The subject of how to treat someone after cheating is always an interesting one, especially when the husband is willing to change.
The willingness to make amends, give your partner closure, or show guilt is the first step that your husband must make to repair that damage.
I can’t say it’s smooth sailing from there on, but it’s a valuable start.
Seeing the reasons behind the infidelity may help you see your husband in a more compassionate light – As the man behind the behavior, a person with many different sides.
Whether your cheating husband is willing to change or not, it is only fair to treat him with kindness and understanding while not dismissing his hurtful behavior. It will do both of you justice.
Many factors contribute to infidelity. And they have to be seen for what they are – causes, predisposing factors, things that maintain the issue, or triggers.
Infidelity is, therefore, an act that forms as a result of outside and inside influence. You can’t just summarize it in one single sentence and ignore the complexity that comes with it.
I think all of our insecurities end up manifesting themselves interpersonally. That is, in our relationships – the greatest source of comfort and the greatest source of sorrow.
One of the most critical things for saving the relationship is building lost trust. But, unfortunately, sometimes, you can’t renew the lost bond.
Cheating is, in essence, a selfish act that betrays someone’s trust. And it is brutal for everyone involved.
Therefore, trust takes a long time to rebuild, and people have long-term repercussions from the lack of it – depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem.
Your husband must learn how to deal with these emotions and that it will take time.
A therapist could perhaps be of great help here, by helping your husband organize and compartmentalize his emotions. You can read more about it here.
Should you stay or go?
The choice to stay or to go is always yours to make. I’m not encouraging people to cheat or accept cheating.
I understand how haunting it can be, as I’ve seen so many couples deal with it. So instead, I’m encouraging them to stand face to face and dig deep.
I feel that more often than not, it brings value to their life. The decision is ultimately up to you.
How do you tell if he is willing to change?
He shows remorse.
If your husband is visibly hurt and ridden by guilt, you will know that. Showing remorse doesn’t just mean saying sorry. It means living up to the apology.
Notice the signs of honest remorse in your husband.
Your husband does things that show he takes accountability for his actions, like ending the affair and searching for solutions for the problems in the relationship.
He is honest.
Coming out is only the first step. Providing additional information (with kindness and regard) is to be expected.
If your husband willingly gives you details about the affair and wants to come clean, he already made the first and most important step—also, the most painful one.
Apart from that, he must prove that he can give you full transparency regarding everything.
8 ways to treat a cheating husband who’s willing to change.
1. Leap of faith.
If your husband verbalizes his willingness to change and repair the deed, you must first decide if you want to respond to his attempt at reconciliation.
If you decide to dive in, then you must make yourself believe him. It is a situation in which you must believe in things that you can’t count on yet and trust that they will happen eventually.
In short, acknowledge your husband’s desire to make things right.
2. Show empathy.
Showing empathy should be mandatory in any human interaction, no matter what the story is. It’s the first aid you have to give your partner to motivate him to make up for his mistakes.
The ones that fail us need to have our understanding as well.
Believe in your partner’s willingness to change and accept that they are doing the best they can.
3. See your part in the relationship.
I want to start this section by saying with absolute certainty that YOU are not at fault for your partner’s infidelity and that the hurt you are feeling is his doing – no matter what the reason is.
However, when relationships have to deal with cheating, things have not been breakfast in bed from the start.
Acknowledging the issues that were there from the start might make your partner see his mistake more clearly.
Taking accountability for your part in the destructive behaviors in the relationship does not equal you blaming yourself.
It’s not even about blame. Things rarely are about that.
4. Express your complaints.
You can complain about your partner. However, complaining without blaming is one of the most valuable skills that partners can acquire.
Criticizing, on the other hand, will kill the dialogue. This is where therapy may come in handy. Therapy can sometimes help a couple’s communication vastly improve, resulting in a healthier relationship.
You can learn more about it here.
When talking to your partner, refer to his actions, not to his character. Reducing somebody’s transgression to their essence is a sure way to fail to communicate, reconnect, and hear each other out.
5. Don’t overlook the affair.
It goes without saying, but sweeping issues under the carpet is never a great way to solidify any relationship. Instead, it just adds another problem to the list.
And you don’t need that, trust me. You have enough on your plate.
Let your husband know the hurt he caused by cheating, ask for accountability, and establish limits if you need to, while you still treat him with respect.
Otherwise, you may realize that the problems are still there after years and years of denial.
6. Your needs matter.
Figure out your core needs and demand them from your partner. Your needs are your needs, and you should never minimize them.
Instead of discussing what you need your partner not to do, try discussing your actual needs in the relationship. Focus on statements that highlight what can be done, not what shouldn’t be done.
7. Take matters into your own hands.
It’s empowering to decide how you’re going to contribute to repairing the relationship. This includes the choice to leave if you might see fit or the option to stay if hope is on the horizon.
Know that it’s all in your power. You’re not just a victim.
8. Respond to your husband’s bids.
The chances are that your husband will be sending bids your way if he is trying to repair bonds.
What are bids? Bids are attempts to connect that are sent by your partner in the form of statements that require a response. You can turn towards or away from them.
Every time your partner communicates something with you, you have the choice to add to that or ignore him.
Responding to bids and turning towards your partner strengthens the relationships and creates a sense of togetherness.
Vulnerability with intimacy.
I know this goes against all we know and hear about relationships that struggle because of an affair.
Vulnerability is considered a weakness. This is such a simplistic preconception that we as people have about cheating.
But nowadays, the definition of vulnerability has had a major shift.
It’s easy to be angry; it’s satisfying to punish. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of power to go the other route. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be feeling angry at all.
But that fury is just one part of the whole picture, and most of the time, it hides other emotions that are harder to recognize to ourselves.
Let yourself experience what is beneath it – the sadness, the disappointment, the shame, and the guilt.
Those feelings must be processed as well, not hidden behind the veil of anger.
This open attitude can also help you better understand the reasons behind someone’s infidelity and how they felt after the fact – alone, scared, or guilty.
Accepting the duality of your feelings toward your partner is healing. Reconciling the anger with the love that you still have.
Merging the way you see cheating with the willingness to accept it in the people closest to you.
Contrasting emotions and feelings can live inside us simultaneously. There’s space for both of them.
If you feel like you’re going insane and don’t even know what you may be feeling, know that all of this is normal.
This duality is necessary for such dire circumstances. Cheating is no easy feat. But, like mourning, we don’t always know what we’re feeling, and that’s just fine.
The willingness of your partner to change is a gesture that you can respond to in two ways – you can take it or leave it.
If you treat your husband with kindness, he’ll realize he’s lost or could’ve lost due to his cheating, and it also will do you justice!
Anger is an emotion that, when used to hide other feelings, is just going to hurt you in the long run.
It is essential to mention that before you help your husband work his way back into your life (or guide him in the other direction), you must first have to take care of yourself.
Treat yourself nicely first of all. Then do the same with others.
After you self-soothe and are in a good state of mind, you can start to think about what to do further on.