I sometimes hear from people who aren’t sure what their spouse means by demanding that they “take responsibility for cheating.” Because often, the cheating spouse feels that they have done just that, but the faithful spouse still doesn’t seem to be satisfied or happy with them. So they are often looking for a literal interpretation of this phrase so that they can change their behaviors in order to at least make some headway with their spouse.
I heard from a husband who said: “I made the huge mistake of cheating on my wife with a friend’s sister. It was honestly just a fling. She was home to visit family and since she lives hundreds of miles away, neither of us thought that it was going to be a lasting thing. Well, my friend felt so betrayed that he actually told my wife. And my wife nearly divorced me over this. For months, I begged my wife to give me another chance. After a couple of months, she finally agreed to start seeing me again on a regular basis with the plan of just seeing what happened between us. In my own mind, things are going well. I feel the old spark again and we would often laugh and have a good time together. Last weekend, I asked if I could move back home again and my wife said that she didn’t think so because she ‘doesn’t feel like I’m taking full responsibility for cheating.’ What does this even mean? I said I was sorry. I’ve promised not to do it again. I’ve been wooing her once again and she knows that I have remorse. What more am I supposed to do?”
This is a very common concern. Often, the faithful spouse wants to see more than the cheating spouse is offering. And usually, the cheating spouse feels as if they are trying to hit a moving target. They are often more than willing to give their spouse what he or she wants, if only they understood what that really was. So, in the following article, I’ll tell you what “taking responsibility for cheating” really means from the perspective of the faithful spouse.
Your Spouse Doesn’t Want Any Easy Resolutions Or Any Easy Excuses: Here is something that you need to understand. It’s very likely that your spouse is going through a great deal of pain. Even worse, your spouse didn’t do anything wrong. They were probably going along with their daily routine thinking that their life was normal when all of sudden, they find out that their marriage (and their spouse) isn’t at all what they assumed.
Just for a second, imagine how you would feel if the situation was reversed. This is a betrayal and a pain that is very hard to describe. So it’s natural and normal to want to protect yourself from ever having to feel this sort of pain again. So in order for you to even think about putting your trust into the person who has betrayed you, first you want to know without any doubt that your spouse is truly sorry, remorseful, and introspective about what has happened.
You don’t want to hear excuses because excuses mean that the next time the same set of circumstances present themselves, your spouse might cheat again. You don’t want to hear your spouse defend themselves with some sort of silly extenuating circumstances. Instead, you want them to stand up, admit that they were absolutely wrong, and proclaim that this whole thing was completely their fault. Not only that, but they know that the responsibility for getting you out of this mess lies with them.
They Want For You To Understand What Brought You Here. And They Want You To Have A Plan To Heal: Your faithful spouse wants to know that you understand why you cheated. And the reason for this is that they want to know that because you understand where you went wrong, you have the ability to fix the problem so that this won’t happen again. They want you to say something like: “I now realize that I have self esteem issues and I’m going to see someone to deal with this. I’m going to remove this problem so that neither of us has to worry about this cropping up in our marriage again. I’d be more than happy to set up someone for you to talk to if you are comfortable with that.”
Your spouse doesn’t want to take the initiative. They want for you to take the initiative because you are the one who set this whole thing in motion.
They Expect For You To Understand Their Suspicions And Doubts And To Be Ready To Address Those: I find that the issue of accountability is one that seems to crop up over and over again. Often, the faithful spouse wants to the cheating spouse to check in, or to be transparent, and to be very open about where they are and who they are with. Sometimes, the cheating spouse feels that this is an invasion of privacy and they will resist this.
But I would argue that being transparent and accountable is part of taking responsibility for your actions. Admittedly, it’s probably not healthy to spend the rest of your life under the microscope in this way. But until you restore the trust, this is just something that you will often need to do in order to show your spouse that you are willing to do what it takes to restore your marriage.