How Do I Become A Better Spouse After I Cheated?

By: Katie Lersch: Some of the most common requests that I get from cheating spouses on my blog are requests for pointers or tips on how to become a better husband or a better wife after you have made the very grave mistake of cheating on your spouse. Often, the desire is definitely there. It’s usually quite obvious that in order for the marriage to stand a chance and in order for your spouse to be secure again, you’re going to need to make some changes. But, although the desire can be there, the skill and the workable plan may be lacking. And this can be true for both husbands and wives.

For husbands, a common comment might be something like: “I fully accept that I need to spend the rest of my life making this up to my wife. She deserves better than this. I truly want to be the kind of husband that she deserves. But I’m not sure how to do that. Sometimes, when I try to be sweet or loving to her, she acts like I’m not being genuine. She will say that I am only trying to be accommodating because I cheated. So I hold back. And then when I do, my wife begins to doubt my love all over again. I am not sure what to do. If I had my way, I would be constantly showering with affection or assurances. But she seems to doubt my sincerity so I am not sure how to be the husband that she needs for me to be right now. ”

For wives, you might hear something like: “my husband is so down on himself since I had an affair. He doesn’t believe that I am attracted to him or that I respect him because of my stupid mistake to cheat. When I try to be loving to him or to initiate sex, he says that I am only acting. I know that he feels less like a man because of what I have done. But I love him. I want for our marriage to work. I want to be the wife who makes him feel loved and desired. But when I try to show him my affection, he just pushes me away. What can I do now?”

Some of the tips that I give about becoming a better spouse are applicable to both husbands and wives. And some are going to be applicable to one gender over another. But below are some pointers that I wish someone had told my own husband after his affair.

Understand That Your Spouse Deserves Your Patience: If you look at the above comments, you will notice that the person making the comments was talking about how their spouse’s rejections made them feel. In other words, they were concerned that their spouse hasn’t yet reached the point where they are receptive to their affection. This is very common. It’s quite understandable to want to get your marriage as close to “normal” as you possibly can. But above all, you need to be patient with your spouse and to not rush or pressure them. Finding out that your spouse has been cheating on you is a shock and a pain like no other. It can take a good deal of time before they are able to process this and before they are ready to be receptive to you again.

Your offering even gentle pressure can make them think that here is just one other way that they aren’t satisfying you. Part of being a good spouse in this situation is accepting that they may struggle. But they are struggling because of your actions, so you need to give them the time that they need instead of bringing their attention to how long this whole process is taking.

Determine What They Need To Heal And Make It Your Mission To Provide That: Some of the things that your spouse will need to heal should be common sense. Many will want reassurance that the affair is over and will not happen again. Many want to know that you are still committed and attracted to them. They want to know what type of work you have done on yourself to ensure that you will not make the same mistake twice. But every one is different. Some people will want for you to stick very close by them and will find that reassuring while others will want you to give them space. Some people will need and want counseling and others will resist this. Some will want for you to show them your emails, phone records and passwords, and others won’t want to keep bringing up the affair.

Whatever your spouse needs from you to heal, then you should make it your mission to ensure that they get it without having to ask you twice for it. Being a good spouse at this time means that you are putting your healing spouse’s needs in front of your own frustration and need to get back to a normal life. I sometimes have cheating spouses ask me for how long they will have to “make up” the cheating to their spouse. And my answer is usually “as long as it takes.” That’s just the reality of it. If you want to truly want to be what your spouse needs right now, know that you have to be in this for the long haul.

Tips On Becoming A Better Husband: I’ll get to some tips on being a better wife in just a second. But for now, I’m going to focus on husbands. As a wife who has been cheated on myself, I can tell you that your wife probably needs a lot of reassurance and patience right now. She needs for you to listen to her. She also needs for you to really see her and understand what she is going through. She wants reassurance that you still love and are committed to her. She also wants to see that you are willing to be more accountable in order to prove that she can trust you once again. She wants to see you do sweet and loving things that are going to show her how much she still means to you. She wants for you to ask question and make comments that let her know that you really “get” and understand her. And that, if you don’t truly understand something, you are willing to make the effort to ask for more information.

Tips On Becoming A Better Wife: I’m obviously not a man or a husband. But I hear from many of them on my blog. And they often express that they want to feel like you respect them again. They don’t want to look at you and see deception. They want to feel as if you see all that they do for you and that you appreciate the same. They also want to know that you fully realize how lucky you are to have them. Physical contact and emotion is deeply important to husbands. You can tell them that you love them, but they often want physical confirmation of this more than a woman might. It’s important for you to understand that sexual infidelity is a huge blow to a man’s self esteem. So you will need to be very aware of rebuilding this in a genuine way.

Above all, they need to see that you are placing their healing above all else.  In other words, it’s all about them and not about you.  If it helps, you can read about my own healing process on my blog at

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