Elements of A Heartfelt Apology after the Affair

apology after the affairIt seems that most betrayed spouses never really get a true heartfelt, genuine apology after the affair from the unfaithful spouse. 

Sure, they may get the standard “I’m sorry” but it seems as though they usually hear those two words much too often as the cheater continues their lies and poor behavior.

This post is meant to be a guide of sorts to help this whole apology process along.  We know that a true heartfelt apology can start to break down some of the barriers to healing.

Cindy Taylor with AffairCare says that a proper apology from the wrong doer contains:

  • a detailed account of the situation–not hiding details or covering up what happened; be specific.
  • acknowledgement of the hurt or damage done–name what you’ve done; say it out loud and call it by name.
  • taking responsibility for the situation–no blame-shifting here; take personal responsibility for your part.
  • a statement of regret–indicate that you are upset over your past actions.
  • asking for forgiveness–come right out and make the request.
  • a promise that it won’t happen again–indicate what your plan is so that the person is not hurt again.
  • a form of restitution whenever possible–some actions result in damage, so replace the damaged item; however, some damage can not be “undone” in which case you might give them what they need in order to feel safe.

I think this is a really good model to follow so let’s break it down even further, point-by-point.

Provide a detailed account of the situation–not hiding details or covering up what happened; be specific.  Well, good luck with this one.  Obviously this is very important.  In fact it’s mandatory for the unfaithful person to accomplish.    The truly remorseful spouse will certainly try his or her best to do this, but unfortunately it seems this is where most CS fail miserably. I certainly did.  Instead of lying, stonewalling, deflecting, getting angry, etc., just tell the truth in its entirety as calmly as possible.

Acknowledgement of the hurt or damage done–name what you’ve done; say it out loud and call it by name.  The cheater must understand as fully and completely as possible all the pain they inflicted on their partner. This means coming to terms with the pain they caused them both directly and indirectly, as well as the pain they caused by what they did and the pain they caused by what they failed to do.  Here again is where a little empathy comes into play. The CS needs to walk in the BS’ shoes here as much as possible.

Additionally, the BS may need to take some time to really accept the premise that the CS truly understands what they did, so it’s important that the CS doesn’t try to rush the BS along.

Taking responsibility for the situation–no blame shifting here; take personal responsibility for your part. Once the cheater has a complete understanding of all the pain they have caused, they need to express that understanding fully and completely to their partner in a way that shows that they accept full responsibility for having caused so much pain.  This has to be done without justifications, excuses, rationalizations or being defensive.  Man (or woman) up and take responsibility for what you’ve done and the pain you’ve caused.

No pussy-footing around here either.  If you really want to save your relationship and make a step toward healing, give it your all and really mean it and show that you’re sincere in your desire to fix your screw up.

Provide a statement of regret – indicate that you are upset over your past actions.  This is good but I think where many CS fail here is that they don’t do this with any real genuineness.  Basically, they say they’re sorry and that’s about it.  Sorry for what?  Getting caught? Or for destroying the foundation of the relationship?  Get specific about what actions you are upset about and what you regret most.

Asking for forgiveness–come right out and make the request.  Another mandatory point for sure, but the betrayed spouse cannot make the mistake of forgiving before he or she is really ready. Likewise, the unfaithful spouse cannot expect the BS to forgive immediately and must be patient and persistent in their efforts to earn that forgiveness. 

Promise that it won’t happen again–indicate what your plan is so that the person is not hurt again.  This may or may not be effective, depending on where you are at in the recovery process.  For instance, if you are just after the discovery of the affair, promises made by the cheater will not mean a helluva lot to the betrayed spouse.  At this point, these are just words and all the pain and betrayal saps the meaning out of them.  The CS really hasn’t done anything to warrant faith in what they are saying is genuine.

Many cheaters first attempts at apologizing are really about their own need to escape from pain.  They think that if their spouse accepts their apology they will be off the hook. But this step is about something else entirely. This is about looking within oneself and making fundamental changes about the way they think, feel, and behave in order to make sure they will never hurt their spouse again.  It ain’t easy, it doesn’t happen overnight and it won’t happen just because the CS says it will.

A form of restitution whenever possible–some actions result in damage, so replace the damaged item; however, some damage cannot be “undone” in which case you might give them what they need in order to feel safe.  This one is tricky as it can mean different things to different people.  Some will feel that the damage created by an affair cannot and will not be “undone.”  Others may feel differently and can come up with some sort of acceptable restitution. 

I think the key word here is “safety.”  The CS has to do whatever they can do to provide an environment of safety for the betrayed.  At first, the BS might not even know what that is.  It can take a little bit of time for them to figure out what they need the CS to do to make them feel safe.  Again, effective communication and patience are required here. 

However, it’s safe to say that the CS must do certain things like: end the affair and sever any and all contact with the OP, become totally transparent and answer any and all questions pertaining to the affair that the betrayed partner might have, they must communicate their commitment to the relationship and that they will do whatever is necessary to heal the pain – to name just a few.

Hopefully, this breakdown can help in some way.  In closing I think that above all, an apology must be genuine. Too many unfaithful people try and apologize in order to hurry the healing process along, which almost always backfires because the BS can sense it.

So instead, it’s important that the CS holds off on any apologies until they are really truly ready.  That said, many CS have already said they’re sorry (typically after getting caught), so they more than likely will have to do it again – perhaps several more times –  until the BS feels that the apology is genuine.

Here are some questions to consider…

  • After the affair was discovered did you receive what you would consider a good apology? If so, what elements did it contain?
  • Did you receive a bad apology?  If so, what was bad about it?
  • Are you willing to accept your partner’s apology? If not, what holds you back?

Please leave your responses to these questions in the comment section below.  thanks!

 

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The Real Journey to Forgiveness
It’s for You, Not for Your Spouse

There are misconceptions about forgiveness that cause many misunderstandings and also serve as roadblocks to the healing process.

We clear up the misconceptions, provide the real scoop on forgiveness, and show you how to get rid of lingering feelings in such a way that allows forgiveness to become a healing force in your life.

 

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20 Responses to Elements of A Heartfelt Apology after the Affair

  1. Scott May 12, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    After the affair was discovered did you receive what you would consider a good apology? If so, what elements did it contain?

    No. Once the divorce papers were served the arrogance and in your face hatred backed off a little, but there was never an apology that A. I could believe, or B. Didn’t have some sort of defensiveness or blameshifting. At one point she even said, “I own this 100%, but you did a lot of things wrong, you weren’t perfect.” Well guess what, none of us are perfect, and if being perfect was the criteria for her not to cheat, well then I don’t think she’ll ever find someone she won’t cheat on.

    Did you receive a bad apology? If so, what was bad about it?

    As noted above, and that was the closest thing to an actual apology as I got.

    Are you willing to accept your partner’s apology? If not, what holds you back?

    No, never did, and thus the divorce. Every moment of every day was an opportunity for her to actually make changes, dig into herself, find answers, communicate how terrible it was for her to do, find ways to make life safe again, own her issues, discuss how she could improve, etc. None of that happened. In fact, for 4 months AFTER (supposedly) her affair was over, she was still friends with him on facebook. My actual healing started the day she was out of my house and my life for good. Her continued denial, actions, and refusal to actually come clean was the main issue post affair. And my decision to divorce turned out to be correct. Not only did she continue to chase her AP, she got him a different job in her new company, and has continued to chase him, almost if to validate that her decision was right. He has moved on (big shocker), though the nature of their continued relationship is now out of my line of sight and thank God will be forever.

    After 16 years, chasing a dream…a fantasy, was more important than swallowing her pride and admitting to everything. That’s a shame. What’s more of a shame is going through life delusional. Thank God I know the truth.

    • betrayedchump May 18, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

      Any good apology has three parts:
      1) I’m sorry.
      2) It’s my fault.
      3) What can I do to make it right?
      Most cheaters forget the third part.
      Peace to All.

  2. Jenny May 12, 2015 at 4:19 pm #

    One of the hardest healing points for me after the affair has been the lack of an apology (and thus in my mind a lack of remorse). I also imagine that they believe that the end (their relationship) justifies the means (hurting me) in the process so there is not anything to be sorry about.

    I was friends with my exs affair partner and we talked twice after the affair was found. I did not receive any apology from her. It was a struggle for a long time to meld in my mind how a friend could do this to me.

    My ex and her were back in touch after a period of time (when I was told they were not). After I found out a second time about them being in contact my ex stated “I have apologize plenty, I don’t need to anymore.” I don’t think that he ever saw that the fact that he was in touch again negated EVERY apology made prior to that. It still tugs are my heart all these years later.

    On the other hand I may never get an apology and I still need to come to terms with what happened. This has looked many ways depending on the time out from the affair but I hope I can come to a place of acceptance understanding that I may never get what I need from either of them (and that is about them…..not me). It is up to me though to work on my own healing, with or with out this.

    • CBb May 17, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

      I did receive an apology from the OW. And one month later she was trying to start things up for the third time with my CH.

      Heartfelt apology? I did get it wrapped up with lies to try and save his sorry butt. It is kind of like it negates the apology.

      I am so done with this that I feel like I could just say “whatever” and call it a day.

      Why do we even take this crap and take them back?

  3. TrustingGod May 12, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

    I got a “sorry then,” initially, when I pointed out I was being expected to forgive something huge without an apology. And with the attitude you can imagine. Since then, I have been experiencing the “just get over it,” and more recently, “that’s the past.” All, of course, with the minimal efforts to improve our marriage, such as texting me during his breaks at work. And he works at night and at another job in the afternoon before that, so we hardly ever see each other or speak otherwise. He just recently got rid of his Facebook, after fight after fight about it, because he was still giving other people on it more attention than he showed me, even having conversations with other people on there while texting me, during what I thought were intimate conversations between him and me. It’s what he used to cheat on me, and when he deactivated his account I thought we were finally at a breakthrough and we were going to actually start trying to repair our relationship, instead of pretending everything is fine so that he’s not too stressed and angry. But it looks more like he’s been following the cheater’s code, and now thinks enough time has passed that I should be over it, even though he’s done mostly gaslighting and blame-shifting, stonewalling, along with attacking me and trying to get me to believe the lies about me that he created in his mind.
    So, I think I’m headed more where Scott went, because it’s ridiculous to think that he can get away with everything he’s done to me without showing compassion or empathy. I don’t know why he would think that the statute of limitations to get over a serious betrayal is only a year or so. I have told him that I am leaving him as soon as I can get the money to do so, but I think he doesn’t take me seriously because he knows that I will have to find somewhere else to go, since I don’t have family close by, and no one to watch my baby while I work or look for work. So he knows that it will take a while because we’re barely able to afford to live on his salary in the house we live in now, so I can’t stay here. And with no friends and no money that leaves me cornered and gives him the idea that I will just stay, so he doesn’t seem upset at all. He’s actually pretty cheerful, so he’s either happy that he doesn’t have to put up with me for much longer, and his plan of making me give up so it will be my fault has worked, or he’s laughing inwardly because he knows it’ll be months before I reasonably could leave, and figures I’ll just go back to being a doormat. I’ve left him twice before, but I had a job then, and with health issues I’ve had and that one of my sons now has, he knows I don’t want to put our kids through the same financial strain as we went through then. But he doesn’t get that I’m actually decided on leaving now, unless he does everything I ask. But so far he’s going back to ignoring everything and carrying on as always. I even had to explain to him just now that we are not good, so I don’t want to kiss him goodbye. I left out the part where I’d rather punch him in the face, because I have a sleeping baby next to me. It’s hilarious that he thinks that my talking to him means it’s all good.
    Nope, I’ve had enough of my husband thinking he’s been given a free pass and that he can continue to do what he wants and the most that’ll happen is a minor fight and back to normal, no apologies required.
    I guess I should’ve known when I forgave without an apology so many times that he would just do more and worse things. I’ve been a stupid doormat because of believing that a Christian always forgives, has to, even if the other person isn’t sorry. The people who preach that definitely need to remind everyone that someone who doesn’t repent of their behavior should be shunned and the relationship severed until they do change, even though we still will forgive them. But I only heard that part a week ago, so I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out how my forgiving an unrepentant husband was going to be rewarded someday. If my husband knew how much his behavior and attitude has made me question God and His love for me, he’d know he has a lot to answer for. I’d feel sorry for him if I wasn’t spending most of my time contemplating how much more peaceful and stable my life will be without him in it. Not easy, because I’ll still have to wonder if this monstrous person will come through with child support and not do something terrible to the kids or even show up for visitation, or if he’ll just leave the country since we already lost our house and there’s nothing left to keep him here. I don’t know.
    What I do know is that I wish Scott’s wife had figured out how to apologize and made recovering her family and marriage a priority. He seems like a reasonable, intelligent, fair guy, who was willing to work on his marriage even though plenty of men wouldn’t forgive their wives for adultery–mine wouldn’t have, if the roles were reversed. It’s somehow more sad to me when women destroy themselves and their families that way. As hard as it has been in my marriage, I never thought about cheating on him because I thought about what my children would think of me, and later, as my relationship with God developed, I couldn’t think of displeasing God that way. But everyone has their own journey and maybe there’s something better coming along for all of us who never got that apology or repentance or the commitment to work on the marriage that we had a right to expect.

    • betrayedchump May 18, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

      TG,
      This quote is exactly how I feel about my x CS.
      Somebody asked me if I knew you. A million memeories flashed through my mind but I just smiled and said I used to.
      Peace to All.

      • Strengthrequired May 18, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

        Betrayed, I think it’s true about how I feel with my ch. I look at pictures of us after dday, and I feel like he is a stranger in those pics. I see a person when I look at my ch, and see someone who I need to get to know, because I don’t view him as the same man I married. I look at this man before me and wonder how much he really loves me, and I know it’s not like he used to.
        I remember how he was, how we were prior to dday, I look at photos from our life together, and I see the man I married in them, which makes me sad, because I miss him. The man I knew loved me.
        Hopefully one day I can look back and smile at my life with my husband and feel that he always loved me, that I just lost sight of it, in my mind for a little while.

        • betrayedchump May 18, 2015 at 8:43 pm #

          SR,
          “Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts or happenings. It consist mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever flowing through one’s head.”
          ― Mark Twain
          Peace to All.

          • Strengthrequired May 19, 2015 at 12:28 am #

            Love the quotes betrayed.

  4. Shifting Impressions May 13, 2015 at 1:40 am #

    I think this is a really good post. Breaking it down the way you have, Doug just shows me again, that even the apology is a process. Did I receive a good apology…..well, not at first, but it’s getting better. (16 months since D-day). As my husband slowly puts down his defenses the understanding of how he has hurt me increases and his regret seems much more authentic then it did earlier on.

    Did I receive a really bad apology….not really, but the apology I received shortly after D-day just didn’t have the depth I needed. I think perhaps it takes time for the CS to get it and to face up to what they have really done, in order to give a truly meaningful apology.

    Have I totally accepted his apology???? Probably not. What’s stopping me?? Same thing, it’s a process. The more his defenses go down and the more sincere his words are…..the closer I come to accepting his apology and believing his regret.

    Are we there yet…..I wish, but no. Is there progress…..yes. So very slow but little by little. Thanks again for a great post…..I totally agree with you on this.

  5. Jenny May 13, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    One thing that has really helped me with this topic is the Janis Abrahm Springs book How Can I Forgive You and the Freedom Not To. It has allowed me to see how much behavior is a part of the deal of forgiveness. It has also allowed me to see what is mine in this (and I still have a lot of work to do), and what is not.

    It presented a different way to look at forgiveness (my knee jerk reaction has been to just forgive even when a person has not asked for it).

    I am far enough out now that the forgiveness is all for me…..and has little to do with him. Put I agree with the above it is a process and one I am still working on.

  6. Untold May 13, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

    Yes very good post, especially coming from one who was unfaithful. It’s hard for me to believe the unfaithful partner can actually see an apology and forgiveness this way. My CW saw it for a few weeks after being caught, then it vanished. As the others have said, it turned to rewriting history, stonewalling, blameshifting, etc. in the south they call that “crawfishing” – going backward, backtracking on initial thought, plans, COMMITTMENTS!

    One trait that may make apology and forgiveness difficult is that unfaithful tend toward “instant gratification”, which enables them to cheat without fear of long-term consequences. They probably expect that with apologies and forgiveness too, When they don’t get their way, they call you names, pick up their toys and go home. Concepts like “work” and “process” toward longer-term greater-good are foreign to them. Comprendes?

  7. CBb May 14, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

    I like the analogy that an apology coupledvwith lies negates the apology.

    My CH swore up and down he did not love the OW. But I saw his emails where he wrote it in black and white. I could not get past the lies.

    Typical guy thinking i am going to get myself outmof this mess with even more lies.

    Again he just was not ready to understand how his actions had such ling reaching affects. At least he gets it now otherwise we would be divorced. But I have almost no tolerance or patience left for this crap. I would rather be alone and happy than putting upmwith continued bull and poor behavior choices.

    Some of these cheating spouses just need to grow up already.

  8. Amy May 22, 2015 at 1:57 am #

    Hi, My husband apologised many times and made promises to work on the marraige but still continued with the affair for an year after I discovered it! I gave him a lot of chances but he never honored them. He wrote a letter to OW mentioning No Contact ever but broke it by calling her once. I finally told him to get lost as enough was enough but he says he will not leave and will work towards marraige.I know if he has not respected his own word before what will he do now. Any ways I told him if he truely means it he has to prove by actions and its going to be lot of hard work from his side otherwise he can stop his drama and be with the OW! Finally he agreed to read material on infidelity and take help. lets see how it goes. My other major concern is his best friend who also cheated on his wife(now divorced) He and his ex wife knew about the affair and mind you both being my good friends also, never stopped him from doing it! Infact the wife cheered my husband when he told them that he is seeing somebody from his office whom he has fallen for! Now that she herself was betrayed, she regrets supporting him. But that does not help. My question is , should my husband still b friends with this guy who cheated on his wife and never stopped my husband from cheating either?

  9. Leonard Shaw July 7, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

    Giving specific details is double edged. You can admit it was sexual and admit frequency and dates, but if you get into specifics of the act (oral…doggy style etc) or where (back seat…construction sites… hotel etc) you plant images in your partners mind that are apt to plague them for a very long time. This can be very destructive for the healing/forgiveness process.

    • betrayedchump July 8, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

      Leonard Shaw,
      Yes specific details are probably double edged, I wouldn’t know because my x CS NEVER gave me any details other than she did NOTHING wrong because there was no sex involved, so she says? I should trust and believe her after all the lies, all the deceiving, all the excuses to justify what she did ? WTF????
      I disagree that giving specific details just plant images in your partners mind?
      You should see the images that were in my mind and sometimes still flash in my mind because she gave no specific details of what she actually did with her MM AP Scumbag!!!! These images I have planted in my mind will be with me until the day I die. Thank God I don’t see them very often anymore!!!!
      “People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that’s bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they’re afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.”
      ― Jim Morrison
      Peace To All

  10. Rachel July 8, 2015 at 6:34 am #

    Yes, the visuals do stay with you for a long time.
    Why do they feel they need to tell us? I never asked.
    Oh yeah, to hurt me as much as he possibly could.

  11. Rick September 1, 2016 at 10:20 am #

    My wife did not apologize for 3 years. Then, one night out of the blue, she gave me a generic “I’m sorry for what I did to you; I owe you a big one”.

  12. Briana November 4, 2016 at 12:29 am #

    My husband simply said. “I’m sorry that I hurt you”. I don’t actually believe that he regrets what he did. I believe that he is sorry that he got caught. He told me that he told his AP,…”We’re going to get caught, and when we do, it ends”…As if that was somehow supposed to make me feel better.

    I ran into his AP just yesterday and she apologized to me in a more complete way than my husband ever did. She told me that she was no longer in contact with him and that she was trying to work on her own marriage. I actually believe her. I don’t believe my CH. He still expects to come and go as he pleases without explaining his whereabouts. He has never shown a single bit of remorse for what he did to me.

  13. Frustrated May 19, 2017 at 7:58 am #

    So my soon to be ex husband and I were together for 15 years married 10. I have always been faithful to him. I raised his two kids. And when we had three more kids together. He became an alcoholic. We fought all the time. We separated for a few months and because that wasn’t what I wanted we got back together. He continued to drink very heavily and I just knew there was nothing I could do to get him to stop I tried EVERYTHING. I finally made the decision that I was no longer going to be with him. We lived in separate rooms for about a year and a half. During that time I was trying to find my own place. We weren’t intimate for about 3-4 months. I knew I wasn’t going to live that way anymore. I tried for so long to work on our relationship and he wanted nothing to do with that. In my eyes we were separated living in the same house. He knew I wanted out. I got in contact with an old friend on social media who was my boyfriend in Jr. high. We shared old pictures through social media and started texting each other. Nothing was planned it was just someone to talk to. We ran into each other at a bar and hung out his friends and mine. Nothing happened except a hug. Shortly after we met up with some friends and hung out again still nothing intimate or sexual happened between us. I started going out more with my sister and friends. Just to get away from the house. Because I just didn’t want to be there. I talked to him and told him I just didn’t want to stay married and it was time for us to be apart. He finally signed the separation papers. He started checking my phone and saw the texts between my friend and I. He’s accused me of having an affair. He now has stayed sober and is trying to be the husband that I originally married. I’ve told him it’s too late. He constantly texts me throughout the day about my “affair” I’ve apologized to him for texting another man when I should have waited til I was out of the house. I’ve apologized to him for hurting him because he is hurting. I told him everything that happened what we talked about what happened when we saw eachother. What happened between us even after I moved out which was a kiss. He does not leave me alone and wants me to keep apologizing to him. He makes up his own stories about what happened between me and my friend. I just can’t handle the harrasment anymore. Am I supposed to keep apologizing to him? I did not have an affair. Which we have argued and he says by definition I had an emotional affair which I manned up and said ok and I’m sorry for having an emotional affair. He told our children “mommy has a boyfriend” our kids
    are ages 20-5. Which I don’t think my kids should have been involved in any of this. He sent me this article and many other like it. And constantly asked me to tell him what happened. And that I need to set him free and be completely honest with him and tell him every detail of what happened. And apologize. I’ve already been in my own place for about 5 months. And it’s continued daily. I barley talk to my friend we’ve hung out a few times but still we are not in a relationship we are just friends How do I help him to get past this? Am I wrong? Did I have an affair? Should I keep apologizing?

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