When There Is No Remorse

It’s very typical for a betrayed spouse to feel as though their spouse is not remorseful at all for what they’ve done.  Unfortunately, some just aren’t on the front end. They will justify it and to turn the knife in their spouse, they will only blame their betrayed spouse for their affair.

In fact, some are just sorry they got caught.

Their private life has been exposed, their secret love affair has been put on stage for all to see, and they feel like all they wanted was to be happy. It’s a sad commentary on the selfishness and utter blindness we unfaithful spouses walk in for weeks, months and yes, unfortunately years.

I’d caution any betrayed spouse to have accurate expectations when it comes to remorse, grief or sorrow at what their spouse has done. Remember, if their affair has been any sort of extended period of time, they have been living a double life. They have justified their affair to themselves time after time, day after day, sexual encounter after sexual encounter. They have built up a wall between them and the truth, and very seldom does that wall come down in an instant. If it appears to come crashing down, I would still be cautious about believing they truly have absorbed the enormity and accurate reality of what they have done to you and quite honestly to themselves.

More times than not, remorse usually comes through a process and by revelation and understanding over time. It usually does not come in an instant.  There is usually a timeline to them absorbing the reality and severity of their choices. To think they will comprehend how they have violated the marriage covenant, jeopardized their family, possibly their employment and reputation, in a few counseling sessions is ambitious at best.

It’s not uncommon for an unfaithful to communicate initial remorse, although usually not genuine, simply to get the betrayed spouse to be satisfied, move on and not keep rehashing the event.

The most beneficial approach is on the unfaithful side is to communicate a feeling of “Let’s take all the time you need to heal. I want to make sure you are healed and whole, and I’m healed and whole and however long it takes, and whatever it costs, I’m in.” 

Remorse will not come over time alone.

Remorse will not come by simply reading a book or two or ten.  

Remorse will not come haphazardly.

From personal experience, as well as through helping several people walk down this road, remorse is no easy task. It will take a strategy and will require expert help to get your spouse (or yourself) to truly come to grips with what they have done. It is more than possible and it is a vital necessity. How you and how your spouse arrive at this point, is crucial and will not be accomplished by any shortcut of time, financial commitment or convenience.  Though it has been several years since my colossal moral failure, I would say that for roughly 5 years I gained more and more insight into my dysfunction, which allowed space for more and more humility, compassion and remorse. Yes, five years. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t safe for those five years, but there was a progression to realizing what I had done and who I had become.  I pray it’s shorter for you and your spouse, but remember, the power is in the process you walk through to recovery.

But it’s worth every bit of it! 

Add New Comment:


Betrayer's point of view

Samual, thank you for your words. They give a little insight and give me some hope.

I would like to ask "would you do it again if given the opportunity?" (if your wife would never find out, for the rush, for the excitement and new feeling, to escape the boredom)

Answer to Your Question

Diymom, Thank you for your post/question. I’d have to say I’d never do it again, and to stay in reference JUST to your question, is I’d never do it again for the pain it would create inside myself. True, it would be gut wrenching to my wife Samantha, but in this scenario, you’ve asked if I would do it again knowing my wife wouldn’t find out. I simply wouldn’t do it for the pain I’ve caused myself and the time it’s taken to forgive myself and heal. Also, once I did it, I’d want it again and again, and that rush would never be satisfied again. I’d be going back to the pain and hurt I’ve left years ago. That rush is an illusion which is based upon adrenaline by doing what I shouldn’t be doing and it’s fueled by the secrecy of it, the shame of it, the hidden nature of it, and the overall desire to get my needs met outside of my marriage. I don’t want to ever go back to the person I was, and I’ve made a commitment to my wife to not live a double life ever again. In this scenario, it’s not just for my wife and my marriage, it’s for me and my own health and my own wholeness (integrity) as a person. Does that help?

My husband has been in a 2

My husband has been in a 2 year long emotional affair and refuses to cut off contact (permanently) with his AP because he doesn't believe (he has a relative he's confiding in who is supporting him on this) that what happened was truly an affair. We are in counseling, and our counselor has told him point blank that is is an affair and that the only true path to fix this problem is to cut ties. I'm trying to be patient. How long do you think is too long to wait?

hi cristy

hi there. thanks for the q. i'm not sure how long you should wait, as you'll need to really think through it a bit. I would encourage you to not wait long at all, as if he thinks he can continue to do what he wants to do without consequences, I don't think he is going to stop. does that make sense? you'll probably need to ask yourself if you're enabling the affair by turning a blind eye to it. i'd consider really standing your ground and communicating to him that if he's going to continue this behavior, that there will be consequences. try these articles and let's see what you think: https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/healing-infidelity-alone as well as this one should he not want to get help at all: https://www.affairrecovery.com/survivors/samuel/they-get-say-no-life-going-change you'll also want to read this one on getting your mate to cooperate: https://www.affairrecovery.com/dealing-infidelity-how-get-your-mate-cooperate-without-being-controlling people typically change/stop behaviors/bottom out at the threat of 1. loss 2. consequences 3. or pain and if there are none of those, i'm not sure he's going to stop.


Thank you, I will read those

How to know when or if the unfaithful will feel true remorse?

I am about 10 months after a first D-Day, and about 5 months after my wife said she cut ties with her affair partner. I still don't know all of the details.

After the initial D-Day, she took things underground. She secretly went to hotels with her AP at least "five or six" times but she says they only "cuddled" but never kissed or did anything more. One day told me that she was not willing to have physical relations with me again, and she moved out of our bedroom. Only later did I found out that she told me that the same day that she met with her AP.

5 months after she said she cut ties with the other guy, we are sleeping in the same bed but she maintains total secrecy with her phone, sex is off the table, and she said she just needs to wait to feel ready to make love with me again. She also continues to blame her affair on the state of our marriage and my "neglect" since I work too much. I have been 100% faithful to her. She says she is sorry, but she gets defensive whenever the affair comes up in conversation, and she says that I am being impatient by wanting to be physical with her. We have been physically intimate one time in the past 8 months.

The sad additional facts are that we have multiple kids, and my wife has also been financially unfaithful - concealing her overspending and running up enormous credit card debt. Our debts now exceed one year's worth of take-home income. It is horrifyingly depressing.

I am educated, sociable, reasonably fit, and feel like I am physically attractive (and am told that by others), but I am weary of feeling that my wife has zero desire for me. She told me many times after discover that I was objectively attractive, but she felt zero attraction to me. I am tired of being deprived of truth, love, intimacy, and respect. I feel like I am being punished for her offenses.

I read that pride is usually stronger than remorse, and unless an unfaithful casts aside their pride, true remorse usually does not surface.

I have a sense that my wife is justifying her affair by casting me as a bad spouse, to avoid facing guilt and to avoid facing the fact that she deviated from her own moral compass.

I wonder how or whether we can heal if my wife never feels or shows true remorse. Thus my question: how can a betrayed know when or if the unfaithful will ever feel remorse?

Sounds familiar

I am at about the same timeframe with my wife's affair as you with yours. It was an emotional affair that had started a few years ago. D-day about 10 months ago. We are sleeping separately and she has been very cold to me. We are both doing counseling which has been really helpful.

But I still get the blame as you do. I get your feelings of being punished for her affair. As many on this site will attest it takes a while for the affair fog to clear. Counseling has been helpful for us. It just gives you another opportunity to identify what is really going on, what led you to her affair, and guidance from someone who has seen these things and help give perspective.

By God's grace we are still trudging along, praying for freedom for us both. Winston Churchill;"..never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up hope." Praying for you...

Thank you for the blog! I am

Thank you for the blog! I am the unfaithful, and I struggle with showing genuine remorse. I some how LOGICALLY understand the damage I have caused with my infidelity. But I struggle with FEELING it at an emotional level, and my words to express remorse feel hollow and devoid of emotions even to me. Since I do not feel it, I don't feel the urgency for recovery. I have a strong avoidant attachment style, where I have learned to suppress my emotions and hence also not understand the emotions of others. It has been 4 months since my disclosure, but my wife is frustrated with my lack of remorse. I agree that developing remorse requires a strategy, especially for a person like myself. Could you share some strategies that helped you? Could you point me to relevant resources that can help me with developing remorse? Thanks!

What type of affair was it?

Our free Affair Analyzer provides you with insights about your unique situation and gives you a personalized plan of action.
Take the Affair Analyzer

Free Surviving Infidelity Bootcamp

Our experts designed this step-by-step guide to help you survive infidelity. Be intentional with your healing with this free 7-day bootcamp.
I would highly recommend giving this a try.
-D, Texas