I often write about surviving and thriving after a husband’s affair based on research and my own personal experience. Most times, I’m contacted by women whose husband’s have cheated, but I’m also contacted by remorseful husbands more often than you might think. Often, the husbands want advice on what they can do to help their wives heal and save the marriage.
Many wives ask for insight on just how their husband’s feel after the affair. Common questions are things like: “is he really sorry, or is he only sorry he got caught?,” or “I think he’s just saying anything right now to get off the hook. I don’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth,” or “he says he still finds me attractive, but I don’t believe him,” or “he’s just telling me what I want to hear.” In this article, I’ll tell you what men tell me about how they really feel after an affair.
What Statistics Tell Us About A Husband’s Feelings After An Affair: There is a well known infidelity study which indicates that the overwhelming majority of men (over 90%) are deeply sorry about the affair and wish that it had never happened. Often, they don’t take the time to really think through the cheating, they hope that you won’t find out, and they’re devastated once they realize there is no way to take back this mistake.
Often, men cheat as a way to regain self confidence, feelings of youth and competency, or as a way to get the attention and appreciation that they feel is lacking. Obviously, a better way to handle this is to ask for these things from your wife. But, as crazy as it sounds, some men do not have this logical sort of thought process. They are able to compartmentalize their marriage and the affair and they will often justify this, thinking that they are fixing the problems on their own without having to worry you about them. (Yes, this is somewhat ridiculous, but this is their thought process.)
How Men Feel After Their Wives Have Learned About The Affair: Once you find out about the affair, the real desperation, sorrow, and remorse begins to set in. The self esteem that the husband was trying to restore is now at an all time low and it becomes obvious this plan was seriously flawed. Often, the husbands are desperately sorry and absolutely willing to do anything to make it up to their wives, but they are caught in the middle of a bad situation. Many of them will tell me “no matter what I do, it is wrong. If I try to offer my wife affection and reassurance, she sees me as a sex starved pervert, but if I stand back and let her take the intuitive, she thinks that I don’t find her desirable anymore.”
Now, this may not be a problem if the affair was a deal breaker for you and you’re going to leave the marriage anyway. But, if you want to save the marriage, you’ll have to be able to move past these negative feelings and create new positive ones based on forgiveness, openness, and improvements.
One thing that can really help with this is being honest with yourself and then with your husband. If you need him to hand over his passwords and cell phone records, or to check in throughout the day, tell him this. If you want his reassurance and affection, tell him. If you’d rather he didn’t hover and give you space, know that he can’t read your mind. In order to really heal, you need to get what you want and need. And, very often, a husband is willing to do almost anything to help you accomplish this. But, he can’t do this if you don’t tell him what this is.
Moving Past Self Esteem Issues: Many people understand that the wife who was cheated on is going to have self esteem issues that can really sabotage the marriage. This will need to be addressed. Because it’s likely that you’re never going to believe that your husband still loves you and finds you attractive if you can’t believe this about yourself.
But, many people overlook the effect on the husband’s self esteem. Suddenly, overnight, he’s become the second class citizen in the marriage. Don’t get me wrong. He deserves this title. But, keep in mind that he was likely suffering low self esteem which contributed to the affair, so this the marriage even more vulnerable. By no means am I saying that you should let him off the hook. You shouldn’t. I’m just staying that its’ very important that you are both aware very of why the affair happened and that you both address the self esteem issues that occur in the aftermath so that you can move forward.