This is a legitimate and common concern. It’s often the person that you are in love with, not their behavior. But, cheating is not your run of the mill character flaw like always being late or talking too much. It leads to devastating effects that cause pain, devastation, and a lack of trust in a relationship that requires just that. So most wives really want to know if their cheating husband can really be rehabilitated or if they are just wasting their time on someone who is going to hurt them again (and perhaps revisit his cheating ways.)
I personally believe that their are different degrees of cheaters. All can be rehabilitated or can change, but serial cheaters require much more effort to make this happen. Men who make a one time mistake and are otherwise sincere have a greater success rate. I’ll discuss what often needs to happen for real change to take place in the following article.
Identifying The Factors That Are Contributing To The Cheating: The first step of successful rehabilitation is identifying what you have to overcome. It’s important to understand which factors went into play when the infidelity took place. Sometimes, this is the result of low self esteem. Sometimes it is poor impulse control. Other times, cultural factors are at play. Occasionally, there are issues in the relationship and cheating is the husband’s very unfortunate way of trying to deal with it rather than addressing the person that he should – which is you.
The biggest indicator of whether an affair is going to happen again is how well you have identified and remedied these issues. Doing this is not always easy. Sometimes, you’re going to need help with this. But, it’s worth it to do whatever you need to do because if you don’t, then you’ll leave yourself vulnerable and you’ll always be insecure and doubtful because you will intuitively know this.
Making Your Husband Understand That Changing His Behavior And Risk Factors Is Mandatory. He Must Understand That One More Incident Of Cheating Is A Deal Breaker: This is very important. Many times, women don’t want to make too big of a fuss because they think that doing so will only make a bad situation worse or will only bring more tension to a situation that is almost already unbearable. The problem with this is that the husband often does not realize how close he came to losing you. He must know that his actions may well have costs him the things that he values.
He must know that you’re not giving him any other chances after this. If you take him back time and time again after repeated cheating, then what is his incentive to stop? He hasn’t lost anything, really. While it’s not at all uncommon for me to see couples with only one infidelity fully heal, it becomes less likely with each subsequent occurrence, especially without help. Many men have one transgression and are shaken to the core to see their wife’s reaction and pain. This is usually enough to convince them that they never want to travel down this road again. They are often willing to do what needs to be done to fix this because they don’t want for their family to have to deal with this again. These are the men and the couples that usually have a decent result. I’m generally more worried about couples that are dealing with this time and time again.
Getting Him To Understand That Safeguards Preventing Infidelity Must Be In Place: One way to ensure that a person is going to change is to help him change his risk factors. In other words, if your husband cheated during a business meeting, then it’s time to consider going along with him or, if that’s not possible, requiring that he check in with you frequently while he’s away or asking his employer for a transfer that requires less travel. It may mean limiting his contact (or even breaking away) from friends who get him into trouble. It might mean seeking therapy if he has self esteem issues.
Whatever it is that he needs to do, you sometimes have to spell it out for him. Sometimes, you need to sit him down and tell him that you’ve defined what you need to happen and then describe these things as mandatory. Some men will actually be grateful to be given a road map, while others will resist because they feel that they are being treated by children. You can respond by calmly telling them that you are trying to move on, but you need these things to help you with your progress. If you frame it so that he is doing to for you, to spare you from future hurt, this will often help.
And typically, once he begins to see that his efforts are making you more receptive and more likely to trust him, he will likely see this as a trade off that is worth it. So, to answer the question: “can someone really change after cheating?:” my answer is a guarded yes. But, this usually does not happen unless you are able to identify the issues and then aggressively fix them, while also removing the risk factors. This really does take a concentrated effort on the part of both spouses, but the success that comes with these efforts usually make these efforts worth it.