I’m Worried My Spouse Has A Lack Of Remorse About HIs Affair. What Signs Should I Look For To Indicate He’s Sorry?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who really want to see obvious, true, and strong remorse for their spouse’s affair. Because they fear that, without this remorse, their spouse is likely to either keep cheating, cheat again, or not be willing to work hard enough to save the marriage and to restore the trust. Many people begin looking for this remorse right away. They are thinking and hoping that as soon as the affair comes to light, their spouse is going to immediately show sorrow, shame, and a quest for forgiveness. When this doesn’t happen, they can begin to wonder if there is any remorse at all. And, in order to determine this, they will begin to watch their spouse’s behavior closely for signs of real and true remorse.

To demonstrate, I might hear a comment like: “I caught my husband having an affair about two weeks ago. I don’t believe that he thought that he was going to get caught because he seemed so shocked. But, he didn’t seem all that sorry or upset. His primary reaction was that of disbelief and shock. I told him that he is to end the affair immediately. He agreed, but he seems almost resentful about this. He has yet to say that he was sorry. He has yet to apologize. He will only say that he will end it and that in time, he hopes that I can forgive him. But he hasn’t made any attempt to explain himself or to show any sorrow that he has done this to me. The other day, I got so frustrated about this that I confronted him. I told him that he didn’t seem remorseful. He got angry and said that he is remorseful but then asked what I expected of him. He said that it was almost as if I was expecting him to fall to his knees and start sobbing. He said that if I was waiting for this, it wasn’t going to happen. He stressed that he is sorry, but that it is not in his personality to go overboard with pleas and desperation. I’m not sure that I believe him. What should I be looking for in terms of behavior? How does a man who is truly remorseful about the affair act?”

In some ways, the behavior that you see, or the intensity and transparency of it, depends on the man’s personality. If your husband isn’t one to have highly emotional conversations, then he might not start that now. So expecting the same might be setting yourself up for some disappointment. With that said, even if your husband isn’t very demonstrative, there are some things which you’d like to see. I will discuss those things below.

You Want To See Him Eventually Take Responsibility Without Excuses Or Finger Pointing: Before I launch into this point, I’d like to say that it’s very common to see him act a little indignant in the beginning. Often, he’s shocked, ashamed, and a bit surprised. As a result, he may just shut down emotionally, at least for a little while. This doesn’t always mean that he isn’t genuinely remorseful. It just means that he may need a little bit of time before reality sets in and his true response is going to be obvious.

Once that time has passed, you want to see him stand up and admit that he is the one at fault. Sure, he may try to offer up some excuses in the beginning. But, eventually you want to see him own up to the fact that no matter what struggles he might have been facing, he had a choice. He choose to be unfaithful and he needs to realize that this was the wrong choice that must not be made again. He needs to own his behavior and his mistake.

You Want To See Him Showing Concern About Your Well Being: For some men, it certainly wouldn’t be typical to see him falling to his knees and begging for your forgiveness. But, you do want to see him acting concerned about how you are handling this and about your well being. You want for him to ask how you are doing and to offer up something that is going to make this right for you again. Admittedly, this sort of concern isn’t usually second nature for a man. But, even if he’s being awkward or not very effective with this, you want to see him at least to show his own version of concern for you.

You Want To See A Willingness To Fix This: Again, very few men are going to embrace going to counseling or to long talks to determine what went wrong. This is uncomfortable for them and they will sometimes resist it. But the man who is genuinely sorry and who wants to save his marriage will typically make the effort. Even if it is difficult for him and he resents it just a little, he’s still going to offer to do it because he knows this is his doing.

You’ll Notice Him Doing The Right Things Without Your Needing To Ask: Even if he isn’t showing his remorse or his emotion, you want to see him coming right home, not to secretly talk on the phone or text, and not to do anything that is going to cause you to question his fidelity. In short, he should go out of his way so that his behavior reassures you that he doesn’t intend to cheat again.

In the beginning of our recovery, I questioned my husband’s remorse because he was a bit indignant.  I made it clear that this wasn’t going to fly.  And in time, I started to see a lot of the behaviors that I’ve outline here. If it helps, you can read about my own recovery after the affair on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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