Why Do I Feel No Remorse For Being Unfaithful To (And Cheating On) My Spouse

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who truly don’t understand why they aren’t feeling sorrow and remorse for being unfaithful to their spouse. Most will tell you that if you had told them a year ago that they would have cheated on or betrayed their spouse, they never would have believed it. In fact, many of them consider themselves to be the type of people who never, ever, would cheat. So when they do, the expectation would be that they couldn’t express enough remorse. When this isn’t the case, they sometimes don’t understand why.

An example of the type of comment that I might hear is something like: “before I ever get into what I have done, I have to tell you that I consider myself to be a very honest, trust worthy, and honorable person. I am the type of person who will always point it out if I am given the wrong change or if someone hasn’t charged me enough at the check out line. I am honest to a fault. I always try to do the right thing. So it is totally out of character of me to cheat on my spouse. I have never cheated on any one before. It is not like me. And that’s why I don’t understand why I don’t feel remorse or guilt. My husband has not always been the best husband, that is true. He is a high powered professional who is never home. He leaves me to raise the kids by myself. I have asked him for more time and more support and his response is to ask me who I think pays for the lifestyle that I seem to like very much. I would rather have more of my husband’s time and less of his money and I have told him the same. He isn’t active in his children’s lives. He sometimes treats me like the hired help. Deep down, I know that he loves me. I know that he is juggling a lot of things. But he is not good at showing love and giving time. So yes, I cheated with the father of my children’s friend. This man’s wife is also a high powered executive and she is never home either. He knows what I am going through and we relate to each other. He listens. He cares. He appreciates me. To be quite honest about it, I didn’t think my husband was going to care all that much when he found out I was cheating. But he appears to be devastated and he demanded we go to counseling. When we are there, he will get very emotional about how hurt he is by all of this. And I know that when I hear the hurt in his voice, I should feel remorseful and guilty but I don’t. I feel nothing. And part of me thinks that he brought this on himself. What is wrong with me?”

I didn’t think that there was anything wrong with this wife. I didn’t think that she was an unfeeling or cold person. She was actually having a very typical response, especially in the early stages of cheating. It’s very normal to shut down your emotions toward your spouse when you are cheating. Why? Because in order to carry out the cheating, you need to feel justified in it. This is especially true when you are an honorable and conscientious person like this wife was. If you weren’t grappling with some serious issues, then you likely wouldn’t have been able to cheat. So, in order to shut down all of these emotions, you either dull or deny your feelings for your spouse, or you focus on his flaws, or both.

And that is why, when it all comes to light and the cheating is found out, you may still be a little indignant and a little distant from him. You’ve gotten very good at being able to separate yourself from him because you have had to. So it’s understandable that you aren’t overcome with emotion toward him now. You may also feel some loyalty (or attachment to) the other man and therefore are further shutting down your feelings toward your spouse.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t ever feel remorse though. And, the wife in the above scenario certainly didn’t strike me as someone who could do something like this and not know that it was wrong. My opinion on this is admittedly biased, but I believe that most people know in their hearts that cheating is wrong, regardless of whatever justification they might have felt. It is always a choice to cheat regardless of the circumstances surrounding it. I am sure that the wife knew this. Many honest, caring, and integrity filled people hold back their emotions here as a form of self preservation. Because they know that if they let even a hint of emotion out, then it’s all going to come pouring out like water rushing out of a compromised dam.

So they keep a stiff upper lip, they tell themselves that their spouse deserved it, and they deny feeling any guilt or remorse. Usually as time passes, this begins to shift. They begin to see the person sitting across from them as a real person again and as their spouse. And they begin to realize that no matter what he may have done or what mistakes that he made, he didn’t deserve this type of secrecy and betrayal. And whether you want to save your marriage or stay in the other relationship, you have to know that what you did was very hurtful. And I doubt that you would want for your spouse to do the same to you.

I don’t want to be discouraging because it is clear that the wife was a good person. She had likely shut down her emotions in order to get through this situation. And I suspected that if she continued on with the counseling, she would eventually experience the more typical emotions in this scenario which is guilt for betraying your spouse, whether you want to still be married or not. It’s a gradual process but in time you will likely look around and realize how far you’ve come.

My husband was very distant and seemed to lack remorse after his affair.  With just a little time though, the emotions all came pouring out and it was obvious that he was trying to be detached because he really was quite guilt ridden and was having a hard time dealing with it. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

 

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