Can My Husband Really Change His Personality After An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who have made the decision to stay with their husband after he has had an affair. Many of these wives  have doubts as to whether or not this is a sound decision. They worry if their spouse is worth their trust in him. They worry that although he’s claiming that he is going to change, he won’t be able to actually do this.

A wife might explain it this way: “my husband has never cheated on me for all of our thirty year marriage. However, last month, I found out that he has been cheating on me with a woman who works at a bar he has started going to. The thing is, my husband is a huge flirt. He is a touchy feely type of person. And this has never really gotten him into trouble before because quite frankly, women were never all that interested in him. But recently, my husband came into some money and every one in town knows about this. So now of course, women are more likely to have an interest in him. The thing is, my husband has been this way all of his life – even as a child. His mother and brothers act exactly the same way. They are just outgoing people who love connecting with others.  They expect the best of people.  They are somewhat naive, I suppose.  Of course, people can take this the wrong way and think there is an interest when really, my husband is just being polite. I’m afraid that women are going to start approaching him because of his personality. I’m not saying that my husband has any bad intention with his personality, especially since this is the way he has always been. But, I think that women looking for money might use his personality to approach him. And I have told my husband as much. I have some hesitation of trying to save our marriage when I am worried we are going to keep going through this again and again. My husband says he can and will change. He says that he won’t be as friendly anymore. He says he won’t approach people that he doesn’t know well and he will be on his guard with every one. I really want to believe this. But that would require my husband to change who he is. That would require for him to change his entire personality, at least when it relates to people. Is this even possible? Can a person change his personality to keep from cheating again?”

I believe that this is somewhat possible and I will tell you why. To a certain extent, we all know someone who has implemented changes in their life due them seeing a risk in their current habits.  We’ve all seen people change their marriages, their health, and their bad habits when that thing seemed to be at risk.

For example, my mother was a smoker for almost thirty years. For the past decade, her health has been bad. Various doctors have worked with her to help her quit smoking. Nothing worked. She would quit for only a short period of time and then be right back at it, even though she knew this was significantly shortening her life span. My mother has the type of personality where she needs her crutches. Frankly, myself and the rest of my family had given up hope that my mother would ever change.

Well, one winter my mother came down with a severe case of pneumonia. Breathing become very difficult for her and this was made worse because of the shape of her smoker’s lungs. It upset my children to see her that way and to see her struggling for breathe.  In fact, for some time, we didn’t know if she would ever recover.

Well, she did recover. And once she did, she hasn’t had another cigarette – ever. Experiencing the sensation of not being able to breathe and being faced with the possibility of losing her life was the motivation my mother needed to stop a life long bad habit.

Many of us have known people who were horrible eaters and who didn’t exercise who had a health crisis and then completely changed their lifestyle. This isn’t uncommon. In essence, there is a stimulus that “scares them straight.”

I certainly think that is possible in this case. Many people change the way that they approach their marriage after an affair. Once there is the threat that the marriage might be taken away, they take much better care to not take it for granted and to treat it well.

I think it’s completely possible that the fear of losing you and the marriage could be in the back of your husband’s mind as he interacts with others. Granted, he may still have the urge to connect with others. And really, there isn’t anything wrong with this, especially since it has always been his personality. But, what has changed is that he must now become more aware of how his personality might get him into trouble and put him at risk. That is the real difference.

He’s not likely to change who he is. But he might become more aware of the consequences for how he approaches and reacts to other people. And he must become aware of how to back away when he senses that a line might be crossed. Because that truly is the difference. There are plenty of friendly and outgoing men out there (even those who have money) that don’t cheat. And the reason is that they’ve learned how to remove themselves from a situation that they know is inappropriate as soon as it crosses the line.

To me, this is at least as important (if not more so) than a person’s core personality.  I was critical of some aspects of my husband’s personality after his affair.  But after a while, I realized that, ultimately, I loved who my husband was.  And what I really wanted to change was his ability to read a situation before that situation got so far out of hand that it was too late.  You’re welcome to read more on my blog at

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