I Cheated On My Spouse And Reverse Psychology Isn’t Working

By: Katie Lersch:  People sometimes reach out to me when they have cheated on their spouse and are looking for some strategy that is going to allow them to get their spouse back or to help convince their spouse not to end the marriage.  Many believe that they have tried any number of different strategies which seem to make no difference to their spouse.

A wife might say: “I know that my husband doesn’t really want to end our marriage but his anger toward my cheating on him is more important to him than what he truly wants.  I get why he is angry with me.  I deserve his anger.  I would be furious with me too.  I have been very remorseful and I begged him not to break up our family.  This almost seems to make him more angry.  He says that I should not be begging and carrying on now.  He says that it is too late for that.  So recently, I have decided to try another strategy with him.  I know from experience that my husband doesn’t respond well to any strategy meant to elicit pity. His mother often tries this with him and it makes him angry at his mother.  So I tried to take the opposite tact and I addressed him directly and in a matter of fact way.  I told him that I had repeatedly told him I was sorry and that I was not sure what else to do.  I told him that everyone makes mistakes and that he has not been perfect in our marriage either.  I told him that he needed to move on because if he ends our family because of one mistake then he is just as guilty in this as I am.  I told him that I wasn’t going to keep begging him to give me another chance forever. I hoped that this reverse psychology strategy would change things, but it didn’t.  He basically said I could phrase it any way I wanted but he was not going to forgive me for cheating.  The thing is, this reverse psychology has worked with him in other aspects of our marriage.  So I am not sure what to do now.  I am starting to think that this is hopeless.”

Well I’m not sure that anything is hopeless but I might have some insights for you as to why your strategy isn’t well received.  As a spouse who has been cheated on, I can tell you that if my husband had tried “tough love” or “reverse psychology” on me, this would have made me very angry.  And this certainly would have made me less likely to want to listen to what he had to say – much less to forgive him.

I understand why you feel that you’re almost forced to try different things.  You want to make some progress.  You want to see him positively respond to something.  So, you’re willing to try several different things to see if one of those things might give you a positive reaction.  I understand why you are doing this.

But what you have to understand is that your spouse is hurting.  Your spouse is struggling.  And then you coming along with an attitude that insinuates that they just need to get over it isn’t going to endear them to you.  It doesn’t insinuate that you are really sorry for you did.  It insinuates that you are sorry that they are not getting over this more quickly.  It insinuates that you care more about the time frame than you care about their healing.

If you really want to get back into your spouse’s good graces, in my opinion, this is not the way to do it.  I can tell you that what finally won me over with my husband was seeing his repeated sincerity.  He was willing to go to counseling.  He was willing to take responsibility for his actions.  He didn’t blame any of it onto me.  He was endlessly patient. His concern was more for my ability to heal than for his ability to be forgiven.

To put it bluntly, your concern needs to be your spouse.  Not how quickly things can get back to normal.  Not how quickly you can make your spouse do what you want them to do.  But how you can help them to heal.

Your spouse knows the difference.  Your spouse can feel when your concern is for them or when your concern is for yourself.  I am not saying this to be harsh.   I am trying to give you information that is going to be beneficial for every one.  When you try to pressure your spouse into moving forward before they are ready, you are not doing any one any favors.  Your marriage will not have any strong foundation if you try to just gloss over this quickly.

The better strategy is to show your spouse that you are in this for life.  And that you know that they deserve to have a strong marriage built on trust and respect.  You’re not showing respect for them if you try to force or pressure them with reverse psychology. Showing respect means that you don’t worry about the time line or yourself.  You worry about them.  Because they will know if you don’t.

Any time I felt pressure and frustration from my husband, I felt less invested in our marriage.  I leaned toward ending things.  But when he was patient and accountable, I felt the opposite way.  You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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