My Spouse Says He Forgives Me For The Affair, But He Still Seems Deeply Hurt

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from spouses who wish that their spouse, partner, or significant other had made progress toward healing after their affair. Although they know that the affair was all their fault and they have vowed to be patient and not to pressure their spouse, it can be a real challenge to be confronted with the pain and disappointment day after day.

To demonstrate what I’m talking about, I might hear a comment like: “I made a horrible mistake and I had an affair with my boss. It was a very short term affair and I told my husband about it the second I broke it off. I begged for his forgiveness. And I promised to do everything in my power to be the kind of wife who would one day make this up to him and to inspire his trust again. I believe that I have done that. For the last year, my entire mission in life was to be the kind of wife that my husband deserves. I left my job. The other man is entirely out of my life and I really want to put this behind us. Our marriage is relatively good, but I always feel like there is twinge of awkwardness and sadness between us now. It’s as if things might never be the same. I’m afraid that I’ve ruined things for good. Sometimes, when I look at my husband, I literally see a changed man. He’s not the confident and happy go lucky man that he used to be. It’s almost as if he occasionally has a haunted look in his eyes. He says that he forgives me and I can tell that he is really trying. But he still seems wounded and hurt. It hurts me to see him like this. When I see this look on my face, I almost find myself wanting to avoid him. It is like he is the walking wounded. Is this ever going to get better? Will he always be hurt by this for the rest of our lives?”

As a spouse who has been cheated on, I can tell you my experience. This is my honest answer. I rarely think back to my husband’s affair at this point. A good deal of time has passed and our marriage today is very strong. So, I really don’t have a reason to dwell on it. If someone writes on my blog and distinctly asks me about some specific experience or feeling, then yes, that can bring it back sometimes and at that moment, there might be a hint of hurt. Just from the memory. But because so much time as gone by and I know that things are completely fine, it passes. There were days in the past when, like this wife says, I felt (and probably looked) like the walking wounded.  But I don’t think that is true today.

So, while I am not sure that the hurt every really completely goes away so that it doesn’t exist at all, I do think that many couples get the point where enough time has passed and enough healing has happened that this becomes a rare occasion. When your marriage has healed and you are happy and fulfilled, then you are more than willing to leave that behind and to get on with your life. You don’t want to look back.  You don’t want to revisit the pain.  So you do everything in your power to maintain the healing that you have accomplished and you look forward.

With all of this said though, I can tell you from experience that your spouse having an affair is a betrayal and a pain like no other. It does wound you. It can change the way that you look at your spouse and your marriage – at least for a while. It whittles away at your self confidence and your belief in what you knew was true. I am not telling you this to make you feel guilty or bad. I am telling you this because I’d like to encourage you to have just a little more patience with your spouse. I know that you hurt and you feel guilty when you see him hurt. I know that you want nothing more than to see him happy and less burdened once again. But, he can’t just deny his feelings or to pretend that he’s not hurt when he really is.

I believe that the best thing that you can do is to continue to be the best spouse that you can and continue to be patient and to support whatever he needs to heal. Because frankly once healing has taken place and is at least somewhat complete, the pain does significantly lessen so that it’s just no longer a part of your daily life. The sequence is typically from deeply hurt to hurt to healing to healed.

I know that you want to take his hurt away.  But just be there, just support him, and just allow the time to pass with him seeing you being trustworthy and loving.  This does matter in the long run.  But it takes time.  If it helps, you can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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