My Husband Won’t Even Try To Make Things Right With Me After He Cheated. There is No Attempt Whatsoever

By: Katie Lersch: Finding out that your spouse has cheated on you is something that most of us will consider one of the most disappointing experiences that we will ever go through. We have put our trust in this person. We have invested much time and emotion into the relationship. We were faithful and we gave the relationship our all. When our spouse falls short and betrays us, it is devastating. But it is even more devastating if they do nothing to pick up the pieces or to clean up the mess.

A wife might explain: “I have not really even gotten a heartfelt apology from my husband for cheating on me. He pretty much shrugs his shoulders, says he messed up, and acts like our marriage is just over. I wanted and expected for him to fight for me. He hasn’t. He will concede that he made a mistake that will require him to move out, but he acts as if he’s going no further than making this statement. He told me that he knows he has to find a new place to live and will do so as soon as possible. Also, he cheated on me with a relative of one of the coaches on my daughters’ travel soccer team. Now, things are awkward with the coach and my daughter is embarrassed to go to practice. My husband acts as if this is our problem. He hasn’t made any effort to make this right, either. She is not his daughter, so he doesn’t seem to care. It’s like he’s perfectly content to just run away and not face up to what he did. It’s as if he doesn’t care enough about me to stick around and try to make amends. I’m disappointed on so many levels. How can I get him to try to make this right by me? Honestly, I am not sure if I’ll want to save my marriage or not. But, I’d sure like that option. I’d sure like to see him make an effort regardless of the outcome.”

Unfortunately, there are a couple of considerations that I have to bring up here. You probably already know that you can’t force someone to feel or do something. And even if you are partly successful with this, you often still don’t get what you really want – which is to know that he truly wants to make this up to you – (willingly and on his own and without force.) If he only takes action because you shame or guilt him, how genuine is it?

Another consideration is that very often, men won’t make any attempt to begin the healing process because they are attempting to get you to “give in” regarding your requirements. He is hoping that you say: “you don’t have to move out. We’ll work this out. I’ll show you that things can be OK if you just let me.” Men do this because they are afraid that you are going to endlessly punish them for the affair and “hold it over their heads” and so they try to disarm you right from the start. This might seem evil and cowardly, but it’s actually very common, even from men who are genuinely sorry and who know that they are wrong. Because it’s just human nature to want to move on instead of having to pay for something for the rest of your life. So, he’s trying to change the dynamics a little bit.

If you’re tempted to offer him some reassurance that perhaps this is something that can be worked out, know that what you say now might set the tone going forward. Try not to make concessions that you will regret. Really think about what you are going to require in order to make this right and don’t give any of that away. Because once you do, you risk feeling resentment later since you may believe that he got off easy and isn’t really sorry.

I can tell you from experience that one of the largest difficulties in saving your marriage after your husband cheats is truly believing that he wants you, is sorry for what he did to you, and understands what went wrong so that he will not repeat his behavior. But, if he doesn’t have to do any work in this regard, how can you have confidence in any of the above?

If you’d like to start a conversation about this, talk in generalities, but don’t make him promises that will let him off the hook. You might try something like: “this whole thing is so disappointing. Yes, the infidelity is disappointing, but frankly, what’s even worse than that is how quickly you’re willing to walk away without even trying to make it right again. Is our marriage not worth the effort to you?”

Notice that you never said he didn’t have to make any effort. You didn’t say that he didn’t have to try. You just said that you were disappointed that he didn’t even attempt to make even the slightest effort. After having this conversation, sometimes, you just have to wait. Because he is likely waiting to see if you are going to allow him an easy way out. When he sees that you aren’t, you will sometimes see more effort from him because his plan did not work.

If this wasn’t his strategy (and sometimes it isn’t,) he may just need time to process this. Many people are occasionally defensive or even very passive until the dust settles a little and their feelings go from flat to more realistic. But, waiting and / or trying to have an honest conversation are probably the best options. I don’t know of any way to “make” him want to make this right again. He has to genuinely want it for himself. This isn’t always immediate, so just because you are not seeing that now, this doesn’t mean that you won’t ever see it.

My husband did try to posture a little bit in the beginning. He was apologetic immediately, but once he felt the full force of my anger, he began to get defensive.  I had to make it clear that excuses weren’t going to sit well.  Read more if you like on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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