Wives need a ‘game plan’ to restore a cheating husband to wife and home exclusively. I write this for shattered wives to use as it best fits their needs and family situation.
You wish to restore your marriage, provided that husband is willing and able to be faithful in the future. A man won’t return permanently to the same woman on whom he cheated. You have to change who you are and what you do. The most natural and productive changes are those that make husband see his bride restored to her former self.
You have studied the previous post 1884 and given yourself a mental makeover. If you haven’t, you probably won’t have the courage to take full advantage of what follows below.
You can figure out what will work for you. As the relationship expert, you’re quite capable so long as you expect nothing but future faithfulness from him. You can’t make or ‘motivate’ him to return his heart to you and home. He must motivate himself; otherwise, he won’t be sincere or his change of heart permanent.
He married expecting you not to change, but you probably did. Your courtship persona morphed into ‘someone else’. Perhaps someone he doesn’t recognize much less want to know. He married expecting not to change himself, which leaves three options for the pressures that led to his finding an interest outside your home:
- Even before marriage he was prone to cheat. Character flaws made it inevitable, but you can’t help that. You didn’t choose wisely. Consequently, recovery will be tough. He fuels his need for self-admiration with sexual adventures. His self-respect and sense of significance also depend on his ability even more than his success with other women. Vow-keeping and integrity are not part of his character makeup. He may in fact be unworthy of you. Only you can decide if he’s worth restoring and keeping.
- You tried to change him and succeeded. Perhaps you ‘mothered’ him. His self-respect declined and his need for self-admiration became frustrated. Consequently, he looks elsewhere to solidify his sense of significance. His return depends on your ability to identify and stop whatever pressures you previously imposed.
- You tried to change him, and he rejected it. Whether trying to mother him or not, your continual attempts made you unlikeable as a mate. You need to restore your courtship persona and become once again the woman he married.
- You can argue that none of those apply in your case. If so, then I suspect you conclude as both truthful and complete whatever husband declares as his reasons. Keep this in mind: Never trust what someone says motivates them. It doesn’t mean they aren’t truthful but you never can know their full story. So, believe them if you wish, but never base what you do exclusively on what they tell you.
Pressures from one or more of those alternatives plague many marriages. The ‘game plan’ that follows is more generic and fits whatever a wife likely faces.
You have a competitor(s) to beat, but sex is the last thing at which you have to beat her (or them). You have many more ways to support and uphold husband’s needs, wants, and drives.
Consider this as a reliable predictor of your future: Men do whatever women require in order to have frequent and convenient access to sex. Men don’t cheat to have sex. They have sex elsewhere to restore, reclaim, or reinforce the great need for self-admiration that they lack at home.
Being on the road to restoring husband to fidelity, you have put yourself in charge of your life. Your first step should be this: forgive previous mistakes, both his, yours, and his lover(s). You can’t restore what’s already broken, so recover by shaping the present such that it pushes the dark past out of future thoughts. If you can’t forgive his cheating and your mistakes, you’ll never forget them and be plagued the rest of your life with relationship-destructive thoughts. Your future peace of mind depends on forgiving everyone involved, so start at the beginning of trying to recapture his devotion. (So, what if he cheats again? Life is all about recovering from mistakes. You’ll be better prepared the next time.)
Your second step should commit you to this primary strategy: No sex until he renews marital vows in a formal ceremony witnessed by friends and family. Don’t disclose or demand vow renewal. Let him find ways to please you. Let him earn you while you earn his respect as person, potential wife, mother, and mate. Let him learn of your vow-renewal intentions through indirectness and seed planting so it becomes his idea. Let him see you change; not as bribery or tradeoff but as woman capable of being a good wife—except for sex and associated activities, of course. Refuse sex until you get everything you want. If he won’t give enough of himself without your yielding sex, he doesn’t consider you worthy of his allegiance now and fidelity in the future.
Your third step should commit you to making yourself appear in his eyes as the ideal woman but not a wife. The ideal woman he chose to marry, the woman that ideally respected and admired him so diligently, the woman that ideally convinced him that he was and will always be the most important cog in her wheel of life, the woman that he envisioned as the ideal wife during courtship. (Don’t act as a wife. Don’t dote on him, don’t support, serve, or care for him as a wife does. Replace your wifely inclinations with independent behaviors that exclude him. If you act like a wife, he will see the same woman he cheated on.)
No guarantee but the current pressures you and he sense are the best base from which to work. You can and must figure out what will work best for you and provide what will motivate him to buy back into your marital contract and interest. You’ll win when he sees that rewards for husbanding and fathering and your ideal ‘wifeing’ provide him more self-admiration than sex outside the home.
The following are additional steps needed to restore his heart to that of non-cheater. You’re trying to teach him that his self-admiration soars with his accomplishments in the home and your admiration of him soars when he demonstrates masculine virtue and domestic responsibility. It all serves to provide opportunity to admire and tell him so with actions more than words.
You do all the work and change yourself. He can be expected to respond to your actions. He’s not totally predictable. You’ll be ‘playing by ear’ but his reactions will likely be beneficial to restoring your marriage. We’ll start with some ‘DON’Ts and with some DOs to follow.
- DON’T forget the role that forgiveness plays. You have forgiven him, her, and yourself, so forget the past. Nothing matters but the future, not even today. Keep your hurts to yourself. You intend to create and shape a new life so dream about future success instead of present miseries.
- DON’T tell him of your game plan. Don’t complain and don’t explain, and don’t disclose your strategy to anyone else either. Keep your own counsel. (Well, perhaps one female friend who encourages rather than offers advice.)
- DON’T set boundaries to guide him back to your good graces. Make him discover your expectations.
- DON’T make anything conditional on him giving up the other woman/women; just ignore it and don’t fret if he continues. It’s just a deeper hole from which he must climb. Make him see that he has to choose whether his woman is you or her or them. He can’t have two women, if one is you. I know it’s tough, but you must make the character-changing battle occur in his heart and not between the two of you.
- DON’T nag, criticize, or demean him. If something needs doing, remind him once, leave the WHEN of it up to him, and don’t tell him HOW to do anything—not even how to pin a diaper—unless he asks. Remember, what he accomplishes leads to self-admiration, and when he accomplishes something for you, it makes you more valuable to him.
- DON’T find any fault with him; at least don’t mention or even suggest it with non-verbals or body language. Let his conscience sit unmolested astride his behavior.
- DON’T try to convince him with words. Refuse to argue with him. Your words only feed his imagination to prove you wrong or him right. Expect nothing from him, but judge his ‘progress’ by how he reacts to your actions. When he starts trying to please you more, you’re playing your cards correctly. But don’t let that weaken your determination.
Now let’s look at a baker’s dozen of DOs. They aren’t mandates but wifely tactics designed to optimize compatibility within a divided couple.
- Admire him for those things he does for you and family. Indirectness works better than directness; what he concludes is more actionable for him than what you describe. Show him patience that he’s never seen before. Find new ways to isolate admirable behaviors and tell him. However, don’t be too deferential or submissive or act as if you’re begging. Being independent on one hand and admiring him on the other also intrigues him.
- Continue to show respect and gratitude for who he is and what he does as a responsible family member. When his sense of significance is strengthened around job, home, and family instead of adolescence, sexual prowess, or adventurism, then he will stop wandering from home. Positive reinforcement works best and earns you credit for changing into a more likeable and prospective mate.
- Deliver with actions what he considers rewards for husbanding and fathering. You can learn to figure out the rewards most likely to work .
- Since you’ve already forgiven everyone concerned, your anger will have left you. Ignore his anger. Provide no feedback when he tries to rattle your cage, shake your confidence, and dominate your thoughts. Let him learn that anger and raising of the voice gets the absence of feedback from you. Shrug your shoulders as if you always refuse to deal with an angry person, which at the time just happens to be him. (IOW, demo that you stand by your principles regardless of who you are dealing with.)
- Judge him and his progress by his actions alone and not his words, promises, or especially verbal endearments.
- Keep your kids totally UNINVOLVED with what’s happening. If they inquire, discourage their interest. Also, allay any fears that may enter their minds about divorce. But, again, don’t complain and don’t explain anything but the absolute least to calm fears. If he recruits the kids to his side, refuse to talk with them about your husband who just happens to be their father. Make your business none of their business, mates’ business none of a child’s business—even if kids are grown. They just have to wait to see the outcome of their parents’ current business.
- Let husband eat what you cook and take you on dates or to church (if his idea). However, except as he initiates in ways that please you, live separate lives under the same roof. Associate as it pleases you or as practical to make home life continue uninterrupted for the kids.
- Even if he pleads, treat all interaction as strictly business and never bring up the subject of sex or his outside behavior. Being silent about something so important intrigues him, stirs his curiosity, and stimulates his imagination to focus more on pleasing you to determine what you’re after.
- Put yourself assertively in control of your plans, actions, and resolute determination. The better you do it, the more that depression will ease up or never inflict you. The more pleasant you do it, the more intrigued he becomes about what he’s lost in you.
- Re-establish yourself as a modest woman, unique in thought, and mysterious in attitude. You can’t expect him to buy back into you as his respected mate if you’re the same woman on whom he cheated.
- Re-evaluate the conditions that existed in the early days of your marriage. Other than cheating, how did he respect you? How did he show it? How did you respect him? How did you show it? You were obviously likeable in his eyes; so restore yourself to that persona.
- Shift into direct competition and confrontation only on one issue: his having sex with you. If he deserves and his actions please you, reward him with hugs and kisses. Don’t let him get you in passionate situations where you might cave.
- Always refuse sex but leave him with hope. Develop polite ways to resist with cheerful but firm determination. Without demanding it, let him court his way back into your good graces. Yield once and you’ve lost; he knows he doesn’t have to change.
You can expect a better relationship when husband sees that responsible husbanding and fathering provide him with more respect, self-admiration, and enhanced sense of significance than does sex outside the home.
Of course, all the above is too general. I expect that I stand chastised as usual. You wish I had cited examples for each of the points above. It would make it easier for you. So, I have redesigned this series and will continue tomorrow with a few daily articles that describe why, what, and how I would deal with a cheating husband—if I were his wife.