Since I’ve been doing dating coaching for many years, I’m often approached at my public events and asked my thoughts on various issues. I’ll never forget the question of one married woman who tagged along with her single friend.
She was clearly distraught and wanted my help. She rambled a bit, but finally blurted out, “I cheated on my husband and he won’t forgive me!”
She regretted her affair and returned to the marriage. But, she felt very guilty even months later. And, she couldn’t understand why, after months of apologies, groveling, and efforts to please him, her husband still hadn’t truly forgiven her.
We had an interesting conversation as I explained what was probably going through her husband’s head about her cheating. I also gave her advice on how to move forward in her marriage. In this article I’m going to share that advice.
If you cheated on your husband, you have to realize what is going through his head. Obviously, you feel terrible too. But, you probably also want to move forward as best as possible. But, you need to look at it all from his perspective.
Even if he still loves you deeply, you broke his trust. And, as much as he might try to let go, sometimes it can be very difficult to truly forgive you.
Put yourself in his shoes and ask how you would feel if the roles were reversed. Would you forgive your husband quickly? Could you return to a normal relationship? Would you hold a grudge?
While you can never know for sure without being in the situation, trying to think about how you would feel can at least give you an idea of the hurt feelings of your spouse.
And, not just hurt feelings. He’s likely felt things like anger, sadness, rage, love, and just about everything else.
Give Him Credit
The woman I mentioned in my story spent a good deal of our initial conversation blaming her husband for their recent problems. The way you heard her tell it, his reaction to the affair had hampered her marriage. She asked me if he was behaving badly.
I told her that his passive-aggressive behavior was immature. And, that he shouldn’t be pouting around the house and slamming doors. She smiled, happy I agreed with her.
But, I reminded her that many men just would’ve left her. It’s certainly what I would’ve done. So, I told her that while he was acting like a jerk, she needs to remember that he still, deep down, must’ve believed in their marriage.
If your husband won’t forgive you after an affair, just remember to give him some credit. At least he stuck around and is trying to make it work. Sure, he might not be succeeding, but many guys would just leave and never look back.
If you cheated on your husband and he won’t forgive you just remember the most important fact. If he hasn’t left and is trying to make it work, at least it’s a start. The first step in forgiveness is a willingness to forgive.
Don’t Push Him
Forgiveness is difficult. Sure, saying you’ve forgiven can be easy. But, that’s often fake and pointless. I remember being let go from a job under very unfair circumstances. I was pissed for years. I told people I forgave my bosses, but it wasn’t until about a year ago I finally meant it.
Do your best to not push your husband to forgive you. This is for a few reasons.
First, if you keep pushing him to forgive you, then it’s going to get on his nerves. He’s sees you as the source of the problems in the marriage. By pushing him to quickly move on, he’s just going to think you’re hypocritical and self-centered, even if that’s not true.
Second, you can’t rush genuine forgiveness. You can’t speed up the process by pressuring him. You’ll have to let his feelings run their course.
Finally, if you keep pushing he might just lie to you to get you off his back. In that case, you’re not really accomplishing anything of value. He will tell you that you’re forgiven for cheating to your face, but just be frustrated and resentful behind your back.
As a result, be kind, loving, and work to earn back his trust. But, don’t pester him to absolve you from blame or pronounce forgiveness like he’s a Catholic priest.
Be Open and Transparent
I’m very much against jealousy and snooping in marriages. Just because two people live together and are bonded in marriage doesn’t mean they lose an ability to have some privacy. However, if you cheated, you probably want to be as open and transparent as possible in your dealings with others.
Show your husband your phone. If he wants to check up on you, invite him to do it. While this shouldn’t have to go on indefinitely, at least in the beginning while you’re trying to earn back his trust and achieve his genuine forgiveness, you can embrace a level of transparency that might make you a little uncomfortable. If you want to save your marriage, it might be necessary.
The best way to get your husband to forgive you is to actively communicate with him. Too often during stressful, difficult times, instead of opening up and communicating with each other, one or both partners clams up and cuts off conversation.
This is exactly what you shouldn’t do. Both of you need to keep the lines of communication open, sharing what you’re feeling and thinking and, above all working to resolve the issues. In fact, your husband might be able to move forward and forgive if he’s able to honestly state his feelings and you can accept it.
Of course, having open communication and following all these tips are no guarantee that you’re going to get him to finally forgive you and repair the marriage. When one partner breaks trust, it can be difficult, if not impossible to fully forgive and get the relationship back to normal.
You might have to accept the reality that the marriage will never be the same, then plan accordingly. Divorce or at least temporary separation might be a necessary evil if you both truly can’t move on. It’s sad, but true.
For more tips from the perspective of a man and a dating coach, we invite you to visit our For Women Page