Mistakes are made. They cannot be taken back. But forgiveness is possible. Nothing is irreversible. If true remorse is offered and then accepted with an open and forgiving heart then a relationship is more than salvageable. It may represent a new starting point and perhaps a new lease for the future. Remember the timetable to recovery is completely up to her. Your candor and remorse will speed things up though.
You may be missing an important page so let us help. There are certain steps that are not only important but absolutely vital in rebuilding trust, respect and mutual understanding.
Step 1 – Answer every one of your wife’s questions about your affair as honestly as you can. Discourage detail, but answer her candidly. It’s not that your wife won’t forgive you, it’s that she can’t forgive you, at least not yet, because she is afraid of getting hurt by you again. Be candid about your bad behaviors. It may save your marriage.
Step 2 – Go to counseling, preferably to someone who specializes in infidelity work. Your wife won’t forgive you until you prove you are eager to change your behavior. Counseling is expensive, for sure, but it is nowhere near as costly as attorneys. And attorneys are not covered by any form of insurance either. If you get help, your relationship will heal sooner. Lisa Ryan LPC
Step 3 – Apologize. Regularly. Your wife won’t forgive you fully if she does not believe in her bones that you are truly remorseful. It is critical that you not give any lame excuses or explanations that blame others for why you behaved so badly. It is possible that your wife won’t forgive you because you have not given her a decent apology with complete ownership, humility and authenticity. You hurt her; your wife won’t forgive you until you let her know you understand how devastated she feels.
Step 4 – Reassure her that the affair is over, and offer to co-write a letter to the other woman saying that it is over. That said, be cautious of anything that you put on paper. Make certain that if you hear from the other woman in any form, that you tell your wife about it immediately. No one will blame you because you received an email; but you will absolutely be at fault if you try to avoid an uncomfortable conversation and don’t tell your wife. Have courage!
Step 5 – Understand that she will decide when she is “over” it. It is not up to you to decide for her. Your wife won’t forgive you if you rush her, or even if she feels rushed, because it may feel to her like you’re trying to hide something else. Your wife won’t forgive your behavior until she trusts you again.
Step 6 – Be patient. She will likely ask the same questions over and over again because she is looking for inconsistencies, and sometimes also because she just can’t believe it and needs regular confirmation to shake her out of her shock. If your wife won’t forgive you after six months of answering her questions, ask her what she needs from you in order for her to recover.
Step 7 – Give her the passwords to your cell and email so she can reassure herself that it really is over. She’s not snooping; she’s trying to find a reason to trust you again. Whining about lost privacy is the best way to find yourself served with divorce papers. Pre-agree that you will delete nothing and that you will share anything you receive that might be related. People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.
Step 8 – Listen to her. She will tell you what she needs from you if you ask. Never place your own opinion on what she says her needs are, just meet them without hesitation. Your wife won’t forgive you if you don’t behave respectfully toward her, and an equal partner.
Step 9 – Stay home, put your cell phone down, and be attentive. It’s likely that you’ve been somewhat emotionally absent for a while now.
Step 10 – Date her, and get to know her again. Communicate! And know that intimacy will be very hard for her, so don’t push her. For a while, there will be three people in your bed, at least in her mind. Lastly, remember that it is not just that your wife won’t forgive you. It is also that your wife won’t forgive herself. Because in some way she is also blaming herself.
Needless to say, genuine remorse from you, perhaps for the rest of your life, will make all the difference in the world to her. That said, nothing will be more critical to her than permanent change to your previous errors.
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