wrong, if he knows that he is, then his actions should be in alignment with this. And a man who knows he is wrong and feels regret will commonly make every effort to do what is right moving forward. That means you should see him trying to do right by you. Of course, depending on your husband and your marriage, this may take on many different forms. You may see him trying to be move loving or attentive. You may see him trying to reassure you of his love or that the affair is most definitely over. These attempts may be clumsy and seem half hearted and this can be common. But regardless, you want to see the attempt, however, ineffective, being made.

He’s At Least Trying To Remove What Lead Up The Affair: A man who has some awareness that he was wrong may try to remove the triggers that lead him to participate in risky behavior in the first place. So a man who started an affair while drinking may try to stop drinking. A man who met the other woman at a gym may end his membership to that same gym. The list goes on and on. But you will often see him make an effort to remove the temptation or the behaviors that lead up to this. And he won’t always make a big announcement about it.  He may even keep it to himself.

He May Attempt To Apologize To You Or Even To The Other Woman: A man who feels remorse may realize that he was unfair to both women. Wives often become quite furious and worried when they find out their husband apologized to the woman he has been cheating with. But actually, this isn’t always a bad sign. It can mean that he realizes the affair must end and that he can’t offer the other woman anything at all. As a result, he may feel badly that he got her involved in the first place. Honestly, I’ve heard men say that it’s easier to apologize to the other woman than their wives. And I think one of the reasons for this is that he knows that he won’t see the other woman again. He can say what he needs to say and walk away. But with his wife, this is not the case. In any event, sometimes you’ll hear him mutter apologies, even if they don’t always sound completely heartfelt or sincere.

I’d like to mention one more thing. Sometimes, it appears that a man is indignant and making an attempt to justify the affair. And this may be what he is portraying on the outside. But the outside and the inside are not always the same. Most men know deep in their hearts that cheating on their spouse is wrong. Sure, they will try to justify it and they will act like they aren’t sorry in the hopes of getting you to back off on making them feel guilty or ashamed. But this is usually at least partly for show. Deep down, most people fully understand that cheating is wrong and worthy of remorse.

I didn’t see every one of these signs with my own husband immediately.  But I asked for those I didn’t.  Because I did want to see evidence of full awareness followed by remorse. There’s more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Do Men Really Feel Guilty After Having An Affair? Or Do They Just Pretend?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from women who are having a hard time believing that a man feels guilty for cheating or having an affair. Often, it is the wife who had her doubts. But other times, it is the other woman who eventually can’t help but notice that the husband seems to think he’s entitled to his behavior.

Common comments from wives are things like: “my husband claims that he is sorry and guilty about having an affair, but I have my doubts. He cheated on me with a much younger woman from his job. He made her all sorts of promises and gave her money in order to cover her living expenses. And he lied to both of us. He told her that our marriage was in name only. And he told me that she had left the job to go back to school while that most certainly was not true. When we both caught him in his lies, he supposedly broke off the affair. He promised me that he would go to counseling and that he would prove to me that he could be a good husband. He hasn’t done any of this. He says he’s sorry, but his life hasn’t changed any, really. I asked him if he feels guilty and he says that he does. But his actions don’t really indicate that he is telling me the truth.”

In contrast the other woman might say something like: “the guy that I ended up having an affair with told me that he wasn’t married. He told me that he had just gone through a nasty divorce. Imagine my shock and horror when his wife saw my information on his phone and called me. She had no idea and she seems like a really sweet woman. I broke it off with this man and I told him that he should be completely ashamed of his behavior. He apologized and said he does feel guilty, but part of me wonders if he will just do this to someone else. Do men really feel guilty when they behave this way?”

Well, I have to disclose that I’m not a man who has cheated. But I have spoken with many men who meet this description and some of them leave comments on my blog. Granted, my focus is on saving your marriage after infidelity so it’s probably fair to say that only a certain type of man is going to be willing to dialog with me about this. With that said, I can tell you that many men do feel guilty but they keep this to be almost a closely guarded secret. I’ll tell you why below.

Many Men Don’t Want You To Know How Guilty They Feel Because They’re Afraid You Will Use This Against Them: Men who are caught in an affair will often feel a bit defensive. They know that they are in the wrong and they know that they are deserving of whatever reaction you might have. But at the same time, they are embarassed and ashamed. And they don’t want to continue to have to keep talking about this. They don’t want you to keep picking at the scab. So they will appear to be distant or cold, all in the hopes of keeping you at arm’s length.

Because they are concerned that if they show you any weakness like guilt, you are going to pounce on it and then dig to determine what exactly they have to feel guilty about.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that they get a pass. You need to see their guilt and feel confident that they actually feel it. Because feeling guilt shows you that they know that what they did was wrong, which is one thing that might ensure that this doesn’t happen again. It also typically means that they still care enough about you to feel remorse that they have hurt you.

With all of this said, I will say that repeat cheaters are often less guilty. Because they have cheated more than once, they have found various ways to justify their cheating, which means that they are less likely to feel remorse. But men who have never cheated before are, at least in my opinion and experience, likely to feel some guilt.

How To Get Him To Open Up About His Guilt: It’s very understandable that you want to believe that he feels genuine guilt. But at the same time, it’s also understandable that he might not want to bear his soul on a daily basis. So you might just want to have an open conversation about this by saying something like: “I just need to believe that you truly feel remorse and guilt. And I don’t want this because I want to hurt or shame you. I want to see this because it helps me to know that you still care enough to feel these things and it helps me to feel confident that you know what you did was wrong. Because if both of these things are present, I know that you are less likely to cheat again. I don’t expect for you to fall to your knees and declare your guilt, but I’d just like to see your remorse in the way that you treat me and in the way that you approach our marriage.”

Hopefully, this will clear the way for him to be more transparent about his feelings. But to answer the question posed, yes, many first time cheaters do feel a great deal of guilt about their actions.

My husband didn’t show his guilt at first.  But once it became obvious that I wasn’t interested in using his guilt against him, he became more willing to let it show and this truly helped in our recovery.  If it helps, you can read more on my blog http://surviving-the-affair.com

For How Long Should You Wait For An Apology After An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: Often when we find out our spouse or significant other has been cheating, we expect an apology right away. Most of us believe that it’s obvious who is at fault in this situation and that is the person who cheated. And, as a result, he is the one who should be expected to give an immediate and sincere apology.

But when this apology never comes, there can be a question as to what happens then. Do you wait for one? And if so, for how long?

A wife might explain: “I will not pretend that I had a perfect marriage before my husband had an affair. We did not. Much of it was my fault. I have never denied this. However, we’ve had problems that have stemmed from my husband also and I did not and would not cheat on him. The fact that he cheated on me at the first sign of trouble in our marriage makes me furious. And I expected him to apologize right away. I certainly would have. But he didn’t. He got angry at me for catching him and since then he hasn’t had much to say. I discussed this with his brother and he said that he believes that my husband is genuinely sorry, but that he is just embarrassed. He says that if I wait, he is sure that I will get an apology eventually. But, how long should I have to wait for him to say that he is sorry?”

Actions Are Most Important, But It’s Normal To Want To Hear The Words: I’m certainly not an expert in this, but I don’t think there are any rules or guidelines about it. Because it’s up to you to decide what is reasonable. I’d want to KNOW that he is sorry and I’d certainly want a formal and verbal apology sooner rather than later. But I also think that actions are always much more important than words in this situation. There are many husbands who issue pat apologies immediately but then who go on and act like anything but a remorseful husband who truly wants to make things right. And then there are men who don’t say much but whose actions speak loud and clear and indicate that this man truly is sorry and is serious about saving his marriage because he’s showing his wife his remorse with his attention with his actions.

If you are seeing a counselor already, then I’d suggest bringing up this issue with her (or him if you have a male counselor.) She can help explore why you haven’t received an apology and, as a result, you may get what you want. Or, you can just ask him directly with a conversation like: “I can’t help but notice that you have yet to say that you are sorry for the affair. This shocks me because if I were the one who cheated, I would have immediately expressed my regret and I would have gone out of my way with my actions to show you how sorry I was. And yet, you haven’t said anything like that to me. This makes me question whether you are truly sorry at all. I can’t read your mind. I don’t know what you feel if you don’t tell me.”

At this point, he may tell you he is sorry. Or, if he has been posturing, he may keep it up. What I mean by posturing is that it’s common for cheating spouses to act indignant and angry after they are caught because they are trying to set the tone going forward. They don’t want to pay a high price for this or to have you bring it up all the time. So, with their behavior (or lack of it,) they are trying to shut you down before you even get started.

This doesn’t mean that they aren’t sorry. It’s very common and it just means that they are trying to make things easier on themselves. Sometimes, you just have to let them know that they aren’t going to be successful with this strategy and they will sometimes just drop it. But many of them try posturing first.

When Posturing Comes Into Play: And, your husband’s brother could be right. He could be embarrassed and ashamed and therefore not sure how to express himself. However, if you feel you deserve or want an apology (and I’d certainly agree that you do,) there is nothing wrong with asking for it. I feel it’s better to ask than to sit around and wonder and then to feel angry because you aren’t getting it. Sometimes, as unfortunate as it is and as unfair as it seems at the time, we have to ask our spouse for what we need if we truly want to get it.

He can’t read our minds and he often feels that he is already walking on eggshells, which can make him scared to take the initiative.  Or, he may be grappling with all sorts of feelings which he isn’t sure how to act on. Sometimes, he is waiting for more feedback from you.

It is quite an adjustment to learn how to ask for what you need.  But what better time than now?  You deserve an apology and in order to heal, you will need some things from him.  If he’s not giving them to you, then it never hurts to ask.  There’s more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

What Does A Husband Want From His Wife After He Cheated?

By: Katie Lersch:  When your husband has had an affair, you often think about what might need to happen in order to get your life to even approach normal again. You may not be sure what you want to happen with your marriage, but you just want to feel normal without all of this painful conflict.

As you are pondering this, you might start thinking ahead to what it would take to save your marriage, should you chose that route.  People often don’t understand why their mind “goes there.”  It’s confusing to them how they could be thinking about these things when they are so very angry at their spouse and don’t even know if they want to stay married.  I understand this, but looking back now, I think that we are just trying to determine what we might be up against.  It’s just human nature to want to look ahead in order to see how things might unfold.

Part of looking forward is wondering what might be needed from you if you should chose to save your marriage. You’re wondering what your husband might want or expect from you.  This can be the case even if you yourself don’t know what it is what you want.

A wife’s thought process might go something like this: “I am still reeling from finding out that my husband had an affair. I am still trying to figure out where I stand and what I want.  My husband doesn’t seem to really care what I want because he doesn’t seem to know what he wants either. He says that many things would have to change.  When he says this, it’s almost as if he is implying that he is wanting to see some things from me in order to move forward.  What do husbands typically want from wives after they have an affair?”

This is a tough question because frankly, I think it is more important what the faithful spouse wants and needs after the affair.  Since the cheating spouse is the one who brought this mess unto the marriage, then I would think and believe that he would be the one who would  need to worry about what lies ahead.  That is the ideal, anyway.  But I know that in real life, we don’t always live the ideal.  We have to make compromises so that everyone feels like they have gotten at least some of what they need.

Below, I’ll tell you what some cheating husbands have indicated that they need.  But, since I’m the one writing this article and it is my opinion coming through, I’m only going to include those wishes which I believe are fair.  Because quite honestly, many cheating husbands really wish their wives would just forgive and forget immediately. I’m sure they think it would be very nice if their mistakes would just be wiped away.  But that’s not fair to the faithful spouse.  And if you just brush this over, you aren’t dealing with the issues that may have a real and lasting impact on your marriage in the future.  I also want to stress that you need to explore what you want and what you expect from him. But here are the wishes that I alluded to.

To Be Open To A Brighter Future:  Many cheating husbands are fully aware that this is all their fault.  And frankly, many are willing to make this right with their wife again.  Many realize that they may have to have patience, go to counseling, and jump through some hoops.  And this can be OK with them.  But what they do not want is a wife who is going to hold this over their heads for every day of the rest of their lives.  They don’t want to look at the future and imagine that their wife is going to relive this and punish them for their affair each and every day. Because if this is the reality, many would rather bow out before they even give it try. That isn’t to say that they don’t know that healing is going to take time.  But they want to know that, assuming they do what they are supposed to do to help with healing, that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

A Willingness To Rebuild A Satisfying Marriage:  This goes back to the same idea as above, but men want to know that one day, they can have an exciting and intimate marriage once again.  They don’t want to go through the motions and not have legitimate love, excitement, and intimacy in their lives.  Yes, they know that rebuilding is going to take some time.  Still, they want to know that that the work is going to be with it and that they will have a strong marriage that would have been worth fighting for.

They Want You To Be Willing To Still See The Good In Them:  One of the most common things a cheating man will say is something like: “I am not a bad person.  I just made a mistake.”  Cheating men often have the hope that one day, you will consider all of the good things that they have done instead of just the one bad thing.   They know that they are at fault in the here and now.  But they hope that one day, you will allow them to get into your good graces once again, assuming that they do what they need to do in order to deserve it.

In short, what cheating husbands typically want most in terms of your marriage is feeling like they will one day have another chance with you as long as they do the healing work.

I am pretty sure that my husband had all of these hopes, although he may not have gotten these things as early as he wanted.  In good time, he did get them though.  And I am glad we made the effort because no one wants the life and the marriage that is less than they deserve and that includes the faithful spouse. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

How Long Should It Take To Let Go Of An Affair? Why Can’t My Spouse Let Go?

The time frame for letting go of an affair is a concern that I hear from people on both sides of the issue. For example, I sometimes hear from the spouse who was cheated on. Sometimes, they can’t help but notice that the spouse who cheated appears not to have totally “let go” of the other person. Sure, they may be saying that the affair is over and they want to save their marriage, but it can be pretty obvious that they are still sort of moping around. The faithful spouse may assume that this means that the cheating spouse misses the person they had the affair with or are sad that it’s over.

I often hear comments like: “my husband says the affair is over and that he is committed to me, our children, and our marriage. However, he’s doesn’t seem truly invested in any of these things. He mopes around. He doesn’t really participate in family life. He doesn’t seem particularly excited by me or our marriage. When I mention this to him, he says that he just needs some time. When I tell him that it appears to me that he’s not let go of the affair, he will again repeat that he needs some time. But it’s been about 4 months now. How much time does he really need? I’m starting to think that he’s never going to really get over it and our marriage is over. How much time should I give him before I just give up?”

Here’s another example but it comes from the cheating spouse. I recently heard from a husband who said that he’d had an affair about a year and a half ago. He had worked very hard to make things right with his wife. He had ended the affair and they had been faithfully attending counseling. He had done everything in his power to show his wife that he loved her and would not cheat again. However, the wife didn’t seem able to let it go. He said, in part: “We’re going on two years now and my wife still seems to unable to let my infidelity go. I have done everything in my power to make amends. I give her everything that she asks me for. But no matter what, she finds a way to bring up my affair, throw it in my face, and remain angry. I’m starting to think that she’s never going to get over this and frankly, I can’t live this way for the rest of my life. How much time should you give someone in this situation before you just decide the marriage was too damaged by the affair?”

I think that many of the people who ask me questions such as this are hoping that I will give them a set time line. I think that some of them are actually considering giving their spouse a deadline. Unfortunately, I can’t offer such a time line. Every person and situation is different. However, in the following article, I’ll offer you some tips and some things to consider in this situation.

Even Though There’s No Set Time Frame For Letting The Affair Go, You Want To See Some Progress. If You Don’t, You Want To Explore Why: Many faithful spouses can’t understand the need for closure from the spouse who cheated. After all, they decided to end the affair and walk away, so why is it hard for them to do just that? I’ve never cheated on my spouse. But I can share some of the sentiments from those that have on my blog. Some people in this situation tell me that it’s hard to have a relationship one day and then be just expected to turn your back on it the next. Additionally, many of them are responding to their guilt and shame for their actions. They know that they have let down both people. They know that you are angry and distrustful as a result of their actions. Therefore, it’s not that easy to act as if everything is back to normal or that nothing has changed.

I don’t tell you this to make excuses. I tell you this in the hopes to shed some light on this. However, even if your spouse is having trouble adjusting to life after their affair, they should cut off all contact with the other person and place their focus on you and your own family. You may not see them back to their old selves immediately, but the idea is that they do a little better each day while the both of you are trying to reconnect, rebuild, and heal.

If you are not seeing this, then you’ll want to have a very frank discussion to determine why. It’s normal for there to be an adjustment period, but you should also be seeing things gradually getting better.

On the flip side, if you are the spouse who cheated and you’re not seeing much improvement in your spouse’s ability to let your infidelity go, take a look at what you’ve done to help them heal. Because they need to believe without any doubt that you’re truly sorry, that you won’t cheat again, and that your marriage can and will recover.

What If I’m Not Seeing Any Progress Despite My Best Efforts? Do I Give My Spouse A Deadline To Let The Affair Go?: Sometimes when I tell spouses who have cheated this, they’ll respond with something like “but that’s just it. My wife doesn’t believe we can get through this, even though I know we can. How can I make her see that it’s safe to let this go? And if she can’t do I give her a deadline?”

Or, if I’m speaking with a faithful spouse I’ll hear things like “It’s as if the other woman still has a hold over my husband even though the affair is over. I’m doing everything in my power to restore my marriage, but he doesn’t seem interested in me.”

I know that both of these are two very separate issues, but usually the underlying problem is the same. In these situations, it’s my opinion that there are still some issues that haven’t been addressed or haven’t been solved enough that they aren’t still coming up. When I tell people this, they often insist that they have been through absolutely everything and they are tired of rehashing it all of the time. I understand this. But if you don’t settle all of the issues once and for all, they are only going to keep coming up and “letting go” of the affair becomes even more unlikely.

I know that it can be painful and awkward to revisit the past but you have to make sure that you have covered all of the bases and been willing to “go there” with your spouse to show them that you are willing to do whatever is needed to help them to move on.

Admittedly, they are some people who will eventually realize that they just can’t let the affair or the infidelity go and this will end their marriage. But I also think that there are people who think that this is the case with them, when in reality, they just haven’t yet gotten what they needed. And, once they do, they are able to put this past them. Because the truth is, no one enjoys struggling with themselves or their marriage after an affair. The vast majority of people truly do want to move on and let go, but they don’t always have the tools to do so.

That’s why I never think it’s a good idea to give your spouse an ultimatum or a deadline. If YOU make the choice to move on without your spouse, then this is your prerogative (although I’d recommend trying some of the tips in this article first.) But I don’t think you can or should attempt to force them to make theirs.

There was a time when I thought I would never be able to let go of my husband’s affair, but this is in the past. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com