Most of the emails that I get are from women who have been cheated on. But, occasionally, I will get a man who has cheated and who is asking for my advice on how to make things right. Such was the case the other day. I had a husband who had cheated on his wife and who now completely and totally regretted it. He was desperate to find a way to make his wife believe that it was a one time thing that would never happen again and to convince her to hang in there and to work with him to save the marriage.
Of course, the wife was in no mood to hear all of his apologies and requests. She wanted the time and distance to hear herself think, but he was afraid to give this for fear that she might just decide to cut her losses and leave him. Since my own experience lies with being the cheated on, I was more sympathetic to the wife. However, it was very clear that the husband was completely remorseful and genuine. I did want to help. I'll share the advice that I gave him in the following article.
Why Saying I'm Sorry Isn't Nearly Enough To Make Up For The Cheating: Of course you want your wife to know how deeply sorry you are. Of course you want for her to know that you will never do it again and that you want to spend the rest of your life making it up to her. Unfortunately, she may well not be able to concentrate on this right now. All she's going to be able to focus on for a while is the fact that you betrayed her and the fact that this is a devastating and extremely painful blow. I know that you would probably give anything to take it back. I know that you probably wish you could eliminate her pain and take it all onto yourself. But unfortunately, this is not possible. What's done is done and you will just have to play the hand that you're now dealt.
This means telling her that you are sorry and reassuring her that you love you more than anything every time you can sincerely say this, but don't talk just to hear the noise and don't become a broken record. You must back up your words with actions.
Make sure that you are ready to do exactly what you claim. If you tell her the affair is over, then it absolutely must be. If you are going to go to counseling and have endless patience, then you must make good on these claims. Many men will start out strong but eventually they get tired of "having to jump through hoops." Well, here's something you may not have considered. Your wife is going to get very tired of living with the pain, the doubt, the betrayal, and the questions. Yet, she has no choice on this. So you should do every single thing within your ability to lighten her load, as this situation is of your making. Never ever insinuate that she played a part in this mess. No matter what the situation was, you had a choice. You made an unfortunate one. Now, it's time to begin picking up the pieces.
Focus On What She Needs, Not On What You Need: Many men desperately want reassurance and forgiveness after the affair comes out into the open. This is understandable but somewhat selfish. Your concern right now should be her – not yourself. She is going to be reeling from this for some time and she needs for you to focus on her right now. She's going to be doubtful, angry, and insecure. She's going to doubt that she's still pretty enough and interesting enough. She may not come right and tell you, but somewhere inside, she probably blames herself and doubts that she can keep a man happy. It's your job to reassure her that this isn't true. She must come to know that the responsibility and the faults lie with you, not with her.
This is a process and it takes time. It is likely going to require that you have a lot of patience. You may have to dig in your heels for the long haul, but that's OK. The motto should be whatever it takes for as long as it takes. Many men will begin to panic when their wives try to improve her appearance or her self esteem. They worry that this means that she herself is going to cheat or that she is going to leave you. Don't make this mistake. It is in your best interest for her to feel good about herself and for her not to blame herself. She can not really love you (and have faith that you truly love her) if she doesn't love herself. Encourage her to do anything that brings her some relief and self confidence.
Don't Give Her Any Reason To Doubt You: It's absolutely vital that you become very transparent. You do not want to hide or omit any detail – even those that seem too small to matter. Never tell half truths, leave things out, or let little white lies slip. She is going to be watching very closely and your first step is going to be to restore the trust. Never do anything that would delay this. Always tell the truth and always allow her to check up. She's going to need this for a while. Do not rush the process.
Your Actions Are Going To Matter More Than Your Words: You may have heard your wife say "you're only sorry because you've been caught." We really do believe this. It's up to you to show us that you truly are very sincerely sorry. You do this through your actions. You renew your commitment and you walk with her while she's struggling with this. You support her as she struggles and you offer reassurance and patience at every turn. Getting through this may be difficult, but it isn't impossible and your willingness to do what is in her best interest will eventually come to matter once the anger begins to fade.
I know that working through the aftermath of an affair is difficult, but it can truly be worth it. Although I never would've believed this two years ago, I did eventually truly get over the affair. My marriage is stronger than ever. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Our bond and intimacy is much stronger and because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/