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Can people really change?

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Shinypenny posted 7/14/2014 09:09 AM

I think we are making a pretty good start at R, but it is early on still (5 weeks out) and I am having problems trusting (go figure) that we are on a good path. My WH has been remorseful for his actions. He sent NC to his PA and has maintained it, removed all women from his Facebook friend list that he has flirted with/ tried to start A's with, opened up all accounts to me, he answers all my questions without making me feel bad for asking them, we have been to 3 sessions of MC and he has started IC, and we have both sought help and support from family and/or friends that we trust. We have been talking, talking, talking every single day. He tells me multiple times a day how sorry he is to have hurt me, that he doesn't deserve me, that he wants to devote himself to making himself the husband I deserve. He is truly disgusted with himself. He says that he wants to figure out what makes him do this and he wants to change. For the first couple weeks, I obsessively checked his emails, texts, etc. I don't feel that same urgency any more. I don't exactly trust him, but I am having more good days than bad. He seems to be doing and saying all the right things...

I have learned in MC that he has a cheating pattern. He wasn't really aware of it (just hadn't connected the dots and really sees it as a pattern now), and he is now disturbed by it. He freely admits that this is something wrong with him that he desperately wants to change. But I keep coming back to an old adage that I have heard throughout my life, "once a cheater, always a cheater." Can people really change this? Does anyone have or know someone that has really changed?

jo2love posted 7/14/2014 09:22 AM

I believe people can change if they want to and are willing to do the work. This site was created by 2 wonderful people (DS and MH) who have been through so much and come out the other side. I hope one day I will have a marriage as strong and full love as they do. They are my inspiration.

You can also read the Positive Recon Stories thread that is a sticky at the top of this forum.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 9:24 AM, July 14th (Monday)]

Summerluv123 posted 7/14/2014 09:41 AM

Shiny - I could have written your post. My WH is the same way. He is so upset with himself that he keeps doing this. He has never done the type of soul searching and connecting the dots that he is doing now. IC has been a Godsend for us. I hope he can keep up with the hard work and he seems willing to do it. I know I have to work on myself too and I think if we keep seeing each other's progress it will be motivation for a true R this time. Wish we had gone to IC and MC years ago.

Can people really change? I sure hope so!!

[This message edited by Summerluv123 at 9:42 AM, July 14th (Monday)]

theseseatsRtaken posted 7/14/2014 09:55 AM


WS here. We are 6 months out from DDay. Take this with however many grains of salt you wish, but i have lived a life of selfishness, deceit, self gratification and laziness for over 10 years. I have developed patterns of behaviour, compulsive tendencies, addictions to multiple substances/behaviours, dependencies, and given my BW EVERY reason to doubt that i could ever change. If I were looking at it from the outside, i would look at me and my past and tell my BW to run. Run for the hills, there is no way he will change.

But i really really have. And if thats too hard to swallow, then i can draw it back to i really really CAN. My life's focus has changed completely since i came clean. I have been gifted with the chance to live my life free of all of the lies and past deceptions that i once used to justify all the deceptions i engaged in. I have a clean slate and a beautiful and strong BW who lets me wake up beside her every single day and keep on proving that i can be better husband, a better father and an all round better human being.

Obviously im aware there are plenty of waywards who have said and done similar things and shown to have not changed at all. What i am wanting and believe i am experiencing is not a once off event that happens and then just 'is'. This is going to take hard work from me everyday, because it should take hard work every day. Every good marriage should. I guess the key factor is, i WANT that. I want the work, i want the effort and i want to put my family first forever, not myself.

I hope this gives you some hope. Even if it does come from a wayward. Best wishes.

tfkeel posted 7/14/2014 09:59 AM

Can people really change this?

Yes. But they have to want to change. And, for no other reason than themselves, to be a better person.

Does anyone have or know someone that has really changed?

I have seen a couple of people totally change. One of them left a life of complete alcoholism and became a pastor.

By and large, though, most people don't.

jendo posted 7/14/2014 10:00 AM

We are three months out so ahead of you, but not far along. I was in a concussive state really for the first two months and I think that when I look back on today in the future I will see how I still was injured and healing. So I can tell you that you will look back on week five and see how far you've come someday :)

My husband is a changed man. The fog lifted fast and he realized what a mess he was. It took probably a full 10 weeks to discover the mess- the mess beyond the affair. The poor boundaries, bad decisions, lies, etc. it wasn't even that he was trying to hold these things back from me but more that they were so a part of who he was that he didn't even realize how bad they were!! We've both been doing the work, peeling off the layers, repairing the foundation. I can honestly say that my husband is a changedam even in these short three months (that feel like the longest three months ever)! It's been painful, but we are seeing the rewards of his changes now. His career has improved 100%! His relationship with our kids is do much better. His stlf esteem is stronger. He's cut out the bad and replaced it with good. Our relationship is so much better. I don't trust him completely, but I do have hope now that I didn't even have pre affair.

I have made changes too. While I take no responsibility for his affair I do take partial responsibility for the state of our marriage at the time if the affair. A lot of my changes, however, have been the result of his changes though so they've been easy. For example, I was very controlling. But in WH gaining control over his life and his actions I have let go- I no longer feel the need to control him.

So yes, I am not far out either, but I do think people can change!

lostworld posted 7/14/2014 12:30 PM

I too think people can change. I think it takes a self-recognition that change is needed and desired, followed by active work on making the changes and a full commitment to consistently and consciously maintaining the changes over a long time to ensure the changes are "permanent." It seems that sometimes folks are desperate for change, so they quickly make it without finding out why they were they way they were prior to the change, only to end up right back where they started. It also appears that changes get made quickly but are then put on "auto pilot" and soon fizzle out. Change is definitely doable, but really takes some very hard self-analysis, work and a lot of time.

ItsaClimb posted 7/14/2014 13:17 PM

Tough question. My personal opinion is that who we are as adults is formed partly by genetics and partly by the environment we grew up in, so we come into adulthood in a certain "mould". That mould sort of sets us up to behave in certain ways. So, the way I see it, we are more inclined to behave in certain ways because of our genetics and our childhood environment. Left to travel that path, we will behave in those ways. But we can choose not to follow that path. If we put in a lot of effort I believe we can intentionally change the way we were programmed to behave. The thing is it takes continual effort. Stop trying and we will revert back to our default.

steppingup posted 7/14/2014 14:06 PM

Unfortunately i have not met a cheater who actually changed. One is my wife. She has not changed and her therapist isnt thinking much will change either.

The problem is, like booze is to someone alcoholic, affairs are to cheaters. You never will know when they will fall off the waggon and you cannot predict what the trigger will be, a flirt, a movie someone needing a changed flat tire. No, we BS who give cheaters another chance RISK MUCH, because we will never know if they are changed for life or not.

My WW said after her first affair that nothing would ever be able to cause her to cheat again...famous last words. Now into our 3rd and unrepentant, she is likely not thinking I'm going to forgive this one so she is not letting go of the OM and the ship is sinking....

For your sake if you want the marriage to last I hope he changes and uses this opportunity to make himself to be the very best husband in the whole world.

Best, Step.

Shinypenny posted 7/14/2014 15:59 PM

Thank you for your thoughts. It's hard to tell what is real and what isn't after the betrayal. I guess that part will continue. He says he wants to do the work and he knows it will take a long time and a lot of effort... Some of you have nailed my worries. I won't know if he's changed or not. He may change and not be able to sustain that change. Some unknown force will trigger old behaviors.

theseseatsRtaken, thank you for your reply. Your message says a lot because it is from a wayward.

jendo, I'm hoping to follow your path...glad to hear you are headed in a positive direction.

Here's hoping I guess!

blakesteele posted 7/14/2014 20:05 PM


But it starts with a choice.....a choice to STOP doing what you're doing and a choice back fill in that "empty" spot with something known to be healthier.

Then it is followed up with actions.

Evaluate....see if we like the results.....learn from them. If you like the results you have grown. If you don't like 'em, you get "experience" that, if allowed, transforms into wisdom.


Wisdom; ability to view the world objectively, and interact stably.

"We do the best we can with what we know, and when we know better, we do better" - Maya Angelou.

God is with us all.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 8:10 PM, July 14th (Monday)]

blakesteele posted 7/14/2014 20:16 PM

I have changed. Far from complete, but a core shift has occurred. As it has I have had to evaluate other parts that broke as a result of this shift. Sometimes I decide it's not worth rebuilding, sometimes it is and either needs a light coat of paint or a total remodel.

It takes......time.

No miracle here.....but I have today to get back to it.

Not a linear process either.....have had to tear down things I have partially rebuilt because my perspective longer put value on that item.

Keep in can only change yourself. I struggle with this yet today.


tl502 posted 7/14/2014 21:34 PM

Yes, they can change, but it has to be their choice. Sometimes, they are reacting toward their fear of losing their bs and family, sometimes they realize that they are on the path to destruction.
My fwh clearly didn't want to lose me and the life that we had built after dd1. That wasn't enough to keep him nc after dd1 though. He thought he could continue to be long distamce friends with fap, even though this had been clearly agreed upon by us and worked through mc.
Now a year after dd2, he is clearly trying to be a person that he can be proud of as well as a good partner for me.
There is a huge difference.

still-living posted 7/14/2014 22:17 PM

Yes, but it requires emotional pain/trauma.

Howie posted 7/15/2014 05:49 AM

The simple answer: yes.There can be real substantive change.But-tricky-it depends on the person, their motivation and powers and support. Some change-and change back to the old pattern. A pattern of anything-drinking, infidelity-is harder to break than the one-off (even if that one-off is along affair).There are no guarantees-ever.
There is-as in my WS's case, enough cause shown to continue the R and the marriage. Day by day, you reinvest your trust and hope and maybe day by day you arn't dissapointed. In time, the loner curvature becomes apparent. This is no easy road but after discovery day the lesson is clear; it was never going to be that road. Good luck.

Lionne posted 7/15/2014 14:39 PM

I agree that the short answer is yes, with hard work and desire. 12step programs are full of people who have changed.

My opinion is that cheaters are essentially broken, hurting people who project their damaged behavior onto an unsuspecting and undeserving spouse. Until and unless they get help for their own problems, change won't happen.

lifeistough posted 7/15/2014 15:13 PM

I don't think there's any doubt that people can change. We all change over time and due to circumstances. And I know my WS is trying to change (and knows she has to in several big areas). And, in fact, she has changed - a lot. I think the hard part for you (and me) is trusting the change, because we are asking for a change that is the foundation of a relationship - honesty (among other things). And the trust in that change will take time - a long time.

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