Infidelity is one of the worst things that can happen in your marriage. It is one of the main reasons that couples seek divorce. It destroys the foundation on which a marriage is built and can cause severe damage to the relationship. One of the big reasons why relationships struggle after the discovery that a spouse has been unfaithful is because it breeds a devastating amount of distrust and trust is sacred in all marriages. It also causes an incredible amount of grief, not only to the person who finds out their partner has been cheating, but also to the cheating party. Feelings of insignificance, anxiety and depression, mixed with frustration and anger can cause the relationship to spiral into a place of no return. A victim of an affair may even withdraw from those around them in order to avoid the pain of confronting the reality of their circumstances. While some marriages can’t withstand cheating, others can survive. The first step is confessing. Yes, it will be difficult. It may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do but it’s imperative that you consider the following things before telling your spouse. If you don’t think before you act, you will have an even bigger problem on your hands. Here are five ways to confess an affair without losing your marriage.
Be Upfront With Your Spouse
You should be completely honest with your spouse about the extent of the affair right from the start. Often, what makes a person leave isn’t the affair itself but the fact that the whole story wasn’t provided from the beginning. Just when your spouse thought they knew everything about the affair, more details come up and they have to revisit the pain and lies all over again. Every time a new revelation comes up, they begin to question everything about their partner and about themselves. That's why the best thing you can do for your spouse is be upfront from the beginning. You should also be sensitive to their feelings and emotions. The most precious element of your relationship is trust and that trust is violated not just when you cheat, but when you lie and keep secrets about the cheating. This type of painful honesty can lead to a really rough breakup. But this generally occurs in relationships that were not on solid ground to begin with. When there is love and commitment in a relationship, the truth is more likely to help the process of healing.
Take Personal Responsibility
When we have to be honest about a wrong we’ve done, one of the first things we do is get defensive and being defensive is the last thing your spouse wants you to do when they discover they’ve been cheated on. What people often forget is that the antidote to defensiveness is taking personal responsibility. If you become defensive, then your spouse will only assume you don’t understand and that will cause things to break down even more. Yes, it’s extremely painful for the unfaithful spouse to examine what they’ve done and how it happened, but minimizing, blaming your spouse, or even blaming another party is not the solution. Many people turn to the defense that they shouldn’t take all the blame, because they believe their spouse contributed to what happened. People often think, “We had issues in this relationship long before the affair.” While this may be true, you should be focused now on stabilizing your marriage. You should give your spouse time to recover and heal, then begin to address the other issues in your marriage.
Seek Professional Assistance
If you have a lengthy history of cheating, rather than just a single, isolated incident, you shouldn’t disclose that without professional assistance, preferably from an experienced couples councilor. This advice holds even if or when your partner demands to know absolutely everything right this instant. If there’s a lot to disclose, and your spouse is demanding to know everything right now, stand your ground, at least for now. Instead of sharing all the details, assure your significant other that you will answer every question, but you want to do it properly and in a controlled setting, where a professional can help both of you process and understand that revelations and the feelings that will likely come up. Then, you can make an appointment together to see a couples counselor, making sure that you are upfront that you’ve engaged in an affair, that your spouse wants to know the facts and you both want to heal the relationship.
There can’t be anymore secrets. The person who cheated must practice full disclosure. While full disclosure is painful, it allows for transparency, verification and vulnerability. Couples healing from the pain of infidelity need to gain insight into what went wrong without accusing. While it’s true that some partners will feel angry, hurt and betrayed when they learn their loved one has done something unacceptable to them, full disclosure is one of the best ways to regain trust which will ultimate rebuild intimacy. In order to do this, the cheater must become aware of their vulnerabilities and explore the reasons for returning to their partner. A partner may want a more active sex life without blaming their spouse for being distracted and not initiating sex more often. It’s imperative that you get to the root of the issue to truly deal with the infidelity.
Be Patient With Your Spouse
If you’ve been unfaithful, it’s important to remember that you’re not going to be able to put the affair in a vault and lock it up. Regaining trust means you must show that you clearly understand what your partner has felt and experienced, and prove to them over and over again that you are truly sorry. It also shows that you’re willing to make a change and work on earning their trust back, no matter what it takes. Your partner needs a lot of proof that you’re serious, reliable and safe to love before they’re going to trust you again. One key to strengthening your relationship after an affair is eliminating third-parties. It’s easy to let others in like friends, parents or children. They become the third leg to help stabilize the relationship, either subconsciously or not. Venting your anger or your frustration to your mom or friend is healthy, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the direct communication you make with your partner. An even bigger no-no which a lot of people do is complain to the children about a parent. This can damage their relationship with him or her and can create unhealthy dynamics between couples.
Infidelity is one of the worst things that can happen to a marriage and violates everything you’ve built with your partner in such a personal way. Cheating can collapse even the strongest bonds and is especially dangerous because it has the power to implode your relationship. But an affair doesn’t have to mean the death of your marriage. If you’re willing to put the time, effort and love into being honest with your spouse about the infidelity, the real healing can begin.