Men who cheat on their wives and then leave the marriage cause a devastating ripple effect throughout the whole family. Most of us wonder if men regret divorce at all? We ask ourselves, “How could he do this after everything we’ve been through together…and with these amazing children we have?” It’s normal to wonder why your husband left your family and if he ever regrets the destruction that he caused.
When divorce happens – especially after infidelity, most men say they are not abandoning their family. They say to us, “This divorce is about you and me, not about our family.” They say they aren’t leaving our family…just us. When infidelity or abuse or addiction is involved, they also often say they didn’t leave us, but that it was our decision to file for divorce. Sigh.
The thing is, when a man leaves his wife, or decides he wants another woman (who often has children of her own), that usually means not being a daily presence in his own children’s lives. It means he isn’t going to be taking a full part in helping with his family. It creates a sense of uncertainty in so many ways.
Whether our culture acknowledges it or not, the loss of a good, strong man in a family is destabilizing on many levels. But do guys regret divorce that they caused or the abandonment of their family and their responsibilities? I’m not sure.
Throughout history, the father of the family was thought to be the “protector” of the family. Family roles in our time have changed and are constantly in flux…and some change is good. But deep down, I think many realize that having a good, strong, caring person who is there as the final defense in a family is reassuring and makes the family feel safe. It also helps children be more secure and optimistic and successful in life.
A strong, good primary family has a better chance of launching strong, confident children into the world. Do cheating husbands ever think about that? Do they regret the losses they create all around?
Everything I am going to say is a generalization. But I think men have an innate makeup that is different from women. We need good men. (We don’t need men who put themselves above everything else…including their children!)
Women are better off when a good man is there supporting her as a woman and as a mother.
Children are better off when a father helps set (and enforce) the rules of good behavior.
Young men are better off with strong, positive, dependable male role models.
Young women are better off with strong fathers to help them develop their own confident identity.
Our neighborhoods, churches and social groups need strong men supporting each other to do the right thing and be the right kind of person. Life is usually better, easier and more secure for everyone when there are strong, good men involved. Do men who cheat and abandon their families regret not filling that important role in their family? In their society?
Men taking responsibility to be that strong support for their family is less likely today. Our culture tends to make men either irrelevant or demeans them as being a threat to all of us, simply because they are men. Our entertainment world depicts some fathers as incompetent, incapable, nincompoops. Others are shown as overbearing, authoritarian, know-it-alls.
As women, we wonder how a man we have been with for 15 or 20 or 30 or more years can just leave us and our children. I wondered that myself. All I know is that it is a great loss for our families, our neighborhoods, our schools, our churches and for our country as a whole when good men abandon their family for whatever reason. It’s a loss we should all regret.
The question is, how do we deal with this increasingly common, but very significant, cultural and personal loss? Do men even realize what damage they are doing by leaving us and their children? If they ever do feel regret, when does that regret kick in?
How Long Before Men Regret Leaving?
From my own experience through talking with the women we help, it seems as if there is a lengthy “honeymoon” phase in the ex’s new life after he starts his affair or marries his new woman. He has done so much damage to himself, and to his first wife and family, that he usually tries extremely hard to make his new relationship work.
Men who break their promises and betray their families usually have no room or time to think about regret. Occasionally, they may have pangs of regret when milestones with the children are missed. Or when their family moves forward without them. But they seem to not allow themselves to go to that regret space very often. Instead, they blame us and our children for excluding them, and so regret doesn’t have a chance.
Men who leave relationships also don’t allow themselves to consider the fact that they may have made a mistake. Instead, they go full speed ahead to make everything in their new life seem perfect! Admitting that they may have made a mistake is very hard to do after the destruction and disappointment they have left in their wake everywhere.
For a man to regret leaving his wife and to admit that there is something to be sorry about, he would have to be vulnerable enough to be honest with himself and to have an active conscience. Most men are unlikely to share their regret with anyone. It would be too painful to admit.
Why Do Men Regret Divorce?
After we ask the basic question, Do Men Regret divorce? We then have a smaller subset and can also ask, “If men do regret leaving, why do they regret it?” He may have second thoughts if his new love isn’t as wonderful as he thought she was. Maybe her children are mad at him, like his children are mad at her. Maybe, it’s simply that he may have two households to help support now. Maybe when the chase was over, the catch wasn’t what he hoped for.
Men are unlikely to spend much time asking themselves like women do, “What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently and better? Why didn’t I understand what he needed?
I can’t personally get inside of a man’s thoughts. I can only go by what I hear from the women I help. Men are unlikely to ever admit they are hurting in the first place. If they do, it’s rare that they realize it’s usually because of bad choices they made. In Psychology Today, a therapist has information to share for why a man might leave and whether he might have regrets later.
Most women going through divorce get support. We sign up to get help. We go to the self-help section in the bookstore. In our resources, I often ask women how many of them think their ex-husband is snuffling around the self-help section at Barnes and Noble? Hardly any woman thinks her husband is doing that.
Instead, he acts like his life is amazing! His Facebook page is full of smiling, happy pics of his new love and him together. (She’s usually in something sexy!) He’s doing whatever he wants with whomever he wants whenever he wants. What is there to regret about that?!
Men and women tend to react differently when we have harmed someone. One of the ministers at our church said he hated to say this about men because “I are one :)),” but “men tend to go to a divorce recovery class to find a replacement for their ex. Women go to work on themselves, learn new relationship skills and get better.” (That’s another reason I strongly believe that divorce recovery groups need to be gender specific!)
It Doesn’t Matter How He Feels
I always tell women who are going through divorce to stop ever expecting their ex-spouse to come to them and say, “I am so sorry. I made such a huge mistake. Can you ever forgive me?”
In my work with Midlife Divorce Recovery, women yearn for some sort of closure like that. They have visions where their ex or soon-to-be ex-husband admits he had some responsibility for the failure of the marriage and that he regrets leaving, and that she didn’t cause it.
I know from personal experience helping hundreds and hundreds of women, that it is very rare for a man to ever admit, especially to his wife, that he regrets that he left or regrets anything he did to make a divorce happen.
I did find an article, by a man who was full of regret and who felt so badly that he wrote an article telling men to think twice before having an affair and/or leaving his wife and family. If only men would see this article before they destroyed a family or left a good marriage.
If you’re a woman going through divorce or already divorced, stop hoping that your ex will ever admit to you that he regrets the divorce or regrets anything he did that led to the divorce. STOP EXPECTING THAT! It’s a waste of time and only leads to sadness and disappointment.
Don’t worry about whether your ex regrets leaving or not. It doesn’t really matter! The damage is done. You have your hands full trying to pick up the pieces. Don’t focus on something you can’t control…like some statement of regret from your ex-husband that wouldn’t change where you are, even if he had the guts to say it.
Your primary job now is for you to take care of yourself as you do the divorce grief work and healing work you have to do. Focus on YOU getting stronger…physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, financially and in every other way you can think of. That will be the best thing for your children, too. We can help make that happen.
I am currently going thru a divorce. Me and my husband have been married for 2 years and together for 3. About 6 months after getting married he starting using drugs and cheating. I didn’t find out about the cheating for awhile. I forgave him and suggested marriage counseling. He ended up getting arrested and spent 2 months in jail where he said our family was all he wanted and needed and wouldn’t fail us again, talked about having another baby. When he got out he used again and then went into rehab. He’s been in recovery since January 1st and he has now met someone who is also in recovery and moved in with her. He asked for a divorce. My biggest issue with him is he never once tried to repair the damage he created in our marriage and family. He says he’s not abandoning but that’s exactly what he’s doing, he walked away from him family instead of fighting for it. I’m still in love with him and don’t want the divorce but he has become hateful with me because I keep trying to get him to atleast try. He tells me not to contact him. We have a 15 month old daughter and he’s never been present in her life due to his choices and now he’s chose to never be present in her life. I’m broken and lost but I’m also at peace alittle since I haven’t cried for a couple days. Progress one day at a time. Do I wish he will wake up and realize that he had the best thing in his life and he threw it away and want to be a family again, yes but I no longer have any expectations for it.
My condolences to all on here. It feels like a death when it is happening.
My ex did regret wheat he did, but for all the wrong reasons. He found his new wife to be a terrible cook, terrible housekeeper, terrible mother, terrible in bed………… It took three years. Not once did he mention the pain he put his children through, and me. While he was telling me he wanted to get back together, he did not once bring up the kids.
He is a callous failure. I am lucky he left me. I just feel terrible for my children.
Two months ago, after I moved 1,000 miles away six years earlier, he called me. He asked if he could have our daughter’s phone number. I asked her what she wanted me to do. She laughed and told me she didn’t want anything to do with him.”
So, now he is alone. He’s lonely. His health is beginning to fail. He can’t cook. He can’t keep a woman. And he’s unhappy.
I blocked him. My daughter wants nothing to do with him. I am released.
It hurts terribly while it is happening. It is almost unbelievable how it comes out and smacks your face when you don’t see it coming. All you think is that the marriage and family are working, even if you put in most of the effort.
My life has been wonderful since my divorce. I have met people I never dreamed I’d meet, and have gone places I never would have with him. I’ve grown. That would not have happened with him.
Grieve. Don’t stuff it.
One day I hope you see karma is real. I did.
My husband left me this year after 18 years of marriage. He absolutely devastated me when he sent me a text message while I was at work saying he was unhappy and didn’t want to try and make it work. Right now I’m a jumble of emotions I’m still trying to process this. Like many of the ladies it was all my fault for everything. I worked a full time job did a 1 year college course and now am attending university in the evenings. I kept a clean house and did all the maintenance around the house mowing the lawn, shovelling snow etc. Took the kids to their after school activities. Typical super woman as we all are. So I was sent the message on April 21 of this year after I confronted him about transferring a large sum of money into his personal account. He tried to get me to move out of the house and said that all the trips our family went on over the years that he paid for should he enough to buy me out of our business as he was a contractor. He tried to play on my emotions after the terrible news he gave me. And I told him I wouldn’t agree to anything until we went to mediation. So june 7 rolls around first appt with the mediator he meets me there as he left for the weekend and he d done the 2 previous weekends, leaving us and the kids. So he gives me the house I didn’t have to buy him out. And settled our other matters. 1 week later we go to sign the separation documents to finalize everything. And then he tells me he’s moving out and does so within days. That’s how quick everything went and… Read more »
My husband of 20 years tried for a couple years to get me to relocate to another state for his work. I refused to consider it and after many months of unhappy marriage, he accepted job in other state and moved. Once there he said his feelings for me are gone and he wants a divorce. This blindsided me. Now a couple months later, I realize that I didn’t listen or care about any of his reasons to move our family and now I am listening. It’s helping. We might reconcile. There are times I wonder if there is another woman in his life. Most times I think our fighting was so bad that he wanted to get away and the new job was a good reason.
I asked him if there was anyone else in his life. He said no and I want to believe him. I also want to reconcile however it will be hard for me to forgive that he left
hi to all you lovely people out they its the most alwfull pain to go through when you get cheated on when you have so must trust .i was married for 23 years and had no idear my husband was having affair for years with trash like a lot of you ladies i also did everything in the house worked and brought r to sons up on my own as he worked away all the time so i was mother and father to my sons .my husband just put is own needs first and coz he was bored diecded to have affair for years .i was heartbroken to the core when i found out about is double live he was leading.i diecide to kick the scum out as hard as it was i kept going even tho is was so hard .but believe when i tell you this they is a very big light at the end of the turnel i am more happier then i have every been new job friends and have a new man in my life that is wonderfull treasts me like a queen so all i can say sometimes they do you the biggest favour of they sorry life i ere he still sees that trash and she is but she likes drinking and so dos he has he as a promble with the drink it as always come first so ladies hang in they coz better will come and one day you will see they have done you the biggest favour believe it good bless you all and i hope you get the lifes you deserve just like me they r welcome to they sorry lifes coz they will never be truely happy xxx
I’ve been married for 13 years together 14 yrs…repeatedly since only a few months together until this year my husband will show no signs of unhappiness we may fight and then we make up I repeatedly will ask in order to allow him to speak to me ask him to please talk to me so we can change the course of our marriage for the better he acts fine says all fine and then will say he is going to the store getting a hair cut or go to work or just not show to work but consistanrly disappears…he has missed milestones of his children’s lives and even the birth if our 4th..we have a 13 yr old disabled daughter an 11 yr old daughter a 6 ur old boy and an infant son learning to walk and talk while he is away…he up and left across the country in February this year I have severe panicking disorder and despite it all have been in night school and online now set to graduate November this year but it is such a struggle and then caring for all the kids no money and lost my job due to the pandemic and he only calls us when he wants me to send him a walmart to walmart!!! He blames me for everything and I do take responsibility for some but I ask him to please accept his own parts with me he wont and st as Ted he wont because it is and was all me he did nothing but try he says Everything is my fault I ask him about the children and to please not quit our family he says he leaving me ot them. But he moves across the country literally 18 hours away and has nothing to do… Read more »
Well i am sure that a lot of men regret it already, and couldn’t turn back.
Don’t make your life dependent on someone who doesn’t appreciate you
i am divorce . the husband who profess to never leave me never turn out like his 3 times married womanising father . did just that . first for a waman 16 years younger . tht did not owrk out i was making it hard . he was not going to get to subject my young family to them or her . so it all went tits up lol and he came back like a fool i took it back . he was never the same was moody agressive spent as little time as lossible with me working at night . another 10 years later ge did the same thing . behaving like a madman into the bargain . threating me with a knife smacking me in the face spillting my lip calling me a bag lady and i had a fat face like my father . said hes walk over hot coals for the new piece the ungluer youngr model again .who had a ceaseaean scar and acne scars which he said you know me i hate imperfection but ill just have to deal with hers . eh what? offered me sex one a month it being offered as it will be our secret i mean how mad is that ? . behavedagressively towards the family head butting the youngest and punching him in the stomach . . so really when he went he was well gone . but it still took a mental toll on me . .and the family and my mum who was heartbroken . . 20 years on i look back . i realise the person i was in love with did not exist . he was a sham a con artist a chameleon his own words . . my children do not talk with… Read more »
My husband left me for 16 year old woman younger than him, who is using him for his money and never did anything good for him other than using him for fun. I was there in sickness and when he was poor and lost his job, now all the gold-diggers want him for his money, he thinks all this girls are after him because of his beauty, he broke my heart and my soul after 8 years of being together, I recently discovered he is going to spend the holidays with her and we will not be together after 8 years of always celebrating Christmas and new year together. I feel so broken after being so easily replaced. I’m still pretty and have many men that want to be with me, this woman is just younger smoke, party and drink and seem to be always in vacation with him, I think she may not work because I don’t know how your employer will give you so much vacations to spends, I believe she is lying and make everyone believe she works, while she is only obsessed to have fun with him or trap him, I feel this woman took my happiness away and stole my man and he felt on to temptation, I asked him, if he is in love and he said he just want to have fun and not in love, but I think he doesn’t want to admit it to me, he may love her, he maybe is, I just don’t understand why some man can just rip your heart in pieces, discard your relationship like nothing, after I basically saved him and cured him and took care of him, took him to the hospital multiples times when nobody was around and never cared he was poor,… Read more »