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what does remorse look like???

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cantaccept posted 9/18/2013 04:57 AM

I know this is such a basic question. I am struggling with it though. I just am not sure what it looks like and if I am expecting too much. I am trying, like my post yesterday, to see it through his lens.

If I were remorseful, if I had betrayed, abandoned, was cruel, this is what I hope that I would do -

Listen to the pain, express my sorrow for causing the pain, express what I think of my actions now

Respond to requests, text you everyday, yes
Read, yes
Make plans for us to do things, yes
What can I do for you? How can I help you?

I hope that I would bring up my actions, what I thought about during the day, express how I think it must be for you, express what I feel now about my actions, express how much I appreciate that you think I am worth going through this.

When I see you sad, try not to be impatient, realize that I caused the sadness, realize that I can only soothe you.

When I see things that you could do to help yourself, such as eat better, exercise, I would make dinner for you, I would say let's go for a walk. Not criticize you for not doing enough. I would realize that you are doing what you can and just going to work or cleaning the house is a huge effort.

I have asked for the texts, he did it for a while, now he gets upset if I don't text him all day. I always respond, immediately. I tried to explain that it just lets me know I am on his mind. It is a comfort to me at work, it calms me. He thinks I should reach out to him. To me it takes away the meaning if I have to remind him, text first, I have at times but it just doesn't have the same effect on me.

He has stopped drinking, 4 months now. That is huge, we would never make it if he had continued to drink.

He listens to me, listens to the events that cause me pain still. Sometimes he says, I am sorry that happened. Twice he has apologized, briefly, with words that helped. Mostly, it seems that he just listens and does not respond or just says, yes I did that.

When he says to me, that must have made you helps. It makes me feel like he understands.

I feel like I want more. When I tell him what I need, many times it turns into an argument. He turns it back on me, I am not doing enough to help myself.

I guess that I think by telling him what would help me, I am helping him, giving him the means to reattach to him. Forgive him.

We were reading How Can I Forgive You, together. We talked about how important an apology is. He tells me I know what you need, I am working on it. 4 months now.

He tells me to just appreciate what he is doing and just let the rest happen naturally.

I try. At the same time though, I feel resentment starting to build. He wants me to be loving, he wants me to give to him. I do try. I do give. I tell him I love him. I am physically affectionate. I tell him that I believe we can get through this. I tell him I want to forgive him, that I do not wish for revenge, that it hurts to see his pain. I cook for him, do his laundry. I rub his hands when they are sore from work. I try to explain to him that as he gives to me what I need to heal, makes me feel like my heart is safe with him again, I will become more open to him, I will be able to let go more. I think that if I felt like he was being more proactive in this process, it would be easier for me to turn the focus onto my own healing. I know, I need to do this even if he is not giving what I need. I have to stop trying to force him, push him.

I think that I worry that by the time he gets this, I will not care.

Can anyone give me concrete examples of remorse? I don't think I have ever had anyone express it to me. I know how I have expressed it, but that is just me.

He tells me he feels remorse, he feels shame, is that remorse?

Am I asking for too much? Being too impatient?

sisoon posted 9/18/2013 06:23 AM

My comments below are observations and reactions. They are absolutely NOT meant as criticism in any way.

You describe what remorse is to you, and it's pretty close to what it is to me, so I'm wondering what your problem is - that is, you seem to understand without realizing it.

I think one of the things you're asking for is empathy. If your WS were empathic, he probably wouldn't have cheated, so in a sense, part of what you're asking for is impossible now.

I get a sense that you think your H should read your 'vibes' accurately. I think that's impossible, too. I think you need to specify what you want to get it. The specs need to be observable - that way you both know if he's meeting the requirements (more below).

He tells me I know what you need, I am working on it.

His tone of voice and affect are the difference between interpreting this a super-supportive comment vs. blowing you off. I expect it's somewhere in the middle, since most WSes aren't all that insightful this close to D-Day.

But - IMO, remorse grows. It starts with a few simple behaviors, and fills out as a remorseful WS heals. Come to think of it, maybe remorse stops at some point, to be replaced by the WS becoming a full partner in the M. Hard to put into words - in the early days, a WS may do something primarily out of obligation. Later, she may do the same thing primarily out of love.

If I'm right about that, the shift takes time to develop.

Maybe in your case, remorse started for your H by getting sober, and other stuff will show up as time goes on. For an alcoholic, getting sober is a big deal, and staying sober takes a lot of energy.

Requirements for R:

I think you'd help yourself and your H if you listed your indications of remorse and prioritized them. You could even have a weekly staff meeting in which you discuss how he showed his commitment to R by listing how he met each requirement.

Shame isn't remorse, but it can be an enabler. Shame is a step toward acknowledging what he did. But your spidey sense is right - it's not remorse.

Yeah, I think you may be a little impatient. To be honest, I can counsel patience myself. All day, every day. With great compassion. Just don't ask me to take my own counsel when I post about my own issues. It's much easier to counsel patience than to be patient.

[This message edited by sisoon at 6:27 AM, September 18th (Wednesday)]

ladies_first posted 9/18/2013 10:40 AM

Here's a post from JFO:

Here's some notes from Gary Chapman's The Five Languages of Apology:
Expressing Regret - "I'm sorry." "I feel badly about what I did."
Accepting Responsibility - "I was wrong." "It was my fault."
Making Restitution - "What can I do to make it right?"
Genuinely Repenting - "I'll try not to do that again."
Requesting Forgiveness - "Will you please forgive me?"

Expressing Regret: Expressing Regret” is the Apology Language that zeroes in on emotional hurt. It is an admission of guilt and shame for causing pain to another person. For those who listen for “Expressing Regret” apologies, a simple “I’m sorry” is all they look for. There is no need for explanation or “pay back” provided the apology has truly come from the heart. “Expressing Regret” is a powerful Apology Language because it gets right to the point. It doesn’t make excuses or attempt to deflect blame. Above all, “Expressing Regret” takes ownership of the wrong. For that reason, “Expressing Regret” is understood as a sincere commitment to repair and rebuild the relationship. The “Expressing Regret” Apology Language speaks most clearly when the person offering the apology reflects sincerity not only verbally, but also through body language. Unflinching eye contact and a gentle, but firm touch are two ways that body language can underscore sincerity.

Accept Responsibility: It is very difficult for some people to admit that they’re wrong. It makes them doubt their self-worth, and no one likes to be portrayed as a failure. However, as adults, we must all admit that we are sinners and that we will make mistakes. We are going to make poor decisions that hurt our mates, and we are going to have to admit that we were wrong. We have to accept responsibility for our own failures. For many individuals, all they want is to hear the words, “I am wrong.” If the apology neglects accepting responsibility for their actions, many partners will not feel as though the apology was meaningful and sincere. Many partners need to learn how to overcome their ego, the desire to not be viewed as a failure, and simply admit that their actions were wrong. For a mate who speaks this apology language, if an apology does not admit fault, it is not worth hearing. Being sincere in your apology means allowing yourself to be weak, and admitting that you make mistakes. Though this may be hard to do for some people, it makes a world of a difference to your partner who speaks this language.

Make Restitution: In our society, many people believe that wrong acts demand justice. The one who commits the crime should pay for their wrongdoing. A mate who speaks this love language feels the same way towards apologies. They believe that in order to be sincere, the person who is apologizing should justify their actions. The mate who’s been hurt simply wants to hear that their mate still loves them. There are many effective ways to demonstrate sincerity in an apology. Each mate must learn the other’s love language in order to complete the act of restitution. Though some mates may feel a though all is forgotten with a bouquet of flowers, that may not necessarily work for all mates. Every mate should uncover what their partner’s main love language is (Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Receiving Gifts) and use that specific language in order to make restitutions in the most effective way. For a mate whose primary apology language is making restitutions, no matter how often you say “I’m sorry”, or “I was wrong”, your mate will never find the apology sincere. You must show strong efforts for making amends. A genuine apology will be accompanied by the assurance that you still love your mate 
and have a desire to right the wrong-doings committed.

Genuinely Repent: For some individuals, repentance is the convincing factor in an apology. Some mates will doubt the sincerity of an apology if it is not accompanied by their partner’s desire to modify their behavior to avoid the situation in the future. It’s important to remember that all true repentance begins in the heart. A mate must feel poorly for hurting their loved one, and rely on God’s help in order to truly change. Admitting you are wrong creates vulnerability. It allows your mate to get a glimpse of your heart. The glimpse of true self is assurance that the apology was sincere. One important aspect of genuinely repenting is verbalizing your desire to change. Your mate cannot read your mind. Though you may be trying to change inside, if you do not verbalize your desire to change to your mate, most likely they will still be hurt. Many people have problems with repenting when they do not feel as though their actions were morally wrong. However, in a healthy relationship, we often make changes that have nothing to do with morality and everything to do with building a harmonious marriage. It is also important to make a dedicated plan for change. Often apologies involving repentance fail because the person never set up steps of action to help ensure success. A person must first set goals for their change. After you create realistic goals, then you can start implementing a plan to change. Taking baby steps towards repentance instead of insisting on changing all at once will increase your chances of successfully changing your ways. It is important to remember that change is hard. Constructive change does not mean we will immediately be successful. There will be highs and lows on the road to change. You must remember that with God’s help, anyone can change their ways if they are truly and genuinely ready to repent.

Request Forgiveness: In some relationships, a mate wants to hear their partner physically ask for forgiveness. They want assurance that their mate recognizes the need for forgiveness. By asking forgiveness for their actions, a partner is really asking their mate to still love them. Requesting forgiveness assures your mate that you want to see the relationship fully restored. It also proves to your mate that you are sincerely sorry for what you’ve done. It shows that you realize you’ve done something wrong. Requesting forgiveness also shows that you are willing to put the future of the relationship in the hands of the offended mate. You are leaving the final decision up to your partner – to forgive or not forgive. Requesting forgiveness is not easy. It often leaves one vulnerable to the fear of rejection. Along with the fear of rejection is the fear of failing. Many people have a hard time seeking forgiveness because it means admitting that you have failed. The only way to overcome this fear is to recognize that it is very common amongst mankind. The commonality makes it okay to be a failure. It allows a stubborn mate to apologize to their partner and become a healthy individual. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that there is a difference between asking for forgiveness and DEMANDING forgiveness. When we demand forgiveness, we tend to forget the nature of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice the offended party is supposed to make. Demanding forgiveness takes away the sincerity of asking for it. Remember not to treat forgiveness lightly. It is something to be cherished and appreciated. The act of forgiveness is hard on both ends – for the person who’s asking and for the person who’s accepting.
Speaking the Right One When you apologize, you are trying to make things right. So you say, "I'm sorry. I was wrong. I know I hurt you and I feel badly about it. Will you forgive me?" But your spouse says, "How could you do that if you loved me? How can I forgive you when you never do anything to 'make it right'?" You feel frustrated and don't know what to do next. The problem is not your sincerity; the problem is that you are not speaking the right apology language.

Which Do You Want to Hear?
Which one of the five languages of apology do you want to hear? That is your primary apology language. Apologize effectively by learning your spouse's apology language and speaking it when you know you have offended each other. Ask your spouse, "When I apologize, what do you want to hear from me?" You may be surprised at their answer, but it will give you their primary apology language. Learning to speak each other's apology language will lead you to a growing marriage.

cantaccept posted 9/18/2013 10:51 AM

Hi sisoon,

I question what remorse is because I wonder if I am expecting too much. Just because this is how I feel I would express it does not mean that it is realistic, that others would express it in the same way. I keep wondering if maybe he is expressing it and I just cannot see it.

I know how huge not drinking is for him. He was an angry alcoholic. I often tell him that I am so proud of this and what a difference it has made.

I also have told him about the things that would help me. From expressing remorse to a simple consistent act.

One thing I asked him for, because I have a very hard time at work, lots of triggers here, is to please send me a text in the morning. Not a long letter, just a brief note, thinking of you. I found that when he did that it just made me feel calmer. Reassured me that he was thinking of me, not out of sight out of mind.

He did it for a brief time. Now he has recently challenged me on this, "why can't you text me first?" I always respond to him immediately, I never ignore him, I would not do that. It just felt that by questioning me about the importance of this that he just didn't understand.

I am trying so hard to be patient. I try to encourage him. I let him know and thank him every time he does do something that helps.

I know it really is on me to take care of me. It is on him to give if he can or if he chooses. Let it go, do not try to control. It is just so hard to get through every day with this pain.

Last night, or this morning, I awoke from a nightmare. I have frequent nightmares and don't sleep well. This one was horrific, graphic, I actually started vomiting.

I told h this morning, not the details just that I had a nightmare. He told me, it's just a dream, it doesn't mean anything. I replied, yes it was a bad dream, but it really happened so I can't tell myself it wasn't real, only that it isn't happening now. He replied, ok, time to go to work. I have not heard from him yet today.

I feel as if I am struggling through this alone.

I feel as if I am doing something wrong, that I really should not be affected by this 24/7 at this point.

I do try to do things just for me but this ache is constantly with me. Just sometimes it hurts more.

sisoon posted 9/18/2013 11:00 AM

I feel as if I am struggling through this alone.

I feel as if I am doing something wrong, that I really should not be affected by this 24/7 at this point.

I do try to do things just for me but this ache is constantly with me. Just sometimes it hurts more.

You've really touched me this morning, cant, and my heart goes out to you.

In a sense, you are struggling through this alone. Among other things, only you can heal you.

I think there are times in recovery (a couple of times a day?) when what a person could really use is a face-to-face conversation with a few other BSes. SI is terrific, and it keeps anonymity (which is crucial to our ability to open up), but this is a time when I wish you could meet with a few other BSes just to hear:

You're not doing anything wrong. You're just (!) dealing with a very difficult situation under immense stress. You're some lousy combo of sad, mad, and scared, but you will get through this. Oh, yeah, and you're not doing anything wrong.


[This message edited by sisoon at 11:01 AM, September 18th (Wednesday)]

StillStanding1 posted 9/18/2013 11:10 AM

Another great thread, cantaccept. I can completely relate to your thoughts and feelings and needs.

I appreciate sisoon's input. Again, new food for thought, a new way to try to look at things. It helps me, too.

And, thank you, LadiesFirst, for taking the time to write out the basic take on the Five Languages of Apology. Maybe another book to add to my growing pile of "need to read"s.

Thanks for telling us to be patient, sisoon. It's so hard when all you want to do is feel better. I don't know if I can bear feeling this way a year or two from now. Progress is progress, I know, but it is so slow.

(((cantaccept))) You are not alone. I hope you will find some peace.

cantaccept posted 9/18/2013 11:29 AM


Thank you so much. Your reply brought tears to my eyes. I really do feel so alone in all this. Your expression of compassion touched me deeply. I often wish that there was someone in real life that understood and I could relate to. I feel like I burden my family, they are sick of me. I can't blame them, I am sick of myself.

Also, I definitely did not take any of your comments as criticism. I would immerse myself in criticism if it would help me to get through this, show me a different way.


thank you for posting that for me. I will read and reread. Maybe h will read it, maybe.


I pm'd you. It seems we have too much in common, unfortunately. It is nice to have someone to vent to. Thank you.

truthsetmefree posted 9/18/2013 12:02 PM

I can relate to so much of your situation.

My FWH has grown a lot and things are so much better....but only in the last couple of years. I did much of my healing alone.

But you know what? That's ok now. In fact, some days I'm even thankful for the time to get to know myself so well...and to learn that I really can count on myself. I know how to self-soothe...and life in general is not as scary as it once was. Sitting in the dark long enough can show you that the monsters are merely illusions.

I know this is not how you want things to be. I kept trying to change it all too. And it WILL change - that's just the nature of this life. But when you find yourself in those dark nights, know that even they bring their own gifts. Sometimes you just have to shift your perspective and that eases the pain.


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