He’s Cheated And Said He’s Sorry. He Seems Sincere. But It Doesn’t Feel Like Enough.

By: Katie Lersch: After the person that you love cheats or has an affair, it often becomes pretty clear that they can’t give you what you really want – which is for the affair to never have happened. No matter how much they might want to, they can’t negate the event. They can’t make you forget the betrayal or the pain. They may have sincere and measurable sorrow. They may express this sorrow to you on a daily basis. And yet, for whatever reason, it just feels like a heartfelt attempt that falls short.

I might hear from a wife who says: “my husband cheated on me with an old girlfriend. He insists that it was only a one time thing after a night of drinking. He says he didn’t have to tell me, but he wanted to do so because he wanted to assure me that it will never happen again. He seems very sorry. I have seen him cry over this. I wake up in the middle of the night and I will find him sitting in the living room staring into space, clearly beside himself. So there is not any doubt in my mind that he is truly and completely sorry. I know that he is. And I know that in his mind, he doesn’t intend to cheat again. I also know that he didn’t have to tell me. But, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t seem like enough. Sure, he’s sorry. But his sorrow doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t take away my hurt. It doesn’t mean that the cheating didn’t happen. I feel like he is the one who gets to cheat. And I am the one who gets to pick up the mess. At the same time, I am not sure that I am ready to walk away from my marriage. But I just don’t think ‘I’m sorry’ is enough.”

I completely understand this. And I agree. ‘I’m sorry’ just doesn’t begin to cut it. Sure, it might be sincere. Sure, his heart might be breaking as much as yours is. But, his remorse doesn’t heal you. It doesn’t make this OK. With this said, he can go beyond his remorse. He can take the initiative to get you what you need to heal. And he can join you and stand by you in the process. Because frankly, both people can generally benefit from the healing. You don’t need my permission or my encouragement to tell him that need for him to go beyond his remorse and offer you more. But you most certainly have both.

I hear from a lot of women who are still struggling weeks, months, or even years after their husband’s affair. And many of them have husbands who insisted that he was really and truly sorry. So, why is the pain, distrust, and sorrow still there? Because they never insisted that the husband go beyond the apologies. And this is stopping before you are finished. In truth, I can see why this happens. It often seems a whole lot easier and less painful to just try to let it go and move on. Who wants to dwell?

But there is a difference between dwelling and the process of healing. And I don’t think that it is ever too late to insist on this. Many wives assume that their husband is going to be resistant to taking this any further. But many of them are pleasantly surprised. Often, he does want to do whatever needs to be done. But he doesn’t have experience with this. And he doesn’t know what you need unless you tell him.

I’d suggest a dialog that is some variation on this: “I have been thinking about our situation and I’d like to ask something of you. I know that you are sorry about the affair. I don’t have any doubt about that. But I still hurt. I am still struggling. I need more than just your remorse. I think that we could perhaps benefit from counseling or self help to move past this. Because just the remorse alone isn’t making me feel that much better. I think that I need more than this in order to heal. And I am hoping that  you will be willing to walk this path with me. Are you?”

Many men won’t need a lot of persuasion to agree to this. Most know that their behavior is the reason that you are in this situation so they have no problems doing whatever you ask of them. And many of them having been wishing all along that there was something that they could do to help you. So when you spell it out for them, they are more than happy to go along.

If they aren’t, then you need to make it clear that your healing is non negotiable. After all, a husband who really loves you and who is as sorry as he says should want to help alleviate your pain.  Remember that it is always your right to renegotiate if things aren’t feeling right to you.  And he doesn’t know unless you tell him.  I understand that this process is very difficult. I’ve been there.  You’re welcome to read more about my experience on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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