I Cheated On My Spouse And I Don’t Really Feel Any Remorse. Should I Pretend To Be Sorry?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who aren’t feeling the sorrow and remorse that their spouse wants to see after they cheated or had an affair. Often, they know that they should feel it. They sometimes wish that they did feel it. But whatever reason, they just don’t. And they aren’t sure if they should try to fake it or just be honest.

I heard from a husband who said: “I cheated on my wife with one of my employees. And the only reason that I stopped is because she caught me. Ever since my wife had kids, she never has had time for me. It is almost as if I am an afterthought. I repeatedly told her that I needed more of her attention and she accused me of whining. She told me that I was like a child who needed coddling. Everyone says that if you are dissatisfied in your marriage that you should be an adult and tell your spouse so you can have an open and mature conversation. Well, I tried that and my wife wasn’t interested. She didn’t want to hear my complaints. She pretty much told me that I was selfish, ignored me, and went right back to being self absorbed. It wasn’t as if I didn’t warn her that I was unhappy. So now she has figured out that I got my needs met elsewhere because she wouldn’t listen to me and she is trying to heap on the guilt. It’s like her goal is to get me to sob and beg for forgiveness. I understand that she feels like she deserves my remorse. But honestly, I don’t feel any. I truly don’t. I tried to warn her and she wouldn’t listen. The woman I was cheating with is so much more attentive and compassionate toward me. I don’t feel as if I have anything to apologize or be sorry for. If my wife had been a decent spouse to me, then I wouldn’t have cheated. But she wasn’t. Now, my kids are starting to ask questions and I do feel sorry that I put their family in jeopardy. For their sake, should I pretend like I feel remorse just so my wife will get off of my back?”

Why Justifications For Cheating Are Common, But Flawed: It’s not uncommon for people who cheat to feel justified in doing so. They will often try to shift the blame onto their spouse in order to avoid some of the responsibility. I did feel at least some compassion here because this husband did try to approach his wife and so many do not. So, he did do something that was right and he wasn’t successful, in part because of his wife’s response. But, this does not ever justify cheating. This is only my own opinion and belief (which admittedly isn’t unbiased since I was cheated on also,) but if you are unhappy in your marriage, then you should try to fix it before you go outside of it. And, if you can not do that and you still want to be with someone else, then you can do that once your marriage has ended. But you should not be with someone else while you are still married, because that just short changes every one.

Where To Go From Here: Of course, you can’t take back the past. You can only deal with the present as best as you can. And the present conflict was that the husband didn’t feel sorry about his actions and wasn’t sure if he should fake this sorrow for the sake of his family. I suppose the central question was whether or not he wanted to save his marriage. Because if he had no interest in this, then although he should be respectful to his spouse, there was really no lead to lie and pretend to feel something that he didn’t. But if he wanted to save his marriage, then a little more care was going to be needed. He wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted to do in the future, so it wouldn’t have been wise to proclaim that the wife was to blame for his behavior and, because of this, he felt no remorse.

The Progression Of This Process: I suspected that what the husband felt right now might change with time. Often, people feel somewhat defensive when they are caught in this type of embarrassing and vulnerable situation. Their being so indignant is sometimes a defense mechanism. Sometimes, as the shock wears off and both parties begin to process this more fully, feelings can change. Often as time goes by and as emotions aren’t quite so high and so raw, it is more easy to see where you were wrong. When that happens, it is easier to feel some genuine remorse.

But to answer the question posed, I would not advocate blatantly lying to your spouse and pretending to feel sorrow that escapes you. If you want to save your marriage, honesty is going to be very important moving forward. But I also certainly would not boldly proclaim that not only are you not sorry, but you feel justified. Instead, I would hold off on having this conversation until more time has passed. Because I suspect once the husband had more time to process this, the sorrow and remorse would come.

Early on in my recovery, my husband flip flopped on how much remorse he felt.  I believe that it became easier for him to express his remorse once he saw that I wasn’t going to turn it back on him or try to punish him.  Showing remorse is easier once the healing has begun and everyone feels more safe.  If it helps, you can read more on my blog http://surviving-the-affair.com

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