My Husband Says He Doesn’t Want Or Need My Forgiveness After His Affair

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from wives who are so disappointed in their husband’s attitude after they have caught him cheating or having an affair.  Many wives expect him to act one way, but are upset when he acts in a completely different way than what was expected.

I heard from a wife who said: “I caught my husband having an affair two weeks ago.  He didn’t even seem all that remorseful. He half heartedly said that he wanted to save our marriage and that he would end the affair, but he didn’t seem all that sincere or enthusiastic. Yesterday, I told my husband that I didn’t know if I would be able to forgive him any time soon.  He told me extensive and hurtful lies and I am going to have a hard time getting over that.  I was floored when he turned to me and said ‘I don’t want or need your forgiveness and I don’t even recall asking for it.’  What does this even mean?  Why would he not even want my forgiveness if he says he wants to save our marriage?  How should I even respond to this?”  I will address these concerns in the following article.

Sometimes, A Husband’s Downplaying The Need For Forgiveness Is Either Posturing Or A Defense Mechanism: I have to tell you that many men will claim they don’t want or need your forgiveness when in fact this is not true.   Sometimes, they are being very defensive as a reaction to their guilt and shame.  Deep down, they wish that you would willingly offer your forgiveness, but since you’ve made it clear that this might not happen, he’s not going to let you see that this issue is important to him because he is being a bit indignant and defensive.

Many husbands will posture when they are put in this position.  They realize that they are in a position of weakness since they are the one who make the mistake.  So they will try to use reverse psychology on you in the hopes that once they proclaim that they don’t want or need your forgiveness, you will then be more willing to give it.

It’s up to you as to whether or not you play into his hand.  But my advice would be to take your time about coming to a decision.  In my opinion and experience, even though forgiveness is more for you than it is for him, I still believe that it should be earned.  If he’s not willing to work with you, then perhaps you can delay evaluating this for now. With that said, his posturing or being defensive now does not mean that he won’t change his tune in time.  Once he sees that you’re not going to give in until he gives you a reason to do so, he will sometimes drop the act.

How To Handle It When Your Husband Says He Doesn’t Want Your Forgiveness For The Affair: As I see it, you have two decent choices.  (You can chose to negatively engage with him, but I don’t feel that this is the most advantageous choice.)  First, you could ignore the comment and tell yourself that he’s likely posturing or being defensive.  There is every chance that he will change his attitude and his actions when he sees that there is no quick fix for the mess that he has created.

Second, you could respond to him in order to make your position clear.  A suggested script might be something like: “well that works out then because I don’t intend to offer my forgiveness until it is earned.  I am not saying that to hurt or punish you. I’m just telling you that we have a long road ahead of us if you’re being truthful and sincere about wanting to save our marriage.  That’s not to say that we can’t recover.  But I’m going to need to see a lot more remorse and sincerity from you before I feel completely comfortable moving forward. I know that both of us need some time and I am willing to give you that.  But I am not willing to just step back and accept less than I need to heal.  You may not want or need my forgiveness, but I want and need to see your remorse and your rehabilitation.  Both of these things are up to you.  But I can’t move forward until I see that you are willing to provide me with them.”

You might notice that I was careful to try to use non confrontation words.  I didn’t accuse him of being a selfish manipulator and I didn’t offer up ultimatums.  I just encouraged him to make the steps necessary to begin the healing process and I made it clear that I wouldn’t accept less than I thought I deserved.  Finally, I left the ball firmly in his court.  This is important because if this husband was only posturing and trying to get the wife to back off on the forgiveness issue, this script makes it clear that that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

After words are exchanged and both people have made their feelings known, you may want to just give this some time.  People often change their minds and their strategies as time passes and anger and defensiveness begins to wane.

My own husband was very liberal with his pleas for forgiveness after his affair.  But honestly, to me, a husband’s actions and behaviors are much more important than his words.  Remember that many husbands are trying to get a handle on which strategy you are going to take and they will sometimes throw some phrases out there to determine how you will react.  Stay the course and never accept less than what you want and need.  Because I did this, my marriage is very solid today.  If it helps, you can read about my recovery process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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