Most of the correspondence that I receive comes from spouses who have been cheated on. They are looking for advice on how to heal, to trust again, and how to move on. Occasionally though, I hear from spouses who have been cheating and who want to make things right. They want to know how they can tell their spouses about their cheating, express their deepest sorrow, and ultimately save the marriage. What you say is very important in this situation but your actions are equally as important. I will discuss this more in the following article.
Before You Admit To The Cheating, Have Everything Rectified As Best As You Can: Never admit to cheating while the affair is still going on or while you still have doubts about your commitment to your spouse or to your marriage. This is going to be a huge blow to your spouse and you’re going to need to be able to truthfully tell them that you are completely out of this other relationship and are completely committed to working things out with your spouse.
Do not make your spouse deal with any more than this. It’s not fair to break this very bad news and then to admit that you are not sure about your feelings toward them, the marriage, or the other person. You want to be able to decisively and to convincingly say that it’s completely over and that you are 100% committed to doing whatever it takes to save the marriage with your spouse beside you.
If you can’t do this yet, it’s best to wait until you can. You want to give your spouse a workable plan and a safety net as soon as you break this news. You want to have your plan to heal this already set up so that you can show immediate and decisive action to prove your commitment. If your feelings aren’t yet sorted out or your commitment is in question, then you’ll need to do some soul searching before you have this conversation.
Taking Complete Responsibility For The Affair And Choosing Your Words Carefully: You never, ever want to make excuses for yourself when you were the one who cheated. This is the time to be the responsible adult and to take on the blame for the situation that you, yourself created. Many times when the feelings and accusations come out and you are staring down the barrel of your spouse’s anger, there is a tendency to become defensive and to offer up excuses or to insinuate something like if your spouse had paid more attention to you, this would not have happened. These lame excuses are only going to make your spouse even more angry with you.
The truth is, you are to blame for your own actions and choices. Sure, your marriage probably was not perfect. None are. But you did make the decision that you made and now is the time to begin making amends for that. Your spouse is going to respect you a lot more and respond to you a lot better if you have the integrity to own up to what you did.
When it comes to disclosing the cheating, you must chose your words carefully. You want to express your sorrow and your commitment most of all. You want to show your emotion. You want for your spouse to know that you are deeply sorry, that you know that this is going to hurt them deeply, and that you know it’s your responsibility to make things right. Be as gentle as you can with the details. Always refer to the cheating and to the other person as a huge mistake that is completely in the past tense. Outline your plan to make things right and as I said, never ever make excuses or place the blame on anyone but yourself.
Your spouse is going to have a lot of questions. Always answer them in the way that paints your spouse in the best light and the places the blame with you. Try not to disclose any information that is going to be personally devastating. Always try to keep their self esteem as in tact as you can.
The Words That You Say Are Not As Important As The Action That You Take: Here’s what you have to understand. Since you’ve already betrayed your spouse, they are going to take much of what you say with a grain of salt. They are going to doubt you and be suspicious. So, your actions become much more important than what you actually say. You must show and not tell. You must hang in there and continue to offer patience, reassurance, and affection. You must obtain the help for your spouse and for your marriage if it is needed. And you must be willing to walk with them as they struggle through this. Always understand how difficult this is for them and try to be as loving and as supportive as you can.
I was the cheated on, not the cheater, in my relationship. So, I know exactly how the “cheated on” spouse feels. But, I also know that healing and moving on is possible. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger than ever after my husband’s affair. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/
Katie Lersch writes articles about moving past an affair. Her corresponding blog is at http://surviving-the-affair.com/