The Complicated Truth:
Many abandoned wives are left with tons of unanswered questions. This is natural, because victims of Wife Abandonment Syndrome were left with no warning, no clear explanations, and often given nonsensical reasons for leaving, if any.
It is clear from the wife’s perspective that what he did is wrong, and something she believed he would see as wrong also. So, a common curiosity is: “Does he have regret or guilt?” Because, surely, the person we married still knows right from wrong, somewhere deep down, right?
This question on guilt also comes up most when he is showing signs of feeling bad, he apologizes, or you are curious if it will ever happen.
Usually, most Runaway Husbands do not show signs of true remorse or guilt for what they have done. Rather, they believe they are innocent victims, and at times battle with the shame their behavior has brought on. This can appear similar to the remorse we so desperately want to see from our former spouses. Occasionally there are stories of clarity, and each person’s situation may be slightly different.
Hopefully the rest of this post can help answer if the Runaway Husband, in your situation, feels genuinely sorry.
Guilt vs Shame
Guilt and shame are generally abstract concepts, are sometimes used interchangeably, and can be debated among psychologists on the exact meaning. For the purpose of this post, guilt and shame are defined by the chart below, to keep things clear.
There is also overlap in emotions and often the feelings occur together. In a sincere apology, however, many can agree that it comes from genuine remorse as a result of processing feelings deriving from within, such as guilt- NOT shame.
Narcissistic people are known for their inability to feel guilt, so many actions are motivated through shame.
| Arises from internal sources|
(ex: empathy, compassion, regret for hurting others)
|Arises from external sources|
(ex: how other’s perceive them, how they see themselves, and consequences to their reputation)
|About the connection you have with your morals|
(ex: This does not align with what I believe”)
|About the connection you have to your appearance |
(ex: “This does not make me look good”)
|Feels responsible and remorseful|
(ex: I failed to make better choices, I can do better)
|Feels disappointed, unworthy, pathetic |
(ex: “I am a failure, I can’t do anything right”)
|Focuses on the regret for the action|
(ex: “My action was wrong”)
|Focuses on regrets for the consequence|
(ex: “Now they hate me”)
|Is internally motivated to right the wrong|
(ex: “I can’t feel at ease until I make up for what I did”)
|Motivated more depending on surroundings|
(ex: “I can’t feel at ease until what I have done becomes seen as right”)
|The feeling increases when time is spent alone|
(ex: “Thinking back, I can’t believe I said that”)
|The feeling increases when the focus is on others|
(ex: “What will they think of me?”)
|Is alleviated by acting in ways that align with their morals, even if no one sees it|
(ex, makes changes behind closed doors, grows closer to their morals)
|Is alleviated be receiving other’s approval|
(ex: displays of generosity under the watch of others, grows closer to their ego)
Did He Apologize?
Tell tale signs that he is experiencing moments of true remorse, and not giving false apologies:
- He is not apologizing to get something from you. He is not looking to get your sympathy, love, money, or sense of belonging. He is not just lonely or needy. He is not talking to you only during the holidays or when he’s bored. He isn’t trying to get you to do him a favor or keep him company. He is able to meet his own needs, and is talking to you because he “wants” to, not “needs” to.
- He is not motivated by an external consequence. He didn’t recently get dumped or screwed over, isn’t in a fresh low point in life, and he is not just searching for attention or validation. Many RH’s attempt to get back with their betrayed wife after things don’t work out with someone else. True remorse comes from reflection. If he feels guilt over what he did, it will not be immediately after experiencing a consequence, The pain of the consequence must not be in the picture, otherwise there may be an unconscious motive to avoid the consequence. True guilt and remorse comes from internal factors, not external.
- He does not make excuses for the behavior. He is not trying to make you see his side, justify it, or diminish it. He is not as concerned with making you understand his actions, and more concerned on how he can show his regret.
- He wants to hear your feelings. He doesn’t argue them, diminish them, or close-off. He doesn’t get angry, since anger is a tool that blocks feelings of shame. Nor is he passive or silent. He engages and asks questions to better understand you. He values your feelings and practices empathy, not just passivity.
- He does not continue to hurt you. He makes a change. If he is “sorry” but not sorry enough to change, take responsibility, and make things right, then he is just doing damage control. He wants you to not see him as bad, so he does not feel the shame or experience the consequence. A true “sorry” is a marker for change and a fake “sorry” is manipulation.
In summary, this is the information detailing common ways to determine remorse, guilt and shame within the Runaway Husband.
Whether this post gave a sprinkle of hope, or confirmed that he is not sorry, feel free to return to this post whenever there is question or doubt.
More from Husbands Who Abandon:
- A List of Traits
- Does He Feel Guilt?
- Exploring Reconciliation
- His Story
- Intro to the Runaway Husband
- Letter to Abandoned Wives
- Mama's Boy
- Marriage Therapy
- The Meddler in Your Marriage
- Understanding the Runaway Husband
- Why There is Always an "Other Woman"
- Why You Didn't See the Signs