My Husband Doesn’t Seem To Feel Any Regret Over His Affair. If I Leave, Will I Force Him To Feel Sorry?

By: Katie Lersch: If you were to ask a bunch of wives whose husbands have just been caught cheating what they most want, I suspect a good number of them would answer with some variation on: “I want to know that he is sorry or remorseful for what he has done.” I believe that this is true even if the wife feels that her marriage is probably over. It is just human nature to hope that when someone hurts us so badly, they at least feel some of the pain that we are feeling in the form of regret.

So when this doesn’t happen, it can feel like you are being wounded twice. A wife might explain: “my husband doesn’t seem the least bit sorry that he’s just been caught cheating with someone young enough to be his daughter. I find this so creepy and almost perverted. But his excuse is that things are different for men. He will basically only go so far as to say he is sorry for hurting me, but he’s never expressed sorrow for what he has done. He’s never said he’s sorry for having such poor judgement and such a horrible lack of integrity. He seems to believe that this is an unfortunate thing that an aging man sometimes goes through. His lack of remorse absolutely infuriates me. And I have tried to spell out for him exactly why he should be sorry, but he doesn’t want to hear it. He will always interrupt me or just walk away. One of my friends said that I should leave him or move out and then he will be sorry real quick. She said that sometimes it takes a man literally feeling and seeing what he is missing to truly feel sorry. I have some hesitations about this. I don’t want to get in a situation where I’ve abandoned the home in case I end up divorcing him. But also, I don’t have anywhere suitable to go. Sure, I could go to a hotel, but when I consider this, I think that why should I be displaced from my home because of his mistakes? Would leaving him make him finally feel some remorse?”

That’s really difficult to predict, if not impossible. I can tell you that it does take some men a little bit of time to truly realize the enormity of their mistake. And yes, I suppose sometimes solitude may help to speed along the process. However, some men never give you the heartfelt apology and remorse that you want – even after you leave or divorce them.

There’s always the chance that you will leave and it won’t really have the desired effect on him. That’s why I think that if you truly want to leave, that’s certainly understandable and your right. But if you are only leaving because you’re hoping to inspire regret, know that there is risk in this plan and that it might backfire on you. I’ve heard of men actually feeling resentment over this – which they used to further justify their cheating.  Which meant that they felt even less remorse.

I suppose that the point I’m trying to make is this: You can’t force or get someone to feel the way that you want them to. Knowing this, I would suggest considering that your actions should be based on what you want or need and not on trying to manipulate what he is feeling or doing. Besides, don’t you want what are his genuine feelings? I’m not sure how much good it would do you to see him feeling manufactured guilt or remorse that doesn’t come from somewhere genuine – deep down inside of him.

I can tell you that when I went through this, what I was truly looking for was unsolicited examples of remorse – that didn’t come because he felt bad about our family. Or because it hurt him to see me sad. I wanted for him to truly understand how badly he had put us at risk. I wanted for him to understand that he was doing a serious disservice to every one involved. I wanted for him to understand that I had always known him to be a person of a much higher quality than what I was seeing.

But I didn’t want him to feel this way because I was having to pull it out of him. I wanted him to feel this way because it was coming from his heart. I really can’t tell you whether or not you should move out. Some women do choose to leave with no regrets. Some later change their minds. And some insist that the right choice for them was staying, but putting the brakes on their marriage until healing took place. All of these choices are valid. You have to do what works best for you. But I think the real motivation for your choices should be yourself and what you truly feel.  (And not what you are hoping that you can force him to feel.)

In my experience, remorse sometimes takes a bit of time.  People tend to feel defensive initially.  It is a way to protect themselves from all of the feelings raining down on them at once.  They feel shock and panic at first, and the remorse comes a little later in some cases.  If it helps, you can read more about my experience with remorse and other emotions on my blog at

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