After My Spouse’s Infidelity, How Do I Get Her to Apologize and Repent?

After My Spouse’s Infidelity, How Do I Get Her to Apologize and Repent? July 9, 2019

This is part of an ongoing Q&A series on “Counseling For Infidelity.” If your marriage has been rocked by an affair, please attend our free webinar for Patheos readers, provided by Your Family Expert.

Q: My wife had an affair. This was just over 18 months ago and, while we are doing better, I still harbor feelings of doubts. I have questions. Why she would have chosen that? Will she do it again? Additionally, I’m still bitter over her reaction after I discovered her indiscretions. She blamed me and threatened divorce. I feel like she’s stopped these behaviors, so in that sense we are better off, but I don’t feel like she has ever truly apologized or repented. 

A: Thank you so much for reaching out to me with this. I’ll cover this in greater detail later, but here’s my short version. If she blamed you and threatened divorce, she was likely scared. She was ashamed because she was doing something that was against her values. So in order to be okay with that in her mind, she had to convince herself that she was justified and that it was your fault. But the simple fact is, affairs are only the fault of the people who have them. They cross a line, a moral line. They make a choice. Relationship problems we create together. But affairs, crossing that line… one person in the relationship makes that decision.

And if you’re in a relationship where she is hiding from apologizing, hiding from repenting, hiding from change, then right now there is no trust. And without trust there’s not a relationship. So what do you do? Once again, you tell her “I love you, I miss you. I want to be close with you right now. But I don’t trust you. I want to be able to trust you. And yes, part of it is that I need to choose to trust you, but part of it is also that there are steps that need to be taken so that I can feel safe. And I don’t feel they’ve been taken yet. And if I don’t feel safe, I can’t extend my trust. I want to leave this in the past. I’m sure you do, too. But I need us to do the work for that to happen. Are you willing?”

If that helps her to be willing to do whatever it takes, recommend infidelity marriage counseling with a qualified therapist, either at Your Family Expert or elsewhere.

About Jonathan Decker, LMFT
Jonathan Decker is a licensed marriage and family therapist and clinical director of Your Family Expert, offering online relationship courses and counseling. He specializes in Bible-based interfaith counseling, healing from infidelity, strengthening marriages, and blended families. You can read more about the author here.
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