When Does Remorse Show Up

For many, including myself, remorse came over time as I came to my senses and got healthy.

Immediately upon disclosure, I was sorry I got caught more than I was genuinely sorry for the damage inflicted upon my spouse.

I hear lots of times that betrayed spouses are furious that there isn’t any remorse on the part of the unfaithful for their actions. They wonder how they can commit such grievous acts of betrayal and not be perpetually begging for forgiveness. It’s more normal than you would think and it’s complicated to unpack. Yet, here are a few reasons why remorse may not be there yet.

  1. They’ve been living in a dream world for quite some time. It didn’t happen overnight it won’t be fixed overnight. Clarity usually comes in stages not in an instant and unfortunately, the betrayed spouse is not usually the vehicle through which remorse occurs. The unfaithful spouse has to arrive there on his or her own or it will not be authentic. 
  2. They still feel justified in their affair. They may be angry at you and fueled by resentment, so their affair still feels as though it was justified. They feel they needed to get their needs met since you, according to them, were not in tune with what they needed.
  3. They are ambivalent and not sure where they want to be. It’s too early on in the process, and they may still be trapped by their own self-deception. Their deception and aloofness fuels the disengagement from what you’re feeling and wanting.
  4. They are incredibly selfish. Affairs are about themselves and right now, that’s all they are thinking about: what makes them happy and produces the greatest good for THEM.
  5. It’s possibly an exit affair and they are moving on. You pursuing them only makes them feel more in charge, and may in fact be enabling them. They may be on their way out and one of the best things you can do is not chase them and get healthy yourself. It may be time to protect yourself financially and emotionally.  
  6. Their self-esteem was low till they met the affair partner and now you’ve discovered their double life, so their natural instinct is anger. They’re mad at you for ruining the party and ruining their fun. Their anger then produces a sorrow for what they’ve lost, what their choices have cost themselves and even their affair partner. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the unfaithful to be initially far more concerned about the affair partner than their spouse.

The truth is, remorse usually comes over time, as a byproduct of the right kind of help and expertise. It arrives in stages and if managed correctly can be a bridge to a changed life and a restored marriage. While this is not an exhaustive list of reasons why remorse may be absent, all of them can be conquered and remedied. If your spouse is showing little to no remorse, I would highly encourage you to find out why and take steps to get expert help as soon as possible. If you don’t know where to start try the First Steps Bootcamp or attend EMS Weekend.


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My spouse didn't show real remorse until a month from D-day.

What has to happen

I thought he was remorseful until he cursed me for crying. 9 months after discovery - I have no idea who he is anymore. How did you know he was feeling any remorse - other than " I'm sorry, I love you." What had to happen? I'm about to give up.

a long time

It took my spouse 21 months to show the slightest bit of remorse and even now, I question the sincerity of it. Of course, he was still with his AP while he was trying to reconnect with me, apparently hedging his bets if I decided to end the marriage.

What type of affair was it?

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