The other day, I received an email from a wife who asked for my advice on how to “win my husband back after he had an affair.” This email bothered me on a few levels. First off, it brought back some painful memories in my own life from when my husband cheated. I understood the pain that this wife was in. But, I worried that she felt that she had to “win him back” when it was he who had cheated. She had done nothing wrong, so why did that make it a prize that had to be “won?”
I told the wife that I could most certainly advise her on how to strengthen her position and hopefully save the marriage, but I did not feel that she should demean herself by trying to lure him back. In truth, he needed to be a willing participant in this process. Coming back had to be his decision. However, there were some things that she could do to make this more likely. I will discuss these things in the following article.
Creating An Environment That Makes Both Of You Want To Return To The Marriage: First off, I have to say this and I hope that you will not take it the wrong way. I have interviewed many men who cheated for my blog and my research and I can tell you that women who appear needy, weak, and unsure are not very attractive to men. So, I know that this wife’s husband was probably not going to respond in the way that she wanted if her attitude of wanting to “win” him back showed through.
She needed to approach this like she was an equal partner and as though she fully believed (which she should) that he had some work to do and some things that he needed to bring to the marriage as well. This was to be an equal partnership and her actions needed to start reflecting this. This sort of confidence was going to be a lot more attractive to him and was going to make him much more likely to provide the behavior and receptiveness that she was looking for.
Her real goal (I believed) was to come at this from a place of wanting both of them to rebuild a marriage of equals where both partners could be happy, confident, and fulfilled. She needed to make very clear to him that the affair had hurt and damaged her and the marriage and that things most definitely needed to change. She could concede that there were problems in the marriage that were contributed by both of them but fixing this was going to require a commitment and effort on both of their parts.
The wife was very afraid of this place because she felt that making demands might make him pull away. I understand this fear, but if this wife continued to take a subservient stance, then she was always going to wonder when and if he was going to cheat again. The husband would always have the upper hand and continue on with his questionable behavior. She needed to break this cycle and she needed to show him that she was a strong, confident, and competent woman worth fighting for. This would encourage some different and newly emerging behavior on his part.
If the husband did not and would not change, then she would have her answer. He would be exposed as the person of low integrity that she had feared. But, there was also the possibility that he would rise to the occasion and work with her to build something newer and better – something that would work for both of them, not one of them.
Now, of course, the wife told me that she was not sure if or when the husband was going to leave the other woman and come back. Well, she really did not have a lot of control over this. Her husband had to make this decision. She could present herself in the most positive light possible by getting out with friends, focusing on staying busy, and putting her best foot forward but I did not want for her to compete with this woman. This again was demeaning behavior which was only going to weaken her position.
Instead, I told her to communicate to him that she was not ready to turn her back on the marriage, that she would give the husband the time to sort out his feelings, and she would listen to his decision when he made it. But she would not remain in a relationship when there were three people in it. In this way, the husband knows that she is receptive to making things work when and if he makes the break with the other woman, but she is coming at it from a position of strength rather than a position of weakness.
Related Article: How to Mend a Broken Heart and Move on After an Affair