My Husband Says He Doesn’t Regret One Second Of His Affair. What Now?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who are beyond confused about their husband’s behavior after he cheated or having an affair. Many husbands insist that they want to make their marriage work. They say this with their words. And yet, sometimes their actions and their flip comments tell somewhat of a different story that can make many wives confused and frustrated. One example is when a husband will either let it slip or freely say that he doesn’t regret having an affair.

I heard from a wife who said: “for the past six weeks, my husband and I have tip toed very lightly around each other because he had an affair a couple of months ago. He admitted it to me and I think he did so because of his commitment to our family. His parents are divorced and they hate one another. I don’t think that he ever wants that for our kids. So I think that he is interested in making our marriage work because he doesn’t want a broken home for them. Things are touch and go between us. Some days I hate what he did and therefore I feel like I hate him. And other times, I remember that he’s the man I fell in love with and I want to try to make it work. And then, out of the blue the other day, we were talking about rebuilding our marriage after the affair and I said ‘I’ll bet if you knew then what you know now you never would’ve have had an affair.’ He paused and said ‘I don’t regret for one minute what I did. I had a connection with her and it was meaningful. I regret that it hurt you. I regret the betrayal. But I don’t regret meeting her. Because she had an impact on my life and I can’t regret that.’ I was stunned. How am I supposed to respond to that? It makes me think my marriage doesn’t even begin to stand a chance. I’ll try to address these concerns in the following article.

Understand That Husbands Have An Incentive To Not Want To Regret The Cheating Or Affair: It’s important that you understand that sometimes a man will try very hard to posture after an affair. They aren’t sure if they should show you how they truly feel because they don’t know if their true feelings are going to make you more angry or hurt you. And sometimes, they will become defensive if they think that you are going to come down on them too hard. So as a counter to this, men will often try to set the tone early on. Sometimes the “I don’t regret the affair” talk is a part of that. Other times, they are trying to make you believe that you couldn’t possibly understand their process in the hopes that you will stop asking questions. And other times, telling you that they don’t regret that relationship is almost their way of telling you that she’s off limits as a topic of conversation, which is one way that he’s attempting to set some boundaries to shield him from discomfort.

Of course, this may not be acceptable to you and how you react may dictate how things go from that point forward.  Here’s one more consideration. Sometimes, his saying he doesn’t regret the affair is as much a defense mechanism against himself as it is toward you. What I mean by this is that if he admits that he regrets his actions, then he has to admit how horribly he has messed up. He then has to face up to the full responsibility for the affair. Part of having an affair is a man’s ability to justify it somewhere deep inside. So he has to make the woman or the relationship something special so that it’s an exception to the rule that’s worth the risk. Many men later realize that they were wrong in this assumption, but it sometimes takes a while. And part of that process can be refusing to admit that they have any regrets.

How To React When Your Husband Insists That He Doesn’t Regret The Affair: This can be a tricky situation. It’s easy to blow up in this situation and tell him that if he feels that way, he can just leave or go right back to her. But then, that will give him further justification for his actions, and in truth, is this what you really want? Sometimes, you have to ask yourself where you are in the process and if his assertion is just posturing, a defense mechanism, or an attempt to set limits on rehabilitation. These things can be overcome and sometimes, a husband will back off on his own once he sees that he is completely wrong. So I would advise that, to the extent that you can, to remain calm. I know it’s a lot to ask but my preferred response would be something like: “well I’m very sorry that you feel that way. Because the affair has shaken our family to the core and has hurt someone that you were supposed to love more than anyone else. I most certainly regret that more than I can say. And I hope that one day, you will be able to see things more clearly so that you regret it too. What does this mean for you going forward? Does this change our plan to work things out? Or are you reevaluating?”

Most husbands will tell you that this changes nothing. They will tell you that their lack of regret doesn’t negate their commitment to you. And you will decide if this is enough for you – for now. I can tell you from experience that as your marriage improves and you grow closer again and begin to restore the trust and intimacy, he will often change his tune with this and, when he no longer feels the need to be defensive or to posture, he will likely come to realize that, now that it’s clear that he didn’t lose everything as the result, he actually regrets this betrayal very much.

My husband never said he didn’t regret the affair, but there were times when he made glib little comments that really infuriated me.  But once I realized that much of his comments were meant as defense mechanisms, I was able to effectively address them so that they stopped.  If it helps, you can read about our entire recovery process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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