How Can I Apologize To My Husband For My Lack of Trust?

How Can I Apologize To My Husband For My Lack of Trust?

Evan,

Your responses to questions and blog posts related to trust have been such an eye and heart opener to me. I have carried so much baggage from past relationships related to trust and infidelity, and it almost ended my marriage to a wonderful man. I have engaged in shameful behavior of reading emails, looking at computer history and looking at his cell phone. However, in the past year I have been doing intensive therapy and self-reflection because I don’t want to give any more power to insecurity and mistrust than I already have; I won’t continue to spin a storyline that could cement me in this place of insecurity. So my question is this, how can I apologize to my husband in a way that will speak to him about the gravity of how badly I feel and that I am completely committed to not getting pulled into that dark place ever again.

Thank you,
Yvonne

Dear Yvonne,

Appreciate your kind words and am thrilled that you’re becoming more secure in your relationship. It’s really hard to move past insecurity – especially when you’ve had reason to be insecure in the past – and you deserve a ton of credit for getting into therapy.

The ONLY reason to tell him is to absolve yourself of guilt.

I would love to answer your question simply and directly, except there’s one piece of information I don’t have:

Does your husband already know that you have read his emails, checked his computer history and browsed his cell phone? Did he discover this independently? Did you have a long, drag-out argument, which is why you said your mistrust almost ended your marriage?

Or is this just a matter of guilt that you’re carrying around in your head for your misdeeds?

The answer makes a huge difference.

If your husband already knows, I would guess that you’ve already apologized profusely. I would think that such an apology would be about the only thing that could mend your breach of trust. But if you’ve already apologized to him, then why would you be asking me how to apologize to him?

On the other hand, if your husband doesn’t already know, what is the value of telling him?

As far as I can see, the ONLY reason to tell him is to absolve yourself of guilt. But that’s pretty short-term thinking. Because what will happen when you tell him is that you will be putting a sledgehammer to the underlying trust of your relationship. Right now, your husband thinks everything is fine. When you come clean about how much you’ve been spying on him, everything is going to get really weird, really fast. And what for? To make YOU feel better – not him.

I’ve written about this before, but this completely reminds me of a recurring conversation I had with a jealous ex-girlfriend who was convinced that I was at risk of cheating. Sadly, she didn’t know that my integrity is my most cherished value, and even though I like looking at other women, I would never act upon it. Anyway, one day, she tells me that if I ever cheated on her, she would dump me instantly. Furthermore, she tells me that if I ever cheated on her, she’d expect me to tell her? Wha-?

“Wait,” I say. “If I’m going to receive the death sentence for drunkenly kissing a stranger, why exactly would I tell you?”

I thought this was a reasonable point. I thought wrong.

“Because that would be the MANLY thing to do,” she replied.

“It doesn’t make any logical sense,” I continued. “If I made a colossal mistake that I instantly regretted and vowed to never do it again – and if I know I want to spend my life with you – why would I sabotage that entire thing just to be ‘manly’? Once again, I’m not saying I’d cheat on you, but since you’ve already told me that you would definitely not forgive me, you’ve given me no incentive to tell the truth.”

The best apologies are the heartfelt ones that completely own the situation – instead of trying to share blame.

This logic INFURIATED her. We must have had this conversation a half-dozen times in the six months we were dating. She ended up dumping me after learning about a friend’s bachelor party at a strip club in Vegas…even though I wasn’t at the party.

I love that story and try really hard to be consistent in my walk and my talk.

If your husband has no idea what you did, I see less value in telling him and rocking the boat than in keeping it to yourself and silently trying to improve your trust. This should be YOUR burden, not his.

And if he knows what you did and is still with you, I’m not sure what else to say. The best apologies are the heartfelt ones that completely own the situation – instead of trying to share blame. If you own your jealousy and let him know you’re working on it, I see no reason why he shouldn’t forgive you.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Karl R

    Evan said: (original post)
    “On the other hand, if your husband doesn’t already know, what is the value of telling him?”
    “Right now, your husband thinks everything is fine.”
     
    That’s not necessarily correct.
     
    When my first serious girlfriend cheated on me, I had no idea that she’d cheated. I didn’t even suspect that she had cheated until she confessed what she’d done.
     
    But I knew something was wrong. She felt guilty about what she’d done. She was angry with herself for what she’d done. She took out her guilt and anger on me by going on a fault-finding tour through my life. And that last part was blatantly obvious to me … even if I didn’t understand what caused it.
     
    Since Yvonne’s suspicion nearly ended her marriage, her husband is probably aware of the consequences of Yvonne’s suspicion, even if the root cause behind it remains a mystery.
     
    That said, a complete confession will probably do more to placate Yvonne’s guilt than it will to improve the quality of the relationship. While that girlfriend felt better after confessing, it did wreck my trust in her.
     
    Yvonne asked: (original letter)
    “how can I apologize to my husband in a way that will speak to him about the gravity of how badly I feel and that I am completely committed to not getting pulled into that dark place ever again.”
     
    Does your husband know that you’re in intensive therapy? If not, it’s probably a good idea to mention it to him. In addition, it seems reasonable to mention the major reasons you’re doing the intensive therapy (your insecurity and mistrust which come from your previous bad relationships).
     
    If your husband is unaware of the relationship between your insecurity and your earlier rough patch, then you can make that connection and apologize for the difficulties your insecurities caused. Similarly, if there have been more recent incidents that your husband is already aware of, you can make a similar apology.
     
    Evan’s last paragraph (original post) is solid information. Make certain that he understands that your actions aren’t about him. They’re about you struggling with your issues.
     
    When my wife is upset with herself, she generally ends up yelling (sometimes at me, more often at the dog). It’s easier for me to tolerate this, because we both know that’s the reason she’s yelling. And even though we both know this, it’s still nice to get an apology afterwards.
     
    Hopefully that provides you with enough information to determine whether, when and how to apologize.

    1. 1.1
      Chance

      You make good points, but to your point about about Evan not necessarily being correct about the husband thinking everything is fine:  if the husband hasn’t already confronted her about her behavior, I can’t see the potential benefits outweighing the risk of apologizing.  If he hasn’t confronted her, I think the best thing she can do is to simply change her behavior (which is really better than any verbal apology) because that would result in a  win-win-win situation.  She can rest her guilty conscience, she won’t potentially kill his trust in her, and he will no longer have someone snooping around his back.

      1. 1.1.1
        Locutus

        Chance,
        I started to type and reply, but I got distracted.  When I returned you already wrote basically the same thing I was going to say.  Whether the husband knows or not, even if he just suspects, there is no need to apologize to him!  If she gets over her insecurtities it should become more apparent as she becomes a more happier and more positive person.  I agree with your reply and disagree with Karl’s point about telling her to apologize.  There is no need, either way.

  2. 2
    Fusee

    I agree with everything. I’d add that the most adequate apology is followed by a sincere promise to never do the wrong behavior again, and a commitment to honor such promise no matter what.

  3. 3
    Karmic Equation

    Yup. When we confess, we unburden ourselves. But the person to whom we’ve confessed ends up with the burden.
    Agree with all. Ignorance is bliss in this matter. Change for the better and never do it again and that would be more beneficial to the relationship than any apology for water already under the bridge.

  4. 4
    Gabri'el

    Hmmm…. Like Evan said, there is so much information missing from this letter, my first question to the writer of this letter would be: “Has the husband done anything to make you think he was cheating”? I don’t know her, but it just seems odd to me that a person would trust someone enough to agree to marry them, would just out of the blue start checking their phone and e-mails, I think he did something to trigger her insecurity, then she read one of Evans many blogs on “If he didn’t really do anything, you don’t have a good reason to mistrust him” and  she had a internal struggle of conscience; and it didn’t have to be something major, it could have been something as simple as him mentioning a cute new female co-worker a couple of times or a attractive ex-girlfriend who he’s still friends with.
     
    Karl R, I once read somewhere that women are something like 10 times better at hiding the fact that they cheated then men, in your opinion do you believe that women cheat “mainly” because they are unhappy in their current relationships or do you believe that women like “some” men can be in a happy relationship with a good loving partner and still just want to sleep with the sexy bad boy who always flirts with her. I know it can and does happen because women are sexual like men, I’m just asking do you think that in a relationship, no matter how good you treat your partner and no matter how happy they are, do you just have to accept the fact that she could still cheat on you on a whim? 

  5. 5
    judy

    Karl 1
    That said, a complete confession will probably do more to placate Yvonne’s guilt than it will to improve the quality of the relationship. While that girlfriend felt better after confessing, it did wreck my trust in her.
    I think it’s not a good idea to “confess” because, it’s not only the current man’s trust you’re wrecking, but all the ones that follow.  (And vice versa for women).

  6. 6
    aniza

    for me.  Do everything you can to Preserve and Protect love so that endures forever.

  7. 7
    Sabine

    One of my best girlfriends in the world found topless pics of a woman on her husbands phone (Side note: I would not be happy about it either…). He is seems pretty normal (he notices and flirts with pretty women and NOT in a dirty way). He interacted with a woman on one of those gaming sites where you are connected through the Internet. (My friend had to travel for work for a few months and I think he got lonely). The gamer lives across the country and sent the pics to him. I think (and honestly hope) my friend’s husband was only interested in seeing…boobs.
     
     Anyway, she installed spyware on his phone to see if he was cheating. Negative for months. I am not sure if he knew it but when they got news phone last summer she asked if she should put spyware on his new phone. I said….no. I told Kelly she needs to trust her husband or her marriage would pretty much be over and I know she didn’t want that. There is still tension.  That’s for another post…
     
    So, should Yvonne tell her husband she’s been snooping on him? I don’t think so. It will cause damage. Her admission of guilt will cause him pain on some level. However, if she does, the damage could be a ding, could be a crater.  There should be honesty in marriage. If she chooses to tell him, I hope he knows how insecure she was a lets it go.

  8. 8
    Latin lover

    He should apologize to you . I treat my girl w
    ith love an she apologizes for her jealousy but I tell her not to because it’s my fault. I tell her every day she ia mi amor or my love he should help you with your not mistrust but emotional needing. if he loves you his love will surely show you how he Truly is inside.
      

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