Have you noticed your husband’s behavior is a little “off” recently? Is he acting a bit strange or out of character? If your partner’s behavior toward you has been markedly unusual for a period of time, it may be a sign that he feels guilty for hurting you after cheating.
A day or two of unusual behavior isn’t significant – it could simply reflect stress or a change in mood. However, if the behavior change lasts for a long time, and he refuses to discuss or acknowledge the change, it could be a sign that he feels guilty after his infidelity.
Guilt After Cheating
Guilt is a feeling which results from a recognition of having done something wrong. It involves self-reflection and is a natural emotional response to having hurt someone or acted against one’s values or beliefs. It is normal and expected that a spouse would feel guilty for having cheated. It’s an emotional acknowledgement that their having an affair has hurt their spouse. Guilt is also a recognition that the cheater acted against their own morals or beliefs.
Two Telltale Signs He Feels Guilty
1. He Will Withdraw From You
When one partner feels guilty for hurting you after cheating, a very common pattern of behavior is withdrawal. This includes emotional, physical and sexual detachment. He may be reluctant to spend time together and avoid intimacy altogether. You may notice your husband becoming reluctant to go out on date nights or be unwilling to maintain physical closeness, like snuggling or kissing.
Here’s a vivid description of withdrawing behavior one client shared recently:
“My husband used to be very affectionate toward me. There’d always be a hug and kiss with each hello and goodbye and he’d reach out and touch my shoulder practically every time he’d pass by me at home. Little gestures like that made me feel secure and happy. Then I started noticing he was more withdrawn and less affectionate. First the hugs and kisses disappeared, and then we seemed to only talk about stuff we needed to get done around the house. He stopped coming to family events and kept breaking plans we made to socialize. He was his usual warm and chatty self with his friends but I couldn’t get him to say more than two words to me. When he started walking out of the room when I entered, I knew it was time to have a serious talk about what was going on.”
2. He Will Attempt To Get Closer To You
While some express guilt by withdrawing from their spouse, others go in the opposite direction by becoming overly affectionate. If you notice your husband constantly buying you gifts, bringing flowers, offering to take you out to the point where it feels like “too much”, it may be a reflection of his guilt. Through these unusual or outlandish actions, he is attempting to make amends for hurting you without actually telling you what’s going on. He’s trying to offset the hurt he caused you by showering you with gifts and affection.
Here’s a first hand account from a client:
“I have to admit, when my husband started bringing me flowers every week, I really didn’t mind. I actually liked it and found it very sweet. He used to just bring flowers for my birthday and anniversary, so a weekly bouquet seemed super romantic at first. But then it just kept going. Plus he started praising me constantly to anyone who would listen. It got to the point where it stopped being special and nice and just became too much. To be honest, it started feeling forced. I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, but it felt like he was going overboard on showering me with gifts and praise like I was some sort of idol instead of his partner.”
Affair Recovery And Repair
Most marriages which have been rocked by infidelity are recoverable. If your spouse is showing you he feels guilty for hurting you after cheating, it’s actually a sign that he has remorse and is internally struggling with his behaviors. His emotions show that he understands his actions were wrong and harmful to you and the relationship itself. If this is the case, your husband will likely be more open to taking steps toward repairing the relationship.
Use this opportunity to discuss what’s been happening in your marriage and what led to his infidelity. You’ll need to find ways to rebuild trust after the affair and foster emotional intimacy to prevent future infidelities. Seek out a couples therapist if you need some professional support throughout this process.