I Had An Affair And My Spouse Says I’m ‘Not Sorry Enough.’

By: Katie Lersch: It’s very normal for both spouses to have trouble effectively expressing their emotions after the affair.  Sometimes, it is hard to say what you mean.  Other times, it’s easy to feel defensive since the faithful spouse might be lashing out and saying hurtful things. That’s why in this atmosphere, it can be very common for the faithful spouse to feel as if the cheating spouse is ‘not sorry enough.’

Someone might explain it this way: “I need to get this out of the way immediately.  I am extremely sorry about cheating on my husband.  There is no real excuse for it.  I would take it back if I could.  My marriage was under a tremendous amount of stress because of finances.  And I don’t really respect the way that my husband handled it.  As a result, our marriage wasn’t great and I was mad at him.  So when someone at work started listening to me, telling me everything was going to be OK, and sympathizing with me, well that was what I was wanting from my husband and not getting.  So I guess I found that irresistible.  And I cheated.  And just as I was feeling very guilty and about to break things off, my husband caught me.  I swore to him that I was going to end things the very next day, but he didn’t believe me.  So I ended it on the phone right in front of my spouse.  And I explained why I cheated and I cried right in front of him for hours.  Sobbed actually.  And I promised that if he gave me the chance, I would be the best wife imaginable.  He explained that he couldn’t give me an answer right away, but said that he wouldn’t leave or divorce me immediately.  I waited weeks for him to come to a decision.  And now he’s telling me that his decision is that he is not sure that he wants to be with me because he does not feel that I am ‘sorry enough.’  He says that he doesn’t feel that my remorse is genuine and that I am not sorry that I cheated and broke my marriage vows, but I am just sorry that I got caught.  This just isn’t true and I have told him this. But he says I’m just wasting my breath because he’s been watching me very closely and he is not seeing true and genuine sorrow.  I honestly do not know what more I am supposed to do.  Fall to my knees?  Carry on?  Wail and sob?  I mean, I have cried.  I have cried so much I am all cried out.  I did talk to him from the bottom of my heart.  But every time I do this, he doesn’t seem to believe me.  So I’m at a loss.”

I understand this from both sides.  Although I was the faithful spouse and I had similar doubts about my own husband,  I hear from many unfaithful spouses who are going through exactly what you are going through right now.  So, in this article, I’ll try to explain why you are seeing the doubt from your spouse – as someone who has felt the same thing – and I’ll offer some tips on what I think is probably the most effective way to deal with this.

Why Your Spouse May Not Think You’re Sorry Enough: I honestly believe that somewhere deep down, your spouse would truly love to believe what you are saying.  In my own case, I would have been ecstatic to believe that my husband was as sorry as he claimed and that, in time, we could pick up the pieces.  What kept me from just allowing myself to believe this?  Fear.  It is as simple as that.  Knowing that your spouse has cheated hurts you so badly.  It is a pain that you never want to repeat.  And you just can’t help remembering what happened to you the last time you trusted your spouse – you were hurt beyond belief.

So you might be listening to your spouse’s words with longing.  You truly want to believe him.  But in the back of your head, your ego is saying: “watch out.  Your spouse is lying to you to get back in your good graces.  She only wants for you to let your guard down again.  You’d better be careful or you will have your heart broken again.”

Do you see what you are up against?  The fear to trust.  The fear of being hurt.  The fear of being fooled again.  So your spouse is putting up emotional walls to protect themselves.

So How Do You Get Around A Spouse Who Doesn’t Think You Are Sorry Enough?:  I know that it is tempting to become frustrated with your spouse and to try to talk until you convince him.  You might want to tell him that you are doing everything that you know to do and that he is only trying to punish you.

In my experience, this doesn’t work. This may instead make him feel misunderstood and pressured.  Instead, you might try saying: “I know that you don’t think that I’m genuinely sorry, but I am.  I just don’t know how to express it so that it rings true for you.  I understand why you have trouble believing me.  You have every right to your doubts.  But I’m not going anywhere.  I have no problem waiting until you are more comfortable.  I’d love to go to counseling to help us iron this out if you’re willing.  Otherwise, I will just wait until you feel that you’re open to moving forward.  But I can’t say it enough.  I am truly and genuinely sorry.  I wish there was a way to make you believe me right now.  But I am confident that in time, you will see that I am genuine. And that I am patient.”

So this lays the foundation, but then you have to back it up with action.  You have to be loving, patient, sincere, and supportive.  You have to be accountable and reassuring.  Over time, your spouse will likely come to see that try as he might, he just couldn’t shake you and you stood firm in your commitment to him and your marriage.  And that is probably the best indicator of remorse that I can think of.

My husband eventually gained my trust and my willingness back by having loving patience.  He just waited me out.  He told me he understood my concerns and loved me enough to wait.  He said he deserved everything that he was experiencing.  But he valued our marriage enough to not go anywhere. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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