Affair healing Blog
I came across the recent photo of a full-chest tattoo on Jose, a man who seems desperate to prove how sorry he is for cheating on his wife. It's a kind of confession that can't be easily taken back. And why did he do it? "So that I can earn my wife's trust back for the pain and suffering I have caused in our marriage."
He confesses to being a liar, cheater, manipulator, deciever [sic], dishonest, disrespectful, and apparently one other descriptor deemed too inappropriate for public viewing.
At first thought, we might think: Wow! This guy is really serious about accepting responsibility and making things right. Maybe he is. But there are at least a couple problems with this dramatic declaration.
Problem #1: It's to easy to focus on an act of confession rather than ongoing efforts to change. The tattoo statement, however sincere it may be, won't achieve its purpose. It will not earn back his wife's trust.
When she doubts him in the future, simply ripping open his shirt to remind her of his declaration will not be enough. She needs action more than words.
It's the same problem I frequently see in couples I counsel (minus the tattoo). The unfaithful partner, frustrated with the slow process of healing, forcefully states: "I've already told you I'm sorry. What more do you want from me?!"
The repair of broken trust only starts with words of remorse; it continues with acts of atonement and change. A better declaration would define the qualities of the man he commits to be in the future.
Problem #2: The identifying "mark" of the affair is shame rather than redemption. This man, regardless of whether his marriage survives or not, will need to guard against constantly identifying with his failure. Of course, the ink in his skin does not define him, but sometimes the symbols we create reinforce the message we believe about ourselves.
Unless he eventually gets a HUGE cover-up (quite a challenge for this design!), he will be reminded each day that "I am a liar, cheater..." That's unfortunate.
I'll never forget my affair. I'll never stop regretting it. But I don't wear a scarlet A or a black tattoo. Instead, I embrace sorrow, grace, redemption, and love. Wouldn't they make a better tattoo?
It been 3 years since my husbands "long term" affair was reveled. I've heard "I'm sorry" time and time again however his actions don't show remorse. He'd rather simply "forget" he ever pursued another woman for 14 years. Very hard for me to do since it was the years I needed his companionship the most. We are at a standstill now, because he can't show remorse or love the pain away.
1/17/2019 11:43:17 am
At some point, it stops being about focusing on the past or showing remorse (both of which MUST be part of the start of recovery) and about the focus that both of you put on changes you're willing to make moving forward. The unfaithful partner needs to be committed to the shifts (of understanding and/or behavior) that builds connection & trust.
I agree Tim. Which is the issue. He fails to give me the "love & support" I need to move forward. Our love life has diminished, he doesn't show physical desire for me as in the past (which makes me think he's comparing me to her). I've expressed this concern recently and again he's sorry (cant explain).
1/17/2019 04:20:02 pm
Im very torn on this one. He must be very remorseful. But, i would not want to be reminded of my spouse's infidelity... daily. Such an intimate part of ones body. I know, from my husband, it causes him great SHAME to talk about his affair. So i understand the avoidance. They just want to put away... while I keep trying to figure out.. why i wasnt good enough. Trust is a struggle. However, he strives everyday. To ensure me I'm safe.
1/17/2019 07:35:24 pm
The old adage "actions speak louder than words". My question is he trying to help put the past behind them or does he actually want her to relive the pain torment and anguish of what he did to her for the rest of her life. Because if that was what my husband did to try to make his pathetic behaviour right, I would have been on the first train out of town. I live it everyday in my mind and have done for the last 3 years. I would not need to read it every night as a cute little bedtime story as well.
1/17/2019 10:42:08 pm
Why does the BS need to make changes? The BS didn’t cheat, and owns absolutely zero of it.
1/17/2019 11:21:08 pm
...not necessarily changing from who they were before (although many couples agree they don't want the old marriage and want to work toward something different). But hoices and changes are required to move past the pain and destruction caused by an affair. Marriage renewal isn't a solo effort. (At the very least, there has to hlbe a move toward forgiveness IF there is an intent to reclaim connection and trust again.)
1/17/2019 11:23:07 pm
(Sorry for the typos. My thumbs are too big or my phone is too small.)
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Unless otherwise noted, articles are written by Tim Tedder, a licensed counselor and creator of this site and its resources.