The secrets every Betrayed husband should know on how to win back his unfaithful wife.
Feedback written directly from the unfaithful wives, in their own words.
This post is for the betrayed spouses (particularly betrayed husbands)
who’ve written me, asking what they can do to win back their wives,
and help their marriage heal.
Please keep in mind this in no way minimizes her part in making the destructive choice to be unfaithful.
This is just their feedback on what’s helped, and hurt, marital recovery once they’ve both committed
to working on their healing.
I would also add, this post is really only for a specific group of couples who BOTH
want to restore the marriage but can’t see through their own pain to know what’s
helping, and what’s hurting that recovery.
Some betrayed husbands gave me their feedback too- of what wives can do to “win them back”
after their affair. You can read the husbands feedback here on what they want their wives to know.
And yes, the burden does fall more on the unfaithful spouse to restore the marriage.
But if a marriage is going to survive, it takes both to work at it.
So, please hear me- this post isn’t letting anyone off the hook.
So, I think this would probably fit the stage where the wife, who was unfaithful,
has ended her affair, and wants to learn how to reconnect in her marriage.
But, there’s so many raw emotions for both spouses during affair recovery; it’s easy to
(unknowingly) be making recovery more difficult or, even worse, hindering it.
So, I asked the many women in my private facebook group
& one on one calls- to give me their feedback (anonymously of course).
They wanted to help me tell betrayed husbands know what to do,
and gladly offered some ideas on how to win back their wife,
and what to do (and not do) to help their marriage heal.
The wives who were unfaithful, want to know what they are doing (now in recovery) that may be detrimental.
I think both spouses want to help each other but need different things than what they’re usually getting.
I hope you can read this with an open heart and not with any guilt AND
also please don’t think this post is saying you need to grovel back to her.
She is responsible for her actions and was wrong in choosing the affair.
But this post is written primarily for those men who write me asking how to help
their marriages survive. As I often tell women, the burden of helping you heal is on her.
Yet, if there are things that you can do to help, isn’t it worth a try?
Many of you are doing the best you can, and under the circumstances- most of you
are doing an awesome job, considering the hand you were dealt.
But none of us are given a handbook on how to help your marriage heal after infidelity-
especially when it’s a wife who had the affair.
So, I hope you’ll read this and take what you think applies, and disregard what may not.
Use it as a conversation opener with your spouse to make some positive changes for you both.
*Please keep in mind these are not my opinions, just the opinions of the wives surveyed.
To the betrayed husband:
What unfaithful wives say would help win them back,
and help their marriage heal more.
“I’ve had a lot of betrayed husbands ask me what they can do to win back their wife, or help their marriage heal more-
with all humility that obviously we made our choices and take responsibility for it. But tell me-”
1. what is something a husband can start doing to help you want to return to the marriage?
2. what’s helped your marriage recovery, in your opinion?
3. What should he stop doing that has made marriage recovery,
or your feelings for him, worse?
Their answers in their own words (under categories I’ve put them under):
Please keep in mind these answers are from multiple different women, and everyone is in their own place in their recovery.
The comments may or may not reflect what your spouse feels or thinks.
So, I advise you to use this post and the following answers as a jumping off point for your conversation together.
Don’t push the physical intimacy, or the feelings, to return too soon.
- “Not so fast. No more smothering. That was part of the problem in the first place.”
- “Please don’t push for feelings to come back sooner, to be physical too soon before you’re ready,
yeah all of that stuff is just no good in my book.”
- “What didn’t help was having sex before we had reestablished other physical intimacy;
his lack of emotional expression; and initially, his denial of difficulties within our relationship.”
Please don’t be controlling, or vindictive, in recovery.
- “I know I messed up and I need to reestablish trust, but controlling every move I make- like
making me ask for money, or wanting to read my recovery group posts or control who my counselor
is just turns me away from you. I don’t want to feel like the child and you’re the parent in our marriage.”
Be patient in this affair recovery process.
- “Be patient! It might take a long time to get back to where we want to be.”
- “They know recovery takes time.. but don’t know it’ll take THAT long! .. don’t push the healing.
Don’t keep asking what’s wrong.. we’re struggling to get back and it’s difficult to explain.
In other words.. patience please.”
- “What helped recovery was giving me time and space to come around and him giving me ‘some’ privacy
(not asking more questions than normal, being okay with me moving out alone for a bit,
not always going through my phone).”
- “Have patience and not push me.”
- “Getting through the emotional pain of withdrawal-
I’d say it would take a lot of patience and hope on the husband’s part. My husband said I was in a funk.
Well, no wonder, right!?”
- “Recognize there will be peaks and valleys as we heal.
Just because we had a good couple of days doesn’t mean it’s all peaches and cream.
And just because there were some bad days doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.
Emotions can be a day to day roller coaster”
Please understand my emotions are a wreck for awhile.
- “I still am crying every night. At least it’s not all day and night now… slow progress.”
- “It helped when he would be caring and supportive, when I would literally cry myself into a panic attack.”
- “The shame I’ve felt has been unbearable at times. Like I came out of that awful fog and then really
saw what I did. But I feel guilty for talking about that because I caused all this and he’s the one I hurt.”
- “I need to feel you’re a safe place for me to tell you my feelings, but how can I ask you to care for mine
when you’re the one hurting so much?”
- “DO NOT ask, “do you have anything to say?” If I have something to say, and if I feel like saying it, I will say it.
Being prompted feels confrontational, put on the spot and sends me reeling into wondering what I’m “expected” to say,
Sometimes I have nothing to say, especially if I’m reflecting on what I’ve just been told,
so no response can be the acceptable response.”
- “Respect my need for space, quiet, or alone time. I can hide my underlying feelings or fake my way
through things for the sake of everyone else but once I reach my limit, if I’m pushed further,
I will snap and it will be ugly. Don’t. Push. Even if you think I don’t deserve it, I need a break from the emotional strain I carry.
If I say I need time alone, I mean it. Don’t call, message, text, or otherwise pester me until I make initial contact
telling you it’s safe (yes, safe!) If my need for this is not respected, the LAST thing I want is to be around you,
and I promise I will be resentful of you for smothering me.”
- “Recognize that not everything has to do with the affair or our recovery.
Other aspects of life continue to happen too! Not every bad day is because of our relationship.
When I vent to you about my day, what I’m experiencing, telling you I feel like crying and I’m just done,
the correct answer is NOT “done with me?”
- I just want my husband to understand how much I’m hurting too, but that sounds so selfish.
It’s seen as, ‘you put us here, you’re not the victim.’ The truth is, of course, we’re both casualties in this.
My pain is just as valid and real. The shame, the disappointment, the loss of hope, the destruction of everything you had,
the overwhelming depression, mourning the loss of all your hopes and dreams. It’s all real.
I take responsibility for my role in this, but we are both hurting in equally real- but different ways.”
- “My pain caused his pain and it’s just a never ending cycle of hurt.
I wish we could just come together and support each other and validate one eachother’s pain.
That would make me absolutely positive about staying.“
His emotions and how he deals with it.
- “I know he was confused and hurting. But I wasn’t sure whether he wanted a divorce, or reconcile, from day to day.
That made it hard to know if I should fully recommit.”
- Do not grovel, do not try to “make up for” what you might think is your fault, do not over-compensate or double down on
“love bombing“ us back to the marriage, do not smother us. “
- “Listen. Actually listen to what I’m saying. Hear me, don’t hear my first few words then wait seven seconds and interrupt,
or hold up your hand, or sit there with your mouth open waiting for me to stop talking so you can retort.
Listen!! Just listen. Please. Just listen. No excuses are needed, no explanations, no apologies. Just listen.”
- “Do not take blame for the affair; while the marriage may have had problems, I need to accept responsibility for my actions.
This is a critical step in regaining some self-respect.”
- “Be mindful of gaslighting. I already feel bad enough about the position I have put myself and you and our family in.
I am already ashamed and embarrassed. Being talked down to or told I am petty in how I feel, that I don’t get to feel a certain way
because it can’t possibly compare to what I put you through or how you feel, does not help the healing process.
Being made to feel lower than dirt, then to be told how much you love me or that you are my biggest cheerleader…. No.
Stop with the emotional bullying. It’s not ok. It’s never ok.”
- “Please do not tell us to just “get over” the AP, because in the first weeks and months after D-day,
we are still in the affair fog and aren’t thinking clearly. This would be like us, the unfaithful, telling you the betrayed,
to just “get over” our affair. Recovery and healing from infidelity takes time for both parties, and it can’t be rushed. “
- “The emotional roller coaster that he’s on. Needing to keep control of their emotions and
talking about the affair instead of constantly being all over the place.”
Not giving up on me/us and the process I needed to go through.
- “For my husband really fighting for me, our marriage and our family.
My H also gave me the dignity of my free will, NOT trying to manipulate or control,
just trying to win me back. That was HUGE”.
- “My husband never gave up on me.”
- “[What started changing for us was] When I completely cut all ties with my AP and threw out all gifts,
or anything that reminded me of him. This was the biggest turning point as to when I began my healing,
closely after that, individual counseling. Once these steps were taken I began looking at my husband differently,
now understanding that I took so much for granted in our marriage.
I realized that my husband gave me just as much, if not more than former AP ever did.”
- “This may be the hardest part for a husband, but I honestly had to let myself go far enough down a rabbit hole
of an affair for the AP’s bad traits and true colors to show. Sadly for me, the affair relationship had to progress
to the point where I could see glimpses of reality (with AP) and it wasn’t good. I needed to see what a wreck I’d be with AP.”
- “I’m still working on it, but I’d say it was time realizing the other guy was manipulating me that helped me.”
- “My husband right from the beginning of this put time and effort in. He read everything he could,
agreed to go to counseling, admitted where he had failed along the line, respected that I needed space and time,
prepared himself for the worst, let me see him crying, prayed and prayed some more, and made sure I knew any time
we could spend together would be his priority. He’s been patient and never demanding. I’ve got tears in my eyes writing this.”
Telling others about the affair.
- “There is one thing my husband didn’t do – which is likely just due to his very private nature but probably really helped.
He didn’t tell anyone. He has two good friends (they’re my friends too) with whom he shared that he and I were struggling,
but he did not mention the affair even though both of them asked if there was someone else.
He only talked to 2 family members when he needed support.”
- “Unfortunately, my husband told his entire family and our lifelong friends about my affair.
I know he was hurting, but that just made me away from him in anger more- and it’s been hard
for me to face our family and friends now.”
- “ My husband was angry on D Day and told our best friends, his bosses, and worst of all, our kids.
I have worked tirelessly for months to rebuild with my kids- that’s my top priority.”
- “Telling everyone out of anger causes so much damage. It’s hard enough to rebuild your marital relationship,
without having the stress of having to rebuild so many others that mean so much.
I’ve been fortunate that mine have not been completely destroyed, for that I am grateful.”
- “If the marriage is already in trouble and then all those other relationships are too,
it could make the unfaithful spouse want to leave even more – to start over with everything because it seems easier.
One of the reasons I wanted to stay married is because I didn’t want to lose the traditions we had with friends and family.”
- “He went and told everyone except our kids (though he threatened it). This is good to add though,
not running off and telling everyone. If he want’s everyone to know than giving you the chance
to come clean to everyone, especially your own family and friends. It’s best IMO that it comes from you and not him.”
Be willing to seek outside help and counsel & willing to know why.
- “We went to [a infidelity recovery retreat for marriages] and it was a HUGE help.
At the time I felt very very awakened to a lot of things in our marriage and in my own life.
It helped me to see him in a different light.”
- “His willingness to work on our marriage and get couples therapy.“
- “What’s helped with us is our marriage counselor.
Acknowledgment of the problems that led to the affair and commitment to change.”
- “He’s been unwilling to see a personal or marriage therapist. He said ‘why should I?
You’re the one who had the affair’…that didn’t help.”
- “Something husbands can do to help us want to return to the marriage is be willing
to look at the reasons WHY (the vulnerabilities) that led to the affair; do not just resort to blaming,
shaming, and finger pointing. Most affairs don’t happen in a vacuum.
Be willing to work on healing for yourself as well as the marriage.”
Be open to making positive changes for the marriage & having fun together again.
- “Recognize that the marriage will be different – and hopefully a GOOD change.
None of us want to stay stuck, so things will have to change in how we interact. One change my H has done,
is that he sits down with me, just me, after dinner and the kids are off doing homework or other things,
and we spend time connecting. It is sometimes small, but it’s been so important.”
- “We started to spend a lot of time together and had to learn how to have fun and enjoy each other again like
we did in the beginning. But that helped us bond again.”
- “We started doing lots of bible studies together, and reaching out to help from close friends.
Doing things together that are new and different.”
- “For me what helped me to want to return was having a night out where I could see
how fun he was and we just had a great night out like we used to in the past.”
- ‘…Him being kind to me was really helpful too. One on one in relaxed setting or fun setting was helpful too.
Felt comfortable to talk”
Having a balance on the ‘affair conversations’, taking breaks from it, but also addressing our issues.
- “We will set a firm time limit to talk about our issues and STICK TO IT. After about 30 minutes, it’s easy lose focus, tune out,
and start mind-wandering about other things. A multi-hour discussion (especially when you are talking and I am listening)
is not beneficial or productive, things begin going in circles, and it only breeds irritation, anger and resentment.”
- “I’ve seen a lot of people in here that deal with husbands that accuse, bring it up all the time, are super paranoid.
DON’T DO ANY OF THAT..”
- “Having some very honest conversations and being transparent about our issues and needs going forward,
me accepting responsibility for breaking boundaries and discussing without blame reasons for that.”
- “After long talks and constant questions about the affair, we’d both be drained. And felt more distant than ever.
We had to start limiting our ‘affair talks’ everyday and stick to only the allotted time or we’d be miserable.”
- “What has helped us in recovery is talk, talk, talk, talk! At first (30 days in), we also agreed to set aside one day per week
where we did NOT discuss the affair, when we could just spend time together and not feel obligated to talk about it.
We watched videos on recovery after infidelity, read articles, and we went to a [healing after affair type] conference,
and we allowed each other time to grieve without blaming.”
- “At the end of a discussion or argument, I do NOT want to “hug it out.” I just don’t.
I’m hurt and angry and need time to process. It’s too soon so don’t force yourself on me.
Again…. breeds anger and resentment.”
Asking for many details about the affair, or talk about the AP.
- “Too many questions on details about my affair that just made him feel worse, but I felt obligated to answer.
I want him to really think about what he’s asking and if knowing the answers would hurt him worse- then don’t ask.”
- “Regarding details of the affair, wives need to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
When D-day happened, I gave him ALL the information he asked for…
I also told my H that I was willing to give him any information he felt he needed, but his job was to make sure he knew WHY
he needed/wanted the information and to discern whether having the information would be helpful
(because some things can’t be un-seen.)
I gave him ALL the information (without graphic details) from the beginning – no trickle truth.
This was instrumental in putting us on the road to recovery at a very early stage.”
- “Don’t badmouth AP. I know you hate him, and I know you hate the circumstances you were put in.
I know you still have your triggers and you don’t like that I’ve been with another man.
You have every right to feel all those things. But badmouthing someone I believed in my heart I cared about
just makes me angry at you and protective of him even if I know it is wrong.
I will talk about the affair and try to answer your questions as best I can,
but please make an effort to focus on our recovery, not if AP was better in bed.”
There you have it- my mega blog post of answers and feedback from many different women who were unfaithful, on
what helps, and hinders, recovery with their husbands, after the affair.